“Who looks outside, Dreams; Who looks inside, Awakes” – Carl Jung.
My very first art mentor and teacher, Elma Jella, inspired me to be a better painter by asking me to write about my painting. She urged me to spend time doing this with each painting , connecting my feelings with the art process. Elma would use her art as her process, journaling with it, living it. I remember one series she did called ‘Threads’ in which she placed string in her all her work. A layerist and abstract collage artist, Elma was always very encouraging, and gently made suggestions when I was stuck or dismayed by the work I was doing. However, I wasn’t a very obedient student.
As a Jungian Sandplay therapist, and an art therapist for many years,taking people into the unconscious and bringing images to life as part of their process was what I did. But I just couldn’t seem to do this for my myself. Now I had the time to express myself and I wanted to paint outside things…scenes from Mother Nature flowers, trees, landscapes, etc. I loved taking the image and transposing it to express my version of it. It was a lot of fun.
I wasn’t interested in doing more inner process..I only wanted to learn technique. I had finally let my closet artist out when we added a studio in the attic of our garage. Play: that is all I wanted to do. Technique, that is what I hungered for. But inner process? After years of doing this with others, I Just couldn’t apply this to my own art. It was too much like the work I had retired from.
So, I have to admit, all my work was all coming from the outer world. Even though when I was in my studio I was entranced; working with color, shape and experiencing the act of playing with the juiciness of my new-found passion.
I am sure this was a frustrating experience for Elma who had studied Jung and dreams in her own journey. I am guessing she was perplexed as to why my art wasn’t coming from these sources. Oh, don’t get me wrong..I did paint from my dreams, but I did it to make pretty art.
It wasn’t until I experienced a life threatening diagnosis that I began my own “art therapy”. I painted from a deep emotional place..sometimes not being able to paint but just sitting and looking at a black canvas. ( I blogged about this piece and that journey on my first blog.. Archives: June 2014).
That was several years ago. Since then, I have been taking a word that inspires me, and painting from it. One year I was working with the word ’emerging’. I did many paintings with that idea, working from an inner process, mostly from the Myth of Persephone. This year I am working with the word, “inspire” or inspiration. For me, this word is about breath, air, wings, flying, freedom. As a result, I have been painting birds. I can’t get enough of them.
I am intrigued, fascinated, sometimes compelled to paint them. For me, Bird is a transitional symbol meaning it can move between heaven and earth, outer and inner. Birds show up in mythology and fairy tales. Crow, for example, is like Hermes in Greek mythology who could travel to the underworld and upper world realms. It is a symbol of a messenger of the gods. I am inspired by Bird..all kinds. I will work with this word until it is done with me. I don’t know how long I may paint birds, or if other images will show up. However, “inspire”will accompany me in the background of my psyche.
So looking back, this place I began was on the outside, and like a nautilus, I have been traveling to the inner realms. It is a journey of inner transformation and I haven’t a clue as to where I am going, but am loving the adventure.
These flamingos were painted with Elma in mind…they came into being while thinking about her recently. Did I know what the symbolism of Flamingo was? No.. Did I think about it before? No, it came from being inspired by my very dear friend and artist. So Elma, thank you..you continue to be an inspiration to me! (See her work at www.ejella.com.)
Until next time, Connie
SAVE THE DATE:
I will have a few paintings in the Rocklin Fine Art show called the Snowflake show next weekend: Feb.28 & Mar. 1st. from 12:00 – 5:00 in the Sunset Room, Rocklin Event Ctr.- 2650 Sunset Blvd, Rocklin. I will be there all day Sunday. Please stop by and say hello.