Archive for August, 2013

Understanding Myself through Paintings

When I paint, I rarely consciously plan anything.  The canvas comes out, a certain brush feels right and paint gets carefully mixed until it is the perfect color for loading my brush and smearing on the canvas. Very little analytical thinking is happening.  When painting is working for me, it flows easily. It feels like pure, raw, unadulterated soul. I have no sense of time or place. It just happens… like magic.

I usually go back later to reevaluate and rework some things. Sometimes a painting is done in one session, but often I restudy a piece for years. I try to make improvements and quite frequently, I drive the whole thing into the ground and ruin it.  But that’s okay.

I recently visited my ninety year old artist mother.  We painted together and I saw that now that she is less steady with a brush she preferred smudging the paint around with her fingers instead. self discovery

When I got home, I wanted to try that. I added sand to my oil paint for texture and then smooshed and smeared it around until I liked the composition. Then I went in with a scraping tool, a brush and finally oil pastel sticks.  The tactile experience was nearly as exciting as the visual one.

After I had a series of oil paintings that felt like a complete set, I studied the work to find its meaning. I  had no preconceived ideas about what these paintings would convey. I look for the messages afterwards. On different days, I see them different ways. Today, they mean this, to me.

Here is a 3 minute video of my paintings tracking the exploration of myself as peacekeeper and what parts of myself  I suppress in order to maintain peace.

August 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm Leave a comment

Looking Back: One Year After Major Life Transition

A year ago, I was  comfortable in my perfectly tailored house in North Carolina. I had a well appointed art studio, lush flower gardens, a wonderful collection of friends and  both kids in college nearby. Life was pretty idyllic. I had solid routines and a finely crafted ways of being. It was all good. In fact, it was great.  When the house was just as we wanted it, the kids were raised, my paintings hung in perfect rows, that felt complete. So then, I wanted to try something new. And why not?

I had been teaching art and had always been impressed by the transformative power of creative endeavors. I read a lot about Art Therapy and became more and more intrigued by the idea of “creating”  as a way of opening up to something beyond ourselves. While investigating (googling) art as therapy I came upon this Masters program at Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I love the desert.  The mountains and sky are amazingly beautiful and I felt connected to this magical  land. But could I really live there?  I remember reading about the school and their mission of “transforming consciousness through education”. It sounded so perfectly suited to me that it seemed unreal.  I remember standing up and  walking away from my computer screen and then coming back to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. This golden opportunity to expand my world existed!
But wait!   If we moved, we would have to leave our children on the other side of the country! Would Rog  (my husband) go along with this? What about giving up  our ultra customized house with the art studio for me and the music studio or him? What aboutall of our friends?  What about our students? What about our comfortable existence?

We decided to try it. Everything happened fast. The ducks all lined up perfectly and here we are living in New Mexico!

I am sitting here tonight, looking out my window at the starry New Mexican sky, wondering where the new moon is and listening to the coyotes howl. Deep sigh. The greatest gift I have gotten from my first year at school is knowing I can trust this solid feeling that I am in the right place, at the right time. And this is enough.  I am enough.

August 7, 2013 at 6:23 am Leave a comment

AUTHOR Amy Hautman Bates M.A, LPCC, ATR-BC

After being a professional painter for 30 years, I broadened by scope from making art for personal edification to using art to promote health and healing in the world. I work as an Art Therapist with children and families in Santa Fe, New Mexico, witnessing  them tap into their creative energy to gain greater emotional stability, resiliency and peace.

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