“You are the universe expressing… What worlds do you wish to create?”
It was a winter evening as I sat cross-legged on the floor in the middle of a room full of fellow yogis, just a few short months ago. We had shared many hours of silent meditation as part of a New Years retreat, and our instructor began to close out the day by leading us in a metta practice (“metta” is a Pali word meaning “loving-kindness”, and refers to a meditation on compassion.) He used guided imagery, painting a cosmic picture in our minds. With a gentle voice he suggested that the big bang was powered by love, and that we were each created by that love. He suggested that within the “cosmic body” we each wear, that another big bang occurs every time our heart beats. Our heart is the center of our own inner universe.
I recalled a painting I did back in 2010 titled Innerverse, and suddenly I had a flash of a new painting so clear it was as if it already existed. Similar to Innerverse, the painting in my mind had a vibrantly glowing spiral galaxy at the heart center of a body, but this body had more definition as a female and she existed within the swirling darkness of the cosmos, bringing together the darkness and the light in a sensual body.
“Cosmic being of light, you are the love of the universe expressing as you.” These words are scribbled in my journal, along with a rough sketch of what I saw during that meditation. I already had a fascination with the colors of outer space, with vibrant nebulas and glowing galaxies.
True to my creative approach, I began with loose color and form and allowed the image to emerge slowly over time without pre-planning how the end would arrive. The process of creation took around 4 months of devoted attention and curiosity. The result: A depiction of the Divine Feminine as powerful creatrix ~ grounded in her own body ~ blooming open ~ holding the creative power of the universe and allowing it to emerge from her own body, from within out.
As women, our power to create is not limited to the womb and new life within… it imbues every intention we hold, every desire we bring to fruition, every idea we birth into the world. It is my hope that this piece inspires every woman (and every person) to tap their own inner power and creativity. It is inherent within each of us and originates from the heart, blooming outward through the cosmic body we each wear.
People often ask me what inspires my paintings. I usually answer that the images come from within, guided by my own meditation practice and the impressions that arise from inward contemplation. In fact, the very act of painting is itself a meditation for me that requires deep listening, surrendering and trusting the process.
But that’s not the end of the story. I am inspired outwardly by the world of nature and the colors that I perceive through her magnificence. The purple undertones of distant mountains, the golden fuchsia of a bold sunset, the warm siennas of canyon rock … color feeds my soul.
I’ve had the privilege over these last couple years to do some cross-country travel to lead painting workshops. Road trips are my favorite way to travel. From the road I can witness the changing terrain and the the sun’s position across the open sky. I can squeal in excitement when the moon begins to rise big and orange on the horizon, or when I spot a wild animal grazing on the side of the highway. From the Smoky Mountains to the canyons of Utah, from the Rockies to the Cascades of the Pacific NW … a return to Mother Nature is a return to balance — guided by cycles, seasons and splendor.
My absolute favorite time of the day is the “Golden Hour” before the sun goes below the horizon — that magical time that artists have chased for ages. The beauty of dusk, with its radiant hues and shadows, was part of what inspired the piece at the bottom of this post titled “Majesty.” And there will be many more pieces to come.
While I do not identify as landscape painter, I do love to incorporate aspects of nature into nearly every piece I create — even into the figure itself. This is why it’s important to study nature and to paint from life whenever possible. When we travel we have the chance to step out of our regular day-to-day routine and see the world with fresh eyes. And to allow new ideas to enter our consciousness. Sometimes they’ll even end up in a painting 🙂
The process of painting brings me face to face with the truth of the moment… to the ME that cannot be escaped. There can be no masks, no fabrications. This can be a scary place, truly, but a place as real and as honest as it can get. In this way, painting is like a mirror of my internal experience.
I’m not talking about the way the painting looks, which is a physical result, but painting rather as a verb. The process of showing up to the vastness of the unknown without instructions or a road map. Facing whatever is there: The internal voices in my head that question and moan and try to convince me to ditch the studio to go get something to snack on, or go have a beer…ANYTHING but face the apparent emptiness and uncertainty that is felt in my gut.
But staying with the truth of the moment can bring some interesting results: It’s as if the doubts and fears are like the terrifying monsters that stand guard at the temple of the Divine. After seeing them for what they are and courageously stay with them, or even take a step forward, they will eventually be silenced and bow before us, opening the way to a new reality.
So this is our practice… The “Hero’s Journey” as Joseph Campbell called it. Standing in our courage and journeying into the unknown, unmoved by fears and distractions and driven by a deep-seated desire to know ourselves and find our bliss. And it starts in the present moment, right where we are, without masks, standing before our painting. As sobering and humbling as it is, where else in our lives can we find such moments of pure honesty?
An inside look at a painting that reflects life’s transformations
‘Becoming’ is a process of growth… of coming into being. It is more than a superficial word of flattery (that suit is very ‘becoming’ on you…) It is a recognition of something new being born. Often the process of becoming is slow and is not without pain or loss… we must let go of what we were in order to become who we are becoming.
I recently completed a commissioned piece for a dear friend who has been a long-time supporter. As I worked on the painting and allowed the image to unfold in a very slow and deliberate way, it was as if I were intently listening to a subtle voice who was giving me clues about this friend’s soul direction. He and I had talked previously and I took notes about his life path. I learned about his difficult childhood in which he was bullied for his lack of confidence, and how he grew up in a place that couldn’t fully accept his for who he was. I learned how, many years later, he found teachings that made more sense to him and how in recent years he has been called to walk the path toward leadership–serving and making a difference for others.
From fear and shame to courage and commitment, this friend is living a transformed life. In his words: “The moment I say yes, I allow transformation. It happens in an instant.” He shared with me how he’ll take anything on now. On the court of life he is playing the game full out.
In this painting, the themes of life and transformation shine boldly in vibrant hues of orange and golden pink. What was previously held down now bursts forth with vitality in a supported way. Whatever darkness was previously holding us back can become the launching pad when the time is right. But it’s a process.
As the painting morphed and changed along the way, the following phrases popped up for me at various stages and I jotted them down…
A diamond in the rough
A sweet boy
A tulip on fire
Rising & blooming
Bloom of becoming
Prints of this piece are now available! (Multiple media options and wall preview tool available)