My Heart Opens – A Feminine Perspective on Artmaking

While showing my work at an art festival, a man stopped to look at my painting, My Heart Opens.  He seemed to be taken with the piece and it’s thick texture.  He was very intent on telling me about materials I could use to build up texture before beginning to paint.  No matter how much we talked I couldn’t get him to understand that the texture is a result of my process, created through a  courtship between control and letting go.  A random splatter of paint reveals an eye.   Scratching into the paint with a palette knife defines a hip.  A scumble of light color plays over the splatters and scratches, creating a texture of depth and light.

My Heart Opens, oil on canvas, 36" x 24"

My Heart Opens, oil on canvas, 36" x 24"

“Who but a woman would think to put red down on top of that lavender?  Certainly not me,” he concluded.

Though he understood that there is something definitely feminine in my work, what he  couldn’t realize is that thought was not the main actor, either in the build-up of texture or the application of red on top of lavender.  Most of my painting decisions are a result of a feeling.  This approach arises from a feminine world-view which acts from feeling and intuition.  He’s cut off from this feminine perspective, not because he’s a man, but because we live in a patriarchal world which demonizes and belittles the feminine.  We are stuck in the rational, mechanical world of our intellect.  Perhaps women can connect with their feminine more easily than a man can, but it’s there within us all.

As our world careens into climatic and economic chaos, now more than ever, we need to reconnect with the feminine nurturing principle, reconnect with the Goddess, in our understanding of the divine. Worshipping only a male God cuts us off from our source, our wholeness.  We have lost our balance as we kneel at the altar of patriarchal rationality and control.

The male principle initiates action and movement; the female principle nurtures and is responsive to those actions and movements. Together and in balance they work together to create a world of compassionate abundance.   Together and in balance they work together to create a world where the divine is both transcendent and immanent, is embodied, is in the small myriad moments of every day.

When painting, instead of asking myself, “What should I do?”,  I find my question is more often “How does this painting want to be?”    And usually the painting is a reflection of how I want to be.  The painting, My Heart Opens, is a perfect example of that.   Though most of my work is textured, this one is extreme.  I feel  this painting took a long time to reach its conclusion because living with an open heart is a lifelong practice shaped like a spiral.  I reach one level of openness and a painting is finished.  With time the curve of the spiral moves up and out.  A new level is sought and a new painting struggles to be born, seeking a balance between the male initiation of action and the female responsiveness to that action.

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