The energy of the center
Beauty & Spirit Note from the Studio 
News & muse from abstract artist Julie Bernstein Engelmann
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Dear <<First Name>>,

Your painting has a life force. From the moment you choose a blank canvas, there’s a stirring in the belly of a beast.

Finding the Gift Left for Me
Julie Bernstein Engelmann, 18"H x 24"W, Acrylic on canvas. Available

Many years ago, an important insight was given to me by my then gallery director, Michael Hertrich. He said, “Julie, you’re avoiding the center.” I had to really think about that. Was I unready to stand behind my impulse for making the painting? Was I afraid my mark-making wouldn’t be worthy of the center?
Since then, I’ve seen this same problem in so many abstract painters’ work: beautiful paintings with magical things going on, but all the energy is floating out to the edges.

Julie Bernstein Engelmann, 14"H x 18"W, 1996. Oil on canvas.
At the time, I couldn't figure out what the problem was.  

Now, by "center" I don’t mean a static bullseye, but the belly of the beast. If you look at an animal running, their life force comes from their heart and soul, lungs and muscles, working together as a powerhouse heaving its way through space. Ears and tail? Not so much. Make sure your magic isn’t going only to the ears and tail.
Think of the “center” as the gesture. In life drawing, the gesture captures the thrust of the figure’s energy. In abstract painting, use gesture early on to capture the essence of the meaning, feeling, or intention of your painting.
If you’ve ever had the chance to watch a 6-year old painting – there’s no question where they’re going to put those first marks and scribbles and all of the force of their arm. They’ll go for the heart of it. They’re going to take over that paper without shying away from any part of it.
So, I encourage you to remember your inner 6-year old in the early stage of your painting when you’re letting loose in creating your beautiful mess. Take hold of the canvas and commit to the energy of the painting you intend to make. You can refine it later (this will be the subject of another Note).
Capture your painting’s gestural center of gravity – don’t banish yourself from involvement and play small on the edges.
Your painting has a life force – and you’re guardian of it. Let it speak.

Yours in the joy of beauty and spirit,


P.S. I'd love to see you in The Inspired Abstract workshop, November 22-24 in Sedona, AZ. See details below or on my website. 

The Inspired Abstract
Birth your beloved and mysterious artwork
3-day workshop with Julie Bernstein Engelmann
Two opportunities: 

November 22-24 (Fri-Sun), 2019  Sedona, Arizona
May 8-10 (Fri-Sun), 2020  Sedona, Arizona

Turn your life’s inspiring moments into richly beautiful abstract paintings. In this workshop you’ll gain a powerful foundation for abstract painting. Using layers, Julie will guide you to enter the painting process naturally, develop a deep and luscious visual space, and weave exquisite personal marks and forms that grow from your seed inspiration. You’ll discover the spirit in your painting and learn to gently enhance its drama, so it can shine powerfully.

You’ll leave with two acrylic paintings that embody meaning, naturalness, and spatial depth and flow – qualities that lift an abstract painting from amateur to professional. Along the way, you’ll gain discernment and come to understand abstract painting much more deeply.    Learn More... 


Video about The Inspired Abstract workshop, 2:52 minutes 
What's been happening - through pictures

Artist Consult with Julie  Learn More...
Beauty & Spirit Abstract Artist Circle
Copyright © 2019 Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Artist, All rights reserved.

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