Through the lavender curtain
Beauty & Spirit Note from the Studio 
News & muse from abstract artist Julie Bernstein Engelmann
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Dear <<First Name>>,

What do you go through emotionally in the course of a painting?

For me, I've come to accept that every time I start a painting I risk going through wild swings from elation to despair and back again. It comes with the package labeled "Unknown Territory."

In case you've felt that way, I'll share some behind-the-scenes.

I'm Ready
Julie Bernstein Engelmann, 40"H x 30"W, Acrylic on canvas. Available

My painting "I'm Ready" took five and a half months to complete. I worked on it nearly every day. As the months went by I was baffled: how long could it possibly take?

The thing is, I had made a commitment to follow my intuition without question on this piece. The title, or seed idea, had to do with becoming my unabashed self. Apparently I wasn't as "ready" as I thought! So I just kept plugging away, indulgently and curiously.

The painting started out happily enough. My inner vision of the dominant form was a lavender curtain revealing mysterious stuff behind it. So here I'm developing some activity that will go behind the curtain (1-3). 

1 2 
3 4

In the last shot above (4), the lavender curtain has come down.

This was just a starting point, but I already knew I was in compositional trouble. Usually by this stage I have some kind of structure to hang my painterly explorations on.

But the small target in the middle and the lack of large value action (light and dark) meant that, as an artist who loves beauty over expression, my job filling this sizable canvas would be much harder: I would have to make a statement D:

If you look at my bumbling attempt below (5), you'll see that was a dark day for me. I was ready to give up painting. How was it possible that after decades as an artist I could produce something so awful, so chopped up, incoherent, and ugly? I felt sick looking at it. 

Thankfully, my practice of daily painting "no matter what" forced me to plow forward instead of sitting on it for weeks as I might otherwise have done. With nothing to lose, I boldly outlined a large dark shape that helped organize the space (6). 

5 6

Also, in good faith I did the basic housekeeping that I knew needed to be done: open up the sky, clarify the one nice large form on the left, and make sense of the "happy accident" wiggles at the bottom. Sometimes it's just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. 

Then I had an "inspiration" to add white linework all over the place (7). I got really into it - until I stepped back and saw that the whole thing had become a confusing mess again! This was another dark day. I felt quite sure I was not a real artist. 

7 8

Luckily I happened to download this photo, and seeing it on my computer I thought, "What would I tell a client?" I immediately knew it needed a band of teal at the base of the heavy rock (8).

That was a turning point, because now it was much easier to find things to love. And when I can find things to love, I can hear the voice of the painting spirit. It feels like a wise vibration hovering around my painting.

As I make choices in painting, I check in with it and either feel a joyful "go ahead this way" - or an empty "not interested." Many are my moments of exhilaration following the surprising guidance and delightful solutions of the painting spirit.  

9 10

So now I added deep colors underneath and knew these were burning embers (9). Then smoky, ghostly forms rose up, creating a transparent torso of complex organs (10).

11 12

Finally the smoke took over (11) and the flames followed (12), ending in a hearth-on-the-beach kind of form (13) with something very mysterious being consumed or rising from the flames. It was done. I had come through the lavender curtain. 

I didn't have a clue what others would see in this painting or how they would react. Was it overworked? 


Interestingly, people were drawn to it like moths to a flame. Moreso than paintings that came more easily, the depth of work in this one seemed to captivate viewers longer and generate heartfelt conversation and imaginings.

No one has ever asked me if I was ready to give up painting over it.   

If you're ready to take your own risks exploring Unknown Territory - with loving guidance - please check out my workshop, The Inspired Abstract, coming up this weekend or in October.  

Yours in the love of beauty and spirit,


P.S. There may be time to register for The Inspired Abstract and have a beautiful painting experience this weekend (see below).

P.P.S. I'll only offer two more Luscious Abstractions classes this year (see below). 


The Inspired Abstract
3-day painting workshop with Julie Bernstein Engelmann
Two opportunities:

July 20-22, 2018  Sedona, Arizona

October 29-31, 2018  Sedona, Arizona

Turn moments of inspiration into fascinating abstract paintings!

The treasures of inspiration can be found all around you - in a vivid experience, a dream, a desire, a photograph, and even the pattern of a napkin. In this workshop, you'll mine such beloved treasures and transmute them into unique, intriguing abstract paintings. 

Using Julie's layering technique, you will enter the painting process naturally, ease into personal intuitive marks and forms reflecting your inspiration, and weave exquisite depth and beauty. Then, Julie will help you see the spirit of your painting and gently enhance its drama and spatial flow so it can shine powerfully
.   Learn More... 


Luscious Abstractions
Crash Course with Julie Bernstein Engelmann
at the Sedona Arts Center, Sedona, Arizona 

Only two more opportunities this year:

August 6-7, 2018 (Mon-Tue)
September 8-9, 2018 (Sat-Sun)

Explore abstraction, rich with depth and meaning! Julie's layering technique gives you a powerful foundation that helps you enter the painting process naturally, develop beautiful complexity, and bring out the spirit of your work. You'll gain discernment and appreciation for abstract painting.   Learn More... 


Beauty & Spirit Art Consult
Artist mentoring with Julie Bernstein Engelmann
By phone and web 

Do you resonate with my work or feel like possibilities are opening up for you in abstraction? Artist mentoring or an art consultation gives you the chance to freely discuss your artwork with me.

- I will listen and look carefully with attention to your unique path in art;
- shine light on your strengths;
- discuss each piece insightful detail, demonstrating relevant critique points;
- help you see the spirit in your paintings (especially the ones you're stuck on);
- address your questions and concerns; and
- nourish joy in your art process.   Learn More...
Beauty & Spirit Abstract Artist Circle
Copyright © 2018 Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Artist, All rights reserved.

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