Recently I found myself mesmerized by the beautiful paintings of equine Artist Holly Vanasse https://dappledponydesigns.com/. Her bright and colorful work is pure eye candy to me; Holly creates images of happy horses in a way I have never seen before, allowing layers of collage, paint, and ink to – in her words, “create lots of opportunities for ‘happy accidents’ and unique color combinations”. The colors and shapes drew me in and her images sang a sweet melody directly to my heart, prompting me to learn more about Holly.
Reaching out, I asked Holly about her paintings and if she would create one for me. What intrigued me most in our subsequent conversations was how important it is for her to really know the horses she paints. A deep connection with her subject creates a kind of magic that I believe makes her work so unique. By leaning in to her subject’s energy and allowing their essence to be her muse as she incorporates their animus – their spirit – into each layer on the canvas, Holly captures each horse’s vitality in a way that allows their individual story to shine through.
Speaking with Holly got me thinking about the power of art in all its forms: the spoken and written word, music, dance, paintings, and sculpture – everything, really, that comes from a creative space in our being.
As a species we are hard-wired to respond to stories, and art allows us to tell those stories in beautiful and powerful ways. Colors and images create associations in our brains that can connect us with joy, and with what we love. It’s hard to stay sad when you pull out a palette of water colors or an ink pen, or listen to a favorite song. Creativity activates magical paths of beauty and melodic harmony in our souls, helping us escape the mundane and experience a heightened state of connection to our highest selves, and to everything in the world around us.
I have noticed a strong sense of connection and community in my own art workshops – differences fade as women of all ages sit together to talk about what they love, and to spill their dreams and desires onto their canvases. In this creative space, the woes of life fall away and we are all transported to a place of possibility and communion. The hum of creativity is a special energy that can spark an old interest, help us reconnect with our secret longings and desires, visualize what we want to do with our lives, and help us create healing mages and words. Art is a unifying creative force; art is life.
Yanni, my first horse, re-kindled a childhood love of art when he came into my life. Spending time with him reconnected me with my 7 year-old self and I remembered how I used to set up an art table in our garage and invite the neighborhood kids to draw, paint, create jewelry and paper sculptures. It wasn’t long before I found myself as a 47 year-old, spending my weekends making winged papier maché horses and larger than life horse paintings. I would sit in Yanni’s stall in a lawn chair and allow myself to write and sketch my dreams. Often I would look up and there he would be, hovering over my head, sleeping. It was as if he were inviting me into the Great Sacred Dreamtime, telling me, “Go there my dear; remember who you are.” He encouraged me to step away from my weekly grind as a nurse and immerse myself in something I had always loved but had thought I’d grown out of. I could almost hear him whispering “Just do it. You are never too old.” Being in his presence put me back in touch with my creativity and reminded me of my soul’s purpose.
When Yanni died, I was lost for a while, until his spirit reached out through my journaling practice. His words and story helped me cope, and reminded me once again that I was more powerful and worthy that I ever imagined. I started to draw, and paint, and write again. Yanni reminded me to dream and vision; to be tenacious and to never to give up. As his soul whispered into my heart, I started to reconnect with what I loved, and this was my saving grace. His greatest gift was reconnecting me to the healing capacity of art, which in turn put me on a clear path to my mentor, Melisa Pearce, and the Equine Gestalt Community.
My connection with Holly, the equine artist, reminded me that we are all one, and that art is yet another thread by which we are connected. I shared with her details about my Soul Tribe – all the people that have helped me along my path; the creative souls, spiritual advisors and artists who kept me going when I thought that the creation and evolution of my work was way too hard. On the list was my horse trainer, Alessandra Deerinck. Holly messaged me and said, “You know Alessandra? I met her a few years back at a Carolyn Resnick Clinic where she was working with her horse Rosalie. We went to her home one day where I saw an easel with paints, and I thought to myself “I am going to do that someday.””
I could almost hear Yanni laughing! I had actually connected online with an artist across the country, who was inspired by my horse trainer, who had happened to be working with Yanni before he passed. What are the chances? I believe that there is a much bigger message here, that Yanni wanted me to know and share: we are connected to many in our lives through the golden thread of creativity. Art, through its ability to inspire, heal, and connect us with community, is a powerful example of divine intervention; a conduit for magic and discovery. I believe we all need more of this in our lives.
I am blessed to live on a piece of land that houses a barn and an art studio workshop where we can create beautiful new stories and be inspired by the horses. Our home incorporates most of the elements that I sketched out during my dreaming sessions in Yanni’s stall – for that, and so much more, my 7 year-old self would be proud of me – and so would my beloved Yanni.
So go out and be inspired to connect with what you love. Write it, draw it, verbalize it, sing it…. and believe that art can be the conduit for the creation of your next chapter. Find what makes you smile, and follow that path with faith. That is where you need to go. Holly Vanasse followed the path of what she loved, and it shows in her work, bringing joy to countless others who are inspired by it.
Know you are loved, you are worthy, and you are a great creator….
Vivian, Yanni, Luca and Sky Mama