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. 

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