Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Whitley.
Lauren, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My family is full of creative people so I’ve always been surrounded by people who make visual art or art out of their lives. I was fortunate to be introduced to the relationship to expression and creation very young through watercolor, finger-painting, and color collage. Found out while painting as a child that translating my thoughts and feelings to a form outside myself helped me process the world around me, allowed me to imagine, and was very soothing. I’ve been consumed with the desire to create my whole life; it’s a source of great joy and the best means I know how to engage with the vastness of this world. Creating allows me to connect with and express the wonder I feel, to transform emotion, to connect with others, and to grow as a person. Recently, art has carried me through the process of getting sober, for which I’m extremely grateful. The paintings that came during that time taught me about letting go of trying to control the outcomes personally and trust in a bigger creative force to use the skills I’ve built up in my body over the years to guide the process. It’s been incredibly healing to have art to surround myself with and meditate in through the process of recovery, I’m thankful it came out on the other side with me.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think there may not be any smooth roads, and if there are – then probably it’s not very rewarding to the soul. Going after what is true in oneself, to continually recommit to what feels right, to work to support oneself during that process both physically, emotionally, and spiritually, takes a lot of heart, but the reward comes in those moments when all that clicks together. It’s a really vital, powerful experience where time seems to slow down. Then feeling that- even if it’s a totally personal experience- is like finding the next sign, you get to say to yourself, “ok, this is it, I want to be in this zone,” and then you keep going. Once that click happens a few times, it’s like it builds up trust to go through hard, long periods of massive doubt, etc., because you tell yourself that the feeling of flow will happen again. I’ve also had to learn to be more adaptable, to be willing to change, to ask for those signs. It’s gotten easier the less I try to dictate how success or rewards come in and what I think they should look like. There were years of creating work no one wanted to have anything to do with, contacting galleries and getting rejected or ignored, getting into galleries and not selling, not selling enough. Being up most nights drawing and painting for years, making poor choices about how I cared for myself in order to keep working, battling with a loss of faith in creation, and questioning why couldn’t I stop trying and just leave it alone. I think the road gets smoother, but I’ve had to hang around long enough to see it’s possible.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m a painter primarily, I prefer to paint abstractly in acrylics on large unstretched canvases. My art is very emotional and colorful, with elements of poetic dwelling. When I begin working, I try to remove all resistance within myself and allow the lines to come through my arm as they will, and put aside any thoughts of further construction. I try to be constantly moving back into a different state of awareness when choosing colors or how they balance together on the canvas, so the art can emerge as it will. The most recent paintings have a lot of intentional joy in them, I’m thriving on the vibrancy of the color, the essential power of the color, and how it connects to our deep subconscious selves.
Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
I was very shy outside the home as a kid. I had a vivid imagination and tended to remain in a fantastical world as much as possible. There were several friends I made along the way what enjoyed creating imaginary worlds and I think with them the shyness went away and I became very determined. As I got older, I tried to fit in more which created a kind of canyon in my psyche between how I felt essentially and what I gauged as safe action as far as the outside world. Luckily, it wasn’t possible for me to be sane and try to hide myself. So, slowly, I began to explore true interests which started via poetry, art, religion, and philosophy as a way to try to understand the world towards the end of high school and early college. Became very disenchanted with what I found in realms of thinking dominated by the perspective of white, straight-male oriented culture, and searched instead on whatever fringes I could find for people who had created their own meaning in their lives from different sources. I’ve never felt like I really fit in anywhere besides with people who were also looking to see what’s on the other side of the mirror. Developing the faith to trust that has taken some time.
- Email: Laurenj.Whitleyart@gmail.com
- Instagram: @laurenjwhitleyart
Lauren J Whitley