I booked a place on a Blindfolded Painting session in an effort to try something new and artsy, but I knew something was quite right as soon as Sana asked us to remove our shoes and take a seat on the floor.
The theme of 2017 for me, it seems is arts and crafts. Over the last couple of months I’ve painted ceramics and watercolour florals, created a yarn wall hanging, hammered nails into wood for string art, sculpted bowls out of clay and created what is possibly the world’s saddest terrarium.
Take one look at my creations and it is obvious that I’m a beginner, but I don’t care. I’m so happy when I’m making them. It’s almost meditative just focusing on a task that isn’t attached to an electronic device. When I’m finished I feel calmer and happier and infinitely more inspired.
I thought blindfolded painting would be a great way to try my hand at abstract painting, without my perfectionism getting in the way and freaking me out. And actually it was, but not at all in the way that I thought it would be.
So, let’s go back to sitting on the floor (I hate sitting on the floor, that is why chairs were invented) without any shoes on, with five other women that I’d never met before. We introduced ourselves and Sana began to explain what was happening. This was nothing to do with painting technique or creating some kind of abstract masterpiece. This was about clearing our minds and allowing our subconscious to come through in our painting.
Well colour me sceptical, because really?
But I’d already paid and why not try it out? At the very least I’d have a fun story to tell afterwards.
We started with a meditation; allowing our bodies to relax and our minds to wander “what was an issue I wanted to focus on?” I didn’t have a bloody clue, so I let my brain float around and some rather vivid images popped into my head. Me struggling in a swimming pool and then stuck at the bottom of a well.
From there we went straight to the pots of paint. We could use up to six different colours, we squirted them into our pallet and took a seat on stools in front of a wall. I hadn’t noticed that huge sheets of paper had been taped all the way along it. Balancing the pallet on my knee (and really not wanting to be THAT person who spills all the paint) I carefully tied my blindfold and waited for the music to start.
The music that played wasn’t your typical pop, it had been composed specifically for this kind of art therapy, I took a couple of deep breaths and got started.
I can’t remember having my fingers submerged in paint before, I mean I must have done finger painting when I was a child, but I have no recollection of it. We didn’t use brushes, I let the purple and black paint seep through my fingers and then lifted my left hand (we were told to use our non-dominant hand) up to the paper.
It was strange to be painting something that I couldn’t see, while sat up against a wall. It was even stranger that my hand seemed to be moving by itself. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought I might be drawing a house, but ultimately I had no idea what was happening. I was just playing with paint, on walls.
Although I couldn’t help but be a little nervous that I was doing it wrong, I really enjoyed it. In fact when it was time to stop, I was kind of sad. I could have sat doing that for hours.
At this point I was pretty damn relaxed and extremely curious to see what I had painted. Sana came round and removed our blindfolds and I was amazed at what I’d painted. It didn’t look anything like I thought it would.
The biggest surprise though was when Sana read our paintings. Remember how sceptical I was at the start? Turns out I was wrong, all five of us had painted something completely different and Sana was able to point out things in each painting that I hadn’t even noticed. All of which provided an insight into our minds.
I cried (of course) when she was able to immediately identify my depression. She actually went into quite a lot of detail, explaining about the colours and shapes in our paintings. I look at mine and see a giant fish face and a beehive, but there is a lot more going on in there.
Rather than dwell on the negative, it was time to get started on our second painting of the evening. This time we were to focus on happy colours and rather unusually for me I knew straight away which two colours I wanted to use.
Back on the floor, this time with paint already squirted on the canvas. I popped my blindfold on and focused on the music, while my hands smeared paint all over the place. It was so much fun that I didn’t even mind when I had to wash paint off my toes at the end of the evening!
Blindfolded Painting wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. It was far more like a therapy session than an art class. But once I’d gotten over my initial nervousness I absolutely loved it. Even if you’re not into the therapy part of it, there is something incredibly satisfying about getting your hands in that paint.
The blindfolded painting session that took place at the Soul Art Center in Downtown Dubai. If you’re interested in checking it out; here is their website.