How do you feel about a blank canvas?
A lot of the artists that I have encountered say that a blank canvas is terrifying to them, but for me it is the opposite. That is the one place where I feel pretty much fearless. It is a place where I can go and there are no rules. It is a place to escape the fear and the worries that are going on in the real world. It is just a blank canvas and if you don’t like it you can paint over it or whatever. But it is just getting to that place where you feel safe and can be yourself and without paying too much attention to the outcome.
Was there ever a time, maybe when you were younger, that the blank canvas intimidated you?
Not so much the blank canvas, but rather the results. I do remember taking art lessons from this little old lady who was an oil painter. I’d go after school when I was like 7 or 8 years old and she would literally finish the paintings for us so that they would look half decent. I would bring home these paintings and my dad would exclaim what a wonderful artist I was. Then one time I wanted to do a painting of eagles for my dad. I wouldn’t let the painting teacher touch my painting. It was the only painting that I did all by myself and my dad didn’t like it and I remember being devastated by that.
So now I really don’t care what other people think about my art and when I sit down to it, it is my time. I do love to share it afterwards, but I choose my audiences. The biggest factor though, is just being able to express myself. I often think now that my dad would be completely blown out of the water by what I produce because it comes from a very real place that is all me.
Can you describe the feeling that comes over you when you are in that flow?
For me, I describe it like meditation. Most of the time I will put on mellow music so I can relax into that. I don’t think about what is going on around me, but there is this sort of calmness that comes over and I try not to question. I just let whatever is inside come out, releasing the need for any specific result. And that is such a comfort and such a peace. I remember when it first started happening, I would look at what I had produced afterward and kind of go, “I didn’t do that.” It is something else. It is something bigger than me. I felt like Spirit was moving through me. Now that doesn’t happen every single time, but when I get into the flow, that is what is happening.
Do you ever get an urge to put a color down and you say, “Why would I do that?” But you go with it anyway?
Yes! When I am just letting things come and I don’t like what’s coming, I have to just shut that up and say, “Well, what’s the worst that could happen and I can just paint over it. It’s not a big deal.” And if I stay with it, it almost always brings me to where it needs to go.
Is that scary or awkward?
There are awkward moments, but I think that is part of it. It is kind of a tension you create that you have to go through. Like giving birth. The process can’t always be super smooth.
Right, it can be messy and painful.
Yes, but also I’m not like one of those artists that is full of angst and paints dark, dark paintings. I know I have that in me. I know I have anger and fears. But for me, in my art and everything in my life that I do, I am always better when I focus on the light. If I start producing dark stuff then I produce more dark stuff and feel dark. That is the opposite of how I want to live my life. I don’t do the anger stuff. Sometimes sadness will come through, but I get more benefit by focusing on what’s good.
Just like by focusing on what we are grateful for really benefits people in amazing ways. It is like your painting is an act of gratitude.
So in the day-to-day world, how does the art help?
Well, I turned to it when I was in my darkest place. When I was dealing with depression I discovered it as a tool. I started doing an art journal. It became a place where I could refocus and take an hour for myself and not be in my head and instead be more in my creative space. It took me out of all the worries and fears. It gave me that ‘present moment’. And I started meditating around the same time. Both of those things were such a comfort and helped me get back to the present moment. Because the present moment is all we know for sure. This brushstroke is all I know for sure. This breath is all I know for sure. And in this moment all is well. I realized that I needed that tool.
Do you get a sense of how your art connects you to your heart and that deep, deep place of wisdom?
I think that it is my voice from inside and it makes me recognize my connection to the bigger picture.
What do you say to the person that looks longingly at art but never picks up the brush because they don’t think they could ever be good enough?
I say PLAY. Start with something small. Let yourself make a whole bunch of ugly art. Do something process-oriented like carving a stamp and playing with it or just playing with different mediums just to see what they do. Because it really is more about the time you are taking. It may feel like you are doing nothing, but really you are taking the time to be in the present moment and that has a profound effect on your spirit.
You can see it in the kids… their joy from the art. We are all born with that. Every one of us has that as an outlet to connect to.
Do you feel that art is a form of healing?
For me it has been. I have learned so much about myself. I see the beauty of my spirit come out in my art. I recognize myself in that. It also is an acknowledgement that I am bigger than just this human life that I live. There is a real spirit and energy inside of ourselves and we can choose to bring that into the world and share it.
What about the future?
I will always honor my creative self. I will always give that time to myself because now it is part of me. If I don’t do it, I literally feel it in my fingertips. I need to create something.
I know one thing that I would like is that I’d like to build more of a tribe around it. The added energy and stimulation that comes from like-minded people working together or alongside each other is inspirational. I get energy from it.
Tell me about Big-Heart Walking.
I was telling my sister, whom encouraging does not always come the easiest amongst my sisters, a story about how I had helped someone and she looked at me and said, “You’re just a big-heart walking, aren’t you?” It was the most wonderful thing that she had ever said to me because she had really ‘got me’. That is what I want to be.
Having that love exposed and making my mantra “love is the answer to every question”… that goes side-by-side in terms of saving my life. Love applies to everything. Whenever you have a dilemma and you ask how does love apply? The answers come and they feel right in your heart and in your soul. That is how I have chosen to live my life. And it is not always easy because when your heart is exposed like that, you can be exposed to stuff that is not always so great. But I don’t know any other way to be. The biggest thing that I am working on is being that for myself. I have decided I can be the big-heart walking and love everybody else, but I still have work to do in terms of reflecting that back on myself. That is my path that I try to stay on.
That is so beautiful Kim. Thank you.
You can find Kim over at her blog http://queen-of-arts.blogspot.com