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Patricia Catherine

website: www.patriciacatherine.com

Article by | Photos by published | february ‘09

The Art of the Matter

pastelsWhen Patrice Catherine showed up at her friend’s house to give her the painting she had just finished, her friend didn’t bother to sugar coat her reaction: "I can’t look at this picture!"

Patricia handed it over anyway. "Why don’t you just live with it for awhile?"

So her friend lived with it…in the back of her closet. Finally, Patricia agreed to come get the painting and bring it home.

"She was glad to be rid of it," Patricia says with a chuckle. Her feelings weren’t hurt by her friend’s strong reaction to her painting. It confirmed her hunch that she had a special gift.

* * * * *

A few weeks earlier, Patricia had stood in front of a blank canvas in the light-filled studio which occupies the front room of her house. As she painted, it felt as though the painting itself was flowing through her. It was an image of a woman riding a horse bareback into the clouds. The painting had an important message for her. "I was having trust issues," she recalls. "This painting was saying, ‘Relax, the Universe is going to take care of you.’"

The experience was so profound that she asked her husband and kids if she could try to do pictures for them using the same creative, intuitive process. She found that she was having consistent experiences receiving intuitive images that would resonate with the other person on a very deep level.

painting #2That’s when she got brave and made the call to her friend, who was in the midst of a second bout of cancer. "How about if I come over and we’ll talk, and maybe I’ll do a picture for you?" she suggested.

As they talked, it became clear to Patricia that her friend was facing challenges with setting boundaries with the people in her life, especially in certain types of relationships. The image she got was of a strong, hollowed-out tree providing a fortress of protection around a swirl of light inside. The outside of the tree was full of arrows that had been cast by the people around it, and the arrows stuck out of the bark like the quills of a porcupine. If you looked closely, you could see thin trickles of blood flowing down the sides of the tree.

Patricia recognizes that trickles of blood (however faint) aren’t exactly the sort of thing most people want hanging in the living room. Still, the strength of her friend’s aversion made it clear to her that her picture had hit on something deeply personal and difficult to face.

"She told me at one point, ‘The picture looks just like the cancer inside of me,’" says Patricia. "But she started to address those issues, and she’s in remission now." Her friend was doing many different things to help herself, but Patricia believes that the painting may have encouraged the process on some level. "It acts as a catalyst. The body understands the language."

Gradually, Patricia began working with more people to bring insight and healing through her art, and she now works with a variety of people who come for many different reasons. Some come to her seeking clarity and healing for issues that are specific, like being prone to car accidents, while others cite more of a vague uneasiness, like the man who felt somehow restricted and ready for a big change, but didn’t know what to do or how to do it. (If you’re curious, after their session he bought a piano and learned how to play it.)

studio photoDuring a session, Patricia invites the client into her studio and immediately puts him or her at ease with mellow background music, a candle or two, and her own gracious nature. The two of them fall into a conversation. At some point not too far into their chat, Patricia starts to get a feeling—a sense of a raw, underlying issue facing that person. The feeling is quickly followed by a visual, so she gets up, walks to her easel, and starts to draw as they talk. Using pastels instead of oil paint during sessions typically allows her to complete the picture within the 1-2 hour time frame. She describes it as "a quick sketch. It’s like a language for a person—a body language."

Next, she puts up the picture and they talk about the imagery that came through. She explains why she used the elements she did and why the picture was composed in a particular way. Then she mounts, mats, and wraps the finished piece for the client to take home.

Clients don’t always love the art they go home with from a purely aesthetic point of view, but that’s not what’s important to Patricia—or to them. "Someone could look at one of my pictures and say, ‘It looks like a first grader did that,’" she says, "but that’s not the point. It connects with what’s happening with them."

studio photo #2Not that Patricia’s artistic abilities are in question, mind you. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and has spent years doing quilting, weaving, interior design, and painting. The walls of her house are filled with paintings, quilts, and photographs, reflecting the spirit of someone highly creative.

Although her finished pieces typically involve symbols, Patricia admittedly doesn’t know much about the meaning behind traditional symbology, like the symbols used in the Tarot or traditional animal medicine teachings. For that, she’s thankful. "That type of knowledge is very right-brained," she explains, "and I don’t want that to enter into my work, where I’m purposely deciding to use a specific symbol to represent something." She would rather stick with the process that has been working so well, relying on intuition and the messages that flow through her on behalf of the people who come to her door. "I’m using a gift to help people. I love doing that. It’s connected to my own spiritual being."

The piece she painted for her friend still resides with Patricia for the time being. It hangs on the wall in the corner of her studio, facing her as she works at her easel. The picture was created on behalf of a friend, but for Patricia the painting serves as a symbol of a different kind: an affirmation that she is using her gifts for the greater good.

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