36x36 Resin coated acrylic on canvas. Ready to hang.
All the colors we carry :
Something happened to me at some point and it is along the lines of suddenly I could experience feeling as a color, and use colors to tell stories of experiences and what that felt like. I learned how to tell stories using colors and somewhere after a few hundred paintings the written stories talked about the ways each color or combinations of contrast felt too. Alot of the time it is like learning the language of a prism and putting that language into something anyone could feel.
I love magic and mermaids, unicorns and anything else under water or far way in a mysterious place. In this painting there are four mermaids and one pink unicorn. The whimsical aspect of everything I make is the heart and soul of what I do. This is because it is my happy inner child feeling loved, respected and safe enough to come out to paint the feelings. I am brave enough to be vulnerable, and let parts of myself out as I let you in.
I believe that we all have the capacity to experience life and awareness in every single color and depth - but when we get stuck in guilt or shame, addiction and comparison, negativity or judgement it dulls those colors and life just becomes gray. I never understood that depth of my feelings and the things I have healed from are what give me the ability to have this kind of relationship with story telling and color. Not until I met Jesse and read his novel.
It was as if he were a composition of light I was supposed to find that would be familiar. Jesse has bright eyes, great hair and a big laugh. His presence brings a brightness that fills up a room. When he was speaking he mentioned that his memoir was going on sale the following month. He spoke in a way that was like educated street. I say “educated street” because that was how somebody told me I spoke once and it seemed like such a contradiction. But there I was, listening to that way of speaking for the first time from someone else.
Publishing a memoir with a legit publisher has always been my life dream. A dream I put away a really long time ago because it was just too much. I didn’t have the mental or emotional stamina to tell that story and give it a good ending. But since the last book I wrote I stayed clean and in therapy for 9 more years. I got into a stable and fulfilling relationship with the best human. We even got married and we’ve stayed married for seven years. I got a big girl job and managed a lot of people and found the courage to leave everything that I had worked for. I started a business from nothing making my own art. My mentor passed and I promised her I would write the book the last time we spoke. I am also now finally in the best physical shape of my life and about to become a yoga teacher. I grew up. I healed. And the end of the story got a lot more tellable, a lot more real. I finally have the stamina to carry out this dream.
When Jesses book was finally delivered I started it right away. The first page talks about his Harvard graduation day. So naturally I instantly told myself we had nothing in common and felt that hot sting of shame for even thinking we were anything like each other. Harvard. He didn’t even say that when we met. I always think of academics as people that have never had to clean the puke out of the bathroom garbage cans at 1am after waiting on 87 indifferent people for 11 hours five nights a week. I can’t relate.
But then I read his story. And I felt every single thing he wrote from the dark side all the way to the light side. Sometimes I felt the writing in my body. Like my heart would crumble. Sometimes in my teeth chattering or like light coming out of my fingertips. Other parts it would just suck all of the feeling out of the core of my stomach. But other times I cried tears of joy and disbelief for who he becomes. And then I would start to remember things I haven’t remembered in decades. I would go to my yoga classes and re live being drowned, suffocated, thinking I was hearing someone being stabbed. And in those classes it would come up - and it would go. Leaving my body.
And in the end, I remembered I was a miracle too. I mean I didn’t go Harvard. But I know how to paint. I know how to feel the color. I can lay in savasana without my hands covering my stomach (one of my greatest accomplishments.) And that because of the kinds of experiences we have, we are the same in that we carry all of the colors - in great depths. To the point that we make them speak, and they tell the stories of not just survival, but miracles.
I started this canvas in the obsession of reading Jesses story. As I added every single color of paint I have, lost in thought about his story and strength, I laughed at how the colors are a metaphor for life experience and overcoming adversity. And how people like Jesse and I get to carry all of the colors, and learn to tell the tale. So I named this art “All The Colors We Carry” because it is literally all of the colors. Reading Jesses memoir taught me that like him, I hold them all.
Something happened to me and it was along the lines of being inspired to remember that I can do anything I want, and I don’t have to be afraid. I can just take it all and be a mermaid instead. Or a pink unicorn. Or anything else I decide.
This painting is a portrait of coming into the understanding of that gratitude, knowledge and acceptance. Thank you Jesse for your courage
You can buy Jesse Leons memoir “I’m Not Broken” on Amazon