Interview with Lotus Guide

Lotus Guide (LG): Marianna, you teach “painting from the heart” at your studio; what do you mean by that?

Marianna Love (ML): As a watermedia artist, I paint from the heart with an emphasis on the freedom, the play, the dance, the flow, the passion of being in the “now moment.” I play with creation by using color, texture, line, and shape intuitively for beauty, healing, and self-expression. I choose mainly chakra, rainbow, “clear aura colors” combined with gold leafs, metallics, collage, water, and brush to dance on paper.

LG: Do you consider art as a form of healing or therapy?

ML: Painting is healing for me as I paint with the energy of vibrant color under full-spectrum lighting. If my mind is scattered, anxious, or depressed, a painting session becomes a time of slipping out of a painful reality where the world is too much for me and my ego cannot control outer events. For instance, I began my Prayer Peace Circle series of paintings as we began the war in Iraq which, at least, has helped me be more peaceful and is a way of taking charge of my own consciousness. 

By surrendering to the creative process, we are no longer individuals with problems, pain, or suffering. As we come into the flow and feel the oneness with our creative essence, we are expanded into the timeless moment and are a part of a larger whole which is the realm of healing.

LG: You say you started late in life with your painting. What inspired you?

ML: One of the special gifts that I bring is my own life process. As a girl, I was told that I had no talent in art and so was not allowed to take art lessons. This was the injunction or inner message that I carried into my early 40s. At that time, I was teaching color chakra breathing in my yoga classes as well as teaching the “Sleep and Dreams” class and my new class, “The Psychology of Creativity and Intuition” (we teach what we want to learn). I began to dream about beautiful purple irises growing wild in my orchard, which actually turned out to be true. Then I went on a six-month sabbatical, beginning with a self-realization meditation retreat, where I began to draw flowers with colored markers and ended up teaching yoga at Esalen Institute in Big Sur and there bought my first paints on my 42nd birthday. 

When I returned to teach at Butte College, I continued to give myself one morning a week to paint, eventually having the courage to “to come out of the closet” and study with Flo Barnett and Ann Pierce, which gave me a wonderful community with other artists. I still had to follow my own inner guidance and was protective of my inner artist, who wanted to paint her own subject matter with bright colors regardless of what others were doing.

LG: How do you feel about your life and the role that art plays in it today?

ML: Today, I am enjoying a passionate later-life career as an artist and I am proud to have work in healing centers and special private collections as far away as Australia, exhibiting in museums as well as in national and local shows, and having my work selected as a healing piece to begin the national SLMM book, ” The Art of Layering: Making Connections .”

“Painting from the Heart” is summed up for me in my artist’s statement, which came to me whole as an incubated dream request: 

“I paint because it brings me joy. Joy to see beauty in our world and to play with creation. I experience color as a healing loving vibration as I dance with light on the Rainbow Path. May we all express our joy, may we all be blessed with Color.”

LG: What is it that you get out of teaching others to paint?

ML: We are trained to be spectators, appreciating those “special few,” the real artists. We approach the creative process with fear, thinking we need to fix ourselves - raise our self-esteem before we can create. We compare ourselves with others and want to paint objects that look just like the original and everyone else’s so that others will know that we “got it right” instead of painting from within or dancing or singing. 

What we need to realize is that this strident, critical voice that we call our “inner critic” came about to protect us, to keep us from being laughed at, to keep us from pain and shame, to keep us from being punished by a harsh authority or our peers. Now we can have this supposedly “helpful” part of us still blocking and limiting our creative expression as it critiques our performance, tightens our body, and creates doubt rather than expansiveness, separateness rather than oneness. 

When I teach “Painting from the Heart: Enhancing Your Inner Artist and Taming Your Inner Critic,” I use stretching and relaxation/breathing visualization techniques to have people carry on a dialogue with this part of themselves and eventually encourage it to loosen up - go on vacation - knowing that we and our work are “perfectly imperfect.” We then invite our inner editors back to give us helpful feedback and guidance after our playful creative time. 

We also go across the “rainbow bridge” to meet our inner artist and find our healing colors for this session. We emphasize process over product and honor any images that come from our subconscious to be expressed in our creations.

LG: Do you see Chico and Paradise as possibly being a cultural center for this area?

ML: Here’s an example of where we are headed. In the September 2004 issue, the national magazine Where to Retire listed Paradise as a fine-arts community. The next edition of The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America is to include Chico, while in 2003, USA Today listed Chico as one of the top five small art towns in the nation. 

I would like to acknowledge and thank you both (Dhara and Rahasya) for bringing the Lotus Guide into our area with such positive dedication and “will to good” and expanding your coverage to include a creative/cultural voice.