Why do I paint stars?

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Devotional Series V, Mixed Media on Plastered Wall, Blue Orange Theatre Bar, Birmingham, © N Nazir 2016

Because it reminds me of death.  The time after death, the after place, full of endless, boundless peace.  Yes, it’s a cliché but that’s what I see.  That rolling mass of space filled with billions upon trillions of stars with your soul draped betwixt the realities after it has left its body, taking a well-earned rest before it returns once again in whatever life form it seeks for the next chapter.  I suspect it loves that rest, looks forward to it, feels relief.  It stretches its supernatural limbs and hangs dot-to-dot through the stars and marvels and sighs and then thinks, damn, it’s time, I have to go back already.  To once again emerge from a wet birthing vagina into a different life, genes, culture, social class, talent, maybe better or worse than before but I think secretly self-chosen.  For the next stage of its particular evolution.  I speculate on this possibility of how it is.  I like this idea, it feels true to me even though no one knows.

So when I paint stars I seek to tap into that manifold depth, that going into feeling when a space is receding away from you and drawing you into it.  I build up the translucent layers and hues and try and capture just a piece of this metaphysical marrow.  It can only be a ghost sighting however.  The reality would be mind-blowingly beautiful.  The paintings are but a glimpse.

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Devotional Series V, Mixed Media on Plastered Wall, Blue Orange Theatre Bar, Birmingham, © N Nazir 2016

I remember being about six and watching TV with my dad and I can’t remember what we were watching but there was a scene where it went dark between frames and I suddenly had a powerful premonition about death, what it meant, the finality of it.  I realised that everyone dies, that I would one day die, and the totality of it freaked me out.  I think I exclaimed out loud or made some kind of noise because my dad looked at me and said, what’s wrong? What is it? Are you feeling okay?  And I just didn’t have the words to explain what I felt, this indescribable fear, this sensation of dread that there was this thing, death, and there was nothing you could do about it.  And my dad couldn’t say anything to comfort me because he didn’t understand why I was upset and just ended up saying something like everything’s fine, there’s nothing to worry about.  But I didn’t feel fine and couldn’t shake off that uneasy feeling. That good stuff ended. That everyone died. That I was finite.

This insight stayed with me for a long time and I remember having other realisations afterwards.  I was about seven and sitting in class and I wasn’t able to concentrate on what the teacher was saying because all I could think was: I’m inside this body looking out and I can see other people but they’re not inside here with me and that’s lonely, but then surely they’re also inside themselves looking out so they must be lonely too but they look like they’re having a good time, running around, playing and having fun.  I then became so aware of this sensation of being separate, of this inner space that no one occupied but me that I so wanted to reach out to someone and not feel trapped but again, I didn’t know how to explain it.  How does a child explain this?  I used to draw a lot.  That always helped.  And so did staring at the night sky.

And so I came to love stars.  Losing yourself in that swallowing expansion, being lifted and gulped into that beautiful vortex and to keep moving through it upward forever because it was infinite.  I may reside alone within this body but I could change my relation to the space I resided within and look at the stars from different vantage points, or even different sides of the planet, and this…makes me happy.  Now I revel within this body, this amazing vehicle that can do so many wondrous things.

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Devotional Series III, Acrylic on Canvas, © N Nazir 2014

And I love that feeling of being in transit from one place to another, or resting in between a new body of space.  Of my being chemicalising into the energy of a new place.  That spiritual feeling of atomised collusion in the particles around me merging with my own. Or, in layman’s terms, entering and merging into the eternal present moment.  And I’m always left with a vivid impression of the time and place when the fusion happened, when I aligned with everything.  Alignment with everything, that’s what it is.  And it’s the closest feeling to happiness that I know.

Like looking out of my hotel room window in Dolceacqua a few years ago and scenting incense in the balmy summer air, taking in the deserted cobbled streets, the pastel white-washed walls of the quaint houses, the rich peace of that late siesta afternoon.  Something exquisite approached me that moment, some invisible thing; it entered my soul and never left.  

Like last summer when I was travelling by train to Zurich and the moment I entered Switzerland I was struck dumb by the breathtaking surroundings, as depicted by any of the great Romantics, a landscape so wholesome you could just eat it, become it, exude its raw health.  

Like walking around the busy streets of New York one night a few years ago, stopping to buy a t-shirt from an outdoor market seller, and suddenly experiencing a wave of euphoria go through me as I happened to look up at the towering sky scrapers.  I realised they were more than just concrete, the streets were more than just tarmac.  It was as if I could tangibly feel the animated life spirit whizzing around through them and it had just whooshed through me.  

Or other moments, like when I have taught a child something significant for the first time and then they look at me with enormous lucid eyes and you just know you have left your indelible imprint and they will always remember you as the one who taught them that thing they come to love.  Magical alignment as your particles transform and you and the moment are one.  It fills me out one piece at a time.

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Devotional Series II, Acrylic on Canvas, © N Nazir 2016

And so the stars shine and wink, shoot and burn, sparkle and shimmer. They’re going nowhere.  Their comfort is always there.  Like distant friends.  Like wishes coming into being.  My resting place in between reincarnations perhaps.  Magic weaving the seams of time so there is no time.  Just stillness.  And soundless beingness.

© N Nazir 2017

13 thoughts on “Why do I paint stars?

    1. Sunra Rainz

      Thanks Marianny! Appreciate your comments. Yeah I love painting. And I always think of existential crises as reminders to spur you into doing what you wanted to do all along but forgot. I like to think of them as having a rennaisance!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: An Interstellar Poem – Sunra Rainz

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