When did people start to paint with brushes? As they're made with animal hair, probably fairly early on in evolution, but still, there must have been a time when we smeared dyes onto rocks with our hands. And in personal evolution, toddlers, not really able to manage the fine-motor skills needed to manoeuvre a brush, like to smear paint with their hands, and also food, and all kinds of things!
There's something about the immediacy and sensuality of moving paint with my fingers, swooshing it, rubbing it, the way colour meets colour that way, and how the energy of movement is translated somehow, or incorporated, or expressed, in a different way when the warm, soft breathing body is moving with the paint.
It takes down one of the last barriers to participating in the direct, full action that makes up the world we live in, all the dances of energy that make up the world on their different size-and time-scales. That last barrier would be using an implement as an intermediary.
Painting with my hands makes it easy to just do - and to feel the absolute pleasure of that - a pleasure that washes away the other barriers - mental and emotional, that can keep me preoccupied and distracted.
I'm not long back from the Creative Regeneration workshops at terrealuma, where we did plenty of instinctive painting with our hands, our feet, leaves, handfuls of dried grass, and anything that was immediately available and seemed to jump out at us, or we maybe started using those things without conscious choice or really noticing that was what we were doing. Painting outside, with the a big piece of paper on the ground, really helps, and it also brings your body into varied different positions, crouching, sitting, standing and leaning at different angles, moving your whole body around the paper, the whole thing becoming a literal as well as metaphorical dance.
My sense is that spending time on the ground, having to make yourself comfortable by shifting your own body rather than using other objects, and doing creative work from there, is a real short cut to the fullness of being that art and life are all about.
What do you think/what has your experience been? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear...