Wynne Leung

Chapter 7:

Dear Anger

Speak The Truth Acrylic on Muslin, 2017

Speak The Truth
Acrylic on Muslin, 2017

I want to start making decisions aligned with my values. Something I feel privileged to do with my freedom...

I was never taught what to do with Anger. I did the best I knew how.

Happiness, Excitement and Hope those are easy emotions, so I always welcomed them with open arms, tea and a sandwich!


But Anger; I didn’t really know what to do with her.

I can hear her coming from afar. I always felt afraid of her impact on me. Her energy caused me to over-react or not react in situations and I felt confused. So, I spent the last 30 years ignoring, repressing and apologizing every time she came around.

Last week sitting in my house I heard Anger from afar. I got up; slammed the windows and locked all the doors.

I can see her from the little peephole on the door.

“Woooooosh!”

“Oh… It’s you again, why are you so angry again… You’re over-reacting!”

“Woooooooooooooooosh!!”

“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say, go way! Please? How about a sandwich?”

“Wooooooooooooooooooooooooosh!!”

I can see her. She’s slender dressed in a beige gown. Her long silver hair embraces my house. I can feel her hands pushing against the door. It looks really windy out there.

“Wow, it sure looks windy out there… Can you come back tomorrow?”

“Wooooooooooooooooosh,

Wooooooooosh!”

And this time, the door breaks open.

I fall to the ground.


Anger enters and the room and soaks it in deep yellows and purples. 

It’s heavy and dense. The energy presses and slams onto my chest, neck and jaw. It’s very, very loud.

Stand By Me Acrylic on muslin, 2017

Stand By Me
Acrylic on muslin, 2017

“Wooooooooosh!”

Defeated... I get up and whisper...

I surrender... I surrender. Tell me, what do I need to know?”

And slowly, Anger changes its’ colors to pinks, purples and light shades of blues.

Stand By Me Acrylic on muslin, 2017

Stand By Me
Acrylic on muslin, 2017

For a moment I am swirling around with Anger. We chant and swim in the colors. All of the thoughts from the experience feel really far away. The pressure builds and it I start to feel like I'm drowning.

I need to release our energy and suddenly realize that I need to get to a window. I make my way towards the closest one and push them open.


Anger and her colors shoot through. They rise high up to the sky and swirl like milkshake. My my throat opens and I start to sing, cry and chant!

Anger changes into deep reds, dark blues and rich purples.

The colors circle around the clouds. They race down towards the ocean; barely kissing the water as they gallop and make deep marks on the sand.

Anger makes a final round above my house and the wind slows down.

She waves as she prepares to walk away. She looks a bit out of breath, but I can see a slight grin. Her hair gently sways with the wind. She nods and disappears.


I turn to sit down. I can feel the tender sting of my swollen eyelids. I know, there is love in them. I feel free and released.

I pick up my pen and paper now feeling ready to address the anger. I start to write about what happened and how it made me feel: angry, resentful and confused.

I uncovered that I value unity and collaboration. I also believe in mutual respect, self-compassion, saying "no", unconditional forgiveness, second chances, an open heart and speaking the truth. 

I'm learning to embrace and create space for her force in our life, together.


The last painting I worked on was supposed to be of a woman at the beach on a sunny day.

But Anger came on the day of the Woman's March; the same day I finished this painting. The energy from Civic Center (right by my place); and my personal experiences turned the painting into a stormy night scene of a woman dancing or chanting to a giant moon.


As an Asian woman, a daughter of a single mother, a woman in tech, single in her 30’s and more recently a woman artist. I have had experiences as a woman when Anger arrived but I ignored her. I feel sad, but can't change those.

I know that if I want change I have to show up as the change. I’ve had both inspiring men and women in my life. Going forward with everyone, if experiences that don’t align with my truth comes up in the future and Anger knocks; I'll be ready for her without, a sandwich. She doesn't seem to enjoy those. 

I'm ready to learn to speak my truth.

Love and grace,

Wynne & Anger

Chapter 6:

Self-Expression Doesn't Seek Anything

 
Stand By Me Acrylic on muslin, Wynne Leung 2017

Stand By Me
Acrylic on muslin, Wynne Leung
2017

 

Last week my hand trembled before I started to paint.

I felt confused.

If there is something to describe how it feels inside before I start to make; it would be a horse behind a white fence.

I can hear her breathing and her hoofs pounding. Thump, thump, thump... and I know that the only thing she wants is for me to open the fence so she can run for miles and miles! So, I lift the fence, touch her face and watch her go!

At the Cirque, Fernando, Rider on a White Horse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901)

At the Cirque, Fernando, Rider on a White Horse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901)


As she runs I watch her and think:

"Oh, what nice leaps she made! That was a high jump! Oh, look how fast we're going!"

Then, somehow through this because in society I've been taught to strive and to be "better" at something; I started to force my beautiful horse to do tricks:

"Darlin' can you please run faster, jump higher and oh yes, please run for a purpose."

So, my horse who just wanted to go outside for a run and feel the wind on her face is now super confused, defeated and somehow trying to perform and run really fast.

This is the state of my connected being right now.

See I know that my soul aka the horse is doing what she knows best. She knows that it will make us feel sick if the energy doesn't channel outwards. So she's doing the logical thing which is to ask to go outside and to run! But I have taught her to run and strive and now she is afraid.

 
Stand By Me Acrylic on muslin, Wynne Leung 2017

Stand By Me
Acrylic on muslin, Wynne Leung
2017

 

Last week when my hand trembled I was really disturbed. I felt brokenhearted knowing that it's possible to feel so terrified while doing something that I enjoy so much. 

So, I'm willing to stop seeking anything in self-expression. I am willing to open my heart to layers of surprises.

I am practicing this, and I'm nervous because it feels like I'm blindly going at it, but I am willing to try.

Everyday, I gently focus on how I feel, today. To connect with my body, my horse my being so I can be here in the present moment. Because it's when I'm here that I'm not trying to be somewhere tomorrow or worrying about yesterday.

I will leave this here; as there is no striving for any conclusion; because this was more of an observation and a willingness to adjust. 

I love that I and you and everyone else has creativity as a tool to self-express and channel our emotions. I hope to continue to use these tools to self-express without striving. 

Love and grace,

Wynne





 

Chapter 5:

On Staying

Music at the Park Acrylic on muslin 2017

Music at the Park
Acrylic on muslin
2017

I'm beginning to believe that one of my biggest lessons is to learn to stay with myself. I've had a habit of abandoning relationships out of fear of abandonment. 

Two years ago I ended a relationship feeling so disappointed; enough to encourage me to try new ways of living.

The City Acrylic on muslin 2016

The City
Acrylic on muslin
2016

I replaced bar scenes and dating apps with making things in the evenings and taking myself on day trips. Like everything there were ups and downs. I had nights that left me literally gasping in tears. I learned quickly on how to soothe myself. I had happy, carefree days inspired by unexpected surprises. I'm practicing on savoring these moments and to be present.

Kelowna Acrylic on muslin 2017

Kelowna
Acrylic on muslin
2017

And it's been like that ever since; a series of ups and downs and I tried to stay with myself. To not leave.


To my surprise because I stayed and didn't abandon - me. I noticed that I may have unlocked a part of myself that's different. I feel like I have more patience, a bit of expansiveness and an ability to see many different perspectives when similar experiences occurred in the past. It felt unusual at first but after some time I've adjusted to just being her from here onwards.

Aubree at the Park Acrylic on muslin 2016

Aubree at the Park
Acrylic on muslin
2016

In past relationships I preoccupied with pleasing my partners. I laughed, talked, walked in ways that I thought would make them happy. Thinking back I was always aware of myself making that shift. The thought of being abandoned and the longing for belonging scared me enough to abandon myself. All of that was done out of love and kindness, but I know now that it didn't help anyone grow. 

Today, with dating and relationships; I feel even more timid, but I'm willing to practice and learn. I've been going on dates lately and am noticing how familiar and aligned it feels when I laugh, talk and walk like myself. I'm also noticing how I feel when I'm not aligned because I start to behave in ways to avoid disappointment.

I'm learning to pause, take a breath and invite myself to not abandon me. To stay with myself and to stay with her and just be her, unconditaionlly. And, if I do abandon myself to be forgiving of that, since this is all practice.

Making art in the evenings is where I feel the safest. I feel nourished and the work usually tells me what's going on inside. All I have to do is show up at the easel.

On Staying Acrylic on muslin 2017

On Staying
Acrylic on muslin
2017

Here's a little "hooray!" to staying. To not abandon myself, relationships or experiences. To staying, pausing and being here. Right here, right now.

Love and grace,

Wynne

Chapter 4:

The Orient Express

The Orient Express Acrylic on muslin 2016

The Orient Express
Acrylic on muslin
2016

Painting allows me to viscerally practice trusting my intuition. I lead with intuition for this painting. She picked the reference picture on Pinterest. She said to paint her shirt white and that she'll have blue jeans. So I did that. But, the colors when I saw them on the canvas felt too simple, so I painted over it and tried my colors. My colors looked worse. The colors muddied her wardrobe... I tried again but it just got out of hand.


Too often I lean outwards for intuition, but I have to remind myself gently that it's often on the inside. I just need to get quiet, let go and connect with my intuition.

This time, it felt harder coming back into my intuition because I can feel the fear of trusting her. I felt afraid that she would let me down.

I was being so hard on myself.

The awareness of fear is new. This experience is an chance to evaluate my definition of "trust".

The word "trust" used to mean trusting until the person or event let me down. I realize after saying that out loud; that it's impossible for anyone to never let me down. Like my therapist says, even if the person never disappoints - that person will die one day. 


I grabbed the basket filled with tubes of paints and poured them onto the table, "Okay Wyns, let's do this with the most fun possible! On the count of three, paint all the colors that you see. Just paint the colors that you see."

The background that I've been struggling with and repainted three times finally revealed itself as a city skyline with a beautiful river. I was also able to find all the right colors through this experience for the rest of the painting.

Even though I may not always understand the road my intuition takes, I'm willing to love and trust her, unconditionally. 

Love and grace,

Wynne


Painting Process


Stay in touch! 

Follow me on Instagram @wynnearete


 

Chapter 3:

Learning to Surf

Learning to Surf Acrylic on muslin 2016

Learning to Surf
Acrylic on muslin
2016

Rip currents and rushing a lifelong practice


I painted so often this year that I found patterns of when I am most creative. It’s either super early or late: 6-7am or 9-11pm. Weekend on Saturday mornings from 9am - 12pm or late, always really late. So, I try to keep Saturday mornings open if possible. There’s also little tricks I do to warm up my hands like knitting for 30 minutes or vacuuming. Somehow, the paintings turned out better.

I am also stubborn and inpatient. Strokes of “I’m tired, Wynne...” and “I can’t do this today. Can we have a sandwich?” shows up. But I ignored those feelings and painted anyway because I was like, "Oh, my goodness all this time that I’m wasting not painting… I should just try anyway,” and hoping of to catch a wave - instead I get caught into a rip current every single time. Sadly, re-working the painting.

Surfing looks like a sport that needs a lot of attention and presence. I’m pretty sure that every surfer checks two things before jumping into the ocean; and that’s the state of his body and the water. I do that too. I check myself and I check the conditions but instead of accepting what is, I just jump in anyway because I'm impatient, not listening to the signs and rushing. 

I can see that the more I paint the better skillfully I’m getting at it. But I feel sad because my impatience and stubbornness has very nicely lead me to forgetting the joy of painting. After reading biographies on my favorite artists: Georgia O’Keeffe, Richard Diebenkorn, Matisse and Cy Twombly, making art was their life's work. It was a lifelong practice and in none of the readings did I read that they were trying to get “better” at it; they were just trying to explore facets of it or learn something from the experience. So, I felt disappointed to realize that I was rushing through a lifelong practice.

Since my practice is about self-compassion... I'm trying to learn to love these qualities. My impatience means that I’m always excited to take the next step. Like a horse that’s ready to run, I need to learn to give myself a space to do that in order to release the inner fuel. It can perhaps more exercise or a more challenging hike. Maybe, I can start there.

As for my stubbornness, I haven’t thought of something for that yet. For now I am aware of it and hope that it continues until I learn the lesson. I am gracious for it because it also has elements of persistence and perseverance. I’m a bit scared about how that will turn out but I’m sure that at some point it will all collide and something will come about.

I do know now the meaning of surrendering. To surrender to the conditions of what is; to not paint if I’m tired and to absolutely paint and wake up earlier to do so because that’s the best time to. And to not rush, that there’s no use in rushing through a lifelong practice.

- Wynne Leung

 

Painting Process

A short step-by-step of the painting process


 

Stay in touch! 

Follow me on Instagram @wynnearete


 
 

Chapter 2:

Conversations with Aubree

Conversations With Aubree Acrylic on muslin 2016

Conversations With Aubree
Acrylic on muslin
2016

"How are you? How can I make life more wonderful for you?"

-  Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communications


I moved to Canada on Christmas of 1987 shortly after my parents parted ways. Since then, I haven't seen my dad. I was perhaps too young to remember the words to feel everything, but I heard that people can’t really forget. All we can do is go back and process.

A few weeks ago I worked on a painting of a young girl. I thought she would be a fun addition after The Red House. Things were as usual. Painting and sketching.

On the third night her face showed up on the canvas. I took a step back and stared back at her.

"Who are you?"

And right away I knew who she was because I’m staring at myself on Christmas day of 1987.

Feeling spaced out and breathless all the numb feelings surfaced. I float back to the day I came to Canada. I saw a two story house with an unlit fireplace, lots of snow and silhouettes of people. 

Then out of nowhere, I closed my eyes and felt grief stricken.

In a panic I bent over, grabbed onto the sides of the canvas and examined her. She looked frozen in a movie I’ve seen so many times.

I heard myself whisper,

“Please, please stop the movie...”

I imagined myself wrapping my arms around her and telling her that everything is about to change. That she’s in a new country. That she won’t get that second date with her dad again for a long time or even forever. That in a few days she’ll go to school and be in grade one and that she won’t want to let go of her mom’s hand and that people would look.

That I’m sorry that nobody told her these things but, is that okay? Because I’m here now tell her all about it.

I touched her little face because I felt her imminent fear and shivered for her. I told her that I’m scared too; and that now we can be scared together.

I suddenly felt love for her. Is this real?

As I told her this as she patiently listened, smiling. And feeling her patience made me feel worse knowing she was here all along.


I told her that one day out of nowhere… She’ll discover a secret that’ll rob her ability to trust people. It’ll feel like tripping and falling off a cliff. That she’ll try to climb back up but it wouldn’t work. That it’ll be lonely and she’ll scream until she cried.

And gradually at one point the screaming would exhaust her and she'll fall into a deep sleep.

In her dreams she'll hear a voice

"My love... How are you, how can I make life more wonderful for you? 

Are you feeling more at ease? Let's slow things down a little bit. I am feeling worried for you. Of course you had to protect yourself and build a shell around your heart, because disappointment has left you feeling so much pain. I know that every moment you were protecting yourself in the best way that you knew how. I love you no matter what and I will never leave you.

Now tell me, how can I make life more wonderful for you?"

When she'd wake up she'll feel an opening in her heart as it eases gently into self-compassion and unconditional self-love.


I stood up gently and asked,

“Are you ready for this Aubree? To start the movie again?”

I touched her acrylic face and I think I heard her say

"Yes"


These days I notice myself devoting my attention to art making and self-exploration. Surprises like these inspire me to continue to cultivate what's inside through the arts.

Love and grace,

Wynne

 
References
Sarah Van Gelder Marshall B. Rosenberg Posted Jun 30, 1998. "The Language of Nonviolence." YES! Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

Further Reading on Self-Compassion

  • Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships (Nonviolent Communication Guides) 3rd Edition
    by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD (Author), Deepak Chopra (Foreword)
  • On Living
    by Kerry Egan  (Author)
 

Stay in touch! 

Follow me on Instagram @wynnearete


 
 

Chapter 1:

The Red House

The Red House Acrylic on muslin 2016

The Red House
Acrylic on muslin
2016


Home Is Where The Heart Is...

I started the The Red House, accidentally on the same day as the elections.

The Red House, was supposed to be a Winter Wonderland project to bring in the holidays. I was supposed to use cherry red. But it ended up looking like a house that was set on fire. A fire hydrant red with dark indigos ended up on the canvas.

I felt really sad that night, both for the elections and then the painting... because I had the intention that The Red House would be a great holiday artwork to share with everyone and now I was worried that my emotions wouldn't allow the project to flourish. 

The next day and many others I tried again... and wanted to see what I could do to liven up the Red House; to make it look less "sad"...  

I tried adding a fun blue to the windows and painting on little white wooden bars on the windows. That didn't work... I also added large trees; and thought maybe if I painted the trees with energy and pastel colors that they would also help create a happier mood.

The trees livened up the scene a bit; but still the Red House looked lonely and sad. I realized this house was a mirror of my heart. The house looked sad because my heart was broken from the worldly events that left me feeling uncertain about my future and afraid.

I tried painting, pushing myself even harder on later nights... and spent nights sitting on my kitchen sink starring at The Red House and wondering what I could do...

"What could I do to make you feel better, Red House? Why do you look so sad?"

I decided, that maybe it was the white bars! Maybe taking them off would remove the suffocating feeling. I even painted a little walkway so that I could walk to The Red House, maybe get a better look and what's going on would help.

"Is anyone home?"

At this point, I knew that it was Christmas, I knew that I was snowing and so perhaps I thought; maybe just nobody's home. The Red House isn't sad. It's just, empty.

So I numbed the sadness and forced my way through.

I forcefully saturated the doors and added planters on the promenade, freshened up the fire hydrant red with a cherry red. It started to feel happier. Adding the little Christmas lights helped and to really try to make it look happy I actually toned the entire painting with a heavy wash of warm colors: mango oranges and light blush pinks. 

"That should do it!"

But still, the house looked very empty.

"Helloooooo, is there anyone home?"

Radio silencer from the Red House. 

I went to bed that night feeling discouraged. I was ready to give it up. 

The next morning, I went on a beautiful hike to Ocean Beach with two friends. We talked about the elections and how we were afraid about our future. We laughed, cried, hugged, gave each other high-fives and talked about different organizations we could help with in the city. I felt happier and really supported.

I came home feeling like my heart lifted a little bit.

Looking at The Red House. I finally saw myself walking through the promenade and into the house.

"There are people in this red house... They were just stuck in traffic and now, everyone's arrived and we have an awesome tree! There are people in the living room, there's music playing (Michael Bublé). There are tons of Christmas lights and look a beautiful wooden staircase that light up to the upper floor." 

I picked up the brush and just started to paint colors and shapes; shadows of that scene into the windows and suddenly The Red House, is alive!

Then I thought; just like my heart. Healed and connected a bit more. 

And here we are, the completion of The Red House.

This December, I'm excited to be with my family and friends. Painting of The Red House taught me to trust the timing of my life as it transforms, delights and surprises me. To understand that I'll know something, only when I'm ready to know it and never before or after.

Wishing you love, peace and grace,

Wyns

 

Stay in touch! 

Follow me on Instagram @wynnearete