One day when I was three and getting over being sick, I was sitting on a cot in the living room… and wanted to draw a horse. I called rectangles shoe boxes, and by changing the sizes of the boxes drew a horse… I can remember it clearly, the moment when that concept came to me and the satisfaction of drawing it. My mother gasped in amazement. That was a seminal event in my young life.
Drawing and painting has always held for me moments that are ineffable. Moments that transcend the specific time & place, ordinary life, where I slip into another realm not even aware of being there until I return to being conscious of the art work under my hands. I began to ask other children who loved art if that happened to them… one or two answered yes….. I tried to make it happen… but that never worked… It was only when I was completely absorbed in the art work that the evanescence occurred. When I was majoring in art in college, I again asked if others had this experience… again one or two said yes.
Art has the classical learning, colors, composition, perspective, figure drawing, light and shadow, control of media, oils, watercolors, …. And I loved all of it. My formal lessons began when I was nine with a marvelous English woman, Doreen Penson. She gave us the European Classical approach. My art education continued including my MFA which was a time of honing. The only person to be as important as Mrs. Penson was Jim Van Dijk a fantastic artist and professor. Jim gave me how to paint from my inner being in a way that was meditation. I went back to the beginning of art. Put away all the tools and went to watercolor on paper. Only watercolor can match the speed of the mind, the palpitations of the heart, the yearning of the soul. Because I had behind me years of formal training, my art this time could find true direction. I have called this way, Painting as a Spiritual Discipline.
Teaching highlights include teaching art in Liberia at Cuttington University where I was head of the art department and increased the enrollment, and expanded the courses taught. In China I taught both Contemporary Western Painting and English. When I taught painting I spoke Chinese eliminating the need for a translator. I used to tell the students, “my grammar (when speaking Chinese) is not good, but my theories are correct.” Returning to the States in 2004 I taught drawing and art appreciation at Front Range Community College Boulder Campus for several years and then went to a charter school Global Village Academy in Aurora Colorado teaching art to K-8.
Jalaliyyih’s website: www.jalaliyyihquinn.org