Rediscovering Joy
14”x11”, acrylic on canvas
©2019 Karen Phillips

Rediscovering Joy is not just a pretty picture; it represents a breakthrough that I’ve been seeking to understand color and value. As some of you may know, I’ve been working to develop a series called the Ancestors Project. These paintings will be based on what I imagine the dreams my ancestors had for themselves.

When we are children we can imagine all sorts of things for our futures: being a pilot, world explorer, or teacher. These dreams are based on what we have in our environment and what we learn about in school. Our minds are open and the possibilities seem endless. So I wondered what did my great great grandmother Mary imagine for her life? Was it to have a family? Own her own land? These are things I may never know, I can only guess. That’s where the painting Rediscovering Joy comes in.

I had begun working on some large paintings for the Ancestors Project series but I was getting stuck. I didn’t know how to move forward with them. Then I saw an online painting course was being offered by Amira Rahim. After discussing my situation with her, I decided to sign up for her course. After a few weeks in the course, I had an aha moment about color and value. I could finally begin to understand how other artists were using it in their work and I got excited.

It was an epiphany so strong that it felt like a spiritual awakening. A veil had been removed from my eyes and I could finally see more clearly how to use color and value in my own work. That understanding led me to feel more free in creating my paintings. I felt like I did when I first started painting—sheer joy and wonderment at what was happening on the canvas. The end product was the painting Rediscovering Joy. Having this understanding makes me feel more in control during the creative process. I now feel more powerful and joyful when I paint.

Have you ever had a moment where you understood something so profoundly that it changed you in some way? Please share your experience below in the Comments.

*Many thanks to Rob Pegel for purchasing Rediscovering Joy for a surprise gift for his wife, Nancy.