This is my latest video and it's actually really special to me. This is something that is really close to my heart, even if it might not seem obvious to you now.
This is my latest painting, that I have been painting as part of a series of videos, showing students how to paint intuitively. I've been doing that over on my Patreon page.
These paintings are created with a sense of freedom and instinct. When I finish one of my paintings, I'm forced to reflect on them and think about why I painted that specific image.
Whenever I do that, I think of this story...
(watch the video, or read it below)
You all know how I like to tell stories about my art. Well, this is a story about a World War II soldier who suffered from epilepsy, our brains and, I think, its about our intuition.
We all know that the brain has two parts, the right and the left, and we often hear about how "I'm Left brained because I'm creative or some shit or I'm right brained because blah blah". Really, that's all crap. I don't mean that I am skeptical, I mean science has said it's bullshit. Ages ago some person in the media read an article they didn't understand and just made up this story about being right or left brained that ended up spreading like wildfire.
I'm sure you're wondering what I'm on about. I'm painting something that seemingly has nothing to do with brains. Well, I started this painting as part of my other channel. On that channel, Making Art for the Heart, we are exploring the elements of art and we're following our intuition to create new pieces that really capture part of our souls.
This is what brings me to the right brain vs left brain discussion. The true part of that rumour is that each half of your brain is responsible for different things. For instance, your left hemisphere is responsible for language. But did you know that your right brain controls your left side and vice versa? Wiggle your right fingers and right toes at the same time. That's the left half of your brain. Now wiggle your left fingers and toes, that's your right brain. Both halves of your brain communicate using a 'wire' called the corpus callosum, which joins the two halves.
Here I'm adding some grass to the painting. I really want you to feel like the forest has depth, so you can let yourself fall into the painting.
Anyway, back to my story. During World War II a man named William Jenkins was hit in the head with the butt of a German officer's rifle and years later had still been suffering seizures. In that time, we whenwe were first learning about brains, we discovered that if we cut the 'wire' between left and right brain, we could treat epilepsy.
I know, what does this have to do with painting? Keep your knickers on.
Those epilepsy patients found their suffering relieved by splitting their brains but some noticed some strange things happening instead. For instance, William would go to pick out his clothes for the morning and while the right hand reached for one shirt, his left hand disagreed and picked another shirt.
I'm not even pulling your leg. This is a real study. You can watch someone else's video on this, click the card in the corner. I've also linked to some other articles in the description.
You see, his left brain was seeing a different image than his right brain, and they were not in agreement as to which shirt was the right one to wear because the two sides of the brain couldn't communicate with each other. In fact, the two sides disagreed quite a lot.
It didn't stop with the shirts. If he was shown a picture to his left side, he would not be able to reply verbally as to what he saw. Because his left side, controlled by his right brain, does not have the ability to speak. That is controlled by the left brain.
A teenage boy who also had a split brain was asked to name his girlfriend, but only on his left side. So the right side, unable to speak, spelled out her name with Scrabble tiles.
What? How is this possible? Is this a horror story? No, I promise I have a point.
You see, whenever I do these intuitive paintings, I find something new out about myself, and I now have a hypothesis as to why.
Not only could the two sides of the brain operate so differently, when asked for their favourite colour, they could reply with two different responses.
When they asked the left side to pick something up like a rubik's cube, and then asked it why it's holding the cube the right brain could not reply as to why. But, the left brain seeing the cube would instead make up a story, like, "I've always wanted to learn how to solve one of these." The left brain, helpfully fills in the story.
They found that the silent right brain, seemed to have it's own intelligence? consciousness? something?
It's kind of mind-blowing. It suggests the possibility of there being two separate personalities inside the same skull.
Why did you paint that whale, Erin? I don't know? Because whales are awesome? Because I've always wanted to paint one?
What does this even mean? Who am I? Am I right brain or left brain? Well, you're both. You're two halves working together to create a completely unique person.
Whenever I paint like this, I try to empty my mind and let things just happen. I pick colours by feelings, I paint with impulses. I let my mind run free to see patterns and new ideas that I'd never come up with otherwise. I listen to my heart and trust what it says.
After I've finished my painting and I'm about to tell someone about it, or post it on Facebook, I ask myself 'why did I paint this? 'What does this mean and why are there whales floating in a forest with fish?
I find my left brain, more than happy to fill in the pieces for me.
The jewel-like colours always make me think of riches, rare and precious gems. The light creates a really magical feel. Meanwhile, unlikely creatures fly in an unlikely place. This is a unique world. In this world, not only can you fly but you can fly in more than one way. Would you like to be swift and agile like a swallow, or succumb to the peaceful soft pulse of the jellyfish. The whale, looks like it should sink to the ground under the weight of its size and the fact that it is gold. Yet it soars with the sparrows. Even the sea weed, unbound by the natural laws of gravity can dance like the Northern Lights across the forest floor.
The placement of the creatures has a natural flow to it, as if you can feel the current carrying them along.
You feel like you could step in there, and float with everyone else and get swept away by the magic of the world.
I want to step inside.
I want to be swept away with magic.
I want to fly in a million different ways.
What other animals could we encounter in this world? Are all of the whales golden? How big is the forest?
I wonder if it isn't my right brain, finally able to speak that picks up the paint brush and creates a magical world for my left brain to enjoy. When I say I am listening to my heart, am I actually just listening to this silent and quirky part of my brain?
Either way, each time I paint something like this, I feel like I discover something new.