mike elsass colorful painting on rusted steel

the color (and texture) of energy


There should be more days when we allow ourselves just one goal: create beauty. That’s precisely what I did yesterday…I had the amazing opportunity to spend a day in the studio, working and painting alongside renowned artist, Mike Elsass. Mike’s Dayton gallery, “The Color of Energy,” along with countless others from Sedona to Chicago, showcases his work- a dynamic assortment of pieces he has created with rust and acrylic on steel. The result is a vibrant body of art that is rich in color, depth, motion, and texture.

For me, yesterday was an escape…an escape from the ordinary, an escape from routine, an escape from the array of thoughts and emotions that were jumping around inside. Yesterday I was able to just create. Did I know what I was doing? Nope. Did I learn something new? You betcha.

After rolling up the sleeves of my white tuxedo shirt (a happy alternative to the traditional smock), I witnessed the creative process in various stages… from the very beginning when the sheets of steel were treated with vinegar and sand, covered in plastic and left to corrode, to the process of applying color and texture, layer after layer. “There are no mistakes…” was the only rule. At first, I was worried about “messing up” (as I tend to be in new situations), but I experimented with different colors, sand, powders, brushes, and rollers.

As I worked, I realized that like life, creating art is a process. I couldn’t expect perfection from the get-go, and I didn’t necessarily know where I was headed with it. There were times when I felt like I’d made mistakes, but the beauty of the process allowed me to keep going, over and over, until it felt right. Sometimes I asked for help, sometimes I dug through the bucket of acrylics, picked one (burnt orange was a reliable stand-by), and tried again on my own.

A little paint here, a little copper dust there, a few more brushstrokes here…oooh, now how about some chalk? I followed my whims, I watched and learned, I breathed in the contentment that comes from knowing “there are no mistakes.” And when all was said and done, the result was a beautiful collaborative effort.

Yesterday wasn’t just an escape, but a lesson- an exercise. It stretched the boundaries of familiarity, inspired creative freedom, and allowed me to experience a glimpse inside the life of an artist.  For one day, I allowed myself to simply create. I basked in the colors, the scents, the feel of the work…yesterday, I got to experience firsthand the color of energy.

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