Autumn Skye and I first met at Beloved Music Festival in 2010. I was drawn to her work right away, and amongst many talented visual artists in our extended festival culture, hers and Alex Grey’s work have stood out to me as exceptional.
Her work is beautiful and moving. She is an artist. She also has the discipline, focus and business acumen to be a professional artist, which means she makes a successful living with her art.
Autumn Skye and I recently connected in Bali around Bali Spirit Festival. She was working on a new painting still in progress of a woman's face and a lotus flower (photos below). Below is an interview that we did about her art, inspirations, her views on the current state of the world, and how art can bring healing and refection for us all. http://www.autumnskyemorrison.com/
Tell me a little about your life growing up in western Canada and how this influenced you as an artist. When not teaching painting workshops on various continents, you live on the cool and mossy coastline near Powell River, British Colombia. How does living in this rural and remote environment support and inspire you as an artist?
“I was born on the East Coast of Canada, on a maple syrup and blueberry farm deep in the woods. My memories of this enchanted land are vivid and sweet. In my early childhood we traveled extensively across Canada, driving through mountains, plains, forests, and coastline, cities, villages, and rural countryside. Through these experiences, watching with fascination at the myriad of diverse landscapes sailing by my window, my vision and imagination was fed and enriched. Whenever I had a moment to do so, I would draw pictures and write stories.
I was blessed with total support of my creative exploration while growing up. There was never a doubt of what I would do with my life, and even before I knew what the concept of "artist" meant, I knew who I was and what I was here on this planet to do.
I have not completed an academic training, but I have been painting since I was old enough to hold a brush. I was drawing before I could walk or talk. I believe paint runs in my veins, and every color and texture I lay my sight on is translated by my imagination into ideas for new paintings.
The temperate rainforest of British Columbia's Sunshine Coast is home, and I am supported and inspired on a daily basis. The community here is small and tightly woven, and at the same time incredibly inclusive, diverse, and creative. It is a wonderful place to come home to after long journeys abroad. It has the perfect balance of community and sanctuary, social opportunities and solitude.”
On your website you write, “It is our divine duty to create and share inspiration, especially in this time of (rapid) change.” How can visual art be a tool for bringing about greater consciousness and transformation?
“I believe that the role of the artist is especially crucial at this challenging and exciting time. The world is at the precipice of momentous change. We have an opportunity to transmute the shadow and pain that we witness in the world around us into visions of wholeness. Artists are map-makers, and those maps can help guide humanity forward into new and positive ways of seeing and being.
As we honor our personal creative paths, we contribute vitally to the whole through our own well-being. We inspire those around us and encourage them to create as well by manifesting visual mirrors to the light, the potential, and the divinity of each viewer.
Each creation has an opportunity to be an offering: a positive reflection of ourselves and humanity, a celebration of evolving consciousness, an opportunity for healing and deepening, a vision of a bright future now.”
There is an older painting on your website called “the Vital Commission.” It has a monkey on your knee and a bird on your shoulder. Is this painting relevant to how you sometimes feel as an artist? Do you ever question your own artistic path or integrity? (www.autumnskyemorrison.com/paintings/the-vital-commission.html)
"The Vital Commission" (painted in 2008) is a portrayal of the reclamation of self, of spirit, and of purpose. She is accompanied and supported by animals, the snake, raven, monkey, and moths. These animals, in various cultures and legends, have been demonized and considered dark or evil. She has made peace with her shadow, she has acknowledged her follies, and is reigniting her passion and reclaiming her power. She is painting herself back into life, and the world is coming back to life around her.
In regards to your question about my own artistic path or integrity, I am grateful to say that I have never wavered in my mission of helping inspire, uplift, and heal the world to the best of my capability. For as long as I can remember, I knew my mission was to share my creations with the world. As soon as I was old enough to hold a paintbrush in my hand, I began making art. There were periods of time where I wondered if music would become a priority, or years that I spent dedicated towards running a restaurant or producing events, but throughout it all I have barely put the paintbrush down, and I intend to paint until the day of my final breath.”
You and I first met at Beloved Music Festival in Oregon in 2010. Next to several other artists, you were live painting a new piece called “Beloved.” Many people in our festival community love this painting. Tell me what inspired you, and what you want people to take away from it. (www.autumnskyemorrison.com/paintings/beloved.html)
“The painting entitled Beloved is painted about a few different, yet interconnected, themes. It is about the celebration of the diversity of humanity, the differences of our personal or cultural backgrounds and our genders. I believe that when we can come together in respect and appreciation of each person's uniqueness, we are capable of producing profound light and co-creating much more than we could ever dream of individually.
Beloved is also about the reunion of our own inner masculine and feminine, our yin and yang, or sun and moon. Much like our outer experience of opposites and diversity, when we each can make peace between our emotional and mental aspects, and honor our profound capacity for intuition as well as reason, we will know greater peace within our own lives.
The painting is also in celebration of romantic union, divine lovers, soul mate connection, and twin flame recognition. When we have made peace and fallen in love with our inner masculine/feminine, then navigate the world outside of us with grace and unconditional love, we will finally be in a place where we are able to receive our perfect mirror.”
The painting of yours that has moved me more than any other is “Morning Due.” (Photo below) There is a nude woman (who looks a lot like you) sitting on a cracked and dry lake bed with a hazy sky and dilapidated water towers in the background. She is crying and her tears are flowing through her hands and on to a small plant that has somehow survived this forsaken landscape. Is this painting a message of hope or despair? How to do you want to impact or educate people with our art?
“Mourning Due is a prayer for rain, for balance, and for healing. It is in reverence of water, and in grief for the environmental crisis that we have perpetuated through our short-sightedness. I pray that we remember that it is water and the sacred cycles of nature that sustain us, and it is the same water that courses through our veins and flows from our eyes.
We are in the midst of acknowledging how our actions have brought us to this point, and we are beginning to feel deeply our remorse, and choose differently how we live on this planet. It is a process that many feel is overdue and not happening quickly enough to right the wrongs. However, I believe is not too late! In fact, I believe in perfect and divine timing. This painting is not in despair, it is with hope and in faith that we can and are changing the course of our journey. The tears are flowing, and we are shifting our focus towards wholeness and healing, for ourselves and for the planet. To do so we must be willing to shine light on the shadow, and make changes in our actions and industry.
I live in British Columbia where we are blessed with abundant rainfall and lush forests, and yet there are many places in the world that look like this painting. It can change and must change. I have faith that those lands will be green again. The healing waters are within us. Let the tears flow....”
Besides Beloved Music Festival, I have been fortunate to connect with you in Maui, Costa Rica and Bali. You have also taught workshops and spent time in Vienna and Australia. How have your travels to places like Bali, Australia and Vienna inspired your art? Have they also changed your perspective about the world, far away from the verdant pine forests of western North America?
“Since my childhood adventures across the vast wilderness of Canada, down into the mysterious and enchanting landscapes of the United States, and along the awe inspiring coasts of Mexico, this magnificent and diversely adorned Earth has enthralled me. This eager exploration and appreciation continued after high-school and brought me to South-East Asia and Mexico, and Europe. Wherever I travel, I take my sketchbook and diary, musing romantically and critically about how we live on the planet, how humans interact with our surroundings and each other, and what makes us uniquely different and the universally same. I witness the striving, the longing, the suffering, and at the same time I see the generosity, the hope, the reverence for life. It is this paradox that permeates the divine comedy of this existence. We are each the villain and the hero; it is a matter of perspective. This perspective is what I gratefully fold into the pages of my sketchbook and the archives of my memory, and when I return home from countless miles and distant continents, I unfurl the inspiration onto the blank canvases of my studio.”
All photos taken by Kyer Wiltshire, except the photo of "Morning Due."