• Kris Newlin

Let the art process surprise you

I usually start out with at least a hint of a narrative when I begin working on an art piece. This piece began with a thought about how my environment shifted mid-way to adulthood. I began life in the suburbs, near the city: plenty of pavement and neighbor kids. Then at age 9, I transitioned to living on 40 acres in a rural area, lots of land and no hint of a neighborhood. I wondered how much this shift worked into my personality and my ability to perspective shift on a regular basis. A trait helpful in my career as a counselor. The women in my painting represent this basic jumping off point- a city girl and a country girl.


Things take an interesting turn from there. I added elements to the painting on a conscious level by placing mixed media elements supporting the idea of city versus country living. Here's the twist, on a subconscious level, I was working intuitively on my therapeutic journey of self-discovery.


I've been having some health issues which have trickled into my emotional and mental well-being. Some things have been physically uncomfortable, sometimes downright painful and this has caused worry, frustration, and sadness. There have been moments of hope dashed by not knowing the reasons behind or the treatments for these wild flares of haphazard health. I've looked for answers or at least a bit of relief with both traditional and holistic healing practices. Enter my first time to experience acupuncture. With gentle wisdom, as Mr. Kim tried to ease my inflammation and discomfort, he offered a warning. He offered that God had given me good gifts: a strong mind and a big heart but that I needed to use them as a gift not against myself. He explained that my head and heart were filled with too many sad stories. I thought about that quite a bit. I had my own journeys through sadness stored up, as well as 23 years of listening to other's sadness. Stories shared during my work as a counselor and art therapist stockpiled in my head and my heart. That's a lot of sadness. I decided that I would use art as therapy. The beautiful crossroads where the process of making the art and exploring the meaning of it was where I hoped healing would begin.


Here's the significant meaning behind each element I added


Twins: represent two halves of the same whole

City: Exchanging thought, ideas, and energy

Pigeon: Symbol of peace, Holy Spirit

Sunflowers: Long life, loyalty

Seeds: Living and dying, sacred, earthiness, cycles of time

Bees: Symbolic of Jesus positive, sweet, strong, and wise

Fishing Pole: Tool for reaching into subconscious, gain insight into self, explore the unknown

Fish: Unconscious of the feelings and motives of your higher-self, deeper awareness of thoughts

Songbird in nest: Love and joy. Considered healers and deliverers of love

Clocks: Feeling of time pressure, gift of time, limited resource of time

Loose threads: anxiety, frustration, or struggle with perfection

Stitches: pain in side, choices or beliefs that are kept intact by another force


I've been an artist and art therapist for a long time, yet the art process can still surprise me! LOSING myself and FINDING myself!




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