Art As a Way to Make the Unreal More Real

October 1, 2013 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

Hawk Oil Painting Sometimes a concept flashing through my mind can be made clearer when I paint it. I grab the “thought” and infuse it with all the feeling and sensation that exists beyond words. I stir it around in the paint and lay it out on the canvas.

Here is an example of using my art to make something more real. After my dad died I had a dramatic experience of a beautiful hawk swooping down and landing on a branch in front of me.  I felt it in a deep, deep place that only the greatest grief has taken me. “Knowing” it was my dad, in some form, gave me great comfort.  Since then, hawks have come to symbolize his presence.  When a hawk sails overhead, or perches on a branch, I stop completely in the present magical moment, and let myself feel the powerful mystery of life and death.  I feel my dad’s love.

A hawk has been hanging around the Southwestern College campus this summer.  He is one of hundreds of Santa Fean hawks just looking for his next meal. Students debate whether it is a red-tailed or a Cooper’s and lots of people are certain it is one or the other.  But to me, it’s dad. You won’t find him in Sibley’s Guide to Birds. So I painted a picture.

The hawk’s presence reassures me that I am in the right place at the right time and this painting helps to ground the experience and make it more tangible.

What kind of hawk do you think it is?  Red-tailed, Coopers, or my dad Tuck?




24×30 Oil Painting


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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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