Saturday, May 18, 2013

Painting is my tea leaves.

Painting is my tea leaves. I look at objects - trees, buildings, flowers, people. But what I am trying to see is the message my god self is trying to tell me. What do I mean by god self? I have read so many books on spirituality in my 54 years of life. Followed many spiritual paths. To me it has come down to this god self. There is this world that is physical that I exist in and interact with and am connected to through this body. Its physical needs - hungers and hormones, drive many of the decisions I make, often unconsciously. But there is another part, a god self. That self is connected something else. It speaks a different language. Its joys are not dependent on physical needs. It is illusive, and yet always present. Painting is my path to reach that self, and be that self. Not in spite of the physical world, but through it. Reading tea leaves is a method of discerning through the physical world, what the god self is trying to tell us. Tarot cards. There are many ways. Painting is my tea leaves. I look at things - scenes - physical things and try to turn off my brain. Try to look with my god eyes. non-judgemental, open, responsive. And just wait until a scene moves me. I snap photos, lots of photos. Then I go back to my studio and paint. In those hours that I live with the image that has moved me, I am trying to learn what it has to teach me. My medium, acrylics, lets me paint, and paint over what I have painted as I explore and learn from my god self through this image. It is about the process and the product. I have spent a lot of time trying to build my painting skills, so I can let that go and express all that is there, and more than what is there.

So what did I learn from this little painting "Portland Morning"? I got up early on this day (not usual for me) to walk around my new neighborhood in Portland. I had been so consumed with our move for weeks that I hadn't painted. I had time, but my mind was too caught up in the minutia and uncertainty of things. So, to break out of this rut I got my butt out of bed and went outside. The light was so fresh and cool. Light always seems to touch the god self. The interaction of light with the physical world seems so key in this search. the light illuminating the physical. In nature the light seems to activate something where it touches, the way light seems to enter the leaves and then glow from within the leaf, not just reflect on its surface. In this new place, this new direction, I was touched by this scene. The fresh morning light glowing in this doorway. The vital, happy colors of red and yellow. The new growth of the landscape. New doorways, new light, optimism. And yet in the foreground, always that obstacle. I rarely paint a fence crossing the foreground. It's not inviting. But this felt important to paint. In fact I spent an inordinate amount of time on it. The form and shape needed to be rigid and concrete. Why? It must have to do with my fears, fear of not being included in this new place, being an outsider. A lifelong theme for me. And the white picket fence is also a lifelong symbol for me. The illusion of the "American Dream". The fragile construct that seems to limit us to the accepted life, the safe, predictable life. And there will always be obstacles. But the light shines on all things, natural and man made. I read in this image optimism. My boundless joy in new places and new experiences. New doors, new light, new hope. The only obstacle is my own fear, as always, but that's one small little fence, and kinda cute in its own way :) 

Link to my Etsy shop listing of this painting


  1. Karen I loved reading this blog post. It really resonates with me, makes me think that we are kindred spirits. I've read a lot about spirituality and especially since my husband passed on 8/24/13. I, too, agree about the god self and that the energy that created the world is also in us and lives on when we pass over. Fear has kept me for years from advancing in various areas of life but most importantly painting. One of my favorite quotes is the title of a book and I use it often..."Feel the fear and do it anyway". Painting definitely is a challenge but is one activity that is very meditative and connects me to that universal energy. Yoga is another, and, of course, meditation. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Carolyn,
      I am so sorry for your loss. But, you have a great attitude and are on the right path for sure. I have had such a struggle with fear holding me back. When I first started painting I had never done any art in my life. It was a process of writing and meditating that brought me to trying it. And I realized it was that fear of failure that was the biggest obstacle. What if I'm terrible! Okay, well, what if I am. Is that any worse than where I am now? It's okay to fail! Thats the only real way to learn something I have come to realize. I literally had to keep telling myself, it's okay to be bad at this! Everyone, except for those chosen few, are bad at things when they first start. And I have seen so many naturally gifted people never do anything with their gift because they don't have that perseverance. The minute it gets tough they give up! I think success is 80% perseverance at least. That being said, I see your beautiful paintings on PWKI and you have a great talent my dear! The future is bright! :)
      Take Care Carolyn and thanks for the comment!

  2. Beautifully written piece - seeing life through the artists eyes and soul. Just found your site and am looking forward to taking the journey with you. Thank you