Beneath the surface of these paintings by Nancy Hillis, there lies a secret key to unlocking the viewer’s subconscious mind. Just try gazing at these works and see what happens. For me, these images ignited the emergence of a new rush of positive dreams, I realized when I woke up the following morning. I hadn’t dreamed like that for many years. In fact, I had become virtually unable to remember my dreams upon waking. For me, it would seem that these paintings acted upon my mind as a catalyst for igniting the subconscious mind.
Invitation to The Artist’s Journey
“I have been an existential psychiatrist and artist for over 20 years and through this work I have learned that the secret to creating expressively alive paintings is by trusting yourself. My vision and the work of my life in art and psychiatry is helping others to trust themselves and to create meaningful lives through their work. Take the plunge and start on your own path towards making the work of your life. Show us what you love!”
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“The art of activating the canvas and bringing your painting to life with your own personal lexicon of mark making, expressive gestures and brushwork is nothing short of miraculous.
To create authentic and alive abstract paintings that are unique to you and your own vision is the ultimate attainment for an artist and yet the most elusive.
One issue is that you can get stuck repeating what’s worked before in your work. Another issue is trying to recreate what you love about other artists’ work.
I’ve found myself in both situations. When I finished my residency in psychiatry at Stanford I became fascinated with abstract painting. I felt that it was a mirror into the artist’s inner world, a potent and unique personal expression of the artist.”
“I loved attending museums and galleries that featured abstract artists, in particular abstract expressionist work. I admired the museum exhibitions with works of Cy Twombley, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler. I’d feel excited to go home and try to create paintings as raw, immediate and expressive as theirs! I wanted to paint works that astonished me. I wanted my art to mean something.”
I wanted to breathe life into my paintings
“The day I finished my residency in psychiatry I started creating abstract paintings. I didn’t know what I was doing but I’ve come to learn that this is a good thing. Saying this brings to mind the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind where Shunryu Suzuki said “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Cultivating an open mind and maintaining the teachable spirit of a beginner is a potent practice for artists at every stage of development.”
Being An Artist Is About ‘Not Knowing’
“One of the things I’ve learned on this journey is that being an artist is about continually evolving. It’s about searching and finding your way as you create. It’s about experimentation.”
In this video, Nancy explains the benefits of specific steps in painting for allowing the development of an open mind.