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I didn’t start to see a correlation between creating art and healing until nearly three years after the second major car accident I was in.
I’ve always been creative and have taken all kinds of art classes. I painted my first oil painting specifically to enter into an art show. It was one of over 500 entries. When the envelope came I ripped it open and was totally shocked that I was one of the artists work they chose to display in the gallery!
Looking back on it, I should have known that experience was a big white flag waving “follow me.” Instead I followed my logical mind and started design school.
One week into my second semester, I was walking through a crosswalk and I was hit by a big Buick with a 74-year-old lady behind the wheel. I remember laying on the cold and wet cement wondering if I could still move my toes while staring at my broken cigarette wondering if I should take that as a sign to quit.
Clearly in shock, I just started laughing at the absurdity of it all, me lying on the ground waiting for the ambulance after flying over the hood of a car.
I spent the next two years in rehabilitation relearning to walk and I learned first hand how poorly designed wheelchair accessible parking areas really are. I started painting again after the first year, once I could start to do some things for myself again.
Creating art also had the effect of pulling me from the deep depression I had gone into. The second oil painting I created was very large, 5.5 feet by 3.5 feet. I found I loved creating large art; it felt so expansive. I started dreaming of art shows, but I was still healing and going to school, so painting got put back on hold.
The years drifted by, I healed, ended up getting into landscaping and landscape design, and soon I was running my own landscape design/build company. A few more years passed before I pulled out the paintbrush once more.
I’ve always composed drawings and paintings from photographs I’ve taken, but this time it felt different. I felt intuitively led to not use my photographs as inspiration, but just to paint with Divine inspiration.
Choosing this path felt scary but extremely liberating. I progressed very slowly, after adding each color I would stop and just look at the painting for weeks at a time before adding the next layer. When I felt the time was right I would add the next color and section. It was far removed from how I was taught to paint in school and it was the start of my current painting style.
A friend popped in one day and took a look at the painting and said “wow.” I passed it off as her not knowing anything about art. Several other people commented on it as it sat in its finished state and I started to realize that maybe there was something special about it.
Shortly after that first “wow” one of my business mentors saw my work and pointedly asked, “Why aren’t you selling your art?” Now, this is a woman I respect greatly, she’s been in business for over 30 years, she loves the arts, and her statement floored me. I simply said, “I don’t know.” As a firm believer in asking for what you want I just said this out loud, ” I want a client to commission a piece.”
Two weeks after I had put my intention out into the universe I had a conversation with someone I had recently met that ended in an agreement to paint a commissioned piece, all because he had seen that first intuitive painting.
Right around the same time I was in a very major car accident and oddly enough it was on the exact same day, only eight years later than the time I was hit in a crosswalk.
My body slowly fell apart over the next eight months after that accident. In spite of the many treatments and modalities I tried, I was in so much pain I could barely focus. Life continued to unravel as I ended up moving from my beloved Vancouver to a desolate area in West Texas. With the pain being so intense I couldn’t even unload the dishwasher I fell into a deep depression, some days only getting out of bed for four hours to go to therapists.
I had good intentions to paint, but with my injuries I could literally only hold the paintbrush for 10 minutes at a time. It hurt to stand and it hurt to sit. I spent a lot of my days floating in the bathtub.
My physiotherapist was determined to see me recover and we celebrated when I was able to hold my paintbrush for a whole 20 minutes straight. I very slowly finished a large painting (64″x35″) that I titled “Calm” and hung it in my living room. It truly sent a glow of calm throughout the whole space.
I was back to painting on a regular basis but I just had very short painting sessions. In the three years since the accident I’ve been able to build up my time to 1.5 hours.
I slowly emerged from the fog of depression and became determined to share that the traditional way art schools teach us to paint isn’t what helps us to heal.
Painting became something much bigger when I developed the ability to listen to the Divine and learned to trust what my body is saying to me. I’ve learned that painting intuitively is a tool that is much bigger than creating a piece of art; it’s an alchemy that sparks the release of what is holding you back and becomes a catalyst for healing.
Lora Frost teaches Intuitive Painting, an online course for those seeking to confidently paint with oils, even if you’ve never touched a brush before. She believes that painting should be playful, allow you to learn about yourself and can even be a form of meditation. More on Intuitive Painting here.