The Secret Artist #2: Roots to Fruits (Journey of a Painting)

What does it take to make Art?

Are you a Secret Artist? Do you believe in the creative process? Interested in learning more about the journey of this Secret Artist? Then please subscribe HERE!


Last week I made a promise to open up, connect and share my secret art life… with you!

I want to talk to you today about a painting called Adam and Eve.

G.Kauffman Adam and Eve 120x100 Acrylic and Oil on Canvas

This painting emerged at a time in my life of chaos, uncertainty, insecurity and instability. I had recently returned to the UK from living abroad. I had expected it to be tough, to rebuild a life after time away, but I found myself in more of mess than, even I, anticipated. I am by nature a worrier (yes that is an “o” not an “a” although they could be one and the same). I have the worry line to prove it: a deep ravine slowly carving my forehead in two. Yet, when the unlikely opportunity to paint appeared, a Zen like focus descended. Rock bottom is a good place to start after all!

I approached the blank canvas with myself as I was then… full of fear and full of questions. At that point in my life I felt stuck. I knew I wanted to change but I didn’t know how. There was a blank space in front of me.

‘If you create space something will fill it.’ Someone said that to me once.

It‘s important to say this opportunity to contemplate a blank space, with the afore mentioned Zen like focus, was no accidental occurrence. I only managed to do that with the encouragement of a friend and fellow artist who saw within me an urgent, creative energy about to burst. She took me under her wing and together we conquered the steps required to create. The first and most important step on this journey was to commit my meagre funds to buying the canvas. Then the next step was finding a space: it was this same friend that was kind enough to offer her front room as a temporary studio. We had tools, we had space; we made the commitment, and we supported each other. Art creations are always a collective effort. We have become a culture fixated on the name of an artist but on every level there is a community effort. Brian Eno articulated this brilliantly in his recent John Peel Lecture – I highly recommend.

Back to the blank canvas, a window of time and a box of paint: But how to make the first mark? What was my plan? I am not from a painting background. I went to art school but I had not allowed myself to explore my creative potential, in any committed or meaningful way, since leaving college. I had blocked myself for years, waited for permission, but now I was at a turning point. The turning point is often the lowest point.

It seems to be a common thread among artists that they wait until they are ill, or ready to pop, before they allow themselves the opportunity to express themselves. It doesn’t have to be like this. If you don’t have a friend right now to guide you then let Steven Pressfield be your friend! His book ‘The War on Art’ is the voice of triumph over resistance, trust me, it doesn’t get better than this.

I had received some life coaching advice from another friend just prior to my beginning the painting. The advice was: that if I wanted to grow my potential, then I need to put down some roots (in myself) before anything could grow, before I could receive the fruits (of life). I kind of understood what putting down roots in myself meant, but also I had no clue at all. This was the question I brought to the blank canvas: What does growing roots mean? So, I painted roots, in a trance, I painted roots, over and over, squiggling roots reaching down. I didn’t know what else to do.

Adam and Eve 1 flip (roots)      Adam and Eve 1 (roots)

My second encounter with the canvas, many weeks later, was by chance upside down and I saw this time not roots but branches. I took this as a good omen and a conversation opened up between the canvas and myself. I allowed myself to play with the idea that my roots had become a tree and growth became the theme in my mind and expressive flourishing marks became a garden.

Adam and Eve 2 (garden)      adam and Eve 3 (book)

As time passed a garden, rapidly transcending the seasons, appeared before my very eyes. And then as night fell in the garden an ancient dance began, as old as time. Masculine and Feminine. This was (symbolically speaking) the Original Garden.

G.Kauffman Adam and Eve 120x100 Acrylic on CanvasTowner submission1

Adam and Eve is it’s own world, which it is up to the viewer to decipher, and this painting has too much to say to remain hidden away.

See you next week.

Love and best wishes,


Gemma Kauffman’s practice encompasses a variety of strategies and media, which include painting, performance, installation and film. Theatrical and fantastical, her work is both compelling and dynamic. Kauffman is an advocate for the creative spirit of all people and has during the last 10 years pioneered transformative approaches to social engagement.

Are you a Secret Artist? Do you believe in the creative process? Interested in learning more about the journey of this Secret Artist? Then please subscribe HERE!          

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