Heidi Thompson presents several large energy fields for an exhibition.
We understand how sensations are caused by infinitesimal biochemical reactions occurring every second in our body. When we examine these biochemical occurrences we observe how they manifest, linger a while and then fade. At times, sensations feel like a wave of warmth; at times they feel like shivers down our spine. Sensations are oscillating atoms that buzz, vibrate, sting, throb, tickle or itch. Feeling sensations allows us to experience how matter and energy seem to be interchangeable. We experience our bodies as a tangible mass of moving biochemical causing gas, pressure, heat and energy. We notice how these manifest either pleasant or unpleasant sensations. We notice how certain sensations affect positively or negatively our state of mind. One minute we feel joyous; next minute depressed. These moods are caused by the underlying biochemical changes. Traditionally we think that art should make us feel. Because feeling and emotion are connected to sensations, why not start with the underlying cause of our feelings? Can art influence the underlying cause? If art can trigger sensations and simultaneously make us aware of these sensations, don’t we gain more understanding? We stop blindly reacting to art – “Oh, I like this one!” and start using the painting as a tool to develop self-awareness. For this reason, I believe that sensation triggering art can take us beyond traditional experience and provide a catalyst for experiencing actual reality. What is reality? When we experience our arising and passing sensations we become aware of the stuff we are made of. The energy that moves us. Observing the manifestation and dissolution of matter on the molecular level leads to an understanding of impermanence. Perhaps the experience of impermanence is the most important step to self-knowledge. When we experience who and what we really are, we no longer feel so attached to the “thought” of who we are. After all, how can we stay attached to something that keeps changing? Letting go of our concept that we are solid, permanent being is liberating. Would it not be valuable if art could help us be liberated? My energy field paintings came into being because I wanted to paint y reality as I experienced it. How else could I paint reality, but to show colourful light flecks of matter swirling around in undefined space? My search to find a way to paint the experience of change led me to my energy fields. I wanted to find an image that would trigger sensations. I thought of two things. Firstly, I needed the image to direct the viewer’s attention away from his imagination and thoughts. As long as a person is thinking, he cannot be feeling sensations. To help the viewer, I use non-representational “images” devoid of themes, objects, symbols, figures, concepts or references to nature. There is little for viewer’s imagination to contemplate. With nothing recognizable for his intellect to grasp, analyze, read or relate to, the viewer engages other mental facilities to derive meaning. These faculties include emotions, feelings, intuition and aesthetic sensibilities. Ultimately, while gazing at the painting, the viewer's attention stops thinking and he starts feeling. Secondly, the painting needs colour and lines. Both these visual elements generate mental energy. Lines cause a buzz and vibration and colour stimulates the mind and body. A natural yellow/orange colour may evoke a feeling of happiness. Underlying this happiness, you will discover pleasant, subtle vibrations, a slowing heart rate, lightness, and a dopamine induced calmness. These are the sensations of happiness caused by the warm colour yellow. Although energy fields are predominately one colour, they are not monochrome. Monochromes, from my experience, cannot adequately sustain the viewer’s interest or attention. To ensure that the image is interesting, I paint thousands of intricate overlapping lines and dots. These seemingly organized marks captivate and sustain attention. While the viewer stands and attempts to decipher the infinitely varied marks, mental energy is produced. The longer he examines the complex, enigmatic weave, the more his
attention sharpens. A focused attention changes a person's state of mind; agitation changes to calmness, lethargy changes to energy, and boredom changes to interest. I have explored energy field painting since 1984 when I went to first Vipassana 10-day retreat. Vipassana opened my eyes to the reality of what is happening inside me. The experience changed how I thought about art. I no longer wanted to paint imagined reality. In my search for a way to express my insights I added colour to my normally black and white palette, dropped all figurative, conceptual and thematic elements and painted non-objective abstractions. My painting techniques also changed. My current process involves texturing a stretched canvas with gesso and silica sand creating an interesting, tactile surface. Once the texture is dry, I apply acrylic paint using a small fan brush and stick. For several hours, I tap the paint-loaded brush and build up a field of thousands of overlapping flecks, dots and lines. From a distance the surface appears unified and monochromatic. Up close, it appears to be a field of oscillating marks, lines, light and varying shades of colour. I avoid repetitive shapes or mechanical applications to ensure that each fleck is unique. While studying in Europe I was struck by Kandinsky’s ideas in “The Spiritual in Abstract Art”. Kandinsky practiced meditation and this explain his sensitivity to the energy of lines, shapes and colours. He wrote that every colour, line, and shape resonates with the soul triggering a spiritual vibration or “innere Klang”. I interpret “spiritual vibration” to describe a sublime experience of sensations; sensations so subtle they feel “spiritual”. I am also inspired by Mark Tobey’s abstract linear compositions that express ideas about moving matter in space. His insights about truth and nature may come from Zen meditation. Other artists I enjoy include minimalists and colour-field painters Malevich, Klein, Rothko and New York artists Natvar Bhavsar and Joseph Marioni. I believe that art, in all its varied forms, can provide a vehicle that helps us grow. Art can inspire, depress, shock, excite, enlighten, inform, communicate and elicit infinite reactions, emotions, thoughts and sensations. As artists evolve, so do their expressions. As artists experience Truth and reality they will no doubt be compelled to communicate their discoveries with the world. Art enriches our lives and makes it possible for us to feel beauty, joy and peacefulness. Art will always be an expression of our spiritual and scientific journey of self-discovery. As long as humans roam the earth, this quest to learn will persist. When art reveals our Truth, I believe that it serves its greatest purpose. - Heidi Thompson 9905 Coldstream Creek Rd Coldstream, BC, V1B 1C8 Canada email@example.com www.heidithompson.ca