I first learned from horses that sketching and painting them brought interesting and surprising results: physical healing, behavioral changes, and new insights into the healing process. Over time and after a special interaction with a client’s horse I was helping, I felt intuitively prompted to extend portrait drawing to humans as a means to healing. The results have been fascinating and rewarding.
With this approach as a process, and based on your own commitment to personal growth, you may experience any one of the following or something else unique to you: a spiritual, emotional, or physical shift; release from stuck grief, depression, fears; significant support and recovery from sexual abuse; clearing of obstacles that stand in your way; shifts in perspectives, re-framing; a deeper connection with the divine in yourself; and, most exciting to me, the unveiling of gifts you didn’t know you had along with a new sense of life purpose!
ABOUT THE DRAWING PROCESS:
Your portrait is an evolution as things come to the surface. I am simply a conduit. It may not even look like you but may carry symbols important to you. It is a working art form not necessarily an aesthetic piece, . With one client, I had trouble doing his nose. He volunteered that it was because he stuck his nose in others’ business. With another client, I had difficulty drawing anything that even looked decent even though she was an attractive older woman. Finally I turned the page and surrendered to whatever I might draw. And when I did, it turned out to be a man. I asked her if there was a significant man in her past. It turned out she had been raped as a teenager…and here was an opportunity for a completion of healing around this issue. I later did an oil portrait of her and on a whim I decided to give her red hair. She later told me she had always wanted red hair! As I watched her life change over the past few years to the surprise discovery that she is an incredible natural artist, I wondered if the red hair in her painting released something new, something hidden? I don’t know, but I like to think it contributed to her personal process. For another client, as we talked, the portrait evolved into a new look of maturity and confidence that became the finished portrait.
HOW I ARRIVED HERE:
I am a 79 year old portrait artist, writer, and horse “listener.”Approximately 40 years ago after retiring from a teaching career, I did my first human charcoal portrait. The subject was Beatle George Harrison from a photo on the front of a book. I spent days working on it trying to tweak it. In the end, I had erased so many times, I feared there would be no paper left behind his face!
During that time I had a small town art center and our first weekly class was life drawing with nude models. It was then I first observed a spiritual connection between artist and subject and became curious about what might be experienced in the exchange, and the impact on the art itself.
As time went by, I also began to question why I sometimes had proportion issues or distortions in my drawings. I had some inklings but years later the answer came. While looking at a quick watercolor of my thoroughbred who has beautiful flowing lines from the rear which is so joyful to observe and to sketch, I noticed that in my painting, he was lopsided from one side to the other. Before condemning myself on the distortion, I remembered that this horse had suffered a major hoof injury a few years earlier and because of his physical compensation, there was an actual distortion in his body that I had intuited but my eye had not discerned. I now pay attention to such subtleties. They often open the door to important information.
During my 30+ years working in nontraditional ways with my rescue horses, or rather they were working with me, I was nudged to draw a horse when it was physically ill or uncomfortable. Over time, I began to notice that either they immediately became more peaceful, or I would receive an insight of something to do that would bring comfort or healing. Most of the time there was a spontaneous recovery without my doing anything more than just sketching them.
A few years ago, my old guy, Dollar, a quarter horse, was determined to overcome my chronic skepticism and get through to me this correlation between sketching and healing once and for all after the many years of learning from all the horses. Dollar went through a period of suffering colic multiple times within weeks. The first was most severe. I had never experienced such debilitating colic with any of my horses. I am well trained in key acupressure points on a horse for colic and in the past had been able to avert it in the beginning stages. But nothing was working this time. He miraculously survived that first night. However, with subsequent colics, having exhausted different attempts and modalities with no success, finally, and a bit reluctantly due to that skepticism, I pulled out my sketch pad and sketched him. Each time the symptoms reversed within minutes. It took multiple times for me to really get it and by the final time I literally ran for my sketch pad and charcoals, sat down by him as he lay on the ground and started to sketch. He got up immediately and was eating and pooping within minutes as he had done each prior time…except for one exception, the first and the worst of the series. That had remained a mystery to me through the whole ordeal. With that colic, he had done such violence to his body as he flung himself to the ground over and over there was no way he could possibly have been alive by morning. But…he was. When I had awakened from my bed in the car, he was standing peacefully as if absolutely nothing had happened during the night. He showed no signs of body injury nor even tiredness.
After finally accepting that there was a correlation between the sketching and the reversal of symptoms, I puzzled over the profound reversal of that first and harsh colic many nights before when in my mind I had done nothing except fail with every effort. How did that fit with the lessons Dollar was teaching me with the rest of the colic events? Revisiting that night in my mind, I had gone into the barn to retreat from my helplessness to make a difference for Dollar. When I came out awhile later, he was sleeping peacefully on the ground. I did not assume his colic was gone but only that he was exhausted. I did not want to risk waking him up to his pain again, so quietly retired to my temporary bed in the car where I had awakened hours later to that miracle of Dollar standing alive and unscathed!
As I pondered the various colic events that Dollar had presented to me, and that awful night in particular, I caught my breath as I suddenly remembered that I had in fact sketched Dollar that night when I went into the barn! OMG! How did I forget it? I had been so weary, I did not get my sketch pad but had sat on the steps and in a desperate surrender, sketched him in the air over and over with my fingers as if doing a charcoal drawing! Strangely, so thick was my skepticism, I had made no connection to the quieting of his symptoms minutes later when I found him asleep on the ground. But I had in fact sketched him! With this unexpected realization, I could no longer doubt. Dollar had been relentless in getting that message across to me that the horses had been trying to teach me for 30 years while my skepticism had held my mind captive. Thanks to Dollar’s persistence, he kicked the skeptic out the door, and the understanding and acceptance that I was sketching them into health, was now, finally and deeply etched in my soul.
HEALING PORTRAIT:1 1/2 -2 hour session includes the charcoal portrait, a write up, and a 1/2 hour follow-up, $125.
COMBINED HEALING PORTRAIT WITH HORSE SESSION. Very powerful, $185.
DISTANT HEALING PORTRAIT using your photos. Add $10 to prices above for handling.
DEPOSIT: For Distant and commissioned work, 50% required.
OTHER OPTIONS: Commissioned charcoal or oil portraits of animals or humans that also bring healing but the focus is more on the aesthetics of the art and a look alike of the subject. Pricing to be determined depending on size and medium (charcoal or oil).
I welcome your questions.
Beverly Smith / Artist/Facilitator
WATCH FOR NEXT POST: HOW THE HORSES TAUGHT ME I WAS AN ARTIST