When I stumbled upon a posting of Jonas Gerard doing a live painting performance on youtube a couple of weeks ago (thanks, Lisa), I found I was quite enraptured with his energy, without even realizing that his studio is here in Asheville in the River Arts District. Duh. Where have I been???? Oh yeah, right – totally disconnected from my creative self for waaaaayyyy toooo long. Walking around with blinders on, I tell ya.

We moved here over two years ago with the intention of tapping into the creative culture energy of the people that seem to gravitate to this fabulous little city while working toward living a life closer to our own creative practices. The first year here was a little bit lost on me while I worked a fulltime nursing job that enabled our move, with the intention of meeting my artistic needs and goals in the spare time outside of that. Well, that never really works out, now does it? My job was good work with amazing people and offered many moments of clarity and growth, but it sucked me dry of energy for my own passions in more ways than one – let alone energy to really network and explore what Asheville has to offer.
Fast forward to now, a year after I quit my fulltime job and I’m beginning my transition back into trusting art is my spiritual compass… and here I am, new to intuitive painting, introduced to Jonas Gerard’s live performances on a video, only to find out he had one coming up this last Saturday. It seemed serendipitous in a perfect timing kind of way.
So I took myself on an art date.

Now, let me say, that I’m well aware that there is something of a disparity between the attention that Jonas gets and the attention that many other incredibly talented artists of Asheville receive – and there is, at times, grumblings of this in the younger artist community. He is a bit of a tourist attraction that has become something of the poster child for Asheville artists and has made a well-known name for himself. Had I discovered him in the mindset I was in even a few years ago, I’m not sure I would have understood or been nearly as impressed with him or his process. When you think only about how he paints a painting in the time it takes to listen to a song (albeit long songs), and then places a pricetag in the thousands on it… well, this is a turn-off for some. But here is an artist that has painted his whole life and made his way through with pure commitment, hard work and the courage to break out of the box to continue to find newness and meaning in his process. He is exploring the possibility of presence and the magic of spontaneity through intuitive painting, from the heart, in the moment, as it inspires him, and as the painting wants to be born. And here I am on my journey just beginning to see the indescribable beauty and potential of this type of relationship between myself and painting. I am beginning to understand that it is about so much more than the painting – it is about how you live your life, moment to moment. It is about knowing your heart.

In Jonas’ gallery he has signs next to the artwork that invite, “It’s OK to touch.”
(I LOVE that ’cause I  always want to touch – especially when they say not to!)

When I paid for my admission, there was a sign that said all admission fees were going to the band River Guerguerian that would be playing for him for the performance. I was thrilled at this – musicians were supporting his artmaking process and he is in turn supporting their efforts. (And the thought of live music while you paint just gives me chills of joy!) His staff was incredibly friendly and warm, walking me down a hall and telling me of his youth and life. They said I could take video, just not of the whole performance – and that I could share it, but Jonas requested any video footage not be put on youtube. No problem – my fledgling video skills leave a lot to be desired (Dramamine, anyone?).

Sage Sanson and River Guerguerian

The music was fantastic – flute, drums and didgeridoo, melodica, strange stringed instruments from other world places, and a woman (Sage Sansone) with the voice of a Being from out of this world. They built the rhythmic vibe and Jonas painted to the beats.

He also talked to the audience and answered questions. It was a warm atmosphere -and he stressed that the paintings of the day were as much about the energy of the crowd that was present as anything else.
When asked how he transitioned to abstract art, he listed off many things he had to let go of (what others think, expectations, judgments, ideas of value and final product) and said in conclusion that it takes lots and lots of layers of  “Let Go.” Lots and lots of LET GO. I love that.
He spoke of the importance of learning and practicing techniques, but how this leads to the necessity of unlearning eventually, in order to grow as an artist. He talked about the delicate dance of being in the moment, with the painting and music, not thinking of the past, not thinking of the future, but in a place of liberating Now. He also talked about technique and supplies – but he emphasized that it’s not about the tools and brands, it’s about WHO YOU ARE.

After he painted 7 paintings in just under two hours (whoa), people were so light and happy as they gathered their things, talked, went to meet him, took pictures, etc. It was interesting how many of the people were returning admirers, that came to experience his space and way of creating for a second or third time. I’m not usually the sort to hang out and introduce myself to the band per se (I just can’t think of anything worth their time to say normally, other than, “Wow, you rock!”), but I did thank Sage and introduce myself to Jonas on Saturday.
When I approached, thanked him and said my name, he took a long pause, met my eyes and put his hands on my shoulders and said, “Now who is this here?” I think he knew somehow I am usually no small talker. I told him straight up that I would only be sharing my video footage with some fellow intuitive painters and family, and then (without thinking about what I was saying) I told him that I had just begun intuitive painting in the past 2 months (as I said it, I felt myself actually tear up inside with emotion – seems silly, but it took me off guard. it felt like a confession, like i had a wonderful secret that needed to be heard in order for me to feel its impact)
…and he said, “ah, that’s what i see. Your heart is opening. It’s in your eyes. Isn’t it wonderful? Your heart opens and the tears come.” (he really said that. no kidding. i had no actual tears – just that feeling inside.)
I managed to reply, “It’s changing my life.” He gave me the biggest smile and then a sweet bear hug, kissing both my cheeks, like a loving grandfather, saying, “I know, isn’t it wonderful?”

It was an unexpected, rather sweet exchange that I will never forget. You see, I’ve been embarking upon my Fearless painting journey pretty much in solitude here, except for the amazing online support of my Fearless tribe and a few supportive friends and family that listen but may not entirely get it – and who I don’t want to bore incessantly with my exploding enthusiasm of something so…difficult to describe. I don’t have a circle of artists in my immediate life right now. That’s OK – this is for me, and it’s a deep journey.

But this was the first time since I started my exploration that I shared physical space and connection with another intuitive painter that understands what it is I’m experiencing, the changes it brings about, the awakening to one’s self and life. I don’t know Jonas personally, but he looked in my eyes and recognized this – he saw me and PUT WORDS TO the shift I’ve been feeling inside of me in just a split, momentary exchange. And he gave me a big hug in celebration.

It’s good to be witnessed.
It was a really great art date.
And I am so very grateful.

Jonas Inspired Her. a little paint-play by me later that evening.

If you are an intuitive/fearless painter, friend, or artist and would like access to see the video footage I took, please drop me a note telling me your intention and I’ll send you a link with a password. I would like to share my experience with those interested for private viewing, but want to honor his request that it not be posted to youtube for public viewing. It is very much a homestyle video, but there are magical glimpses in it worth witnessing if you feel the inclination. And it is wonderful to watch his paintings unfold in the process – that’s what they’re about. ♥