The inspiration for this painting came from a 5 day meditation retreat led by my teacher Miranda Macpherson. Daily she guided us in a meditation called “the Vast Heart”. This practice was designed to open us to the depths of our own heart giving us immediate access to the qualities of the liberated heart— unlimited love, compassion, kindness and joy. Instruction included focus on our heart’s center along with sending our breath in these directions:
Vertically upward— past the galaxies and beyond the known.
Vertically downward— grounded, rooted, supported.
Horizontally— extending our hearts across the horizon and linking us to all of humanity.
I knew then that one day this transformative experience would reveal itself as a painting.
The concept began on a scrap piece of note paper ( think cocktail napkin—where most concepts get their start) and evolved over many weeks to what you see here. It immediately took the shape of a traditional heart in the center of the composition. I chose to develop it in four separate pieces, or quadrants, with each one standing on it’s own as a finished painting. I worked on wood instead of canvas, allowing me the most freedom in textural treatment like sanding, scraping and wood burning. Each quadrant has a specific focus on the direction of its energy and movement.
The four corners coming together into the center of the painting came last. What is in the center of the Vast Heart? Nothing. NO-THING. And yet here is the source of everything. How does one paint that? My solution was to sand this central area back down to the surface of the wood leaving it bare. I further defined it by burning in some fine lines. To finish it up, touches of 23 karat gold leaf (not to be confused with gold foil!) were gilded and burnished in.
Trust and patience were put to the test as only the next step was ever revealed along the way. The overall look is very different from anything I’ve painted to date. The colors are bright and saturated. I used nothing in the way of reference material. There is playfulness here and the word “primitive” comes to mind. After all—the Vast Heart expands us beyond our intellect and skillset.
The challenges were many during the painting process but the approach was always with joy. It is my hope that joy is what you receive.
From my Vast Heart to yours,
Visit Northcoast Artists Gallery to see additional pieces I have on display.
I'll be working in the gallery on:
362 North Main Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
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