Monday, September 5, 2022

Why I Paint

The simple answer is “because I have to,” but that doesn't speak to the truth of the matter. This is why I paint:

It was 2008 and I was sitting with Rohini Ralby, my Guru, in her teaching room. I was not happy and physically unwell at the time. During the session she asked me what I would spend my time doing if I could do anything I wanted. I knew she was asking me what would bring me joy. As she and I sat, a short word bubbled up for me. It was like a whisper and my rational mind pushed it down, both not sure I had heard it and because I decided she meant something more practical and related to earning money. I just sat and looked at Rohini as she looked into my heart of hearts. Then she said the word, “art.” The word I had pushed down.

Over the next few weeks she began instructing me how to paint. Of course I had painted before, but not like this; I would stumble across a painting not knowing how to paint or how I got to the finished painting. It was hit or miss. Rohini patiently instructed me every step of the way. I knew I wanted to paint with oils. I remember this first painting. I got a stretcher 
Untitled, oil on canvas, copyright 2009 by julie susanne
That First Painting (Untitled, © 2009)
from Jim Condron, another artist she instructed. I then chose the color palette as Rohini had directed: Use three colors. As she said “use three colors,” I wondered about white and she said, “Yes, you can use white.” Even choosing the colors was at a different level. She said to choose one as a red, one as a blue, and one as a yellow.
She got me to recognize that colors 
have different vibrations by having me approach the process from a deeper level. The palette she guided my to was cobalt violet as the red, cadmium yellow lemon and prussion blue. As I stretched and gessoed the canvas I did as she had said and waited for the marks to arise, from the deepest place I was capable at the time. 

As with other artists I've seen her instruct over the years, Rohini was with me throughout the painting process: critiquing, guiding, and instructing. She insists we create and live from a place deeper than the superficial place I am used to hanging out.
Rohini Ralby

She helps me to learn to live from a place where God dwells and to paint from 
there. Every unsuccessful painting is due to my approaching the work from that superficial level to do it “my way.” Each painting success happened when I got out of my own way, followed the direction of God and Guru and painted from the deepest place I am capable. I owe my painting success and my life to Rohini Ralby and the Grace of God.

Rohini has a new book available with her teachings, poetry, and paintings: Living the Practice: The Way of Love, Volume 1. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Rohini Ralby- Foursquares Paintings- Final Week

Rohini Ralby's first solo show, Foursquares, is currently at Stevenson University.  The opening in February was well attended and Rohini was gracious enough to give an impromptu artist's talk when asked.  Not to be missed is this exhibit of her visual depiction of the vibrations underlying four connected words in what she calls a fourchotomy.  I am fortunate to know artist, Rohini Ralby, as she is also my Guru.   The fourchotomy is one of the tools Rohini uses to teach us how to own, master and transcend vibrations that run us, ruin our lives and keep us from Love and actually living. 

At the opening we were surrounded by amazing art, beautifully rendered, professionally framed and expertly displayed on the four walls around us.  The juiciness of the paint and the richness of the work draws the viewer in.  I could not help but be pulled to one of my "favorites" which has wounded as one of the corners.   

To learn more about fourchotomies in spiritual practice read Rohini's blog post, Artist's Talk.

Rohini's show is up through May 18, 2018.  You can find it at Art Gallery on Stevenson University’s Greenspring Campus, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153. 

The show has been extended through June 22, 2018
Post updated 6/12/18 and 6/18/18 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Art Opening at Art Gallery of Viera

Brush With Success at Art Gallery of Viera

Opening October 14, 2017 5:30pm



From Cloudscapes Series by julie susanne  

On view at this group show will be the painting Seaside Rain Shower from julie susanne's new Cloudscapes series.

Art Gallery of Viera is pleased to announce its 6th Annual Juried Art Show. ​   Brush with Success 2017 will be on exhibit from October 13th to November 5th.  An opening reception will be held on October 14th from 5:30 pm – 8 pm.  Light refreshments will be provided.  A Presentation of Awards will be made at 7:00 pm,​" from Art Gallery of Viera website.

Art Gallery of Viera
2261 Town Center Avenue
Suite 111
Viera, Florida 32940 

Monday - Saturday  10:00AM - 09:00PM 
Sunday  12:00PM - 06:00PM

Come to see the incredible fine art in this group show. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Non Dominance, A New Series

How to Start a New Series of Paintings

In this series I was looking to do something different; I wanted to go back to painting with oil bar.
I started by attaching paper to a hard surface and painting the paper with gesso and pink acrylic.  I then covered it with another layer of clear acrylic medium. 
As I was doing this prep work I was contemplating life and the idea of doing things the same way again and again with no better results.  At that point I chose to paint the series with my non-dominant hand, something I had never done in the past.
I began each session by practicing moving my energy out of my head and into my heart.  You can learn more about that meditation practice here: Rohini Ralby's Practice For Us. The overall design and subject emerged from this practice.  
The entire painting is done with oil stick, oil bar, painting knives, putty knives, razor blades and occasionally a brush.  The diagonal line was created by snapping a string covered in oil paint.  There is layer upon layer paint applied over 5 weeks.  Texture was created by applying oil paint and scratching and scraping the surface when wet as well as when dry.

Oil Bar Painting Steps

Below is the progression of painting from start to finish:
Click on any picture to see a close-up


Some detail photos:


This is the first in the series Nondominance,  To see works from previous series, On marriage, click here.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

How to Paint 3: No Judgment

Paint Without Judgment

It is my job to live the life I was meant to live and to learn from my experiences.  For me that means expressing myself and my tools are paint and paintbrushes. I also believe that I have to paint in the face of all the "reasons" that I concoct to not paint: I don't have a good idea, I don't have the time, I don't have enough talent, the end result won't be any good.  I believe I have to paint what I am capable of painting today and to tell the story I am capable of telling today from my own unique perspective.  I communicate with paint and it is not by job to decide (judge) whether a painting is good or bad.  It is my job to paint until it is finished and then start another one.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

How to Paint 2: The Art of Staring

Why a whole post on staring?  Well, because staring is underrated.  I used to think I was a weirdo with the amount of time I spent seemingly doing nothing but staring.  Having been taught to work hard, staring made me feel like a wastrel.  I would sit hours and stare and stare and stare.    Sometimes a blank canvas would await me, sometimes not. 

Imagine my surprise when I read these words:

  • "But as for the rest of my time, the activity I'm most likely to be engaged in is staring.  If staring were an Olympic event I'll be bringing home the gold.  While other people go to work, I stare out the window.  I stare at my dog.  I stare at the blank pieces of paper and paragraphs and single sentences and a buzzing computer screen.  Hours of my day are spent with my eyes glazed over, thinking, waiting, trying to figure things out.  The muse is a sweet idea, like the tooth fairy.  The muse supposedly comes down like lightning and fills your fingers with the necessary voltage to type something up brilliant.  But nobody ever made a living depending on a muse.  The rest of us have to go out and find our inspiration, write and rewrite, stare and stare and stare until we know which way to turn." Ann Patchett from What now?

Validation from a kindred spirit in the act of staring; for it is an act- an active pursuit.  Now there is all kinds of staring.  The purposeful staring I am talking about is goes beyond non-purposeful, diffuse staring with a flurry of random thoughts and ideas and memories and hurts and joys and wants and regrets and to-do lists and, and, and.....

Purposeful staring is more disciplined and more one-pointed...a concentration...a waiting.   A good illustration of disciplined concentration:  Balance Goddess, Lara Jacobs at a TED talk (click here trouble viewing video below) from  TEDx

There is a quietness of the mind (I talk about this here).   This takes practice like anything else; it takes disciplined concentration and control.  Purposeful staring takes this same disciplined concentration. 
The Art of Staring is critical to the act of creating.  It is allows the space for the work to present itself.  It allows us to wait and perceive what comes next.   

Saturday, December 19, 2015

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Writer, Ann Patchett's, collection of essays gives insight into her creative process of writing both fiction and non-fiction.  Although specifically about her experience with writing, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage speaks to me as a painter.  Today I was specifically struck by a passage in the essay, The Getaway Car, a Practical Memoir about Writing and Life.  She states, "Why is it that we understand playing the cello will require work, but we attribute writing to the magic of inspiration?" 

And, "If you want to write, practice writing.  Practice for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say."   Patchett elaborates, "Most of us are full up with bad stories, boring stories, self-indulgent stories, searing works of unendurable melodrama.  We must get all of them out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the freshwater underneath."  Now she of course has a whole lot of compelling metaphors in between those statements above, and they illustrate her point well: That becoming good or great at anything requires learning the craft and practicing the craft. 

I believe Patchett is spot on.  Why do I trust Ann Patchett?  She does not give advice for the sake of the advising, she writes about the process as she has lived it.  And her words speak to what I know in my heart to be true about finding the good paintings that exist under the cruddy ones.  I believe most of us have some terrible paintings that we have to get out of our system---by painting them.

Patchett's collection of essays are witty, fresh and insightful.  Her writing connects the reader with the human part of him/herself by exploring her own humanness.  She reminds us of things we have suspected or known about ourselves as well as gives us a new perspective by tossing us morsels of wisdom.  And she does it all without pretension or elitism.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is for anyone questioning the way forward or seeking to learn more about themselves through their experiences.  It is especially beneficial to those of us who have creativity as a central theme in our lives. Loved it!


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