Anne Shams Soulfire Art

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Anne Shams Soulfire Art ….a brief explanation….

“ What you were doing was Soul Art,” responded my spiritual director when I described how, on the first day of my university graduate art course, my feet propelled me from my first class straight to the dean’s office to withdraw.

In the windowless, darkened seminar room, I was the first student to put my paintings up in front of the rest of the small class and professor.  They were met with complete and prolonged silence. The single response was from the professor who said, “You will be a fine painter one day.”

I had puzzled for years about why my feet took charge that day and abruptly cut short my art education. And why the professor’s response did not encourage me. She spoke of the future. What I desperately wanted and needed in the present was the education and instruction to become a fine painter.

The reality of art instruction at that time was that technique was not taught, except in its most rudimentary form. It was the era of backlash against the academic instruction that had been developed and taught in Europe, but had become imitative, expressed without substance and relevance.

Feeling utterly lost, I quit making art.

It was 10 years later that, prompted by difficult circumstances and a bout of depression, I began painting as therapy. I began with prayer and meditation and soon found myself experiencing evocative images that I later learned were archetypal. These archetypes transcended any specific religion.

Then, a compelling dream inspired me to create the image Pillar with Wings in my large fused glass triptych, and to dedicate my work to Interfaith Art, initially to build bridges between Jews, Christians and Muslims, then evolving to be inclusive of many faith paths.

My most recent project is to paint portraits of ten inspiring women, in triptych and icon format, because these paintings will tell holy stories. The process will take several years because I am painting in a classical style, which means all the elements of classical painting typical of techniques used by the painters of the 14th through 16th centuries: composition using the golden rectangle, preparatory drawing, underpainting in grisalle or monotone sepia, oil paint on birch panels, and gold leaf. I plan to document the process on this blog.

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