In this painting you can see the pain. It is in the lines, it is in the intensity of the colors, it is in the way the colored areas run away from each other, concentrating in themselves, as if the whole picture is falling apart. And you also see some environment: A horizon with two trees, a part of a cloud and maybe a fruit on a limb.
The drawing is of faces overlapping, worried and separate, in spite of the closeness, pressed into the presence of each other.
The white is like the knuckles of a clenched fist.
At some point I discovered some dirt that was somehow transferred to the paper after my hand touched some food. I erased some of it but could not get rid of it completely. Erasing vigorously leaves marks too. The solution was to place the signature on the stain. It is like placing myself on some mess that I had created, to cover it up. Here is one of the things that life seems to be about sometimes.
My artist friend H observed in my art that even when I speak about torturous pain, the paintings have some cheerfulness to them. He recommended, carefully indeed and lovingly, to express the pain more freely, and maybe there will be a physical relief from it, not to mention the psychological relief. Maybe this is why there is a bit more expression of suffering in this painting than is usually expressed in my art. Or maybe it is because I came to the table at 3 or 4 at night, when the pain made me jump out of bed, and I started to draw right there.
But I can’t escape myself. Even the suffering in my life is viewed from an aware place that is basically calm, curious and loving.
I love my friend for who he is and for how what he is, is being expressed in everything he does. And I also love myself enough to allow what-makes-me-nowadays, to express itself with all the facets that it has.
Maybe it is strange to many people that there is no full expression of the suffering in my art. Instead there is what looks like a distanced or muted expression. How can one not scream about his suffering in his art and indeed tear people’s hearts when they become witnesses to it? But this would be untrue to my experience.
Yes there is some distance when I experience being more than my body. My body shakes with pain many times, but there is the bigger me, to whom this looks like a fantastic, colorful, emotions-full, drama that I had created for myself, not knowing who I am. Yes, it is not the usual life, to have one foot in the body and another in a much freer place.
-And what if I hit you on your toes with a heavy hammer, will ask an imaginary friend?
-It will hurt.
I used to be a graphic designer and an illustrator. I became involved with the Chan Meditation Center and studied meditation and Buddhist knowledge with the late Master Sheng-yen from Taiwan. For twelve years I was in a process of deepening my meditation. I had many more experiences and insights and my life changed. After having illustrated more than 40 children’s books and writing two of them, I left this career too and went to New York University to study art therapy.