Imelda Almqvist About Painting
People often ask me about painting. I teach courses in making art internationally and do a fair amount of public speaking, as well, so I am often asked questions about my own process and my relationship to my own paintings.
Over the years, as paintings have gone off to exhibitions and galleries and I have hosted many Open Studio Days, I have written my artist’s statement on many occasions, as artists are supposed to do. I observe constant shifts in my own consciousness bringing fresh insights. I doubt this journey will ever end! (it will probably continue beyond my departure from the earthly realm!) This means that I am always engaged in re-writing and trying to find even better words for processes that happen in the place beyond words! Today those earlier artists statements are interesting artifacts because they track and map my personal creative journey over a period of three decades.
(Sadness, monoprint 1997)
The Encounter with White Canvas
For me every painting starts with an encounter with a blank canvas or white sheet of paper.. There is a seed concept: an idea, a colour, a shape, a piece of music, a sudden insight, often a possible marriage of two unlikely things.
Once I start the process of painting I am in dialogue with the spirit of the painting I am working on. That which seeks coming into form and embodiment through art actually guides the process.
In shamanism we call this hollowing out or being a hollow bone for Spirit, for luminous beings from other realms. Beings more evolved than myself come forward offer a higher perspective on events on Earth and a glimpses of other worlds behind the Veil.
( UNDERTAKING Oil Painting 1994)
About Selling Paintings
Do I sell paintings? Yes. Will I sell any painting to absolutely anyone who expresses interest in it? No!
In our culture we often rate artists (and authors!) by their sales The selling of work means that other people put value on what we do. To be “successful” we need to regularly sell paintings or sell many copies of a book. My younger self, fresh out of art school, “bought into this”. Art School instils a very particular idea of what it means to be a professional (and commercially successful) artist!
Over the years my own helping spirits have taught me many powerful lessons and my perception has shifted completely.
Once someone got in touch about buying a painting. The spirits said no, it is a piece of your soul they are trying to buy, don’t do it!
Another time I promised someone a painting of a very powerful goddess. This painting went missing for two years and only reappeared recently. She was not willing to go and she was angry that I had not consulted her before making the promise. Rightly so! Lesson learned!! OUCH!
However, most of the time when people get in touch about buying a painting, the spirit of the painting is thrilled and very excited. Everything flows very smoothly and all arrangements fall into place easily. Then I say my goodbyes and the painting starts a new life in a new home.
(While I was at art school the teachers warned us against people “choosing a painting to go with the colours of their sofa”. In truth I have not seen too much of this over 30 years of selling art!)
(DADDY IS A BALLOON 1997 Oil.
Painting title inspired by a paper on Art Therapy)
Paintings as Trusted Allies and Teachers
In November 2016 I gave a presentation at “Threshold“, the annual conference of The Gatekeeper Trust. There was a beautiful audience of about 100 people. I had a made a power point presentation in which many of my own paintings (inspired by spiritual work done all over the world) appeared.
After that talk (and the reactions I received from many people) I could put into words something I have always known, on some level: the spirits embodied by my own paintings are my trusted allies and teachers. They go wherever I go. They will often go on missions too, performing healing work for a person, family or location or appearing in someone’s dream to provide important guidance on a big decision or career move.
In that moment I realised that for me painting is about a life led by and dedicated to Spirit. It is about an intimate relationship with powerful beings that come forward to help those on Earth – but they can only do so if we invite them and welcome their help.
It was not just me giving a presentation: it was me and my whole team, all of us doing this! It was not nervous, only overjoyed. You can watch this presentation on Youtube:
“Gods of Portals, Life Transitions and Liminal Spaces”
I feel I need to write this article (as adapted from the About Painting page on my website) as it might be a powerful message for other artists: moving beyond this paradigm of measuring success by sales and paintings sold! It has given me an immense sense of peace and soul purpose, working this way. And this is the way of working I teach my own sacred art students on different continents!
(GUARDIAN ANGEL 1997 Oil painting)
FAQ – A few more answers to questions I am asked very often
What materials do you use?
Before I had children I loved using oil paint on canvas (though, also, made mono prints and mixed media artwork on paper). However, oil paint is quite toxic because metallic resins are used to create the different hues (Cadmium Orange and Yellow, Zinc White etc.) and so is turpentine. For that reason I switched to acrylic paints months before even trying to for a baby as I did not want my unborn children to be exposed to these resins and fumes.
In recent years I have developed a particular fondness for making short art films because this allows me to blend paintings, digital photographs, myths poems and stories as well as music and moving images all at the same time to arrive at one seamless creation.
ART VIDEO: SEVEN DESERT MAIDENS
This process has also brought a revival of working in black and white to create print-like stark images. I am greatly enjoying the multi-media experience that new technology makes possible!
Do you undertake a shamanic journey before you make a painting?
No, the process of painting IS the journey! Only better because I get to stay “in the zone” for a whole working day! (Say 8 hours rather than 30 minutes!) A journey can easily be the starting point of a painting. For instance in 2014 I did one journey where I was told that I “am an Apprentice of the Waning Moon” and that led to a painting by that title.
(Apprentice of the Waning Moon)
How do you work with dreams?
For me keeping a dream journal is a daily practice. My husband risks his life if he talks to me in the mornings before I have written up my dream notes! I do oneiric work (shamanic dreamwork) with all my students as well. Many of my paintings were inspired by dreams.
(The Mother of Dreams 2013)
I hope that this article will inspire you to get out some art materials!
Imelda Almqvist, 23 August 2017, London UK
About the Author:
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016. She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.
For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the USA as well) please visit the following webpages
FORNSED IN SWEDEN
2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM
YEAR OF CEREMONY
FREE “HARNESS YOUR CREATIVE POWER SUMMIT” WITH GUNHILD LORENZEN