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For the Love of Colour

"what an indescribable gift. As an artist, colour truly gives life to my life. I bow to the glory it brings with its touch. And, it is with infinite gratitude, joy, and appreciation that I have the opportunity to “work” with colour. I can only say thank you to such a wonderful world.

Art is what is happening, but who is doing it? With great relief, I discover that it is not I. I have long understood that while ultimately ineffable, simply put, art is that which touches me. So elemental, so profound, so eternal, I feel it is nothing less than a direct path inside, a powerful expression of the contact between by conscious, limited, ego based self and infinite consciousness at large.

Eventually I have come to see my computer as a perfect partner for the art of inquiry. Can I get out of my own way, with my endless plans, concepts, stories, judgments, opinions, and point of view, and trust that the creative process will do itself perfectly, without my input, indeed without my imposing my will? Can I really know better how the infinite pool of creative potential we call consciousness should manifest? Maybe not!"


Is it true that the artist must have a point of view? For me to have a point of view would mean that I must know something - that there is a specific person here who wants to express a particular idea or concept or opinion. Everything expressed through me is then self referential. It always refers back to the location I call me. I could then know who I am, know what I stand for, and know what it is that I want to create and communicate. In the end, everything I do must support this identity I have created. I have a story about how it all is, and everything I think and say and create must fit that neatly into that story.

But I already know all too well the stuff of my mind. And even if I could execute exactly that which is in my mind's eye, if it's predetermined, for me there's just no aliveness in it. I already know the plot and I know how the story ends.

I love art. For me it is nothing less than the source of that elusive aliveness I am always searching for. It is for me a direct path to contact that which is infinitely bigger than I am. I love the mystery, I want to find the magic, and I want it all to be full of surprises. So what I have found is that in order for that to happen I have to get out of the way. Can I really know better how the infinite pool of creative potential we call consciousness should manifest? Maybe not. Can I just allow creation to create? What if I didn't need to approve of it? What if I didn't even need to like it?

It seems to me that the less I interfere with the work as it unfolds, the more powerful it becomes.

It takes an unaccustomed trust to surrender the notion that I can know best, that I have the best plan. Can I simply trust that creativity will manifest itself in a richer,far more fascinating expression if I'm not there imposing my will. What if I allow for an irrational, unpredictable world, one which is not subject to cause and effect, or reason, one which does not necessarily make sense? Why would I impose the limitation of the personal on that which is boundless?

I have spent almost all of my adult life searching for contact with the ineffable. This has taken me on a grand journey through years of graduate study in Eastern philosophy, meditation, sitting with many "teachers" from San Francisco to India, to Katmandu, South Africa, and back. And, it has brought me to beauty, to art.

I have had the great good fortune of being raised by parents who were serious collectors of pop art. This lead to my becoming an art dealer, primarily of pop art, in San Francisco. It was enormous fun. And, I kept saying to the other dealers at auction in New York, London or Tokyo, don't you want to be the one doing the art, not just the one selling it? They didn't, and I did. Years earlier I had received a degree in interior design, which I practiced and taught, but that too felt at arm's length.

In the early 1980's I found my way to the Painting Experience studio in San Francisco. Finally, I was painting. I spent fifteen years as a student there, culminating in teachers accreditation. I still teach this method of painting and do workshops here in South Africa under the name "Painting Inside Out". This is about painting authentically, that is, without a motive. What could emerge if I have nothing to prove, nothing to protect?

Painting Inside Out is about exploring ones internal as the essential source, and expressing it on the outside. And by internal I am not referring to my complete set of stories about how it all is. . I am referring to a place beyond thinking, beyond beliefs.

It has also been my great, great, good fortune to have spent the last ten years as a student and friend of Byron Katie. She is a world renowned author and teacher of something called, "The Work". Simply put, "The Work" is a method of inquiry into ones thinking. Consisting of four questions and a turn around, it brings the inquirer the opportunity to question everything they think they know. This for me has been an unbelievable gift. Discovering that I don't really know anything for sure has brought me the possibility of incredible space.

And, it is this space which allows me to be a vessel for art to happen. If I can be empty, not knowing and dictating, if only from moment to moment, then it can be possible to let consciousness at large come through.


Continuum, annual Winter Solstice exhibition at The Cape Gallery

ellen norbu
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Title: Untitled
Size: 21 x 21 cm
Media: Print
Price: R 3 500 Framed
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