Feeling Alive

The story of how I am trying to emerge from a “cubicle” painter to an artist who wishes to feel alive. If you want to skip to the story, you may want to go ahead and scroll down towards the bottom where the images are, or continue reading for details what has been going on, art-wise, in my life.

Last year, I took part in my biggest show, the Phippen Museum Art Show and Sale, in Prescott, AZ. I spend months before that locked up in my studio, painting away from my photographs, creating beautiful paintings for the show. And I had a very successful show as well, sales and plenty of recognition, connections, etc. All the things that a lot of artists would be very happy with. And so was I, thrilled and felt very successful.

But soon as the show was over, I dropped like a fly; completely drained of energy and desire for painting. Down with a tooth infection and couch ridden for a solid month.

And that’s when i decided, I don’t want to paint locked up in my studio, from photographs, ever again, or even paint for selling. This was it. I wanted to feel alive and wanted to paint from life. I am an impressionist at heart and impressionism is not about painting from photographs. Impressionism is about feeling alive and moved by life, from life. It’s not about “copying” anything, whether it be from photographs or from life. It is about putting your feelings down about the larger “life” in from of you, onto the canvas

That is when I adopted Jerry Fresia as my mentor. I have never had any art teachers and am pretty much self taught from a couple of workshops, books and internet. Jerry is in line of French Impressionists with his mentors being in the lineage of Monet, Sargent, Henri, Olinsky, Brackman to Bill Schultz. He teaches what being an impressionist is all about. It’s not just the method but the way of life, the way of being is what impressionism is. He teaches that painting is not about making a finished product but it’s about the enchantment, the thrill and the state the artist slips into while in the process of making art.it’s not about reproducing the subject matter, it’s about expressing your feelings about the subject matter.

This was exactly what I needed. I had never enjoyed painting from photographs, just didn’t sit right with me though I love the process of painting. Starting last year sometime after the Phippen show, I have decided not to paint from photographs. I have painted exclusively from life and loved every moment of it. Plus I am building up my reservoir of Vitamin D. I have done lots of plein air paintings, some still-life setups and just been spontaneous with my urges to go paint and have experienced the thrill and enchantment of the veneration in nature.

So, I have a story to tell you! Here I am… a couple of days ago, in my own isolation, filled with enchantment at the Willow Lake in Prescott….

Plein Air painting at Willow Lake by Srishti Wilhelm
Plein Air painting at Willow Lake by Srishti Wilhelm

The final stage of painting is very exciting, thrilling indeed! you are just going at it, with sweeping brushstrokes, completely present, completely enchanted…

When the spell was broken, I realized that there was a person sitting  sort of behind me to one side, about 10 ft away. When I had said what i needed to say in the painting and was clicking away with my camera, he asked, “Is this your hobby?”
I took a moment to reflect and told him, “No… I have a lot of hobbies. THIS is what makes me feel alive!”

He said “Well, watching you paint made me feel alive.”

I don’t know what the meaning of life is… Many sages have spent years meditating on one foot trying to find the meaning of life. But being in an Inspired state and Inspiring others, gets pretty close to being close to the Creator.

Thank you for this gift to Jerry, my mentor! You inspire me every day…

Plein Air painting at Willow Lake by Srishti Wilhelm

Willow Spring

24″ x 18″


Oh, and if you are wondering if I am doing the Phippen show 2020, be assured that I am. The only thing is that due to COVID-19, the show is an online only show this year and I will keep you posted when they have the show available on their website 🙂

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