The Writing on the Wall can Always be Painted Over

My friend was at a board meeting recently of the nonprofit she works for, a great organization called Project Access NOW that serves to fill in the health care gaps for marginalized residents in our community. The mission statement and organizational values are painted on the walls of their Portland office. This nonprofit (which I used to work for years ago) has had to constantly adapt to the ever-changing healthcare system and figure out how to best serve the needs of the community. As new adaptations and changes were being discussed at the recent board meeting, one attendee pointed out that the non-profit's mission statement was literally painted on the wall.  The meeting attendee asked, “How can we change and adapt, when our mission and values statements are painted on the wall?” My friend—who has taken my painting classes—responded, “Annamieka taught me that it’s just paint, and you can actually just paint over it!” She proceeded to show them photos of the stages of her paintings from my recent workshop, showing how the layers of paint were put down and subsequently painted over, again and again, in a constant process of reinvention.  She emailed me to tell me about it, which was so cool!

I grinned when I read this email, and I wrote back, saying, “Indeed! The writing on the wall can always be painted over.” Right?!

I understand the phrase "The writing on the wall" to mean that it's all set in stone. Or worse, "The writing on the wall" can be used to express that there is a clear sign or premonition to pay attention to, and if you ignore the writing on the wall, you're headed for disaster.   But I choose to look at life more lightly than that. If you see the writing on the wall, and you don't like it, why not paint over it?  

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The writing on the wall can always be painted over.  You get to choose what comes next.  

When I teach my painting process, I teach people how to paint in many layers, which leads to visually interesting, highly-textured paintings. My students learn how to build up rich texture with paper collage and add paint to fill in the gaps. Then they learn how to choose areas of it to highlight, and then paint over the rest of it.  

This painting practice can be a reminder of the evolution that we go through in life. We are all constantly evolving, creating lives that fit us. We add new layers as we try new things and take on new roles. Sometimes, old roles (old layers) are almost completely covered up. For example, one day our role as “child” ends. It’s still there, under other roles, but what was once at the forefront is now covered over by roles of partner, friend, mentor, caretaker, or perhaps parent. (New puppy parent, in my case!) People who are making career changes, making life partner changes, coming out publicly with gender identity, expressing their creativity, or beginning a new volunteer activity are all creating a new layer in the painting of their life.  Writing a new story on the wall. 

This is also a metaphor for acceptance of the changes in our lives and in our identities. Everything is in a constant state of reinvention and evolution, and I believe that change is the nature of the universe. Just like the nonprofit is adapting and shouldn’t keep to the mission statement simply because it is painted on the wall, we need to adapt to our circumstances and our life spectrum. While it may seem that things are happening to us at times, the paintbrush is in our hands, and we can choose what aspects we want to hold onto and what areas need to be refreshed and renewed. With each layer added, there is more depth!


Are you ready to add a new layer in your life or write a new story on the wall? There are so many ways to nourish your creative core and I'd love to help you! You can learn more about my upcoming workshops and retreats by checking out my Events Calendar ! Or book a private one-on-one mentoring session! You can even sign your group up for a Half-Day or Full-Day Painting Workshop! Cool? Cool!

Annamieka Davidson