“The Illumination”


“The Illumination”

The illumination is from the light of God’s love bursting forth; entering your life in a multilayered pursuit to steer your pathway to home.

“Illumination Obscured” This was the first piece done…



“Illumination Obscured”   How I once saw how God influenced my life…

“The Illumination”   How I now see how God influenced my life…

The journey:  All along this process it seemed as if I was being directed to be on this path…  The inspiration for these two paintings starts with my weekly yoga at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester.  During the final relaxation, or Savasana, on 1/28/19 our meditation was about the full moon’s bright glow descending upon you and anchoring you to the earth.  During this meditation I immediately was called to paint this piece.  The colors and positioning of details were generated then.  The following week was about the “pathway to home”.  That’s when the orange path came into view.  The next day I was on the Creative Wellness Opportunities Gallery website to see if they were having a First Friday event, that’s when I learned about the poster contest for their annual show.  …The theme to be illustrated was/is “Illumination”… ! …  Two days later I went to the CWO to get more details.  I had a wonderful encounter there.  Then 2 days later I went to Michaels to get the 20″ x 16” canvas for the acrylic painting… they were on sale, for that day only!  The next day I painted the first one at Rochester Makerspace. More wonderful encounters…  When I was done with the first one, I knew it was not what I truly wanted as the finished product.  So the next week at RMS I created the painting at the top of this blog.  I was sooooo excited when I finished that I blurted out with excitement.  That, of course, brought people over.  All of the exchanges then and during, were very fruitful on gaining incite on the incident, the painting, and God’s intent of the whole thing.

Color choices:

Black:  not of God, the illusion of the absence of God

Orange:  starting at the bottom, youth- wide opportunities, later life seems to narrow them, then it seems that the light pulls you to the love of God

Blue:  swirling winds of change

White lines:  what seems as “getting the lines crossed” is actually the multilayered paths the light of love has entered your life

White blast:  God’s love streaming forth into the world

A comment about the “accidental” scar:  When I was painting the black and using a pallet knife to streak out the color, I, by accident, created a scar on the orange path.  At first I was very upset and wondered out loud how I was going to fix it.  At that moment someone was walking by and when I was trying to explain my dismay a burst of inspiration hit me that I shared with him. – We all have scars etched on our being.  Marks that are etched into our life pathway.  I therefore must leave the oops in the painting for that reminder.scar & dollopA comment about the “accidental” white dollop:  A few days later, before painting the white burst, I prayed out loud for the proper inspiring method or technique to create the representation of God’s love bursting forth.  I then commenced in the fun mess of transferring white paint everywhere.  Yup, everywhere. (Hmmm)  When I was feeling complete and after I exclaimed my excitement, I noticed the dollop of white that preceded the scar on the path.  The indication that God’s love was very present and noticeable in my life-being, preparing me for the “scar”.  Creating a place to rest, or step off of, or step up from, in times of great need.

A comment about the poster competition:  This is the statement that I included with the piece:  “The illumination is from the light of love bursting forth; entering life in a multilayered pursuit to steer a pathway to home.” 

I’ve been struggling with this debatable compromised version.  It is from a suggestion from someone at the gallery, where the contest is being held, for the intent of making it more sensitive to the environment it would be shown.  I was initially happy to make the change.  I understand the impact and that it is nice that more people will see it.  But is that enough?  Is it correct to let someone change my words given to me via sweet inspiration and let it be watered down for the purpose of mass appeal in an environment that is more sensitive to this like “your path” or “God’s love”?  Part of me is upset to the debate and part likes the debate.  Hmmm…

All in all, I am delighted in all of the wonderful interactions.  The amount of positive energy surrounding all of the aspects of this journey has been fascinating and well, yes, illuminating!

Sketches created a week later:         Concerts on Park:  During February’s fundraising “Concerts on Park” at the Immanuel Baptist Church I used colored pencil, crayon and oil pastels to illustrate the music that was being performed by George DeMott.  Please mind the fact that I was also drawing on a clip board in partial ambient lighting…  Two are below and two others were included in “Concerts on Park” blog piece.


I thoroughly encourage experiencing concerts this way…   It leads to a deeper connection…


Concerts on Park


During February’s fundraising “Concerts on Park” at the Immanuel Baptist Church I used colored pencil, crayon and oil pastels to illustrate the music that was being performed by George DeMott.  Please mind the fact that I was also drawing on a clip board in partial ambient lighting…  Two are below and two others will be included in The Illumination blog piece.

The top piece, “Caruso”, is represented by the red, a Manilow mash up is the blue and the yellow is from Sinatra. 


“The Way You Look Tonight”, a few others and “Some Enchanted Evening” are included in this overwrought piece.  It started off with simple expressions of color and line and then I became impassioned to saturate the field.

I thoroughly encourage experiencing concerts this way…

It leads to a deeper connection…

I did show Mr. DeMott the pieces.  He had never seen anyone draw to his music and was very happy with the engagement.

What, why, how:  labyrinths, meditation, painting and me.


What, why, how:  labyrinths, meditation, painting and me.

This is the speech that I gave during RoCo’s “The Days the Artists Spoke” during their 28th Annual Members Exhibition.  They have on display there my painting entitled “Navigating the Diagnosis” which is the very first item in my blog.  So picture that next to me when I was speaking.  The photo here is from the show opening.  For the speech I was wearing a purple flowered outfit and we were in front of a patterned gray background.

Good evening, I’m Karin, and this is “Navigating the Diagnosis”.

For many years I have loved to paint monochromatic landscapes, primarily using cadmium orange or phthalocyanine blue.  Many of my landscapes, like this one, are from the view point of a little girl riding in the backseat of a car, looking out the window while traversing the back roads of the Finger Lakes.  (This next sentence I held my hand in front of my face and moved it around to obstruct my view.)  She, well, I, saw the pine trees looming large and close and obstructing the view to the lakes, the hills and the sky during the many trips to my grandparent’s cabin in Canadice overlooking Hemlock Lake. 

I digress, let’s now go forward to August 2014 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  That next week I went to the Creative Wellness Opportunities’ Gallery and workshop-studio.  I pulled out a canvas, brushes and all the pinks, magentas, and purples that I could find and created my first in a long series of pink monochromatic paintings.

This one “Navigating the Diagnosis”, expresses ones journey, into the odyssey of breast cancer, while you tour the labyrinth, through the forest of decisions, and travel into the center and back out again, coming out with a new perspective on…  …Well, you get the point…

Now, why labyrinths?  Labyrinths are a great meditative tool.  But, before going into that, let’s clear the air – that this – is not a maze – a maze has a separate entrance and exit, where you can get lost in, stopped, turned around, and frustrated in, whereas a labyrinth has the same entrance as its exit, it has one path to the center, then you turn around, and go back out the same way.  Thus releasing you to enjoy the journey.

An example of how to use this type of art versus a photo is, let’s say, it’s the middle of winter and you want to take a walk along the paths around the Finger Lakes, but the snow is too deep, well, simply look into your labyrinth landscape and follow the path with your eyes.  – Thus you are now walking within your painting – instead of just looking at a photo.

Now normally I bring the labyrinth lines forward so that it’s easier to follow the seven circuit path.  This particular painting I chose not to because of its specific theme.

FYI:  The classic 7 circuit or 7 cycle labyrinth means you are going back and forth 7 times before you are looped into the center’s quiet reflective spot.  Most people are aware of the more popular 14 cycle, or full circle labyrinth, like the one that is on the Chartres Cathedral in France created in 1205AD.  But, the first ever known depiction of a labyrinth is actually squared off like mine.  That one was found on a terracotta tablet estimated to have been created before 1200BC and was found in a Mycenaean Palace in Pylos.  I actually have that design created in my own yard.

Now back to another way to use a labyrinth as a meditative tool.  Let’s say you have a question that you’re pondering, say it over and over while you’re “walking” into the labyrinth, when you reach the center, – pray about it –, then on the way out, – listen – for the answer.

A third way I use them, is an active form.  (Anything in bold italics was said more vibrantly with much action happening.)  Let’s say you are really frustrated about something.  Walk over to the painting and verbally or mentally throw your problems at the canvas – while journeying through the labyrinth – which is hard to actually follow the path – andthrow your attitude at the landscape.  When you finally get to the center, turn the shower on , mentally turn on a shower, and wash the troubles off you, wash the troubles off you, while journeying back out along the path, shower off, wash off your troubles, wash off your troubles, and by the time you exit the labyrinth, you’re completely clean, and your problems are a puddle on the floor, that you simply – walk away from – … mop please … (I pretended to clean up the mess.)

If you like this piece and would like to see more art or learn more about its cousins, please visit my blog on wordpress, KarinSmiling.wordpress.com, that’s Karin with an “i” (then I spelled it out).  On there you can see a variety of acrylic landscapes, textile art, wood pieces, glass, multimedia, walking staffs, also on there is my process of how I made individual pieces with the literal step by step.  Some pieces mention where I was at the time of creation, like at a church retreat at Dunkirk’s United Church of Christ Camp on Lake Erie, or Watson Homestead, or Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua, or Charlotte, or Sodus Point.  Some pieces are what I call – story art – they are conversation starters – to perhaps use at a workshop or retreat etc.  Those pieces list a series of questions to ponder while looking at the art, hopefully helping you to see it in a whole new perspective, or to see yourself or your situation in a whole new way…

Any question?

(Thanks to Eddie and Kathleen for their help!)

The labyrinth of time?


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On Friday, November 30, 2018 I enjoyed a lovely evening of jazz performed at the Immanuel Baptist Church.  They hosted 3 groups that evening.  During the Eastman Quintet Abe Nouri and his group performed “If I Were a Bell” this poem was created to the tune of that song.  (I did give a copy to Abe.)


The labyrinth of time

tick tock-n, back and forth-n

Seven by seven, up until Lov-in

Lov-in wrapped around and around agai-n

calling to center

calling to center,            love God-n

                                                   love God-n

                                                   love God-n


I also pictured a small painting with a blue splash background and a purple bell in the center with a labyrinth base.  I tried painting the image… unfortunately I had used a non-permanent marker to create the original lines and they bled into the whole painting.  That caused a much darker image than I had planned.  Here they are…


Comparing Mediums

2nd painting
1st painting

“Seabreeze Sun Silhouette” title suggestion by Gretchen Whitman at STEAM Fest Rochester Maker Faire Fri 11/16/18. This 11″ x 14″ canvas board was created with an acrylic water wash during this first STEAM fest. It took about 4 hours to paint. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the students answering questions, talking about “why labyrinths”, how they are a great meditative tool and getting their input on how to proceed during the creation of the painting. Also chatting about the purposefully asymmetrical grasses. It was also fun explaining how it’s okay to have the painting not go exactly as planned and how to morph it accordingly. During the second day, at the regular Rochester Maker Faire, I created a “duplicate” painting this time using a gloss medium. The differences in the medium choices are most notable in the sky. Also, the gloss, when seen in person, makes the painting look like it is still wet. When applying the paint there are more “dripping” hazards when using a water wash. The hazards with the gloss medium is if you work it too much it will “lift” the paint off the canvas with no immediate way to resolve it unless you just gob paint onto the spot thus destroying what you implied to do either way. It was fun comparing the painting techniques in process. Now titling the second painting was interesting… Here is what was suggested:
sunset in the marshes
Is it spring yet?
Blast off
Nova Scotia sunset
<country flag> in the reeds
Bergen Swamp
Mt. Everest after sufficient global warming
Struggles with gloss medium
Weedy duck pond
Lake Erie jet stream (W to E)
Sunrise kayaking below Irondequoit Bay

Side by side before adding back the labyrinths.

“Seabreeze Sun Silhouette” (the one on the left) is now at the CWO Gallery.   “Sunrise Kayaking Below Irondequoit Bay” (the one on the right) might possibly be being sold.

Love is Power by a Child of God

Love is Power

Love is Power by a Child of Christ

During a fabulous sermon by Pastor Wendy at the Immanuel Baptist Church I used cheap markers to draw on this canvas.  The colors have since faded.  I then put a couple of layers of clear acrylic gloss spray to help protect it.  The tenor of the worship service directly effected how I drew this piece.  Worship art is a whole different category to cover...

The title and signature were quotes from the sermon.

Combining them together, well, it creates a whole new perspective…

hobby artist spreading her wings…