“Beauty and wonder are about us all the time. I don’t always see it myself either. But amazing things appear sometimes if we pay attention.” -Mcclain Moore
As a practicing psychotherapist, my attention is engaged with people, listening, empathizing, sensing, thinking, philosophizing, interacting, challenging self-exploration and, sometimes, very deep feelings. The practice of drawing and painting affords me the opportunity to observe, study and work in states of quiet, focused solitude with the beauty, authenticity and subtle emotional qualities of a model, nature, scene or object.
Bodily felt experience is a natural process that informs each inter-subjective relationship and everything I do. As I challenge the limitations of my assumptions, seeking “the more” beyond them, I reach richer levels of experience, meaning and expertise as a psychotherapist and artist. My work as a therapist deepens with each relational experience and as I become a more confident person and artist. Being a psychotherapist has given me a sense of meaning and value that comes from personal and professional growth, study, exploration and human connection. Practice has surprising rewards.
The processes of clearing away distractions, listening deeply to others as a therapist and observing/studying when drawing or painting are more alike than some imagine, though the experiences and skill-sets are very different. Lessons are often interchangeable. Both require I develop my powers of observation, “listen” to the whole big picture, witness and “draw upon” what I “see” while understanding the deep inter and inner relationships of parts, colors, values, shapes and edges.
The nature in “human nature” is found in our felt sense. In nature, we place ourselves and our concerns in a bodily-felt broader context. Nature has the potential to reflect a sense of its beauty within us. Nature is creative. Nature nurtures. My clients sometimes come to see me when they feel apart from nature, depressed or anxious, their breath and bodies constricted and their field of vision narrowed. When I witness my client experiencing a bodily felt shift, expanding and moving through and forward, in and outside of the process of our work together, it is as though they can breath more openly, free to be nurtured by nature again. It is deeply satisfying.
In art, I am compelled by the process and benefits of study and watching my powers of active observation grow, clearly informed by my bodily felt sense. I suppose you might say I enjoy human nature as a therapist and earthly nature as an artist. We are part of the beauty of nature after all, and is easy to find parallels and threads if we look for them.
My drawing and painting skills developed by practicing on my own and in continuing ed classes and workshops, where excellent teachers and classmates guide and inspire. The rewards of my drawing and painting practice can be seen in the finer quality of my current work, and in the support, reflections and responses I receive from others.
I applied for “The Hudson River Fellowship” in two previous years, having spent a long time considering my application, and had not been accepted. Sponsored and judged by masterful art teachers at the highly respected Grand Central Academy of Art, the submission process includes a statement of intent and submission of several images of drawings and paintings indicating interests, passions, skill level….and birthdate. Understanding the youthful and supremely talented competition, I was doubtful I would get the chance to participate and almost did not apply.
At the very last minute, I could not resist my wishes and sent off my application, having written my current statement of intent and chosen my images without labor, straight from the heart. I am more ready for the fellowship this year, with a sense that my work and I have grown mature enough for to make the best use of intensive study. When a very unexpected email arrived with the title “Congratulations!,” weeks after posting my recent application, I was so taken by surprise I almost yelped with excitement. I am very honored to say, I was accepted as one of 24 artists chosen for the 2013 “Hudson River Fellowship”: three weeks contemplating the paths of the great Hudson River School painters and immersion in drawing and painting nature in the New Hampshire landscape.
I live in the city. This will be a great opportunity for being away from the streets of home, interacting with inspiring artists and comparing notes. I expect the work will require open, wide-eyed energy, all of the drawing and painting “chops” I have, a childlike wonder of nature and it’s changing conditions, perseverance, and enough physical strength and flexibility for hiking and carrying equipment. Most importantly, I look forward to being in and with nature, to placing myself fully within its beauty and vastness.
A bit shy, three weeks does seem like a long time to spend with others I do not know, in a somewhat rustic setting. I plan a shift into “low maintenance mode” when it comes to accommodations. However, I am much looking forward to all of the challenges. It begins July 15th and I am obviously already beginning to prepare.
I have all sorts of ideas and concepts for professional and creative projects I have yet to start. I am trusting my practice and experience will meet at a cross roads and I will begin to bring my professional and artistic visions to fruition over the next year. The fellowship will give me a chance to study and gather more of the readiness I need. I am sure to return to my clients, nurtured by the landscape, wanting to listen and “see” what is just up ahead, through the light entering the forest wall.
“Sagamore Hill Tree” (Oil Painting) © Robin Kappy 8/2012
“Sketch of a Young Man” (Pencil) © Robin Kappy 7/2012
“Sunset” (Photograph) © Eileen Kaufman 8/2011