For as long as I can remember I have wanted to make pictures. My parents claim that as early as I could hold a crayon, they could leave me in a corner with a box of crayons and some paper and no one would hear from me for hours. Beginning at the age of ten and all through my teenage years, I spent my summers sitting on a stool in art school with a palette knife while my peers were out at the beach. What motivated me then, and what continues to motivate me to paint?
From the beginning, art was my preferred way of communicating my feelings. I found the world beautiful and realized that I had some ability to express that appreciation with the pictures I made. And making art was additionally rewarding because it seemed to give others pleasure. I was considered special for my artistic ability and no doubt those rewards reinforced my behavior.
However, as a young woman in the 60s with a feminist need to be able to be independent and support myself, I chose to pursue a career as a psychologist rather than try to get by as a starving artist. I didn't paint for many years. Now, after having returned to painting for a little over 20 years, I am seeing connections between my two life choices that inform my work as a painter today.
As a young child I would visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with my grandmother and experience a sublime happiness stimulated by my growing familiarity with various Renoirs, Van Goghs, and Matisses. This, along with my experience painting, had been a consistent way that I was able to connect with a sense of awe and wonder that I wanted to sustain. I became interested in studying what would allow me to go beyond the ups and downs of every day life and live more consistently from that place of profound appreciation. And I was interested in how what I was learning might help others. My exploration of psychology evolved into an interest in spirituality, particularly the non -duality of the Advaita tradition, and that has become an integral part of why I now paint the way I do.
Going back to the beginning again, I was a very myopic child and didn't know for many years that not everyone saw the world all blurry. That was the way the beautiful world appeared to me. Although my near-sightedness has now been corrected, I still find a blurry world beautiful. Non duality, as well as quantum physics, tells us that beneath the relative appearance of apparent separate objects lies a deeper truth of interconnectedness - a oneness that is at the heart of all we perceive of as real. The lack of sharp boundaries between trees, flowers, sky, and grass in my paintings is my way of attempting to paint that deeper truth.
So what does that mean for me "to find something beautiful"? Why, beyond being attracted to things which are out of focus, am I drawn to one subject as opposed to another? I can be out on my morning walk and it might be an hour before I take out my camera to capture something that I want to paint. But suddenly a certain landscape in a certain light has touched me and awakened in me that something which is beyond the surface, something everlasting that we share, and there is a feeling of recognition. I feel a passion that's kind of like falling in love, an experience of intimacy and oneness, of no separation.
So why do I paint and why do I paint the way I do? It is my way of showing that a tree is not just a tree - it is a profound miracle. I paint to express the awe that I experience in its presence and, like with my work as a psychologist, it's my way of sharing that awe as my gift.