What is this inner child and how does it manifest when you lost it? The inner child is you, your original and true self. You without the constructs that you have gathered along the way. However, you haven’t completely lost it. It is still with you but you fail to see it so it comes out in improper ways, at bad times. You act like a kid in a way that is destructive to your adult life. You are impulsive. You are egotistical. You never think about the other. Or you always do something to please the other but from a place of the other doing something for you, such as seeing you or validating you, so you basically do it for yourself. I knew mine was lost somewhere because I was doing all of the above, as well as not allowing myself to be wild and free and just go with the flow. That would be the constructive part of the inner child.
So how did I go about working on this matter? I thought what would a child do? Before anything else, a child would play. So I started playing.
I bought watercolors, exactly like the ones I used to have in primary school – “Colibri” Watercolors (they also used to have ‘Painter” Watercolors), I didn’t even know they were still producing them. And I started painting. It was a big fat fail… I really didn’t feel them at all. Many years ago, when I started painting in acrylics, I had an instant connection with them, it all seemed to fall right into place. Now with the watercolors… it was really difficult. The watercolor has a will of its own and wasn’t listening to me at all. I made really simple stuff and I even had problems with those.
Not to mention that initially I bought tempera. How did I manage to do that? I go to the store to buy watercolors. I see a gorgeous set of neon watercolors, just right for my inner child. I come home with them and start working while watching a tutorial, so I can see how the new material is supposed to work. I noticed from the very start that it was behaving totally different than the video. Totally different! I finish what I started and I see the result also doesn’t look like what I had in mind. So I sit with the colors on the table, looking at the containers. Looking at the containers… looking at the containers, neon colors, green, yellow, pink… looking at the containers… I read on them: tempera… and this dialog starts happening in my head:
Me: Mona, it’s tempera.
Myself: Well, yes, it’s tempera.
Me: Hey, it’s tempera!
Myself: Yes, I know, I got it, it’s tempera, what the hell!
Myself: It’s tempera………
And since tempera is not watercolor, of course it looked different. Thing is that I saw from the store that they’re tempera. But my mind read ‘watercolor’ anyway. One more proof that there is no objective reality.
It wasn’t easy working with them. My nature is to work freely and let things happen without interfering too much. I couldn’t do that with watercolor. Watercolor needs constant guidance and I couldn’t give it that. As long as I was inside the balloons or soap bubbles theme that I kept posting, it was sort of dragging along. When I tried to let it run free it was a disaster. I threw away countless pieces of paper. I was planning to paint 10 pieces. I stopped at 5. I wasn’t feeling great doing them and when I don’t enjoy what I’m doing I let the painting be and start working on something else.
I also kind of felt bad because it wasn’t so much about painting and watercolor, but about integrating the inner child and it was very clear to me that it was not working. I needed a new method. And because when you ask it is given to you, I received the perfect method.
During a crowded morning gathering over lemonade, Nicoleta asks me if I can do the interior design in her new apartment. Of course I can, happy happy, joy joy. We go and see the apartment. It has open spaces, a lot of rooms, a lot of windows, a lot of work, we are on the same wavelength as far as style goes, I love the project.
Nico had already told me she wanted a painting from me, without telling me anything more. She tells me more now. In the child’s room she wants the idea of exploring as a theme, so she can encourage her little boy to explore the world, overcome his limits and dare to be himself. While she’s talking I’m secretly admiring her for the wonderful mother that she is. But the very next step, she hits me with her request for the painting. She wants for the boy’s room a painting of The Little Prince, almost as big as the wall. I almost fall off my feet. I’m an abstract painter. I can’t paint people and such. While I try to overcome my wooziness, she tells me how much she loved The Little Prince and how she’d like to inspire her child with the symbols and the ideas in the book. I remember that I also read The Little Prince growing up and I didn’t like it one little bit, but since we just had a conversation about overcoming our own limits, I don’t say no (immediately). I go home and start reading The Little Prince online. I already burst into tears at the dedication. The book is dedicated to the author’s best friend when the latter was a child. It’s a book written for an inner child. That’s when I knew I had to paint The Little Prince.
I just didn’t know how.
I kept reading the book, with many moments of high emotion and tears and I discovered it is one of my favorite books. I didn’t get it when I was a child, but through the eyes of adulthood it was absolutely incredible. I even have a favorite character: the fox! So I decided to put it into the painting, as the only terrestrial element, the connection to the real and the earthy. Then, to continue the idea of exploration, freedom and breaking your limits, I wanted an infinite sky behind, actually a galaxy. Maybe the saying is ‘the sky is the limit’, but let’s not stop there, let’s go all the way into space. The same idea is also conveyed by the birds that take the Little Prince up into the sky. I did a little research, I saw what others painted on the same theme, then I thought how I could adapt it to a little boy’s room, at the same time keeping all the symbols, emotions and initial theme, I drew circles in my apartment, etc. Truth is I was extremely impatient to start working.
The moment was finally here. I cut my canvas. 210 cm by 160 cm. 83 by 63 inches. I live in a typical Romanian apartment, aka it’s small. The canvas took up the entire living room, all the space between the sofa and a cabinet. I had a carpet of canvas. There was no more room for me to sit, except… on it. I chose colors. Almost half of my color bucket. And I started. From the very first moment I started I just couldn’t stop.
All my emotions came up at once. Joy that I finally started, horror that it’s not going to work out, relief that I’m finally doing it, frustration that indeed it wasn’t working out – the first 5 layers were like a big child’s play. Frustration, frustration, frustration and joy at the same time. It was like something was pushing me from behind to keep going. And I kept going. I worked for hours on end, hours upon hours of brush strokes. Eventually I just had to stop. I couldn’t continue, I had to let the layers dry before I could do anything else. My right arm has bee killing me for about 3 hours. It was late at night. I went to bed. I was so hyper that I could barely rest at all that night. I woke up about 20 times, both from overexcitement and the pain in my arm and back. It was a very annoying pain, the predecessor of sore muscles. Forearm, arm, shoulder, shoulder blade, they were all shot. I woke up before dawn to find out my muscles was seriously sore on all parts mentioned above, as well as the left side of my back, where I leaned, as well as the back muscles on the entire length of my legs from all the bending over, plus bruises on both knees.
This being noticed, I started painting. No breakfast, no nothing, the Little Prince was calling out to me. I kept painting until evening, when I had to go out. I was happy. Frustration started to slowly take the shape of joy, happiness, fulfillment. The next days there were some more hurdles to overcome, but I did. It was more beautiful than I imagined. The picture is not even at 50% of its real beauty. The conveyed emotion is exactly the right thing for a child open to exploring and leaving fear aside. I love this painting and you won’t hear me saying this very often about my work.
Nicoleta did me a great favor by asking me to paint The Little Prince for her. My inner child also learned to feel joy, to allow life to happen, to make mistakes and learn from them, to go further no matter what obstacles are in its way, it learned to be a child. I let it be a child. I let it be who it is and I accepted it for what it is. These were a few wonderful days. Therapy in the form of color. Therapy through painting towards the pure form of childhood.