Tenth Musing: “Tapping Into That Which Is Unseen and Heard Only Through the Soul Conversations with Artists – Part 2“
Have you ever wondered what is the driving force behind the creative process that artists tap into each and every day? In conversing with four amazing women artists, the answer to that began to emerge and this musing is part two of the conversation that took a deep dive into the soul and spirit of these unique women artists.
Gail Walden Coleman
Gail Walden Coleman works in acrylic mainly because it is water soluble and allows a host of different effects. She incorporates ink, acrylic based gouache, charcoal, graphite, rust, her fingertips and Inktense pencils for additional effects in her creations. Another method she incorporates is to use various layers of paint and then go over parts of it with baby wipes to soften and remove some of the colors and layers.
“I’ve also worked with water, pouring handfuls of it over my work to create various effects that are similar to watercolor but not changing the saturation levels,” she says. Her style is often termed abstract expressionism but she prefers to think of her style as gestural intuitive which means that the expression flows from her mind, down her arm, into her fingers, and finally into the tool she is using. The intuitiveness comes from the fact that she never knows quite what will happen and is led into the current moment of what she is intuiting internally. It is the energy surrounding and coming from within her that becomes part of her canvas or paper.
Gail normally paints in spurts, fitting it into her daily routine. She does feel that since she works in non-representational art she is not highly affected by the seasons or the weather but notes that what is affected by the weather or seasons are the colors that she may choose to use in her works. Her works are often influenced by outward situations that are happening in the world and says that she was deeply influenced by the attack on the Ukraine.
“I don’t necessarily go into my work with an intention of what I am going to create. I am a deeply emotional person, and at the same time I feel that we have what we need to get through difficult situations. Human beings are so capable, strong, brave, and courageous so I try to express that in my artwork by celebrating the human spirit – its durability and sense of humor.”
John Prine’s vocals may accompany her as she creates but her preferences are the sounds of nature coming through her windows, the bark of her dog, and even the sound made by her painting instrument as it touches and works its way across the canvas, or the plop of a gob of paint leaving the tube and landing on her palette.
Her turning point in art was when she relaxed and realized that she had a voice in the painting world, that her paintings were appreciated for what they were, and she came to realize that she didn’t have to create what she thought viewers wanted, she could authentically create what came from within her soul and this was her voice in the art world.
Gail took the idea of making her art 100% her own to a new level when she began making her own brushes and tools from sticks and various fronds of weeds wrapped in wool and twine to create something that cannot be re-created. She will dip this brush into India ink and allow it to drip onto her paper and then she lightly brushes this surface as the fronds curl up on themselves and make totally different markings that cannot be replicated. She does not wash the brush but rather allows the ink to dry on it to create a totally different textural surface when she uses this brush again. When using this technique not only is the artist a living spirit, but the brush is also a living spirit.
Adventures in art that come from Gail’s soul such as trying new techniques, making her own brushes, diving deeply into her thoughts and emotions are the muses that draw Gail into her creative process and move her along this path.
Her advice to art buyers is as you look at a piece, does it draw you in, do you keep going back to it to take that second and third look, does it speak to you even more after viewing it again. If it is abstract rather than representational pieces, take the time to study it and ask what it is saying to you, view abstracts from various artists, and speak with artists who work in this style as the meaning becomes so much more colorful when you speak with the artists. Connections to abstract art may also change depending on the emotions of the viewer on any given day or time. Various groupings of paintings may also alter your view and connection with the pieces as you move them around to various locations.
After thirty years in the mental health field, Karen Morton has taken a leap of faith by moving to her creative endeavors full time. Her business, named Support the Journey and her business model are one with a social mission of promoting wellness and healing of one’s spirit and the community through the use of creative energy. She believes this can happen through art as it brings people together, elicits conversation and inspires change.
Karen’s desire in creating Support the Journey was to blend creative energy with fundraising to assist others who are struggling through the barriers of mental health problems by paying it forward with funds raised from her creations of art and woodworked items.
Support the Journey is the founding partner for the I’m the Evidence/Mental Health Campaign which is an initiative to raise awareness about how each of us can positively impact the lives of others by honoring human potential, creating opportunities, and offering encouragement and support through mental health crises. Her partners in this endeavor are the Mental Health Association of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Peer Support Coalition.
Karen is a wood sculptor, builder of fine custom furniture pieces, painter, copper worker, welder, glassworker, and photographer. She states that she has been drawn to art for many years as a way of moving on her own spiritual path while finding ways to connect with other people.
When working with acrylics, her style is mostly abstract and she often incorporates other items into her painting for textural purposes. She will often use a textured canvas in order to make the textures even more apparent.
She became interested in wood working about a dozen years ago because she wanted to be able to make the things that she saw being created while being able to add her own touches and flair to these items. She now has a fully equipped woodworking studio.
Her copperwork is energy laden with positivity. The works are rectangular in shape and have been worked with different tools to create various textures and finishes. Each piece has many stories which you can imagine.
Karen says she did not feel self-confident in her artistic abilities in the beginning so began her art centered life by calling everything she did an ‘experiment’. By calling it an experiment she feels it broke through the feeling of being inhibited or discouraged, allowing her to start the process. “If I create something that I may feel has failed, I reframe that thought by asking how this is bringing me back to the next step necessary for its successful completion.”
When asked if the weather or seasons affect her creative works, she states that there is a practical side to this as she prefers not to go out photographing in the severe heat or cold but she usually has a camera with her for taking a quick photo of anything interesting that she observes.
While her various mediums of creating artwork are internally driven, she is finding that as she becomes more well known in the art world her focus may have to lean into the direction of a piece of art that has been commissioned.
When Karen is creating, she turns on Pandora and may listen to a particular channel for days or weeks at a time. Although the music is not a point of focus, she uses the sounds to create additional energy. Other influences are day to day happening but she stays on the positive end of the spectrum with these, saying, “I can’t remember a time when I was not moved by the positive spirit of humanity.” She finds it important to focus on that positivity in human nature and imbue that in her art.
Her desire is that her art moves the viewer to a more grounded space. She believes in the interconnectedness of all beings and hopes that her art assists in creating the feeling of connectedness and spirituality in others.
“I’m not sure I would be creating as much as I do if it were not for the ability of my work to touch the lives of others.” This becomes her muse, her spiritual path, the grounding and self-awareness she has, along with her interconnectedness to others.
Karen’s thoughts for art viewers and purchasers are to surround yourself with things that you love and have meaning in your life – do not lose that chance for bringing more energy into your environment. She further says that there are times when we see an object that we would imagine a friend or relative enjoying but we feel unsure of purchasing it as a gift for them. “Go with your instinct, there is a reason that you thought of the other person when you saw the object, chances are it will be loved.”
If you missed it, read Part 1 to learn more about artists Peg Belcastro and Arlene Figueroa.