Well, not technically. Let’s have a little tangent and unpack “sublimation” for a bit.
Psychologically speaking, sublimation is when you take something reprehensible and transform it into something acceptable. But that’s not what I mean. I get excited when I am presented with a situation that is painful, broken and sad, and out of the pain, something new and beautiful is born, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Philosophically, Kant’s theories about The Sublime portrayed it as something beyond the grasp of mortal man. Mortal man is too messy, too complicated. However, I disagree with Kant. I don’t believe our messy, mortal lives are something we need to overcome or despise for their limitations. I believe we, as people, are fully and truly exactly who we are meant to be…and that connection to The Divine can be discovered when we live more fully, more deeply, and more truly exactly right where we are.
Interestingly, in chemistry, “sublimation” refers to “the transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas phase without passing through an intermediate liquid phase.” Now, doesn’t that eloquently sum up what our Neoclassical, Western culture is obsessed with? A transformation from awkward, messy, solid beings into ethereal beings of eternal detachment and escape. So many people want a fast track to transformation. But I believe there are many deep mysteries to uncover when we let our defenses melt away. And my heart speaks in the language of watercolors.
To me, the thing that keeps me painting, keeps me loving, keeps me living…it’s the process of seeing life for what it really is, all the messiness and the pain and the sorrow included, then taking those clustered moments of existence, and finding beauty growing right in the thick of things. When I say I am a sublimation junkie, I guess what I really mean is I am addicted to love. I am invigorated by the best parts hidden inside of people that never lose hope, even when life throws a hurricane their way. I am filled with faith, that every story, no matter how sorrowful or painful, can be part of a story of redemption, connection, and life.
My latest painting is a portrait for Sarah George, and her story touches me along these lines. Life stormed around her, but she is clinging to the good things, and moving forward. That doesn’t mean the days aren’t hard. No. But the days are indeed beautiful. And I am honored to make a place in her new home; I am honored that my painting can be a reminder for her that there is always beauty right there in the thick of things, and that the beauty can move us, fuel us, and fill us with love.
Beauty grows and grows and grows.
You can read more about Sarah’s story on her blog.
And here are close-ups of Sara’s painting: