The Spiritual Artist Podcast

Being Vulnerable in Creativity: UK Abstract Artist Irene Purcell Finds Her Safe Place

September 12, 2022 Christopher J. Miller Season 2 Episode 41
The Spiritual Artist Podcast
Being Vulnerable in Creativity: UK Abstract Artist Irene Purcell Finds Her Safe Place
Show Notes Transcript

United Kingdom mixed media abstract painter, coach, and mystic Irene Purcell shares the importance of vulnerability and connectivity in the creative process. After completing a deep dive into Nicholas Wilton of Art2Life's CVP course and Louise Fletcher's "Find Your Joy" course in 2019, Irene realized she was ready to take a deep dive into exploring her theme 'Everything is Connected.'  

The podcast begins with a quick mention of the passing of Queen Elizabeth. Irene shares her thoughts on England's national mourning.

She talks a little about the practice of sharing feelings and thoughts in journaling.  There are many therapeutic benefits of journaling, and aspects of the process are demonstrated in Julia Cameron's process of morning pages.  

Identifying as a mystic, Irene understands that mystics are those who experience a personal revelation from God that reveals the truth that the whole universe has a power behind it, and we are all loved and adored. At the age of 30, Irene underwent a life-changing experience, and one thing she subsequently realized was that our resistance to vulnerability causes separation from others. 

For 15 years, from age 31 onwards, Irene was part of an evangelical Christian church and eventually realized through a vision that doing the business of church was keeping her from her relationship with Jesus and from more fully walking in his way. She has expanded her spiritual landscape and explains that becoming more fully human is an ongoing process. 

"What do I have to offer? Who I am. That is it. That's all I have got," said Irene. "My vulnerability is my safest place. There is nothing to live up to and nothing to prove. I can just be." 

For more information about Irene, you can find her on Facebook under "Irene Purcell Art" and Instagram @irenepurcellart. Her website is https://www.irenepurcellart.com  Irene currently assists Louise Fletcher with her online art program, https://www.louisefletcherart.com

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the spiritual artist podcast. This is Chris Miller. I invite you to join me as I interview artists from a variety of disciplines. We'll share powerful stories and lessons learned while making their art Good day. You're listening to the spiritual artist podcast. This is Chris Miller. I'm your host today on this journey into creative exploration. Um, it's a beautiful, we call it cool morning here in Dallas. It's 70 degrees. <laugh> uh , some people would laugh that they call that we call that cool, but it's actually the coolest day we've had in a long time. Um, I have a wonderful guest today that I just have, I feel like I have instant chemistry with, and , uh, she reached out to me , uh, through my book and through another reader. Um, and she is in the UK , which is really exciting. So here it's morning and there it's I guess midafternoon so , um, good morning, Irene. How are you today?

Speaker 2:

Good morning, Chris. I'm uh , very well, thank you. And very much looking forward to our chat.

Speaker 1:

Do you think , uh, 70 degrees is cool.

Speaker 2:

<laugh> I think 70 degrees is perfection. <laugh> it's warm, but it's not hot. And it's what I would wish for. We've had some crazy temperatures during this year's summer, which we're simply not used to top eighties, you know, 90, we don't cope with that because we're not built for it. We don't air con everywhere and we're just not used to it . So now that we are moving into autumn, you can see I'm wearing a scarf. It's nice for me. It's nice for me to feel. There's a slight chill around my neck.

Speaker 1:

All right . Well, yeah, it's a beautiful scar. Um, uh, I will remind the listeners that we're also , uh, featuring this on YouTube. So you can see us talking in person, or you can listen to us through apple podcast. Um, I want to introduce Irene a bit here. She is an abstract painter. So, you know, I love her because I'm an abstract painter and she is a coach. Um, she first picked up a paintbrush. Gosh, this is not that long ago, Irene, but 2018 , um, uh, 2019 saw her dive into two intensive online courses that catapulted her into exploring her theme. And this is why I brought her in listeners. Her theme, everything is connected. Everything is connected. An observation she'd arrive at over 30 plus years is a mystic investigating how to be. I love this , uh, uh, Irene more fully human that's wonderful. Um, so I'm excited to talk to you about this whole concept of everything is connected and share your thoughts. Um, I, I would be remiss in not mentioning that I imagine your whole country is in mourn right now with the passing of , uh, queen Elizabeth. It's on the news here everywhere in doubt in Texas.

Speaker 2:

Yes . Yes. There's a , there's , there's a lot of it. Um, there's an official 10 days of , uh, national morning leading up to the funeral. And I think it gives people from all quarters of society opportunity to say anything they want to say basically. So that's

Speaker 1:

<laugh> and they take that opportunity, don't

Speaker 2:

They? Oh, they do. They do. Yeah. Things like books of condolences, which seem an odd thing, but people are willing to queue for a long time to enter a building and write a short message in a book. It's a very symbolic thing for a lot of people to do. So I'm pleased that there's a setup and that people who want to can make use of that.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I've never heard of that. Oh , that's not , that's not something we've that I'm familiar with here in the states . Um, yeah, so people, they , they have these locations around the city and, and people can write in a book.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. They, the churches of all kinds and cathedrals and public buildings set up books of condolence and all people are welcome to queue up and come in and they're given a private moment to sit and write their words and then file out. And the next one files in it's a , it is a nice ritual. I think, I think it's very meaningful for a lot of people.

Speaker 1:

It is. It's a beautiful ritual. Um, yeah , it, it , it ties in actually with your theme too. I think because , uh, queen Elizabeth's presence has been such all my life. Right. All my life,

Speaker 2:

All of mine.

Speaker 1:

And, and so she's iconic in that presence and it shows how indeed everything is connected. Mm-hmm <affirmative> we , even though I'm across the ocean in a different, totally different place, how, how that resonates and how it has resonated with me throughout my life.

Speaker 2:

Yes. And it's interesting because I saw a , I saw a , a speech by the president of , uh, France earlier today. And one of the things that resonated for me with what he said and brought home to me, what you've just said was that in the UK, she is your queen in the world. She is the queen.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's

Speaker 2:

Nice . And I think that's true. I think virtually anywhere, if people were to refer to , uh, the queen, they kind of are automatically understood as referring to Elizabeth, except of course, for those other principalities and that have their own Royal family. But , uh, she is known very far and wide as the queen. Mm .

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It's quite the presence. And, and, and I love the idea that you said, you know, when you talk about writing, writing those feelings in a book that goes back to journaling. Yes . Um , do you do journaling with, with your teaching?

Speaker 2:

I do do journaling I've journaled. Um, uh, since I was around 30 years old , uh, that was the pivotal time in my life when a lot of things changed . So, you know, we might get to that. It's one of the important things <laugh> , um, and for many years I journaled avidly. Forcily fiercely deeply searchingly intensively every single day. Uh , it's not so much now, but it is still my great ally. It is still my switch when I become stock hole lost with something. I know that I can switch that simply by picking up the pen.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I , I , I , I , it's a great practice. Um, yeah , I think I did it for years before. I truly understood. I think you have to do it for a while before you get the benefit, because , um, looking back then I'd started noticing patterns in thought, right? Mm-hmm , <affirmative> , I , I would journal and journal and journal and after even, even after a month, so I encourage my listeners. If you haven't done this practice, it's where you get up in the morning and you , and you can , uh, uh, you can hand I type it. I know I cheat, but I , I , I am a lefthander and so I type it, but it's, it's typing out your thoughts, stream of thoughts. And , um, what happened was I would stand back and I'd go, oh , you know, I keep having this returning thought, whether that thought is that I don't have enough money or that I'm not good enough , whatever fears, insecurities, also things that you appreciate. Right. Means sure .

Speaker 2:

Yes. Yes, absolutely. And I think to what, what you are referring to there might be what some people know as morning pages.

Speaker 1:

Yes. From

Speaker 2:

Yeah. From Julia Cameron. Yeah . And her, her recommendation to people is to simply write and it's literally stream of consciousness and she says three pages , uh, normal, you know, note , paper , size , printer , paper size , just write it. It doesn't have to make any sense. It doesn't have to be full sentences, but do it. And , um, that's a practice I did for a time as well. But my normal journaling practice is much more conversational talking. You know, it's, it's not stream of consciousness. It's very , uh, much more aware and directed. And on the , on the , on the coaching side, I am part of , uh, I am a coach on a program, which is not my own program, but journaling is very much interwoven into the teaching and the coaching on that program, because we know that even as a person who is exploring art, and hasn't really thought about the bigger things in life, maybe too much, the spiritual side of things, perhaps even for them, when they come up against blocks , journaling is just dynamite often to those blocks. They don't know it's going to be, they take some persuading, some of them , but they discover that when they begin to journal while they're also trying to move their art practice. Wonderful combination. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, tell our listeners a little bit, well, first I want to ask you what , what , what made you start painting? What I mean, what, I mean, if people are watching this, you could , I could just , you could just, you scream artsy . I'm an art artistic person, you know, artistic scarf hair outfit. So what made you, I mean, 2018 was only four years ago, so sure ,

Speaker 2:

Sure .

Speaker 1:

What motivated you?

Speaker 2:

I really, really don't know. It , it kind of snuck up on me over time. I'd say that for lots and lots and lots of years before then, I'd known that I was an artistic person and I'd dabbled in art a little bit and I'd tried this and I'd tried that I'd gone to some classes, I'd done some life drawing, some watercolor classes, et cetera. And I always discovered that I kind of was able to do these things. You know, I could make a person look like a person. Uh , if I painted from a photograph, it would look like it. Um, there was something of me that came through, no matter what it was, I was painting or drawing. And that was always quite interesting to notice, but none of it set me on fire. None of it made me carry on and, you know, hold onto it for any length of time. And then , um, maybe two years before I started at the end of 2018 , I'd come to recognize an artist , um, on Facebook that I liked and I exchanged details with her. And I went to do a workshop with her and this was, it was fun. It was nice, but it was basically, here's a canvas. This is what we're gonna do. You choose an image. And then she directed the painting via her on stylistic choices. So I did a kind of a painting in the style of her. And , um, at the end of it, it was very beautiful, lovely, great. Took it away, but still was not on fire with this, but what she had done to help me while she'd introduced me to acrylics and following that, I bought myself some supplies, but it all took time. And it , for some reason, I don't know why it just didn't start to really happen until all of a sudden at the end of 2018 , I just knew that I needed to express myself through abstract art. And this idea was already in me, everything is connected that had come to me, you know, through spiritual journey over many, many years, it was how I saw life, the world, the universe. And so I began and , um, was simply experimenting with the paint , trying to make some vet , some , some, some little scintilla of that big, huge idea come through onto these canvases I was working on. Um, and it , it , it was okay. It was fun. I was, was, I was painting, weird looking stuff, which satisfied me more than painting, realistic looking stuff. And then it was in the beginning of 2019 , very shortly afterwards that I discovered the people who would then take me through 2019.

Speaker 1:

Wow. Well, you know, you said like four things there that <laugh> , that I'd like to follow up on. Um, I do think I have found that so many teachers , uh, uh, our , our teachers, they, they lead you down a path to do what they do. And there's very few that lead you to listen to your inner voice. Uh , I , I think that's, that's really what I try to do with my book is teach people to go all the way back to their, that child in them and start going back and do a Mar mark making exercise and see what marks are them. You know, we all have creative, unique DNA. And, and so I've taken so many teachers. I remember a course. I took way back 20 years ago, <laugh> I took a class and the teacher lined our paintings all up on the wall and, and everybody's looked like his, it was done in his style, but mine did not. And of course, when he got down to mine, right, he was like, well, Chris, you know, as though, as though the goal was to look like him, mm-hmm <affirmative> and it was a little , uh, you know, I encourage listeners. Don't let that slow you down. You know, if someone says something about your work sure enough. After the, after the critique , uh, three of the students came up to me and said, Chris, I have to tell you, I really like what you did. And, and I think it's important that you hear that inner voice. So , um, one other thing you mentioned, I just wanna follow up on with this, cuz we could just build to this. Everything is connected, but you do say that , uh, in your bio there , uh, more than 30 years as a mystic, could you, could you explain just what a mystic is to our listeners if they're not familiar with that term?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's, it's my understanding of it and I hope I'm not, you know, miles off and coming out as a mystic is harder for me than coming out as gay. I came out as gay to my family only last year and only to my close friends, like 16, 17 years ago. So I had lived a long life, you know, not hiding it, but not really aware of it if I'm honest. So coming out as a mystic is tough , is tough for me. I can feel the nerves in my tummy right now, but I'm gonna tell you what it means in my understanding the whole of the universe. It feels to all people who care to look that there is something wondrous behind it. That is what I understand as general revelation it's there for all. But personal revelation is something that any mystic would tell you they've had and their experience or experiences are vast and various . And I have experienced personal revelation unexpectedly and UN sort . And it turned my life like that. It was as though I was in one moment completely and forever changed, but it also signaled the beginning of this long arduous path towards cleansing and healing and becoming more and more and more human. So the mystic in me, the mystic that I have to claim is she who was given individual revelation.

Speaker 1:

Mm

Speaker 2:

Okay . That's made my , that's made my mouth go dry. I am . I am nervous to talk about that, Chris. I'm glad I'm glad to do it.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I love it. <laugh> you know, I always go, I , I really do love it. Um , I , I, when you say , uh, personal transformation, is it, is it just a knowing that you are , that you're connected to everything? Or is it , was it a specific experience or both?

Speaker 2:

Yes . I did have a very specific , um, huge experience , uh, which at the time, and looking back on it for a number of years, I used to describe, as God came down, just to me alone, he came to me directly. And in that experience in what happened to me, there was, there was no way that it could be misinterpreted or misunderstood. And I knew from that moment that I was utterly totally completely without reserve loved and adored. And the effect of that was to blow me apart in such a way that there were no longer any secrets. Everything about me was already seen and known by this force. And so I had utter and complete confidence to then dig in and allow the rubbish in me to be revealed because I was in the company of this presence that was accepting me, even whilst I was discovering for myself, the depths of my own darkness . There was no shame. I could no longer be ashamed. I was being forgiven and healed all simultaneously. And it had far reaching effects in my life. Um, in as much as I became an open book to just in every situation, really , uh, I understood what it was to be a depraved human <laugh> . You know , I understood that I was capable of the darkest of deeds and that it was still okay. I was still completely and utterly loved and the transforming power of that experience and the ongoing experience of constant self-examination , uh, it just made me, I suppose, more and more transparent, more and more capable of opening up to who I was and more and more able to, I suppose, in embracing myself, embracing all , all people. Now, remember, we're talking about now nearly 40 years of work to, to, to be that become that none of that happened immediately. All that happened immediately was the unshakable, knowing that this hugeness totally accepted me. And at that time it was for me , um, God , in the Christian understanding mm-hmm <affirmative> , that was a ver you know, that had been a very recent explosion in my life that was kind of this step one. The step two was this massive thing that happened. Um, but my understanding of what that is, has moved on beyond religion,

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

Uh , so it's taken and continues, you know, it's taken a lot of years and it continues to be an expansion. You see, the universe never stops expanding does it? No. So , you know , we are , we are , we are atoms in the universe and we too are expanding. And so this becoming more fully human is ongoing.

Speaker 1:

It , it is I, oh my gosh. Once again, so many things , um, one of the things you mentioned in there was I think seeing the truth, I will say this is , I'll put it in my words. Okay. And then, yeah , yeah. Uh , for me it is seeing the truth in everyone. So I see God spirit love in everyone. And, and , and , and that's that unifying everything as connected for me, you know, that we are all. And so you were saying that once, once you had that experience that you started seeing people differently, is that yes .

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, absolutely. I could identify with people previously. I had not, I had separated myself from other people and I was a very lonely individual who played a role who was , um, strong and invincible in life and took charge and had this, had this all powerful kind of , um, front that said, don't mess with me . You know, don't challenge me, you , it , it won't work. And so people tended to say, Hmm , fine. Yeah, well that will take charge because they could also, they could see this wasn't, you know, this wasn't at TYT as such. This was, this was a front for the person who wanted to do good. I wanted to do good. I wanted things to be good. I wanted everything I was connected with to be better and good. And so I just grabbed him and took hold of him and said, well , this is what we'll do . We'll do it my way, because my way is best basically who I was . And it wasn't until after these massive life changing experiences that I felt well, can I rewind slightly ? And just lead in to the , to the massive life changing experiences, they were proceeded by a very human experience that cracked me open. Um, and the cracking open was it was like the signal for spirit to go, whoosh , we've got we're in she's listening, she's listening. You know, not that spirit had never been communicating before, but I haven't been listening. And this cracking open became my first remembered experience of vulnerability and therefore a need for other people and a connection to other people. And into that space of vulnerability came these live changing events that, that turned everything, you know, stratospheric for me.

Speaker 1:

Wow. Oh my gosh. Um, uh, like once again, so much. Um , so I was gonna tell you, when you mentioned you coming from a SP earlier, a place of separation, I , I , I am , I, I will, we're gonna jump in. We're gonna make you vulnerable with both sides with the mystic side and the, the , uh, the outing you being gay. Um , I , I am , uh, also gay and I've often thought that our society , uh, there's a special challenge for, for gay people. And I'll speak for my own voice for , let me say there was a special challenge for me as a gay person. Um, in a lot of ways I was restricted from participating in societal things like you, I , we couldn't have a relationship. We couldn't get married, we couldn't have children. And I have found that my life has been this experience of breaking those norms, you know? Yeah . I, I am in a , uh, 31 year relationship with my husband. Wow. And we only got married on our 25th anniversary, which is amazing. When you think about it , we were together for 25 years before society allowed us to get married. The , the negative , the , the positive of that is because it pulled me so out of center, it made me be able to look at life from, from a opposite , from a different perspective. But it also alienates you from people mm-hmm <affirmative> . And I have to say, and then I , I , I will share my listeners know this, but I have a son and we adopted him 18 years ago. He just went to college. So I got to be, I got to participate in having a family and having a home and having a relationship and raising a child. Um, I got to go to PTA and so, and be the PTA mom. And I did all those things. And that helped me, you know, you talk about life is a , is a process of expansion. It helped me see the universality in everyone,

Speaker 2:

You know,

Speaker 1:

But it is challenging for, for, for someone who was born , um, different from what they, what the majority is because we, right. You

Speaker 2:

Know? Yeah. But you know, my , the weird thing for me is I didn't even know myself until I was 50. I didn't know. And that goes back to a kind of traumatic, I guess, you know, young life and the teenage years where I was without my personal power. That was how I arrived into the teenage years. When all the sexual signals of flying around like mad, it was also only kind of the end of the sixties. And I didn't even know about gay. I didn't even hear about it. You know, it wasn't talked about recognized. You , you might hear the odd, horrible wording or phraseology , uh, directed towards a gay man , perhaps , but had wasn't aware there was no conscious awareness. And so during my formative adolescent years, as a person who had arrived with no sense of personal power, I became pre to those who felt they wanted me basically. And that was guys and I followed the norm. And, you know, there, it was, it just kind of took me along in its, in its flow. And I had male relationships and I got married and I had two children when I reached 50. I had at this point, just separated from , uh, my husband and several years, lots of years. And , um, it began, I began to be aware of it. And I was best friends at the time spending a lot of time with a gay friend. We were going to the gym together and stuff like this. And, and I just kind of realized there was something in me. And anyway, I came out to her and then to one or two other friends and to my sister. And I started to remember, I started to remember many, many, many little instances way back in time when I might have recognized it had, I had any awareness of it as a thing, you know? So I'd never recognized. It never been aware of it only came out when I was 50 and didn't even bother coming out to my family because I was thinking at that time, well, it's a need to know basis thing. You know, if I meet someone, if I meet a woman, then clearly I'll tell my kids. I'll tell my parents, you know, I've met someone and it's a woman, so I didn't think they needed to know. And then , uh, last year, early last year, I came to a moment when I realized that leaving that door to full revelation, a jar wasn't satisfying. I didn't like it. It was as though I was uninviting anything unexpected to come up in my own life. So I thought sling that door wide open and then let everything flow in and out as it needs to. So I told my children too much hilarity. They were , they just , they kinda went oh , right . And laugh as if, to say , what next mom , what next of course , you know , they're of a generation that just goes , yeah , well , whatever , it's completely fine to them. So my separateness from other people was down to the fact that I would not allow vulnerability. So other people's weaknesses and vulnerabilities when I was a young woman, they were not for me. I was going to be invincible and strong until this one event in , in , in , in my life with a friend cracked me open, made me feel vulnerability for the first time and allowed this new stuff to come in.

Speaker 1:

Oh , lovely. Um, so how, how did all that , so at that same time that you were coming out to your children, was that when you started painting or is that before that, or?

Speaker 2:

Oh, no. It was only last year. Uh , I started painting at the end of 2018 . So it was only last year that I told the children. Yeah .

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . Wow . So they already knew me as, you know, very independent. I've lived alone for , um, 17 years. I became an artist out of the blue. So they're like, yeah, yeah. You know , I've , I've traveled around the world on my own. Um, they know me as a, can do person , um, not frightened, capable of doing their own thing . So they just kind of took it on the chin. There's just one more thing moment . Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So I'm gonna go back to a pin. I put in back in , earlier in your conversation, you were talking about when you were learning to be creative. And I, I resonate with this. I share this feeling. Um, I have, I can do literal realistic drawing. Yeah. Um, but it never has engaged me. And I, I I'll have people always say, well, don't, you wanna draw a fruit bowl or, you know, or don't you wanna draw a figure. And I'm like, for some, there's a challenge for me in doing something abstracted that shows my emotions, my state, a way of feeling, try for me. The challenge is trying to get shapes, simple shapes that to come and say something without the literal connection of, oh, there's a face, you know, there's a silhouette. So how , how do you feel about, I mean, cuz obviously you're going for abstract and, and oh, I wanna share with the listeners. I did look at some of your work. I watched some of your videos and it's it's first for only four years. It's very sophisticated. Cool . It's very , it's very layered. You know, it has a lot of what I call story to it. Yeah . I love that. There's you can see things peeping out and that's really what I think is the successful piece of work. I want to see history. So how , what, what is your engagement with abstract? Why, why ?

Speaker 2:

Well, it was it , I just knew ha having dabbled here and there with , um, realism. I knew that it wasn't saying anything for me. It wasn't allowing me to express, even though I could see that , oh, that's good. And oh my watercolor paintings are far more bold than those people's paintings. How , how did you know, just the meanness was coming out somehow, right . But photographs of beautiful things, weren't doing it for me, you know, to , to translate photographs of photographs. For me, the real thing is the real thing. The photograph is the photograph, but painting is something else. And so I just knew that I needed to somehow express this idea. I have this feeling, I have this great big thing and it was impossible. It was obviously going to be impossible to make a painting that said everything is connected. So it was gonna have to be a heck of a big series of paintings. And each of them would have to only in part express some element of that. So I didn't do this in a very conscious or um, technical way. I didn't go, right . This one is going to be about the way that looks like this , uh, or, or a tree's root system is the same as a brain or no , I didn't decide anything. So the abstract painting was always very intuitive. And I guess, because the overarching idea , uh, was always there. I didn't need to clinging to it. It was already there. And so some element of all of the paintings that I did would express some element of that big vision, that big picture. And , um, yeah, my abstract paintings have moved through many phases in these few years. Uh , I even went through a slightly surreal stage and um, they have sort of continued to evolve and become, they became even more personal around the end of last year and I was able to hone in on what was happening and it was that they were becoming more autobiographical, more spiritual, that word. I need to put a pin in that word. Well , go back and more transparent. So they were, for example, an example of how that was happening was I suddenly decided that for , I do a lot of layers as you've noticed. So there's collage and there's paint and there's more collage and more paint and more paint and more collage. And then there's an electric sander that takes off a lot of that and leaves all sorts of , um, textured areas and, and things to respond to. So that's, that's the way I work is multilayered. And I started to use ripped out pages from journals as collage. So, you know, literally my handwriting in various colors of pen were going onto the boards and then paint and then scraping back. And during that process, once that process began, I, I was working on three pieces that were larger than pieces I'd done before. And I was doing them side by side. I also had six, seven or eight others within the same series. So when I'm working, I'm working in series and that can be big , fairly big numbers sometimes. So all these pieces were about the place, but the three big ones were mounted on my painting wall, side by side. And when I approached them because they were bigger, everything I did took longer and therefore the whole growth of these pieces was slower. And I , and I never touched one without touching the other two as well. So everything slowed down and I started introducing these pages from my journals and I started to have a very deep experience with these pieces more perhaps than I'd had with others in the past. And they were looking at me <laugh> there was a real relating going on and ultimately I wanted to put my face into them. I wanted photographs of me to be transferred into them. And I put one fairly, almost life size headshot into each of these three pieces. And , um, they developed into me looking at me, looking back at me, there was a real love going on. It . The really was a lot of love in those pieces and it was coming at me and they developed into showing the head as surrounded by light. So the paint in those areas was lighter. And then I knew that this was indicating the fact that all through life, I had been safe, despite circumstances that were traumatic and hard and dark and all of that, there was a safety within this light that was dripping down onto me. And I then introduced the darkness because one doesn't exist without the other. And so these pieces became, this is who I am almost and spoke very deeply to me. Um, I don't even know how I got to where I am in this conversation with you, Chris, how I'm talking ,

Speaker 1:

But you were talking about, well, there were autobiography autobi how do I say that? <laugh>

Speaker 2:

Biographical .

Speaker 1:

Thank you. <laugh> as I said, it's early here in Dallas. Um, so they, and they sound a bit spiritual. So we're gonna go back to that pin.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sure.

Speaker 1:

Cause I'm sure our listeners going, okay, what exactly is spiritual? Yes . And I could give a definition, but I wanna hear yours when you say that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah , sure. Well, because for about 15 years of my life, I was a Christian

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm <affirmative>

Speaker 2:

And I might add , uh, an evangelical, charismatic Christian who was having these personal experiences and speaking in tongues and all of that Shaan wow. And trying to tell the rest of the world that , that were anywhere within reach, that they needed to be saved and Jesus had to be their savior. I was one of those. Right. And if you like, that was all by chance. Cuz if I'd lived in a different country and I'd have the experiences I'd had , I might have been going to a mosque or a synagogue or, or , or , or , or a , a seek temple. I could have been going anywhere. It didn't really matter. But the truth, the true spirit had come to me and was content to leave me within this kind of environment, because in a weird way, it supported my journey. I was embraced. I was seen, I was heard, I was trusted. I was reparented by this really patriarchal old fashioned setup . It did the business for me. It reparented me. And it became my place of safety, a place where I was allowed to try out my gifts. Could I do public speaking? Oh , it turns out, yes. Could you know , am I , you know, can I do this? Can I do that ? Can I preach? Uh , yeah, you can, here you go. All of those things were given to me, if you like, as part of my healing and growth, I was able to see myself not only as fully accepted by God, but allowed to, allowed to be who I was as a human, with the support and love of these people. So it was a wonderful experience for me. But nevertheless, this being part of the church was a vehicle and the journey came to the Terminus and I had to get off of that vehicle. And just as I'd been used to direct communication words, visions, pictures, all kinds of things. I started unexpectedly to receive a picture, very clear picture, didn't understand what it was saying to me at first, this was whilst I was on the verge of entering the final stages of signing up to train as a priest within the, within the Anglican church. So this picture started to come to me and I saw it a few times before I understood it. All I saw in the picture was right up ahead of me was the figure of Jesus. But his back was to me and he was stride along. He was stride along being Jesus. And I was a little way off. And I didn't like that feeling. The feeling was, hang on a minute, hang on. We're supposed to be walking side by side . This is our , this is my path. This is my journey side by side with Jesus. Hang on, let me get to him. And this recurred a few times before I realized what it was telling me, I was stopped from reaching him. It was as though I was being pulled back and what was stopping me from reaching him was the church, the business of the church in which I was so deeply embedded and so busy. And instantly I understood that vision. I stepped down from being in leadership. I stepped down from being at the local schools worker. I stepped down from preaching, teaching, leading services. I simply said, I need to step out. And I didn't know for how long I thought it was that I just need to get off the Merry, go around and take a break. But it meant, in fact that I had to simply get off the vehicle . It was no longer going to serve me. And I was instead sent out into a completely pathless land. I saw it in a vision. I saw myself standing in an empty landscape, utterly without features. And that was where I had to go. And it didn't feel bad. It felt like freedom. And then I started once again to really identify with other people because during the Christian years I was in and they were out and they needed to be saved. We were different. All of a sudden I was with other people. I was, we were the same.

Speaker 1:

Oh , there's so there's a lot of good stuff in that. Um , mm-hmm <affirmative> so I think sometimes, and I'm gonna speak for my own voice and then ask for yours. But sometimes people think that when you say I don't identify as a Christian for me, it's not that I do identify as a Christian. So I , for me, I would say, I identify as a Christian and more

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

And , and more so people think, oh, you're , if you're you're , you're , you know , whatev in the traditional mindset, some people might think, oh, you're , you're gonna go. You're not gonna be saved. Right. You're gonna go to hell or whatever. But for me, it's like, no, I'm seeing that there are all these paths and they're different. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but, and Christian Christianity is one of them for me and I, and , and Jesus, I do read the Bible and I am inspired, but I, and more, yes . You know, so I was wondering if you felt that way or, or yeah ,

Speaker 2:

Sure. Uh , yeah, I guess I could put it that way. That when I put a pin in the word spiritual, it was because when I left, I had to banish the word God and banish the word spiritual and the word spiritual became even more tainted. When I spent time in the happy clappy supermarket of new age stuff, you know, tried all kinds of new age stuff and it was all fun and nice and good. And what have you. And I started to notice that a lot of the people I met in the new age supermarket and , and all these workshops we would do and things that two years down the line, the people were , they , they seemed to be still dealing with the same issues, you know, and I started to think, I know what it is . They live in the supermarket. They don't take any of it at home and apply it deeply, you know? And that sounds very judgemental , but it , I needed to see the distinction , um, that I was most definitely journeying. And a lot of people were in a state where they felt they'd had arrived and was simply enjoying the place that they'd stopped at. So the word spiritual, I didn't want to be identified. And I found it really hard to use that word. And it's still only just beginning to get back into my language. Um, so what's happened for me is I've come further along. I see Jesus as the one who brought me in, who introduced me, if you like to the depth and with, and breadth of my path, he's the one for me, but he is no longer for me who he was when I was more an avert Christian. He's not for me , uh, God and king and savior. He is not someone I need to bow to . He's a little tricky lab and he's great fun and very true. And he is a man who lived his path so perfectly, so authentically and so deeply and left behind the pattern that would work for any who wished to follow in his footsteps and all the key moments in his path that were recorded in scriptures applied to me to I'm not back in the lambs that he lived in in the time that he lived in and having to do exactly the same things, but the stages of his path are the same stages for me. So in that sense, yes, I'm a Christian cuz he's my guy. He's the one that showed me the way, but there have been other people I've come across who have been precious and somehow imbued with specialness. Uh , but it's always him. It's always him that I come back to and I , I just kinda see him as the one that laid out the path. That for me was most clear.

Speaker 1:

Well, once again. Okay. I'll try to remember all the things cuz it's great. So, so I , I think I, oh gosh , you said so many great things. I do think for me, a spiritual artist is someone that continues to grow.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

And I , and say what you're referring to and I do, I see that as well, people get trapped in the ego identity yes . Of whatever that is, whether that is new thought or meditation or chanting, you can get trapped in it. If you too closely ID identify with it as a, that this thing, this material thing, whether it's for me, I was Catholic. I was raised Catholic. So it was all about, you know, all about ceremony. If you get too attached to the ceremony, you're getting isolated from your own spiritual essence, which is within. And so for me, I go with spirit, right? Spiritual. Now moving that to the side, any word is also a physical rock. Like it's a manifestation and no word, no word can truly summarize anything in the sense that because of my memory of the word, spiritual might be different from your experience of the word, the word spiritual mm-hmm <affirmative> . So I think what , what I like to do is I like to work on the plane of consciousness, the , the consciousness, the truth, the spiritual essence, the non-literal, the non-physical manifestation of, of , of , of what is, and if that makes sense to you. So it does . Yeah. And so that's, but you're right. Even the word SP you know , when I wrote my book, I clearly said, I , I , I did this convention where I don't use a word for God. I, I put an underline in there because I wanted to, I wanted to get onto the spiritual level of this with people. I , I don't want them to sit there and go, oh, well, no, it has to be Mohamed or, oh, it has to be Jesus Christ. My , or it has to be, I want them to use your own name. Yeah. Use your own name because I want you to focus on the spiritual truth. Mm-hmm <affirmative> of the non manifested, the spiritual truth. So that said, I mean, I imagine you sound like you had such wonderful , um, tools, wonderful tools to go into this teaching. And so tell us a little bit about these classes that you've taught and, and do you, are you able to, to include your, everything is connected into those teachings? So tell me a little bit about where you've been teaching and

Speaker 2:

Yeah . Yeah, sure. Did you, did you ask me to say something about the courses I'd done or just what I'm involved in now?

Speaker 1:

Uh , both a little bit. How about both ? Okay.

Speaker 2:

Well, very briefly in 2019, I discovered Louise Fletcher , uh, who runs program called find your joy. And I also discovered , um, Nicholas Wilton , who is the guy from art to life based in Soto . Uh , I did his course first three months, deep dive for a beginner who knew nothing who knew no principles, no art principles. And he didn't teach any rules. He taught principles, the overarching principle being contrast how contrast is what brings the viewer in. And , um, then Louise, whose course I had wanted to do desperately since I first discovered her , uh, at the beginning of that year, 2019 , and whose course wasn't gonna run until after Nicholases . And I actually said to her, I'm desperate to do yours, but this of Nicholases, it just looks so amazing. And should I do it? Could I, and she just kind of opened the gates wide and said, you know, how would you feel if that one set off and you weren't on it and you know, one or two questions anyway, <laugh> I did both. I did Louise's course straight after Nicholas and there are similarities, but Louise majors very, very much on , um, I guess the, the , the discovery of your own voice, not through our technique, but through throwing off things that are embedded in our beliefs, things that are embedded in what we think art in our beliefs about what art is supposed to be like. Um, things we remember from childhood when that teacher told us, no, you , you're not very good at drawing or art . So you should do, you know, cookery instead, all those things that people arrive with Louise majors on removing those so that the inner true voice can be revealed and can come out onto the paper. So that's how she works. And as a coach, obviously it's my job to back her teaching, which is easy to do because I , I fully support it in , in all that it , all that it offers. And it's a little about getting out of your own way , uh, finding your freedom, finding your voice. And she chose coaches who are all different from each other. We have different levels of experience as artists, and as, as people in the world and where I've kind of found my niche is very much more in the very much in the mindset . So we do get a lot of people who begin to work with , uh, this teaching and come up against blockages. And some of it's very traumatic zone . It's very emotional and I have recognized more and more and more that I am deeply intuitive. And so in the moment will arise new words based on truth that never changes, but words that I knew and in the moment for that person. And I would say, that's my thing as a coach is to hear, hear , what's really being said, yeah, the symptoms are arising within the art making process, but what's behind it. What's causing this issue. What's causing this block. And almost saying like , almost doing that with the paintings in a sense, I don't wanna talk to you about your painting. I , I wanna talk to you about what I'm hearing, you know, and of course we do give feedback on paintings at this stage in the second course, there's two courses. One back to back . The second one you can only do when you've done the first, and we do give feedback on paintings, but the rule is we only feedback based on the question that has been asked. So we don't critique a whole painting and they need to be able to ask very specific questions. I was trying to create a mood of blah, blah, blah. Do you think that use of color has helped this or hindered it? So we can answer questions like that, but during the normal run of the courses, the two of them, I will never say , uh, well done , meaning that's a good painting. I will only ever say, well done. You've really tried to apply this. You've really asked yourself some very good questions. Your journaling sounds as though it's really, really helping you. So I'm always focused on what underlies the presenting symptom.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . So are these courses online? Are they,

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they are . They are . Yes. Louise offers just once a year, she starts with a free taster course and it's called the, find your joy taster. And that's followed by a 10 week , find your joy course online because they're online. Any number of people can , can sign up. And then for those who have done that, who wish to go deeper into the principles that she teaches and, and , and , and learn more subtleties is find your voice. And that's a seven week course. So 18 weeks in all taster, find your joy, find your voice back to back . And we are currently coming into week four of find your voice. So we'll have four or five, six and seven, and then it'll be done until, and if she does them again, next year, her life is in a , is in an , a state of flux . She's never quite certain. If she's gonna repeat things, she might completely rework the whole thing, but that's what she's been doing up to press. Well ,

Speaker 1:

You know , it's funny that you talk about that because , um, my, my whole book is based on the premise of me going and taking a yearly retreat and focusing with a mentor. Yeah . And, and what you're saying is I think I resonate , uh, also more with you is, is I really work on the mental issue. The , the , the , the consciousness, I will say the consciousness of the painter. And I have thought about putting together a course myself, you know, based on my book. And, and I wrestle with that because I don't want , I , I can teach technique, but I don't. My goal obviously, is to get people to discover what's unique in them. Yes . And do ex do exercises that they explore that, but I don't want to be that guy. Right. That guy that I took 20 years ago, that made , made everybody in the room look like little mini guys. <laugh>

Speaker 2:

That's right . Well , in that sense, Chris, you totally resonate with Louise. That is precisely what she is doing. She is not teaching anyone to , to paint like she does. She is, she is there to enable everyone to see that they are an artist. They haven't spent X dollars to be on this course, if they're not an artist. And she wants them to uncover the artist within. So very much in tune with yourself, Chris.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It's, it's um, my , my mentor, Virginia Cobb , um, in Santa Fe, I, I was always amazed. We'd go to this course and she'd greet us at the door with a cup of coffee. And she had such a wonderful presence. And I feel like that presence is really what sets the stage for this wonderful class. Yes . But she never went around and said, you will all draw oranges. Or it was , it was very, everybody was working and doing their own thing. And only if you asked, would she say something, she didn't walk up and I've had instructors walk up and grab my brush outta my hand . You

Speaker 2:

Too . I

Speaker 1:

Know . And they start applying stuff and I'm like, that's not helping me.

Speaker 2:

I

Speaker 1:

Know don't do that. And , but, you know, and they start slamming stuff on, but she would just sit there. And, and like we talked about with the critiques, I remember she was very careful that we never, you couldn't sit there and you had to always give positive feedback. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and you couldn't sit there and go, well, that stinks who , you know, it was always encouraging. And I remember it was hard on me cuz I came from a marketing background, a graphic design background and I, I was very, you know , exacting and I'd be like, I wanna tell them what you do to fix that

Speaker 2:

<laugh> yes, yes, yes. This is, this is exactly as I say that the way that Louise teaches and the way that we coach. So it's very, it is very much in tune with, with what you're saying. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And so you have a , a group of people in your class, like the one you're are you teaching one right now, then?

Speaker 2:

Yes. We're in the , we're in the midst of find your voice. The second of Louise's two big courses and , um, it's a smaller group, much smaller group , um, because it's more advanced and, and you get about 50% of the people, you know, that move on. Uh , so we don't as coaches, there are, there are six coaches plus Louise , the teacher, and we don't have individual people that we work with. We work with the group and we , uh, each of us goes online for a , for a set shift through the day. And because we come from the UK and the us and Australia, we cover the time zones so that we can come into the group and we can pick up on what people are asking and what people are showing and sharing and wanting to know. And we , we make our comments and then every week there are two live calls to catch the time zones, one in the Wednesday morning, UK time, one on the Thursday evening, UK time. And there's always two of us us on. So it might be Louise plus a coach, or it might be two coaches. And we answer live questions. Some have been submitted before. And some arrive often arising from the other questions that have just been asked and answered. So that's how we do it. We, we coach as a team and, but as very much individuals and Louise has never, ever told us how to coach. She , she chose us for the people that we are and she let us loose , which is a fantastic way to, to work and to spread your wings and to develop your own unique voice as a coach. And you know, when you first start, perhaps there's more , um, a little more uncertainty about, are you doing this right? Are you not doing this right? But you get over that really quickly because you realize all I realize for certain. And here's a thing many years ago before I left the church, I got the message that I was starting to move into being not doing. Mm . And of course, oh , how wonderful, deeply meaningful spiritual message. Thank you so much. I accept. However, what's it I'm gonna be doing when I'm busy being <laugh> what are you doing ? You know , it takes a long time to stop being a human doing and be a full human being. And um , more and more and more, I realize that I can keep, I can drop this insistent, this insistent thing I used to have over the years. Well , is this what I'm supposed to be doing? Well, am I supposed to be a priest? Well, am I supposed to be this? Should I be doing that? I'll go to university and become a therapist. Oh , should I? And every time I tried to become a qualified anything, no , I just felt the, no , I felt it so powerfully roadblock. Don't go down there. It's not for you. Well , what's for me. Do you want me to sit in the back row in obscurity? Because if you do, I will, I will. I accept that I'll be obscure. I'll be quiet. I'll just stay out of the way. And I fully took that on . I took on the mantle of obscurity along the road and wanting to be a thing that the world recognized, you know, here is a piece of paper that qualifies me to be that thing I knew I was called to have no qualifications. No, no, no nothing that says to the normal world, or we can trust her to do that. And meanwhile, the inner work was all about me being and so today, what do I have to offer? Who I am? That's it, that's all, that's all there is. That's all I've got, obviously, you know, 67 years of being alive comes into there. But mostly I call on the flow in the moment to say whatever it is I say rather than tapping into a bank of learned knowledge. So it's wisdom as opposed to knowledge. And it's not my wisdom. It's the eternal wisdom, which as a conduit I have access to as do you .

Speaker 1:

Oh, I oh , wow. Yes. I love that. Oh . Um, and I would share, just remind the listener that, that bringing just you, bringing just you is everything. Yeah . It's everything. Yeah . And, and I, I have such a similar path there too. I have thought and been offered . Um , I, I don't know if you know this, but I'm a , a li a spiritual coach through center for spiritual living and, and I've, I've thought about, and I still occasionally think about it. Should I be a minister? Should I go onto the training? And then there's a part of me that goes, but wait a minute. I have all I need right now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

You know, I think a lot of times we go for that certification thinking it's , it's, it's a thing. Right. It's just like a thing, but it's just a thing. It , it's not really who we are. And so for you to just bring your full self to the, to life.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Isn't that what a spiritual artist is bringing your full self to your painting, to your, to this conversation, to the moment to life, to the morning, to the sun. Wow.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And you know, there's, there's a really contrary thing about this because some people feel that they need the study and the qualification, the cert , the certification, the rubber stamp in order to be confident in what they present. And that to just turn up as one's self is very , uh, scary. Maybe that makes scary , very vulnerable , however, huh . Here's a , here's a soundbite for you, but I'm sorry, but I did come up with it . <laugh>

Speaker 1:

<laugh>

Speaker 2:

And I discovered that my vulnerability is my safest place. My vulnerability is my safest place, because there's nothing to live up to. There's nothing to prove. I just rest. I just be , and that vulnerability is simply the openness to say whatever the words are that come up in that moment. And I don't have to check my notes, you know, am I , am I following the party line here? Is this what I'm supposed to tell people? None of those

Speaker 1:

<laugh> I love it. I love it. It , it is true. It , you talk about, I talk , I feel like it is a surrender. Yes . For me, vulnerability is a surrender and, and I know people have trigger with, I don't mean like a giving up when I say surrender. I mean, it's a trusting a knowing a belief that there is a greater, a , a power that flows through you and all things, and that this power, this energy is going to always serve you the best.

Speaker 2:

Yes. And, and the I'm glad you brought up the word surrender Chris , because it's a powerful word for me too. And it's something I offer when the moment is right to other people. I, you know, years and years ago, I remember saying , well , imagine, you know, you know that as a human being, you can lie on the top of a body of water and float, you know, that, you know, it, it weird, but it works. And so if we surrender, that is what we are effectively doing. We are lying back on the gentle current, and it's not giving up because when we float, we have to remain alert to the movement of the water. We have to go with it. If we just lie our water, as though we were lying on the floor, we think so to be responsive to the floor is to surrender to it. And I speak about, you know, I speak about surrender a , a lot to people who are, who are struggling and fighting with things. And I also recognize surrender as both a practice and the path. And I can say, ah , that that's what my path was from the minute that this power came in, I surrendered to it completely and utterly. There was , there was no, there was nothing in me to resist at all. And there was no longer any desire to do anything, but be in tune with this power to , to serve in some way. And so it's been the path of surrender and, you know, it takes a lot of peeling off of layers over all these years to continually become more and more human, more and more, the me that is meant to be in the world and a letting go of, of , of a need to know what it is I'm supposed to do. Just keep showing up, you know, the opportunities to do excuse me, to do particular things. They, they arrive if they're meant to

Speaker 1:

<laugh> . Wow . This has been wonderful interview. Um, is there anything I , I , I try to keep , I , we could go on for quite some time, I think. Um, and I've had people come back, you know, several months down, so we'll just put a little bookmark there. Yeah . But , um, there's so many wonderful points in here. What a wonderful conversation. Is there anything that you'd like to share that we, that we didn't let you finish out or something that you would like to share while we're here?

Speaker 2:

Um, that , that , that the , the , the , the more recent thing that happened a few months back two or three months back was I just found myself stopping painting. And , um, didn't know why at the same time a prompt came through from a , a , a podcast about drawing and it , and, and I suddenly realized that I could draw without drawing a thing. And it was more than just doodling. It was expressive. And so I started to draw and I was really drawn to it. And it was really wonderful. The Nick Floyd , and it was day by day by day by day. I've only just begun to think again now about painting, but once more, we never step into the same river twice. Do we <laugh> . And once more, I'm further down the flow. And my latest discovery is process painting. And this is showing me that there's more of my ego that needs to be gotten out of the way, because however free I feel I've been however true. I feel I've been to , uh, spirit moving through me as an artist. There's been this little thing up here. That's saying I'm being good. I'm being successful. Can I sell this? Can I not sell this? And when I do these kind of drawings, I find them , I don't want to , I don't want anyone see them. They , they're a sort of a , a sort of denial of some of the kind of true expressions that come , uh, unbidden really, but are not fit for being part of my life as an artist. No life is an artist. So that Eagle thing is now being kind of looked at, and this process painting is starting to have an important space, I believe for what's coming next. So watch the space.

Speaker 1:

Oh , lovely. Well, I, I , I think being open to those, that guidance right, sure . Is , is part of what it is to be a spiritual artist. You be present, you, listen, you react, like you said, you're floating, but that doesn't mean you're without control you, you , you , you're still feeling and you react. Sure,

Speaker 2:

Sure. That's it precisely. Yes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So , uh, that sounds wonderful. Um, I, I, I love talking to you and I look forward to getting this interview out as soon as possible. Um, I thank you for picking up my book and reading it , uh, the spiritual artist . Um, I will , uh, put the book up here and remind the listeners that the spiritual artist is on amazon.com and you can order it. Oh , there's your copy. <laugh>. And, and I, I , you know, I, once again, I keep expanding with the writing too, because I've already thought of some new chapters that I'd like to add, or the second book is already downloading a little different, a little more universal , um, that takes art, but beyond , um, so I'd like to remind the listeners to follow me on apple podcasts. If it's on your phone , um, in the upper right corner, there's three vertical thoughts. You just click there and it says follow show. And so when these new episodes come out, which I try to do on a pretty regular basis , um, you will get an announcement and you can listen to it. Um, and I , and hopefully it will keep you inspired and keep you moving. Um, that said, I love this conversation. I was so excited to have you. And , um, I look forward to re picking this back up in a , in a little while. Good . There's I think there's a , I hear, I hear a , a two and a second episode, somewhere down the line, cuz there's so much, and you've said so many beautiful things. So thank you

Speaker 2:

For , thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for having me and I very much enjoyed it too. And I feel as though there's more , <laugh>

Speaker 1:

Always expanding. Right? Always,

Speaker 2:

Always , always. Thank you, Chris. Thank you very much. All

Speaker 1:

Right . Well, thanks for being on the show.

Speaker 2:

You're very welcome.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to the spiritual artist podcast, whether you're following the show on apple podcast, Spotify or Google podcast, make sure you choose the subscribe button. So you'll receive new segments when they're released. Plus check out my new book, the spiritual artist now available on amazon.com in the meantime, be still listen and know that you are a spiritual artist.