Being an artist is a leap of faith

Unfolding © Gwen Hayes. All rights reserved.

It’s an entirely self-directed undertaking. The creativity and the calling comes from the inside. No one else can do it for you. It takes a certain amount of courage and discipline to say “I am a painter” and allow myself to be that too and to give it equal weighting and respect along side of everything else I do.

Being a professional artist — defining myself in this way required a shift in how I use my time, and in my thinking. It has meant coming to terms with an aspect of my identity that goes well beyond how others think of me on the basis of what education and qualifications I have and the results I produce in the business world as a marketing expert and a coach.

From a practical standpoint ‘artist’ is sometimes the last thing many of us want to be and for some, it’s the only thing we can be, because it’s about how we express ourselves – in ways that go beyond words. Through being an artist-writer-coach-facilitator I have become more emotionally aware, and I’ve learned to hold more reverence for the uniqueness of my own experience – and that of others.

Art-making has always been good for my mental health and well-being and that’s one reason I do it. Writing and painting have always been a way of releasing creative expression that has been bottled up or even stifled in certain environments. It’s a way of exploring thoughts, emotions and experiences, and making sense of it all when things seem to be flying apart. It brings me joy. It helps me focus. It’s where I find flow. And those feelings of joy and freedom are what I want for others.

My process is a meld of expression, impression, and construction. When I paint I am consciously and unconsciously approaching my work from these multiple reference points. The visual and tactile layers meld with the emotional, and are supported by the structure, thought and symbolism that go into a piece, along with the meaning that I discover in the process. How those facets intersect and merge is the art part. The process of art-making is incredibly complex and incredibly simple at the same time.

Any notion I might have to explore something on paper or canvas becomes a bit of an internal hum that’s keen to be let loose. Painting is itself, like creating a sort of a visual rhyme; like writing without the words. So, I have a beginning intention for the work, or an intention to begin at least, combined with anticipation of some small surprise that will emerge during the process.

One of the most surprising things I needed to learn was how to talk about my artwork. Speak-out-loud-about-it. That’s a move from the private into the public that takes a bit of getting used to. Especially because I think we all make our own meaning and I have no interest in imposing mine on yours.

My work has included creating highly detailed mandalas to painting objects, landscapes and flowers in a fairly representational way. Lately I’ve been drawing portraits of people and pets in pencil. My watercolours have become more lyrical and they are more like representational abstraction. I am exploring and developing my style one painting at a time while I continue to move towards a cohesive ‘body of work’ which will emerge entirely at its own pace. I’m making progress. Life is short, painting makes me incredibly happy and what I create seems to bring other people pleasure… so it’s all good.

If you would like to see my work in person please contact me and we’ll set up a time to get together in my studio. I’d welcome the opportunity to show you my art. Truly, I’d be delighted.

I used to paint from a 10 x 10 studio (the other half of the garden shed at the far end of the yard), but in fall 2012 my husband created a lovely, well-equipped space for me in the house, just upstairs from the kitchen, so that’s where I work year round. Having a real space is making a huge difference for me. Beyond space to work it’s an opportunity to have a more dynamic work-life balance. The art part seems to funnel creative renewal into all other aspects of my life.

Gwen's Studio

Gwen’s Studio in the House

Gwen Hayes Artist Toronto 2013

Gwen Hayes Work in Progress

Gwen Hayes_Toronto_Studio in the Shed

Before: Studio in the Shed