Thursday, April 28, 2011

TREE PEOPLE—WHO ARE WE and WHY?: MUSINGS EARTH DAY 2011

Hallelujah for Trees! (art by Hallelujah Truth)

Hallelujah for TREES! Many of us remember the awe we felt as children when we pulled ourselves up onto the limbs of a TREE and climbed or rested, holding the woody flesh in our hands, pressing our cheeks, chests, and stomachs into the TREEBODY, and balancing there suspended in the air with the greatest trust in the TREE. If these arboreal musings summon memories and arouse longings in you, perhaps, YOU ARE a member of the TREE PEOPLE!

In honor of EARTH DAY 2011, I would like to sing praises of the TREES and those who celebrate TREES! First, I would like to acknowledge a small nonprofit organization—The Hostel in the Forest—which dedicates itself to educating wanderers who arrive at their gates to spend a night or two in their TREE houses! YES! We, adult TREE PEOPLE, get to be childlike once again, climbing up amongst the TREES to nap, dream, meditate, make art, and sleep.

Our House in the Trees at Hostel in the Forest
Chiboogamoo with Liz Schowalter thankfully coming down stairs (not a ladder) of the house in the TREES (photo by yours truly)
Located in Brunswick, a humble but bustling town along the Georgia coast, The Hostel in the Forest reveres nature and is a living example of how we humans can live happily and sustainably. While refreshing their TREE SPIRITS, visitors not only learn about sustainability but also participate in the chores required to live sustainably. Helping in the organic garden, cooking vegetarian, hand washing dishes and sweeping leaves and pine straw from unpaved paths are a few of the tasks everyone participates in.
Me, Hallelujah Truth, painting up in the TREES! Yes it was a cold March but pine pollen was already everywhere! (photo by Chiboogamoo)
At The Hostel in the Forest, life-style is also shared. There is the glass yoga house, a mammoth labyrinth, the drum room, the art studio, the sweat lodge—all are meant for communal use. In addition, while sleeping up amongst the TREE tops, TREE PEOPLE sleep in plein air, floating in the canopy of the pine forest! Although the convenience of electric lighting is appreciated, everyone uses composting toilets, eats communally, and shares one open air shower (privacy is respected).

Open Air Shower
Composting Toilets

Art in our Tree House, part of a much larger mural that glowed in the moonlight!
An endearing custom practiced at the Hostel in the Forest is the GRATITUDE CIRCLE before dinner. Since my Chiboogamoo, my sister-in-law Liz Schowalter, and I visited in March, all of us TREE PEOPLE had the good fortune of gathering around a roaring fire outside the dining dome. Imagine! About 30 of us (most of us strangers) held hands, introduced ourselves, and expressed what we were thankful for. Most of the “thanks” were directed towards the TREES and being quiet in nature without cell phones, computers, TV, or any other electronic distractions. Thank you Hostel in the Trees for being committed to education of the spirit and nature!
Bone art at the Hostel in the Forest

A TREE recently played a significant role in the movies! Anyone who saw James Cameron’s movie, Avatar, knows the reverence expressed by the indigenous people—the Na’vi—for the TREE of SOULS. This reverence is another way of understanding of our spiritual connection to TREES.

In Pandora, the TREE of SOULS is related to the Na’vi’s deity, Ewya, and is able to connect directly with the nervous system of all living things there on Pandora. If the TREE of SOULS dies, so does the culture and well-being of the Na’vi. Aren’t we, here on MOTHER EARTH, like the Na’vi? A Jungian analyst thinks so and has just published a book on this topic!
Recycled bottles in an outdoor kitchen at the Hostel in the Forest

Right now, TREES are a focus of Jean Shinoda Bolen’s new book: LIKE A TREE: HOW TREES, WOMEN, and TREE PEOPLE CAN SAVE THE PLANET. I haven’t read it yet, but this book continues a theme in Dr. Bolen’s recent books: The Millionth Circle and Urgent Message From Mother. In these, she is calling women together to make deep changes in the way they think and behave. My simple explanation of this aspect of Jungian theory is that “internal change” (at the subconscious level) manifests “external change” (in the real world). To simplify the concept even more—Our tangible world mirrors what we think. Furthermore, Dr. Bolen advocates that when enough of us get together to support MOTHER EARTH, we have the power to HEAL HER! Thank you Dr. Bolen (please forgive me if I haven’t explained your ideas accurately)!



This HALLELUJAH to TREES would not be complete without recognizing the extraordinary work that one female scientist has done with TREES. Meg Lowman, author of LIFE IN THE TREETOPS (1999 and many subsequent ones) created an entire new field in ecology looking at and exploring the tops of TREES. By examining the TREETOPS of the world, also called the “eighth continent,” Dr. Lowman, along with other canopy ecologists, is documenting the biodiversity of forests and championing their conservation.


A current example of her work takes us to Ethiopia, where she is involved with preservation of TREES in areas called, “church forests.” Because church forests have been deemed sacred, these TREE areas have been preserved up until now. But they are threatened by habitat destruction.


The “mother” of canopy ecology, Dr. Lowman, is at work proposing that “science” be done to document the “value” or “ecological services” that these church forests provide. Even though most of us know that TREES possess an inherent value (Hostel in the Forest, Avatar, and Jean Shinoda Bolen) scientists collect facts to show “ecological” value. Relevant facts that Dr. Lowman is proposing be collected from these church forests include the number of endangered plants and insects housed in them and the amount of fresh water, food, and shade the TREES provide to the local people.
Hallelujah TREES and all that they provide for our bodies, spirits, and environment. I love you TREES! That’s it for Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me if you are a member of the TREE PEOPLE tribe and why!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thank you Chiboogamoo for being such a great companion, for loving TREES, and turning me onto Meg Lowman. Liz Schowalter, you were so cool for sleeping on the top bunkbed in the TREE house, and I had fun climbing some Live Oaks with you at Jekyll! Thank you TREES
Hallelujah Tree Spirit

Sunday, April 24, 2011

HAPPY REBIRTH: WISHING YOU OPPORTUNITY EGGS THIS EASTER

Woman Rabbit in a Wedding Dress (Hallelujah Truth Art)

Hallelujah PILGRIMS for rebirth, renewal, refreshment, renovation, replenishment, restoration…SPRING TIME CELEBRATION! When the EASTER BUNNY visits our homes at the Spring Equinox, this BEING brings us a BASKET of OPPORTUNITIES. How gloriously fortunate we are to experience the death-rebirth cycle, the turning and churning of the four seasons. How joyous it is to celebrate SPRING and REBIRTH and to embrace our basket of “opportunity eggs.”

Hallelujah with Wallaby Companion

In 2011, my OPPORTUNITY EGGS in My Easter Basket are the Following:

The OPPORTUNITY EGG to BE REBORN. Winter is over. Time for planting, for sowing seeds of possibilities. What do I want to begin?

The OPPORTUNITY EGG to REPLENISH. What is gone? What has vanished, deteriorated, been used up, departed, been depleted? Do I want to replace it?

The OPPORTUNITY EGG to RESTART. “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower” (Dylan Thomas) is powerful and persistent, instigating forward movement—after a dormant winter. Begin again!

The OPPORTUNITY EGG to RETRIEVE and RENOVATE. Recognize the constants in life. Repair and update beliefs, relationships, possessions, or creativity.

The OPPORTUNITY EGG to REMEMBER and RELINQUISH. Like a good spring cleaning of a closet, many ideas, experiences, sadnesses, conflicts, and disappointments can be honored and then let go….a seasonal letting go and moving on…

The OPPORTUNITY EGG to RELISH OTHERS. To express love and appreciation to the communities in our lives, whether they be legions of one or many.

The OPPORTUNITY EGG to BE REDEEMED! All of us have the chance to restore our  spirit through reflection, prayer, knowledge and creativity.

HAPPY EASTER PILGRIMS. Wishing you a time of RENEWAL and REBIRTH! SOUL BLOG with me at COFFEE WITH HALLELUJAH.
The Great Mystery with Rabbit Woman

ABOUT THESE RABBIT IMAGES: I have posted this artwork of the “Woman-Rabbit in a Wedding Dress” today because it seemed thematically relevant to me. Consider that Easter is one of the most important celebrations of the Christian calendar because of the Resurrection of Christ. He died. He returns to LIFE. That’s amazing! For those of us who draw from many religions to feed our spirituality—this acknowledgment of the BIRTH-DEATH cycle takes on HUGE SYMBOLIC MEANING.

Sally Wylde in her self made Rabbit Woman Costume,  Grand Marshall of Oakhurst,  Georgia, dancing with child. (Photo taken by Chiboogamoo, and photoshopped by Hallelujah)

We have numerous opportunities in our lives to be BE BORN AGAIN. We can die numerous times and be resurrected, to start anew. Easter, a holy day, which occurs in spring and in conjunction with the lunar calendar, is such a glorious celebration of life! Winter is over. Spring has begun. Jesus lives!

And everybody knows the Easter Bunny has come to embody that ALIVENESS! How brilliant to represent REBIRTH with the symbol of the EGG brought to us by the furry cute and fertile rabbit! Easter is a TIME of POSSIBILITY! Good-bye old. Hello NEW.

Symbols change. The beloved Easter Bunny has many forms. My “Woman-Rabbit in a Wedding Dress” is one of these morphed Easter Bunnies! Let me explain. This image originates from a photograph taken several years ago of a dear friend, Sally Wylde, who died in August 2010 (See my related blog: The Soul is Not in the Body, The Body is in the Soul). My Chiboogamoo took this picture of Sally at the Oakhurst Parade several years ago. As the founder of the Oakhurst Community Garden, she had been asked to be the Grand Marshall of the parade. It was to the amusement of the Oakhurst Mayor that Sally was unrecognizable in her costume--a wedding dress and an artistically self-rendered rabbit mask. 
Spinning, reaching for Heaven while grounded in the Earth, unfinished Hallelujah Truth Art

The image of costumed Sally (a woman in her 60s) dancing with a child intrigued me. It had the ENERGY of a powerful symbol. A wise old woman bedecked in a young woman’s dress—a wedding dress, signifying potentiality, fertility, possibility. She holds the hands of a young girl, bringing her into the mystery! Sally pulled me into the mystery too. Thus, the piece of art I made for myself to translate the symbolic ENERGY for me.

The route for my CREATIVITY is to follow what I know. So I put Sally into my Hallelujah-world of Wandjina, wallaby, crocodile, turtle, and the GREAT MYSTERY.  On the left of the image, I have included a diagram, “The ‘How’ of Creation,” from SUFI: Expressions of the Mystic Quest. This diagram seems very mysterious to me and I can’t say I understand it, but I like that it begins with the KNOWER!

It is EASTER SUNDAY, and I KNOW that WE ARE NOT ALONE. We are all PILGRIMS SOJOURNING together. Last Sunday, April 17th, Sally posthumously became the first recipient of an award named after her: The Sally Wylde Cultivating Life Award. Britt Dean, her husband, accepted this award for Sally in the community garden Sally founded in Oakhurst. Sally is gone, but her community garden is bursting with life of emerging herbs, vegetables and flowers.

Sally Rabbit lives in my heart and my art! Happy Easter! Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me at Coffee with Hallelujah about your EASTER and spring-time symbols. What will you renew this holy day?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I AM HOT MAGMA MAKING MANNA: AN ARTIST CONFERENCE NETWORK ASSISTED VISION

I AM HOT MAGMA! art by Hallelujah Truth

Hallelujah for the Artist Conference Network (ACN)—a coaching community for ARTISTS! Hallelujah for a shared language for going deeper into the CREATIVE PROCESS and a method to JOURNEY into BEING and ACTION based on NOTHING!

If it sounds like I’m talking in CODE, I am! You see FELLOW PILGRIMS, in my CREATIVE SOJOURN I have found a way of communicating with writers, singers, performers, musicians, and visual artists who have agreed to SPEAK about their work following generous yet prescribed ACN guidelines, a way that does not interfere with each INDIVIDUAL ART PILGRIM’S VISION.

You might ask what I mean by VISION….You would have to belong to the Artist Conference Network (ACN), to truly understand the way I am using this term, but I will tell you joyfully and courageously that the VISION I arrived at from Atlanta’s ACN annual weekend that just took place April 16 to 17 in the club house of Pine Lake, Georgia, moves me forward into my ARTISTIC JOURNEY—I AM HOT MAGMA, MAKING MANNA.

Yes, I AM HOT MAGMA! The driving force that fuels my creative work is the “hot lava” inside me waiting to erupt and create new territories. This magnificent magma is molten and throbbing waiting to be formed, to be named, to be given voice, and to be heard.  I work as an ARTIST to translate this exciting source of vibrant life that is TRUTH, is HALLELUJAH, is RUTH TRUTH and all the incarnations I have ever been. First the MAGMA, then the visual images!

A quote of Martha Graham’s that we read frequently at ACN meetings reinforces the importance of SPEAKING in the unique voice that is ours alone:

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

Yes there is that LIFE FORCE! Thank you Martha Graham! Yes! And the other part of my vision statement is—I MAKE MANNA! As an ARTIST, I CREATE food for my SOUL through theprocess” of drawing and painting. Amazingly, I simultaneously feed other SOULS—because none of us, not one of us is ALONE! Friends, family members and SOUL BLOGGERS have let me know I have given them something through my LIFE as an ARTIST!  Thank you! And I know that the work of each and every PILGRIM impacts us ALL. My MANNA is your MANNA and vice-versa!

In addition to ART being SOUL FOOD nurturing our spirits, I believe ART is MEDICINE healing us at the most basic level of our BEING. What do you think FELLOW PILGRIMS? SOUL BLOG with Hallelujah and tell me what your VISION is. What drives your CREATIVE WORK?

The Atlanta Artist Conference Network with Jean Anderson (front left) April 17, 2011 (photo by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: I wish to thank Beverly Cassell, Founder of the Artist Conference Network, who I met at my first ACN weekend in 2002. In recent years, I have appreciated the coaching leadership from three members of ACN’s current board of Directors: Jean Anderson, Lynne Prather, and Marianne Connor. In addition, I am so thankful my own local ACN leaders: Lesly Fredman, Donna Rutherford, and Alice Teeter. It is with pleasure at the beginning ACN goal setting year, that I join the leadership team here in Atlanta! I look forward to working with ALL our members. Hallelujah! I’ll be blogging about ACN in future entries at COFFEE WITH HALLELUJAH! SOUL BLOG back!


Work in progress, a future puppet for World Laughter Day, May 1, 2011 in downtown Decatur, Georgia, brought to us by Jean Woodall!
Arriving Sunday morning to show work 

Showing work and Getting Coached

Donna Rutherford emerged as a top secret character to introduce her upcoming book

Dana Kemp showing her most recent body of photographs

Engaged in Coaching
 Some Smiling members of the Atlanta Fabulous Artist Conference Network on day two of the Artist Conference Weekend, April 17, 2011


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BLOOD FOR ART OR IUOMA!



Hallelujah for the International Union of Mail Artists (IUOMA)! FACEBOOK plus so much more for ARTISTS! Hallelujah for evolution in the way of BEING and COMMUNICATING that BEINGNESS! As a Georgia visionary artist on a SOUL BLOGGING trajectory, I am fascinated by the process of MAIL ART!



Think of making real tangible ART, putting postal stamps onto it and then submitting it into a BLACK HOLE, a portal, through the US postal service! COSMICALLY--Voila! The ART—now—MAIL ART pops out somewhere in this immense beautiful world into the hands of another ARTIST! This ARTIST—RECIPIENT appreciatively honors the RECEIVED ART by digitizing and posting it on the IUOMA website. TRANSFORMATION! CONNECTION! Possibly—even, dare I say—ADULATION through appreciative comments and observations that are posted along with the digitized ART image. (See these artist's IUOMA pages for great examples: Ruud Janssen, Art Tower, Angie and Snooky)


IOUMA is ART for ART. It is ART for COMMUNICATION of IDEAS and yes, Hallelujah proposes a commingling of SPIRITS—not necessarily like-minded but spirited! An aliveness of BEING exists at the URL of IOUMA!


David Stafford surprised and thrilled me with this story about Jill St. John on the back of his image! Is the story real or imagined? Does it matter?

Mail Art from David Stafford, Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 19, 2011


Money is not exchanging hands between GIVER and RECEIVER. It is ARTIST beneficently giving to ARTIST. How radical! ART is being made by the dictates of the ARTISTS’ HEARTS, INTELLECTS, and SENSIBILITIES! Within IUOMA, ARTISTS can join various groups using various themes: the color blue, rabbits, fiber art, asemic writing, connection to specific countries such as Australia, China, and Japan, and promotion of the word “zalop,”  to name a few.

At IUOMA, ARTISTS are in frivolous and earnest charge! Forget the dictates of gallery owners! BANNED are those SILLY commands to “standardize” the size and subject of an ARTIST’s canvas to make them marketable. Nor do nonartist viewers with pockets full of cash make smug remarks at this site. POOF! No talk of investments or matching interior d├ęcor! HALLELUJAH!


On the IUOMA website, there is an online chat room. I asked if anyone wanted a piece of original work I had just completed and David Stafford offered up his address! I mailed it on Saturday and he had posted it by Monday evening! From paper art to digital art!

As an ARTIST, I make ART to celebrate my SOUL! On my JOURNEY, I want to learn from other ART PILGRIMS—IUOMA fulfills this YEARNING. Before I discovered IUOMA, I had whispered then shouted “BLOOD for ART.” Viewers wanted to buy my work for a sum of money that was not an equal exchange of energy. In fact, I have witnessed more money being spent on framing than paying me. My ART is ME. MY BLOOD. MY BEING. Give me a piece of YOURSELF, YOUR BLOOD. YOUR BEING in exchange. ART for ART.

Thank you IUOMA! Hallelujah celebrates the International Union of Mail Artists—SOUL for SOUL. ART for ART. 

EXPLANATION OF BLOOD FOR ART: In stating BLOOD for ART, in no way do I advocate violence. And I’m not saying that I don’t sell my work.  Instead, I am stating boldly that the work I do as an artist cannot be separated from my heart beating in conjunction with my mind and spirit. Peruse my blog Coffee with Hallelujah to see for yourself. If you as a viewer offer me money for a work of mine, make sure you measure up an equal exchange of heart, mind and spirit. That too is BLOOD for ART


Jon Foster, Winston Salem, North Carolina

Douglas Galloway

Elizabeth Parsons,  Monroe, New York

Angie and Snooky

Sunday, April 10, 2011

SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM INTERVIEW#3: KAREN PHILLIPS—PURE VOICE IN ACT OF CREATING ART, AN INSTANCE OF BEING


ARTIST KAREN PHILLIPS Photo by Ruth Schowalter


Hallelujah for FELLOW ART PILGRIMS! Hallelujah for KAREN PHILLIPS, visual artist, lover of color and texture! On a coolish Sunday in the month of March, Karen and I huddled in Sycamore Gallery Place in Decatur, Georgia, where we both have studios, and discussed her SPIRITUAL and ARTISTIC JOURNEY.

As a result, I am delighted to offer to you, dear SOUL BLOGGER, the third SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM INTERVIEW with KAREN PHILLPS on my blog: COFFEE WITH HALLELUJAH (See SAP Interview 1 with Cecelia Kane and SAP Interview 2 with Robey Tapp)!



HALLELUJAH: Give me your personal definition of ART.

KAREN: Art is a conversation between souls. Art is whatever you perceive to be art, a personal perception.

HALLELUJAH: Tell me about this conversation between SOULS.

KAREN: The artist is expressing something. The person looking at the artist’s work is viewing that expression, and it is a dialogue that is going on between the two of them. Art is a dialogue.

It used to be that art was in this “box.” Art was functional or religious in nature. It is so much more open then it used to be.

HALLELUJAH: What about you, Karen, and you, the ARTIST—do you have a conversation?

KAREN: There is no separation. My art is my outlet for expressing what I see and for what I am feeling. Before I painted, I wrote. I have always had urges to create something. The struggle was to find that outlet.

HALLELUJAH: Tell me a little bit about the struggle.

KAREN: My mother is an artist. When I was a kid, I watched her. She was always looking at things in a different way. For example, she would see a rock, and see a face in the rock and paint what she saw. We would go to a store and look at things, she would say, “You could make that.” I learned how to see possibilities. From my father I learned the beauty of words, of reading poetry and a love of learning.

MOTHER LOVE: I was simply playing with shapes, but the result gives me this feeling of being hugged and comforted.

HALLELUJAH: And high school was part your creative development…

KAREN: High school was rough for me. I was taking “remedial” English because I hadn’t done well on a test that I didn’t care about, but I turned it into a creative writing class. I got into science fiction and started writing it. There was nothing I could learn in the class, so I wrote every day and found it exciting. I would create stories in my mind on the bus before school. So this English class became an outlet.

After a year of college, I wanted to work and got into the corporate world.  I went through changes. I stopped writing. I stopped any kind of creative work. I got frustrated. I didn’t know why. When the frustration got tough, I would just write and write.

HALLELUJAH: You were definitely on a SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIMAGE, seeking…

KAREN: I was doing a lot of searching. I read a lot of self help books. They weren’t answering any questions. I eventually found a life coach who told me I was creative. I didn’t want to believe her. I had a background in computer programming. I loved science, biology and physiology. My mother was the creative one who could paint and draw. Not me.

HALLELUJAH: But did you listen to your creative coach?

KAREN: I took a graphic design class. We did all kinds of things. The last thing we did was to create a poster. I didn’t have a computer that could do large work, so I decided to paint a portion of it. Just think, at my job, I worked 60-70 hours a week. Then for this graphic design class, I was up all night painting my poster.
COLORS BLENDING: We are looking at wet paint and I was playing with the process of color drying in a gel medium and the center of it started to glow. This image no longer exists except in this photograph because when it dried the glow disappeared. It was like capturing the spark of joyous color.
I was painting stripes of color and the sun was coming up. I was in heaven. I thought it was graphic design that I was excited about, but it was the act of painting that was exciting. I experienced a sense of joy, a sense of coming home.

Following that experience, I took a lot of graphic design classes and got promoted. I loved helping clients clarify their visions and worked all hours of the day and night to bring these visions to fruition.

UNDERNEATH SERIES: This Underneath series began with doing exercises from one of Mary Todd Beam’s books. I extended the process. It took creating layers to prepare the surface for painting. I discovered the beauty of visual texture and expressed images from my childhood fascination with mountains and imagined dinosaurs. It brought me back to that wonder and expanded imagination.


At some point I felt the need to take fine art classes, but I ignored that urge. I continued working. At one point, I attended an Artist Conference Network (ACN) coffee, and I thought graphic design would be my creative outlet. I wasn’t an artist, so why would I join something like ACN?

HALLELUJAH: Wow! Why is it that we often ignore what we truly want to do? A SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM’S journey is not an easy one!

KAREN: In 2001, I started having problems with my back. I began limping. I was in shear agony, but I was determined to continue working. I had projects to do. What would happen if I weren’t there. I was giving my all to the company.

HALLELUJAH: If we don’t follow our HEARTS, there may be strong negative consequences.

KAREN: Yes….One day, I was trying to stand up in my little cubicle. I must have had an expression of pain on my face, and the human resources person saw me and sent me home. “We can’t have you working like this,” she said. I thought, OH NO I HAVE TO GO HOME!

HALLELUJAH: Someone else had to tell you that you were sick!
CONTEMPLATION: I watched a video with Robert Burridge just experimenting with shapes. The way he flung paint across the paper spoke to me. I wanted to try it. I started flinging paint on paper and letting my stream of consciousness flow.
KAREN: I had an MRI done and discovered I had a herniated disk. My life coach told me I needed to take disability and heal. But I was so focused on work—being a “worker bee.” So I focused on getting better. Walking and getting surgery, but surgery made everything worse.  I tried everything from acupuncture to hydrotherapy to get rid of the pain, but nothing worked.  In the meantime, I focused on being able to walk better in longer and longer spans.

Then I thought I would try painting, and I stayed with it this time. The drawback is that I could only paint 20 minutes a day, but I did that every day. I started painting a lot and very quickly. 

I was putting these paintings out on the lawn to dry. One day, I was picking them up and found money underneath them. After that, every time I painted, I started discovering positive things around me.

HALLELUJAH: Ahhh…a PILGRIM found how ART matters. ART heals. ART moves one forward!


KAREN: Yes! I started being open to being an artist. My life was changing. I became a member of ACN, where I would have to show my work. I was shaking in my boots and sweating. And that was even before the first time I had to show my work!

After the training we received in ACN, I began to choose to let people see the inner me. That’s how it was with my first solo show. I decided it was going to be a conversation between two souls.

“I’m sharing this with people,” I told myself. “We are going to have a great time.” I set up the exhibit area so I could have conversations with viewers. I had little cafe tables and chairs. People sat at them talking amongst themselves, I moved around talking with them. It made me want more conversations.

HALLELUJAH: So your earlier struggle to “become” a SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM was resolved in creating conversations between SOULS—yours and the viewers?

KAREN: Yes. And I also ended my struggle to find words to express what I am feeling at the moment--texture and color.


HALLELUJAH: What is SPIRITUALITY to you?

KAREN: Spirituality. That’s a tough one for me because I’ve had all of these past experiences which I have left alone for awhile. Spirituality is the connection between everything. It’s that connectedness. It’s that connecting with. I believe that we are all one. So spirituality is connecting with that oneness, understanding it, and being it.

HALLELUJAH: What do you understand about that ONENESS?

KAREN: That it’s beyond words. That’s it’s everything. It is the action and inaction. It is love and not love. Oneness is beyond the words.


HALLELUJAH: How do you experience ONENESS?

KAREN: Silence.

HALLELUJAH: Tell me more about this SILENCE.

KAREN: it is the act of detachment. Being in the moment. Not being attached to anything. No expectations. Viewing what is. Seeing what is.

HALLELUJAH: What is the connection between the ART you make and your SPIRITUALITY?

KAREN: Art is being in the moment and not being attached to the outcome. For example, let’s look at how I start a painting. I start by drawing lines. Getting into that space of letting things go. I draw a line, and it s not predetermined. It’s not what I want or don’t want. It’s shapes and circles—lines.

BLUE IN THE KEY OF RED: I was experimenting with painting on plastic, a nonabsorbent surface, watching the paint swim and blend and using salt to add texture. What resulted “wowed” me because the blue was so deep and the overall feeling was being in an underwater world.
Then it is spreading color onto the surface of the canvas. Letting it leave me. Combining other colors. This is a conversation of color, shape and movement and  using a lot of water. The way the colors smooth and blend—that is an act of creation. The act of creation is pure joy.

It is connecting with that oneness. And expressing it.

HALLELUJAH: In what way does your ART enhance your SPIRITUALITY?

KAREN: It helps me stay connected to EVERYTHING, that basic being. (Karen lifts her hands, palms up, in the air on either side of her head and pauses.)

HALLELUJAH: How?
KAREN PHILLIPS: Posing in front of a recent painting at Sycamore Place Gallery in her studio. Photo by Ruth Schowalter

KAREN: It goes back to that conversation between two souls. I’m expressing the JOY of BEING! The JOY of CONNECTEDNESS. The JOY of ONENESS. It’s a stillness even though there is action in painting. There is a stillness.

HALLELUJAH: Earlier you spoke about finding that “good things” came from your ARTmaking.  Can you reflect about these “good things” now in terms of your current state of health?

KAREN: Let me talk about my last round of working professionally as a graphic designer. I was working fulltime and in ACN. I began to realize that I couldn’t multitask between graphic design and my art. Every time I set time aside to paint, I noticed that my job would encroach on my painting. I noticed this pattern.

At the same time, I was dating Wayne who asked me to marry him, and I was training to walk a marathon. I noticed that as I increased the distances I walked, I had to eat constantly about 12 times a day. I was drinking coffee like it was water. My work hours were getting insane. I was working 7 days a week. I kept trying to find solutions about my persistent hunger and need for caffeine. Doctors told me they couldn’t find what was wrong with me. Thyroid medication worked for a little while.  All the while, I had this strong desire to paint. It was getting stronger and stronger.


When things were going haywire at work, I was calm and could find solutions. I loved the rush and stress. In fact, I was addicted to it, but it wasn’t fulfilling me. At some point I wanted to say “no” to projects. I wanted to choose which projects I worked on and how to complete them. Yet I was supposed to give clients what they wanted—even if it was unrealistic.

At one point, I said no to a client and was strongly reprimanded by my boss. From that point on, I started to complain a lot. My situation felt insane. Finally, I went to my boss and told her I was having health issues and that I needed to work less. She told me I needed a note from the doctor. She wasn’t willing to work with me. I was crashing.
 My body was telling me to stop. I knew I needed to make that switch—to be an ARTIST—and get rid of this WORK-A-HOLIC!

HALLELUJAH: Then you really got sick, I remember. You couldn’t go to work. You couldn’t paint. You took your medications for pituitary problems and watched TV all day long. You were shut down by the GREAT MYSTERY.

KAREN: I had a calling, and I was ignoring that calling. Through the act of keeping my desire to paint silent and quelling it my body shut down. I was so worried about making money and being independent that I allowed myself to get so sick. Never again will I allow that to happen to my creativity.

HALLELUJAH: Hallelujah PILGRIM! Thank you for your testimony that ART HEALS! As you have SOJOURNED, who do you consider influential in the way you think, act, and make ART?

KAREN: While I was having health issues with my back and starting to paint, I found a book by Mary Todd Beam. Her images intrigued me. I couldn’t understand half of what she was talking about, but I found something I could try out. My first series, “The Underneath Series,” came from learning Beam’s technique of painting.

Joseph Campbell’s concept of home is also something influenced me. Now, I’m doing some inner work. And Campbell explains the stages and trials that the hero goes through. At one point, the hero must let go of everything.

HALLELUJAH: The hero’s JOURNEY is the ARTIST’s JOURNEY!
ESCAPE


KAREN: Yes, it is being ONE with ALL—everything and nothing. This is the journey to NIRVANA. The purest voice is the act of creating art.

HALLELUAH: Thank you for sharing your PURE VOICE with me Karen!

AT HOME: Karen Phillips in her backyard with Ella and Spencer, about a 3-mile drive from Sycamore Place Gallery. Photo by Ruth Schowalter

RED GREEN BLUE: Karen was inspired by a client’s commission to add red, green, and blue, to one of her images. "I still kept the flow of my process and then saw the colors sparkling. Color added another dimension to this conversation I was having with myself about shapes."
MORE ABOUT KAREN PHILLIPS: To see more of Karen's work, go to her WEBSITE. To follow what she is thinking and doing, go to her BLOG. To get news about her upcoming exhibits see her Facebook PAGE.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks to Sycamore Place Gallery, home to the studios of Karen Phillips and Hallelujah Truth (aka Ruth Schowalter) for providing a rich environment for us to work and do this interview. Loving appreciation to the first interviewees Spiritual Art Pilgrim Interviews 2011, Cecelia Kane and Robey Tapp, for setting an incredible precedent for the way artists can talk about their SOUL work. Huzzahs to husband Chiboogamoo for the technical support as well as the love he provides on this intriguing interview PATH. SOUL BLOG with me at COFFEE WITH HALLELUJAH