What Makes Art Sacred
Published on August 12, 2019
It’s been almost ten years now since I’ve owned an alarm clock. Without missing a beat, I wake up each morning at 5:30 AM and begin my day. My usual routine: bathroom, teeth, workout clothes and then straight out the door with my dog, Rocket.
Every morning we walk the same trail around a man-made pond near my home. We see the same neighbors, chase the same geese (well, Rocket does) and pass by the same landmarks. And everyday I wonder to myself who walked this patch of Earth before I did? Who was here one hundred years ago? Who may be buried deep beneath this concrete? What was their life like? Who did they love? How did they live? Were they happy?
Sometimes, I let my imagination draw a picture of what this path I’m walking might one day look like after I’m gone: cracks in the concrete where my feet used to tread; rust peeling on the park bench and a flock of young geese eat peacefully. I wonder what the world will be like, when I no longer wake up each morning at 5:30 AM; when my daily routine becomes an insignificant memory of the past.
I have no better way to explain it, other than this is why I paint.
When I realize this life is fleeting, each brushstroke is truly sacred. Painting has become a journey deeper into my visual language. That invisible, mysterious thread that ties the mundanity of my life to the magic of my creativity.
Frequently my students ask me to explain the difference between style and visual language.
Imagine walking into a gallery with only three paintings: Picasso’s Girl Before A Mirror, Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait With Monkey, and Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet.
Without knowing if the paintings were created by one or multiple artists, you would easily notice three distinct styles depicted.
Style is how a piece of art looks and feels; it’s immediate. Style includes, but is not limited to, palette, composition, materials, line quality, etc.
Style takes years to develop and mature into something immediately recognizable, but visual language is always present and powerful. With some awareness and a little bit of training, any artist can decipher it’s code.
Visual language is the vocabulary that makes up one’s individual style. It’s not just the motifs, color palettes and quality of mark making that one innately relies on, visual language contains subtle nuances too that may not be as obvious.
For example, above is a piece from my art journal.
On the surface this is a simple color field with line. But when I dig deeper, these color field spreads show up in my art journal intuitively before any major shift is to take place in my life. They are my canaries in a gold mine.
These color fields are a huge part of my visual language. Whenever they creep into my creative practice I can guarantee change and transition is on its way.
This is why I believe that when an artist is aware of their visual language, it brings a whole new layer of meaning and almost magic to one’s painting practice.
Visual language is the nectar that makes painting sacred. Each artist has their own unique visual language that can’t be learned, copied, or lost. It is as innate as ones fingerprints.
And for me personally, understanding and becoming deeply connected to my own visual language has helped me not only make sense of my own art work, but it helps me see the world we all live in, in a different way.
I notice it in my students as well, once I show them that their visual language has always been speaking to them, their whole life starts to open and expand.
The main intention behind my Painting the Feminine eCourse is helping artists explore and identify their own visual language as well.
That is why today, I am proud and excited to announce that the virtual doors to the Painting the Feminine Student Show are now open.
Please join me in celebrating twenty-six artists from my Spring session of Painting the Feminine who have stepped forward with their art work and their words to share what Painting the Feminine means to them.
I am also excited to announce that early-bird registration for my Fall session of Painting the Feminine starts today as well.
Register before Friday night and save 20%!
Tending a creative practice can feel a lot like walking the dog. Each day we see the same things and say hello to the same parts of ourselves again and again. Being in the studio can start to feel like another daily routine.
In Painting the Feminine, we take the time to identify and notice our visual language—that deeper mystery that’s always unfolding as we go about business-as-usual creating.
With Feminine Wisdom as our guide, in Painting The Feminine, I help you identify and strengthen your visual language, explore your intuitive narrative and develop your personal style.
The Fall Session starts September 9th!
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