I Am A Vessel – My Art Comes Through Me and Not From Me

Forest Daffodil: The Prayer – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Several years ago, I sat in my favorite spot deep within a forest, and I felt the presence of God. I wrote:

“I myself find glimpses of the soul when I walk outside and a tiny purple crocus, after working very hard for several weeks to just pierce the soil, has now drummed up enough steam to lift its head and to beam into the sky. I find a glimpse of my soul when I stand in the center of a vast, aged forest of hickories that have have been turned seasonally golden by the coming of autumn. As I look toward the canopy of the autumnal trees and see sunlight streaming through holes in the webbed branches and filtering toward the earth, I realize that no Gothic Cathedral, no Chartres, with it ostentatious stained glass windows and looming arches could lift my spirit any higher toward heaven than these gilded hickories. No spot on earth could be more glorious than that where the sunlight has chosen to rest.” – Jacki Kellum

I have said it before, but the day that I sat down to paint Forest Daffodil, I was planning to paint a fresh, bright, and happy jonquil. I was planning to capture the first breath of spring, but AS I worked, the painting began to take on a life of its own, and my painting expressed what I had written over fifteen years ago. It had expressed the spot, deep within a shaded forest, where the sunlight has chosen to rest. It had expressed a soft communion with God’s light.

I am not the most religious person, but I am a spiritual person, and I earnestly believe in God. I also believe that creating is connected to spirituality, and I further believe that I myself do not actually produce my best paintings. I believe that it is God who pours my art through me, and I am merely a vessel.

One of my favorite songs is The Prayer. I love to hear Donnie McClurkin sing that song, and I love to hear Andrea Bocelli sing it, too. Every time that I hear The Prayer, I am moved. Yesterday, I heard David Foster, who wrote this wonderful song, speak about how he composed The Prayer. He said: “The best songs come through you and not from you,” and the same is true of painting and writing and any other truly creative production.

Janis Joplin – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

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About 3 years ago, I painted Janis Joplin, and that was when I began painting expressionistically in watercolor. In college, I trained as an abstract expressionist, and I painted in oil. Here is how Wikipedia defines Expressionism:

Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.

For me, painting expressionistically is a physical reaction to an emotional stimulus. I feel something inside myself, and I slash into place the paint strokes that I feel that I need to paint. That is called painting with bravura. I rarely paint abstractly now, but I believe that I will someday return to that type of painting. Although my oil paintings now are more representational, they still display the bravura of my brush strokes.

Pink Roses in Blue Delft Vase – Jacki Kellum Oil

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When I initially studied painting in college, my instructors were openly opposed to watercolor. They believed watercolor to be a sweet and nostalgic imitation of art–something only appropriate for illustrators and housewives. I have only painted watercolors for a few years, and my first watercolors were illustrations. Three years ago, I felt that I needed to free myself of restraints when I was painting in watercolor, and I began slashing color in the manner that you see in my painting of Janis Joplin.

When I am painting expressionistically, an inward force literally takes control of my hand and urges it to dip into a little more of this color or that and to slash it here or there. Here is how my painting with intuition works: If I look carefully at my painting repeatedly and squint my eyes regularly as I paint, an internal voice takes over and tells me what to do where. I merely go into autopilot, and I allow my intuition to do the heavy lifting.

I often write about how my intuition is the force through which I am allowed to create. When I talk about my intuition, I am not talking about conjuring up some magical presence. Because most people can understand the nature of intuition, I use that word, but what I am truly saying is that when I am painting, God moves my hand, and if I am responsive to His direction, art is made.

Read More about My Art and Intuition:

Old Blush Pink Rose – Jacki Kellum Watercolor


“Because I Paint with Intuition, I am able to paint more than mere rosebuds.” http://jackikellum.com/because-i-paint-with-intuition-i-paint-more-than-rosebuds/

The Last Rose of Summer – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

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“As my work progressed, the rose became less and less important to me. In the above image, you can see that I quit painting before I had initially intended to quit painting. You can see leaves that I have sketched but have not painted. That is an example of how I have stood back from the painting, and I have allowed the painting to paint itself.” http://jackikellum.com/while-oil-paintings-tend-to-be-novels-watercolors-are-poetry/

Consider the Lily – Jacki Kellum Watercolor


“When I am painting, I consider it a great day when something within myself takes over and essentially completes my project for me. This gentle urging is intuition. Michelangelo spoke about the importance of intuition in his work when he said: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo.” http://jackikellum.com/consider-the-lily-jacki-kellum-watercolor-learning-to-live-and-the-paint-by-faith/


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