Noted for his emotional honesty, bold colors, and rough beauty in his art, Vincent van Gogh writes in his last letter to his brother, "[R]eal painters do not paint things as they are...They paint them as they themselves feel them to be." He was a man who was put through his paces in his personal life. Perhaps this is why I feel so akin to his work. He felt deeply, and showed it through his art.

What makes someone want to put a brush to a canvas? Over the past two decades, on occasion I’ve picked up a brush, and painted something. Art and creativity have always been a strong anchor in my life, thanks to my mother. She studied art at university and always made an effort to incorporate it in our lives. My sister and I made gifts for friends’ birthdays when we were growing up. I always had some pending project. In my early adult years I learned 3-D art—fashion and floral design, and later worked with wire sculpture and jewelry design.

These past several weeks have been magical.

When one asks (the Source, God, the Divine) for guidance and it happens—ahhh. This gives one the license to ponder and revel in the fluidity and continuity of all that is. The dam spills over, and life begins again, or at least continues, but on a new and uplifting trajectory. This is how it happened for me.

In my case, I was looking for something creative to practice. Yes, I write. It is true that this can be extremely creative. But for the past few years I felt that the blog Susan of India—which focused mostly on the differences in culture and my interpretation thereof had suddenly become limiting. As a guest here in India, I don’t have the freedom of speech that I have in America. I’ve seen a lot of things here, and because it is my spiritual practice to focus only on the Good, I use my spiritual practice to “work with it” rather than writing about it.

What I’d like to write about is my new-found creative endeavor—painting. It started with a very creative friend (someone whom I’ve known since I was 10) suggesting an art class, which I read on her social networking page. She had thrown the suggestion out like seeds to the wind…and one seed arrived to India, germinating deeply inside of me.

This all coincided around the same time as Braco, a spiritual person and a world peace ambassador, offered 89 free gazing sessions. I’d rather not go into detail on this blog site—but what I will observe is that many things inside changed. How do I quantify change, the skeptics inquire? It has to do feelings, physical sensation inside my body and the results that I see in my life “without doing anything.”

Yes, it’s true that wonders happen even when our hearts aren’t quite ready for it.

Art is such a personal experience. For me it reflects the Divine that comes through me. Yes, there are so many forms of expression, just as there are the million forms of listening/observing God’s direction, words or humor. I wonder about Vincent van Gogh, who felt the subjects he painted. I could only wish to be able to be sensitive enough to do the same thing—to feel the subjects I paint.

And so I took that art class online. I had never painted before—ok, except for a few (less than 10) watercolors. Three were mural style, and four were watercolor landscapes—no larger than the size of 3 inches by 2 inches. This reflected my confidence at the time, but when I painted, I remember how good it felt inside. Feeling good, for me, is a sign. It signals that the Divine is present and flowing—it makes my actions thoughtful and fluid. My head—is blank—while I work the empty board with paint-laden brushes.

All the while I was in this art class, I pretended (to myself) as though I was an experienced painter (so as to no ‘psyche’ myself out with negative thoughts.) My online classmates were very gracious with the photos that I posted of my work as we “turn it in” to our teacher. As I learned later, most of these artists are professional. Wow. I’m glad that I didn’t know early on. This was my first painting class, and with strictly new (to me) techniques. And as I posted these new works of mine, unabashedly novice, people gave me kind feedback. My own friends on my social network gave me kind words of encouragement also.

Most recently I decided that I probably need to know the formal information about lines, balance, and so on. I once heard when I was young about my sister’s classmate in school who was an avid painter (I should probably ask him why,) that he decided against going to art school, because it might ruin what was natural inside of him. I was reminded of this while reading an inspiring book my classmate Niya, who wrote about her experience of painting one painting every day for 365 days. She said that she was throwing the rules out and posting on her website the painting and story that accompanied each painting. Please click on HOW BRAVE. to see her work.

This made me want to know, what if I don’t know what the rules are, and I’m “breaking them” unknowingly, did it matter? In writing—after learning everything, one can break rules of grammar and writing—purposefully, if it fits in with the genre and sentiment. Mark Twain, for example, was one of the first to write colloquial dialogue, (probably to honor just that,) and to honor the beauty of the colloquial culture of the Mississippi river basin.

On the page entitled “Artwork” is a chronology of most of my first paintings. Inspired by artist Lynne Whipple’s “100 bad paintings” video, I’ve decided to get moving on it…and maybe taking some more art instruction. Life is great, and I’ve been waking up with the excitement of a child every day since early June. From this experience, I’d say that it’s important to take notice of the feelings we have inside of us. When you feel good, then it’s a true blessing. I wish this for you all, and also for Mr. Vincent van Gogh, wherever he is!