Eighth Musing: “Tapping Into That Which Is Unseen and Heard Only Through the Soul Conversations with Artists – Part 1“
Have you ever wondered what the driving force is behind the creative process that artists tap into each and every day? In conversing with four amazing women artists, the answer to that begins to emerge and because there is so much to tell in this musing, it will be divided into two parts in order to delve deeply into the soul and spirit of each of these unique women.
Peg Belcastro’s words were used to create the title for this musing as there is no better way of beginning the journey into the spirit of these women than by using her own words.
She describes her work as “definitely not realism but leaning more toward intuitive, abstract expressionism which then is moving toward representational.” She works mostly in acrylic with uses of graphite, pen markers, housepaint, collage, and mixed media often added for extra textures and expression. Peg has also worked in oil and cold wax in the past and is contemplating going back to that medium for a series she plans to work on this fall.
Peg is a member of the musical group Mazimba, a group of middle-aged women who joined together to create and play Zimbabwean inspired music. The group name is derived from the country, Zimbabwe, preceded by the letters, ‘m’ and ‘a’ for ‘middle-aged’. She plays marimba and began this creative process while living in Alaska for a decade. You can find a sample of the group’s music on YouTube.
Although Peg has a musical background, she says that she creates her art in total silence but will sometimes pick up her marimba while her layers of paint are drying. She also states that season or weather have no effect on what she decides to create, but rather influences are derived from various experiences of things seen, heard, and experienced. As a person who lives in the woods, she is influenced by nature. She also created the series “Resist” as an answer to the political tension that now exists. She is heavily influenced by her time living in Alaska and her experience with the self-sufficient women who live there.
“It was a huge influence living there and meeting women who were pilots, captains of fishing vessels, home builders, and so much more.” Their mind set of ‘just do it’ coupled with the idea of living their own lives as they wish, was and still remains an influence in Peg’s spirit and creative process.
Peg’s work, Blind Date, which can be viewed at Smith Gallery was a work that came from a series created during Covid. “I wanted to work on a series with people but people who had their faces facing away from the canvas. The two people represented in this painting seemed so awkward and uncomfortable, the title for the painting just came to me.” When Peg works with people as her subject matter they are faceless and she creates in this way to allow viewers to create the identity that is meaningful for them.
Peg collects art created by other artists because of the joy she receives in viewing the art of other creatives while reacting in a personal way to their creations. Again, this is the experience that is so necessary as one creates their personal collection of art work. If it speaks to you, it will definitely fit in with whatever other styles you have collected for your home.
Peg taps into several muses who inspire her. One of her muses is her father who was a woodworker and she often created works with him using her own small set of tools. Her mother was an influence gifting Peg with her love for color. Alaska – the experience, the landscape, the people and their self-sufficient ways are also muses in Peg’s creativity.
Peg ends with advice for art collectors – “Art is such a personal experience and it is possible to evoke feelings in your home that speak to you, perhaps even creating different sense experiences in different rooms.” She then adds, “Take the time to go to art openings, meet the artists, speak with them and fill your home with their art and you will always be surrounded by friends.”
Arlene Figueroa works in mixed media consisting of acrylics, pastels, collage, inks, pencils, and sometimes hardware. She works in an intuitive style and considers her creations to be a form of healing art. Rather than being creatively influenced by the weather or seasons of the year Arlene considers herself foremost as a curator of thoughts and feelings through her intuitive nature.
Her background as a board-certified health and wellness coach tend to figure deeply into her art as she has experienced many deep conversations with her clients; these conversations inspire her creations by giving voice to what must be shared through her empathic essence.
Arlene’s mixed media series, Finding Her… In The Shadows, which can be seen at Smith Gallery, began to take form during Covid. “There was a really heavy air during Covid and you could feel the energy. So many voices were stifled and many divisions came to the surface that made us feel very divided rather than the ‘one’ that we all are. I needed to give voice to these feelings by creating this series.” On her website, she explains that the series has two distinct branches of reflection: One branch, In the Bodhisattva, pays homage on the path to awakening; the other branch, In the Shadows, gives voice to the golden shadow of the feminine spirit and submerged greatness. She often takes her ideas of the shadow from the work of Carl Jung and works on translating these feeling into her art.
Her work is purely intuitive in nature and she never knows what will emerge when she begins her creative process. Arlene works on MDF board rather than canvas. For the series Finding Her…In the Shadows she began the process with painting colors and waiting for the feeling of where a face would want to emerge from the shadow. “She appeared from the shadow, showing herself to me and when she was finished, she gave me her words – that was the very last thing I did. I have a lot of English poetry books and I went through them to piece together the message or words that she wanted me to impart.”
Arlene paints mostly when the urge to create hits her. She claims to be a music junkie and as such listens to music when she creates. Arlene is drawn to more melancholy music, Indie Rock, Matt Starr, and the Cowboy Junkies who are one of her favorites; although as a Gen-X-er she will listen to many different styles of music depending on her mood.
As a curator of thoughts and feelings her muses can be many things; individuals who express their feelings to her and whose voices have been stifled in the past, music, poetry, serendipitous happenings. “I think when we are following what is right to us… serendipity follows… you are doing what is important to you, you tune in to turn on.”
Arlene’s final words: “Isn’t it so authentic that we can tap into others and their journeys and be inspired in our own journeys…that is what art is. We are magnets for each other.”