How Art Reflects Our Lives


In my first combined studio & retail gallery, a man wandered in one Sunday afternoon, studied the paintings on the wall and commented, ‘Whoever painted these must be really sad.’ It jarred me. Not sure if he knew I was the artist, I asked if there was any one piece he was drawn to. He talked about one piece that moved him, and after some time he thoughtfully left to continue his Sunday morning outside market shopping in Downtown Campbell. Yes, he did return to buy the painting later making us both happy.


However, before he returned, I went from painting to painting and tried to see each objectively. Some were sobering and reflective, some quiet and serene to my eye. I realized then, as both an artist and psychotherapist, art acts as a Rorschach. We project what is deepest in us, then feel it profoundly. I was mildly relieved but still pondered about what I might myself be sad about. There was sadness; I owned it. Darkness too. Then my eyes landed on some very playful pieces. It was interesting they didn’t catch his or my eye during our conversation.


Art reflects us back to ourselves. What touches and moves one doesn’t speak at all to another. Our psyche is conversing with the art; the art answers back. I believe a most valuable thing art brings, and why we love it, is to feel fully and wholly alive. Our triumphs, loves, playfulness, curiosities, agonies and beauty of loss. Why beauty? Because loss reflects the beautiful life we were blessed with and which we own to carry us forward into a new life, even as we grieve. Best of all, art enlivens us, juices us up. I love walking into a room full of art; I feel so ALIVE. We need art to remind us of this unique gift of aliveness that we breathe into every day. Take time for visiting museums, galleries and open studios in your community. Your psyche deserves the play!

Note: In this time of pandemic, galleries and studios will open practicing social distancing and required masking. The gift of that is, we have more space to view the art uninterrupted by inevitable comings and goings of other viewers. Plus, in studio, the artist will have more time to speak with you about the art, about what you like, and/or to answer your questions.


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©2020 by Phyllis Anne Jenkins

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The Alameda Artworks
The Alameda, San Jose, CA, USA