The bigger picture, seeing life beyond what we do

Hindsight contains much wisdom. Upon reflecting on my life expression as an artist and art educator, I now see that by staying connected to my true feelings as I was as a child, I could have been living my whole life as I am now, with more harmony and truth.

In our home there was a painting of a river, painted by my grandmother, which hung over the mantelpiece in the living room. In her home there were more paintings and charcoal drawings of forests, waves breaking against rocky cliffs, and cows grazing, that she had made before she got married. I loved these paintings, so finely and delicately rendered. I felt inspired by her dedication.

As a child living on a farm, nature was my playground. The small valley where we lived and the local town were my world. I always loved to draw and colour-in and paint when I was free to do so at home. When I was sent to boarding school I enjoyed time on weekends and after school to experiment and explore with colour and paint. This was my solace as I found it very difficult at boarding school, and I often felt lost. The daily routine was quite harsh and the food was awful. I missed my parents and siblings as I only saw them three times a year, for the school holidays. At the end of my secondary education I chose to study art education.

I found it difficult being away from home again, separated from my parents and siblings, but this time I also had to manage food shopping, cooking, cleaning, keeping house, paying the rent, socialising and operating on a shoestring budget, as well as the study. My art assignments were often completed at the last minute to meet deadlines, leaving me feeling exhausted.

After graduation I began teaching and got married, and the tension between all my responsibilities intensified. Where did I have time to make art?

It felt like I was torn between my teaching responsibilities, my role as a wife and mother, and my art.

My life was in parts that didn’t fit together harmoniously.

Now looking back at this tension and fragmentation, I had bought into ideals of the dutiful wife, the hard working teacher and the struggling artist – the world that did not understand the outsider. I had become an outsider from myself with this internal conflict and complication.

When I visited galleries to view the latest avant-garde art, I was often left feeling baffled, or if the work was technically brilliant I felt lesser. Comparison is a dangerous drug for an artist.

Somewhere with all this education about art and the art world I had lost my connection to the child who loved to play.

I had allowed myself to be swept away with comparison and the need for identity. Instead of honouring what I felt, I accepted what was on offer as the status quo.

If I had known then what I know now, if I had remained connected to my true feelings, I would not have felt overwhelmed or lost. I would have deeply honoured my role as a teacher and my love of drawing and painting without the conflict of wanting to be more. My self worth was based on doing and keeping busy.

I can see now that the religion I grew up with always felt dogmatic and controlling and was based on guilt, punishment and a lack of worthiness. God seemed to be distant and unreachable. This religion didn’t support me to feel that I was enough and complete within myself. I lived with a strong sense that there must be more to life than what I was living, but where were the answers?

Finding my Way Home

Now I find myself part of the bigger picture of the Ageless Wisdom thanks to Serge Benhayon, the consciousness-breaking books that he has written, the amazing presentations that he offers and The Livingness, the oldest religion in the world; a religion that shows no separation, that allows me to connect to me, to my soul and to God.

This is a religion whose foundation stone is love, a religion that teaches that we are all equal sons of God. These teachings would have supported me to ‘stay in the driver’s seat’ through the bewildering years as a teenager away from home where desolation was my companion, and as a young woman embarking on a career and marriage and motherhood without firm foundations of self worth.

How has the Ageless Wisdom affected my understanding of Art?

I have rediscovered a religion that lives inside me which allows me to live my life as a work of art.

Making my Livingness an Artful Masterpiece

Art has expanded out of its little box. It is not a part of the day to be given more importance than the rest of the day – Life is Art.

From the moment I wake up, checking in to feel how my body feels before I get out of bed, how I get out of bed, these simple everyday rituals establish the foundations for my day and how I will live it.

There is an art to living when everything, the in-between moments, are all considered equally. Managing reactions when someone is angry, not getting involved in another’s drama, staying present and sticking to the speed limit whilst driving, delicate movements when making the bed, tenderness and connection are all opportunities for me to refine my livingness.

Art has become the lived day, and there is beauty to be found in learning, making mistakes, not being perfect, as well as the beauty in the order of a linen cupboard.

I am a work in progress, and each day is a blank canvas to be lived.

With the understanding that as we travel around and around the sun every year, coming back to the same place, time is no longer the master slave driver, but a friend who whispers a message from my soul: “Just be you. You are enough just the way you are – delicate, sensitive, real, vulnerable”. I now pay attention to the way I nourish and care for my body, to my relationships with my husband, my family and friends, to the way I create order and harmony in my home, to painting and writing, and I am blessed with a new opportunity as a grandmother to be playful with my adorable grandson who brings joy to everything he is exploring.

As a tutor of art, teaching appreciation brings everyone to an equal footing, and diminishes comparison. Appreciation is more important than technique. Many of us have not had good art experiences at school. Many of the adults that I have worked with feel that they are beginners at art, and they often feel quite nervous and challenged about developing their artistic ability, even when it has been something that they have always wanted to do. I love the opportunities I am given to work with them and to support them to develop their visual expression in a way that expands appreciation of their world and themselves. In truth, what they learn is as much about themselves as it is about their subject.

The art projects that I have been invited to contribute to recently are about connection, working with others and for others, including children. Much art is done in isolation.

However, when there is collaboration and you still need to spend time alone in the studio working on your contribution to a project, there is frequent connection to and communication between you and your working partners. Perhaps the way of the future for artists will be more collaborative and purposeful.

Bernadette 2016

In my life today, art is no longer a separate compartment of my life. There is a bigger picture. I understand that everything that I do is of equal value.

I am becoming more aware of how I am doing what I am doing. There are times when I slip into old habits or thought patterns, and this too is OK.

My art assignment that I have set myself is to be me, to the best of my ability, to be the love that I am, to live in a way that is harmonious and true, without perfection, with simplicity and delicateness and oneness as my tools of trade.

The title of my thesis? ‘Being my own Masterpiece!’

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  • By Bernadette Curtin, Masters in Fine Art Degree, BA, artist, tutor, writer, grandmother

    A woman of the world, learning about how life truly works and can be, joyful, harmonious and truly of service when I get myself out of the way. I love making new connections, the magical messages from nature, and walking the beach with a song in my heart.

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.