Composing Paintings; Composing Life

I feel that successful paintings have a sense of unity about them, composed of balance, focus, strength, and an overall feeling of togetherness. If any stroke was removed, the composition would suffer. Turn off That is, it would no longer be integrated, unified.

My life has been a search for Integration: integration of body, mind, personality and spirit. I consider my immortal spirit to be the most important element, as it gives life to my person. And so, in painting, the spirit of the work, the intangible – is what touches the viewer through the medium. When the elements of the painting are not in harmony with one another, the viewer feels a discomfort, a lack of unity.

The skillful creative artist can use lines, shapes and colors which are seemingly unrelated and orchestrate them into a symphonic whole.  In life, we are trying to achieve a similar integration of many varied experiences. It is not the “bad” experiences that torpedo the unified life. It is the inability of the person to visualize the total picture, to integrate an assortment of happy, sad, painful, and exciting experiences into a meaningful whole.

When a painter gets too involved in one area of a painting, the composition suffers. The painter must constantly walk away to view the overall effect.  So, in life, we benefit from the shift from intimacy to distance, and back again. Different things occur in the experience of intimacy, and the experience of objectivity. Each has its place.

The painter can only work when he or she is close-up to the painting, but the long-distance perception is “must” to comprehend the total impact. Our sense of wholeness is enhanced by the balance of the near and far.

The search for unity involves unlimited vision. We must let go of the “old tapes” of childhood, of fear.  We need to make time for silence, rest, peace. That is the welcome atmosphere where we can be in touch with the spirit, who has so much wisdom and experience to offer us. Our personal connection to our own spirit is the living catalyst to total integration.

Jacqueline Shuler
Dec. 29, 2017

Mystic Music

“Mystic Music” Painting
available on