Creative Energy

At the art festivals and in the co-op galleries, when people ask about my paintings, I speak as if I know what I’m talking about, with enthusiastic descriptions of the flow of “Creative Energy” as it relates to me and my art work.  Today when I decided to write about Creative Energy I discovered that, in my mind, I wanted to validate my beliefs.  After all, when we publish something on the internet, it’s there forever for anyone to agree or disagree, to praise or ridicule, support or challenge – right?  Writing about it is different than talking about it.

So I googled “Creative Energy.”  I found sites that encourage us to be creative when producing energy (to power our machines)  and which linked to pages attempting to define energy from a  scientific perspective and then back down stating all the ways in which energy can be defined, but is elusive and not really definable.  (What?!!)

From Wikipedia there is this definition: “In physics, energy is a property of objects which can be transferred to other objects or converted into different forms. The “ability of a system to perform work” is a common description, but it is misleading because energy is not necessarily available to do work.”  So much for validation.  My Google search was abandoned – too confusing!  But I did find this interesting discussion about energy that might provide some backup to my theories from a Scientific perspective., written in a language that even I can almost understand.  I encourage you to take a look at it if you’re still interested after reading the rest of my blog

After all my research I have decided that my explanation of Creative Energy is quite reasonable and needs no validation other than the paintings (and adventures) it has produced, and more important – the experience of knowing what it feels like to have Creative Energy flow through me. Today I’m going to merge my Creative Mind and My Critical Mind, allowing Creative Energy to flow freely and fearlessly  through me, to create a blog.  All of the information which I’m about to share with you I learned from my paintings, filtered through my own life experiences.

And speaking of Life Experiences, here’s a little background.  The year is 1969.  I am 25 years old.  I am at my friends’ apartment.  We are six friends, seated on pillows around a low square table.  The room is softly lit by candles and the scent of nag champa incense and cigarette smoke fills the air.   The room is cozy and we all feel safe with each other. A reel-to-reel tape recorder fills the room with the music of Ravi Shankar, The Incredible String Band, Bob Dylan, Donovan, Procol Harem and others whose names I will never know.  We have been waiting all week and preparing ourselves for this evening. We sit and lie on our pillows and the music fills us while we wait for the Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD or “acid”) to take effect.

I am transported to the next scene as smoothly as in an expertly edited movie.  I am standing in front of the refrigerator and I can see as clearly as if I were looking into a powerful microscope, the atomic structure of the refrigerator.  I am aware that it is not solid, or static, but that when I breathe in, the atoms that were an instant earlier part of the refrigerator are now part of me.  And as I exhale, my breath is becoming part of the atomic/molecular structure of everything else in the room.  I see that there is much space between the atoms and within them and nothing is solid.  I learn that I am part of everything in the Universe and that everything in the Universe is part of me – or We Are All One.  I am swimming in the cosmic soup of Life.

And that, my friends, is how we hippies of the 1960’s became tree huggers.  Forever after, I knew what the Native Americans knew  – that we must respect the earth – for when we walk on it, it gives us energy in exchange for energy and so it is with everything in it and on it.  I learned that we are wonderfully and beautifully made from the “dust” (or atoms) of the earth, to return to the “dust” of the earth at the end of our physical days – we are made in the “Image” or Likeness of the Ultimate Creator, who is Pure Creative Energy.  That means that we are also Pure Creative Energy and that It flows through us without prejudice, and we get to choose how we want to direct it and what we want to create with it.  The Creative Energy is what connects the atoms and molecules that make up everything.  The Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but is continually in motion – flowing – through us and through all that is.

Without getting too technical, I can say from my experience that we connect to The Ultimate Creator and the flow of Creative Energy through the Mind.  Now it seems that our mind has two parts: One I call the Creative Mind and the other Ego-Mind or Critical Mind. Each part of the mind is equally necessary but it seems, at least for me, that the Critical Mind has picked up some habits through the years that impede the flow of Creative Energy while Creative Mind is submissive and gives in too easily to the overly-cautious Critical Mind.  Through practice we can learn to balance the two parts of the mind, and balance allows Creative Energy to flow freely.

Critical Mind wants us to do what is comfortable.  It wants us to be careful and safe.  It wants to know what the Rules are and wants to follow them precisely. In its most imbalanced state, Critical mind is paralyzed with Fear and will do anything to avoid risk.  Creative mind loves to explore and play.  It wants to ignore the rules and go to places it’s never been before.  It cares not for safety and loves surprises. In its most imbalanced state, Creative Mind quickly loses focus and has no interest in seeing a project to completion or satisfaction.


When a balance is found between the Creative and the Critical Mind, the result transcends what the Conscious Mind is capable of pre-conceiving.

When a balance is reached between the Creative and the Critical Mind, Creative Energy flows freely and merges the two into a state of meditation.  In the Meditative State, there is a merging of the mental, the physical and the spiritual. The resulting expression, or product, or work of art vibrates with the Creative Energy through which it was conceived.  The vibration calls to others to mingle their energy with it, to continue and consummate the exchange – the Flow of Creative Energy. This is true when the product is music or poetry or painting or sculpture, or a garden or a cake or an automobile or anything that results from this merging of the Creative and Critical Mind through the Flow of Creative Energy.



Each  of us is a unique individual.  There has never been and will never be another exactly like me.  I bring to my work my own unique perspective from my own unique experiences.  When I allow my Creative Mind and my Critical Mind to merge, the result is a unique expression of who I am, whether it is a painting, a poem, a sculpture, a garden, a cake, an automobile or anything that comes forth through the flow of Creative Energy.


Let it flow. . . .







Red Sharp Major

Sometimes when I’m working my shift at the co-op gallery or at an art festival,  people ask me where I get my ideas – or where do I get my inspiration.  This is a question I used to entertain when I saw other artists’ work.  I wondered where they copied it from, and if it wasn’t copied, how in the world did they figure out how to do that! It was a great mystery!

For the first 28 years of my life I never met an artist who painted other than as a hobby.  Even my art teachers were Teachers first and I don’t recall ever seeing a completed painting by any of them – not even my college art teachers. My very first oil painting was “Paint by Number” when I was around 12 years old.  I didn’t even know that oil paint was available any other way.

I started copying my classmates’ photos when I was around 8 years old, erasing holes in the paper, trying over and over again until I got it right.  Eventually I got to be very good at copying photos.  Whether it was photos of people or landscapes or just about anything, I could copy it.  Friends and relatives would say “Wow!  You are such a good artist!”  I would politely thank them but I felt that something was missing.  I wanted to be a “real” artist – whatever that was.  Even our high school art teacher told us to “find a nice picture and copy it.”  I copied photos onto typing paper, using pencil, charcoal, watercolor or pastels.  Everyone, including the teacher said “Wow! You are such a good artist!”  But no one ever asked me where I got my inspiration.

I believe that I learned from copying photos to train my eyes to really look closely and draw what I could see with my eyes.  I learned to measure one shape against the other with my eyes and to make the same relationships in my copy. I learned to distinguish the slightest differences in tonal value and color. I learned to look for basic shapes – squares, circles, triangles and combinations and variations of these shapes in every form of nature that I saw – in trees, animals, buildings. objects and human faces.  And I believed that none of this required “talent.”  I believed that anyone who wanted to practice the way I did, could eventually learn to do it the same way I had.

There was a break from photo copying in one of my college drawing classes.  The teacher set up a still life and we drew it in charcoal on real charcoal paper – NOT typing paper!  Still, I felt that something was missing because I was still copying a scene that the art teacher had set up.  It was not much different from copying a photo. There were those basic shapes – squares, circles, triangles, subtle variations in tone and value and color.  Mine looked pretty much like all the others’ in the class but still I felt like a cheater, a fraud.  Even when I copied my own photos, I felt like there had to be more to this whole idea of being an artist than just copying.  All my other college art classes encouraged photo copying too.  Years later I exhibited my portraits in shows and still felt like Someone – an Expert, an Authority, a REAL Artist – would call me out and reveal to the world that I was only a copier. I wanted to make something up that no one had ever seen before.  I wanted to see a vision in my head and bring it into reality.

During one of my college oil painting classes, I “made up” a landscape.  The main color I used was alizarin crimson.  I loved the depth of the color and the consistency and texture of it.  I mixed it with ultramarine blue and titanium white and the results resembled a red lake surrounded by strange red/purple/bue mountains – much like Crater Lake (which I did not actually see until a few years later) but in bizarre colors.  I secretly loved the painting but I was embarrassed to show it to the teacher because I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time and I feared his rejection.  Looking back all these years later, I realized that what I loved was the experience.  Feeling the paint flow, watched the colors blend, watching shapes materialize into a pattern I could follow around the canvas as if I were on the Magical Mystery Tour that the Beatles sang about. And while I loved it, I also hated it. It was unpredictable and out of control.  It was not like anyone else’s in the class.  I felt protective – I didn’t want the painting or my own fragile experience shattered by criticism.  But I had to show it or take a failing grade in senior year and I couldn’t do that!  The teacher said “You have a lot of potential.” I didn’t know what he meant by that, and he didn’t bother to explain, but I interpreted it to mean that I had almost done something good – but not quite.  I got a “B” in the course and hoarded that painting as a souvenir of a place I almost visited.  It was a secret love affair with Alizarin Crimson that I was not secure enough at that time to reveal. But in my deepest private world I felt proud of it.  Like I had finally created a “Real” piece of art. But I did not try it again for a very long time.

Fast forward  through more than 50 years of practice as a copy artist.  One day I was tired of painting portraits.  I was tired of trying to please other people.  I was tired of doing the same thing over and over.  With a great deal of drama and release of frustration,  I squirt paint out of the tube onto a large canvas, without regard for choice of color.  I smear the paint around the canvas with no respect for economy or care of my brushes or anything except the pure joy of watching the paint swirl and flow and spread over the entire canvas.  The thrill didn’t last very long. I grew up with Depression Era parents.   I was constantly reminded to “be careful – don’t waste anything” In the midst of my joyous expression, I am suddenly overcome with guilt when I stop and look at what I have done.  The canvas is indeed covered with paint.  “It’s a mess! ” my critical mind exclaims.  “You have wasted so much paint and an expensive canvas!  No one will ever buy this!”  And then suddently, there is a vivid flashback to the love affair with alizarin crimson, and my heart skips a beat or two at the thought of the “potential.”

So I lean it against the wall and go about my business of doing the “important” things of life – cleaning, paying bills, cooking.  But as I walk by the paint-covered canvas I start seeing things that intrigue me.  Little shapes that want to be defined.  Lines that beg to be followed to another area of the painting.  I hang the painting on the wall.  Each time I walk by, I turn it another direction and more areas of interest seem to call out to me.  “What if I mess it up?”  I am afraid to paint.  I am afraid not to paint.  I am frozen in a mixture of fear and thrill – like the second before stepping onto a roller coaster.  “Come closer.” It says.  So I zoom in, like I’m looking into a microscope at the atomic structure of life itself, and follow the little lines created by the brush strokes, emphasizing them with highlights or shadows or lines, building contrasts, discovering shapes and forms and bringing them to life.  sometimes recognizable forms appear – like dragons or human faces.  Other times rhythmic patterns lead my hand and eye to yet another area of interest.  I am playing with paint like I am 5 years old!

I hang it on the wall again – zooming out like I’m looking through a telescope at the Cosmos.  I turn it again and again, each time another secret is revealed and I watch the painting come to life and realize I am only a tool – my hands, my eyes and the paint dance together before me and I am but the audience in the dance of creativity.  As I answer the call from the painting, sometimes  I hear music, I hear lines of poetry, I hear humorous phrases and chants.  If I happen to be listening to music, I watch my hands move to the rhythm of the music – the music becomes part of the painting.  The painting becomes alive with the energy of life, the energy of the music, the energy that flows through all of us – the same energy that holds atoms together to form molecules and cells and all of life itself.  Through many paintings, it is revealed to me that this is “Creative Energy.”  We, created in the “Image” of The Ultimate Creator, Who is “Pure Creative Energy” are also Pure Creative Energy.  It flows through each of us equally and therefore we all have equal creative ability.  We were also endowed with the Freedom of Choice, so we get to use it or direct it in any way we want – for good or “evil.” We can make paintings, or music, or stories, or cakes or automobiles or funny jokes.  We can make bombs.

Fast forward again, through many paintings.  This time I decided to photograph the evolution of this painting.  It begins the same as the others, squirting paint out of the tube onto the canvas.  Only this time I am working from the center, adding paint from the center toward the outer edges as it tells me while I watch it evolve. I am using Acrylic Paint.  It begins with Cerulean Blue and Titanium White.  No palette is used.  The colors are blended on the canvas.  Then it asks for red.  It’s not particular – any red will do.  I believe this is Napthol Red Light.  Zoom in!    Follow the little blue lines.  Follow the little red lines.  Watch how they work together.”  (This is what the paint is telling me.)



I begin to see depth.  I come in with a darker blue – Pthalo Blue to emphasize the deep places.  More red, this time mixing with the blue. More white – an interesting break in the circular pattern.  “Where did that come from?  What should I do with that?  I don’t want to mess this up!”  (This is my critical ego-mind talking.  It’s best not to listen to it.  I find that if I ignore it, it will eventually get quiet so I can “listen” to the paint.)


Some darker red – I think it’s Quinachodone Magenta (I don’t even know how to pronounce it!)    Some renegade blue and while again breaking the pattern of the concentric circles.  “Just follow it.”  the paint says.


Titanium White circles around the red and blue.  Until now, white has not had so much to say.  It has been quietly accentuating the blue and letting red have some attention.  Suddenly, as clear as if a band was marching through the room I hear John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”    Specifically: “Hoorah for the Red, White and Blue…”  And now it’s time to zoom in again.


And back out again as White claims the outer edges of the canvas.  Blue wants to accentuate the sharpness of the red bursts by outlining it.

Zooming in again for more detail:  Remember the first white break from the concentric colors? Still following original patterns made by initial brushstrokes, accenting what is already there.


This represents an area in the painting about 4″ x 4″ – still zooming in, finding detail.


This painting even told me where to put the signature.



As the details are working their way into the painting, The Stars and Strips Forever continues to play and I think about the summers while I was in college when I worked in a Fireworks Stand every 4th of July for 4 years.  And that’s when the painting told me its name “Red Sharp Major.”

redsharpmajorI love watching Energy Paintings evolve.  Every one is different.  I share this because I know that if you use a similar process, every painting that you do will also be unique.  I think that sometimes we get too serious and we scare ourselves into thinking that we might do it “wrong.”   I’m here to tell you from my own experience that you can’t do it “wrong.”  The product doesn’t matter.  The experience is what really is important.  And if you happen to get a “product” – a finished work of art that you really like – well, that’s a bonus.  My next challenge is to continually try new media, new techniques, new subject matter, new processes so that I don’t “paint myself into a box.”  We should be mindful of how we define ourselves.

Winter Vortex

In my previous blog I described the beginning of an energy painting and the conflict between the Ego Mind and the Creative Mind.  As I finished the blog, I was hanging the unfinished painting on the wall to study it until it told me what to do next.

This is what it looked like then:img_2133

I worked on a portrait for a while and this painting was hanging on the wall opposite where I paint.  It asked for more emphasis on the swirling motion.  I used an iridescent white to follow the movement around the canvas.  Then more Van Dyke Brown.  Ego Mind is still fussing over the lack of recognizable images but I still couldn’t see any.

Suddenly a tree started to grow while the painting was in the vertical position.  If you look at the image above, you would have to rotate it so that the top is now on the bottom and that’s where the tree began to grow.  It was clearly a winter tree and required lots of tedious small branches to look convincing.  As the painting neared completion, as often happens, its name came into my mind.  “Winter Vortex.”  I had to Google it to see if it made sense, and it does, as far as my “scientific mind” can comprehend.  But now that it’s claimed its name, Google only turns up “Polar Vortex” for me.  Still, the name has been chosen and so remains.

Here is the finished painting:img_2164