Today begins a new “interview series” on my blog. It occurred to me that I know some fascinating people, and I’d love to give them a chance to shine. I’ve conducted so many interviews for other venues, but none for my own blog. That’s about to change! Over the next few months, I’ll be profiling a variety of artists, writers and other visionaries right here. Today’s “guest” is Visionary Artist Tania Marie, who hails from Lake Tahoe. Some of you might recognize Tania as my Three Day Gratitude Extravaganza cohort or my 2008 San Francisco Veg Festival photographer. Besides having a legendary ability to keep pace with my own gargantuan appetite for gourmet raw food, Tania provided the cover illustration for The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide. She’s an amazing artist, healer, teacher and all-around intriguing individual. I hope you enjoy getting to know her:
What do you love about being an artist?
I love the freedom of expression it allows me and the ability to let go of all ideas of what is “supposed to be” and instead allowing what naturally wants to be. There are enough areas in my life where I need to be more structured and organized, or manage things, that I joyously welcome how my painting time allows me to let go of that. I have never taken any classes and don’t immerse myself in other artist’s work so that my art can remain raw and unencumbered by any rules. As an artist I express myself in ways that I cannot with words and my canvas allows me to share the visions, emotions, messages and complexities that I receive and feel, uninhibited by rules or constraints.
Very often I find it challenging to communicate what I want to say and always wish there was a way I could project what I feel and see energetically to people and that is what art is for me. It is my channel of communication closest to the authentic truth of who I am and what I want to share about myself and the world. My paintings are visual stories into my soul and beyond and so it’s truly a vulnerable process of exposing that which lies deepest and closest to my heart, in order to share more intimately with others. Sometimes I feel that we get too caught up with words and definitions; art offers a boundless way to express so much more in deep and subliminal ways. For me, the art of imagery triggers something relative to the viewer and allows for freedom of interpretation without a “right or wrong” message received. The message is individual, as is the experience of life.
How has your vegan/raw food diet influenced your artwork and life?
My connection with animals is very much a big part of my life and my paintings. My first drawings as a little girl were of animals (especially horses) and they have remained my most favorite thing to draw/paint. They continue to be a recurring part of my work, as animals are so dear to my heart and when I paint them I connect with and capture their souls. I love to portray them as the soulful beings they are and capture the inherent human quality they possess, each time I do so. They appear in my art as if they could speak at any moment. I have a very strong connection with Mother Earth and in helping to support her healing, which for me includes all of her children.
I have always had an intuitive connection to animals and feel them so deeply. I believe this compassion is what ultimately led me on a vegan path. At first the choice to change my diet was for health reasons and the reaction to feelings of illness when eating animal products. But as I became more aware, I realized that my body had reacted first, to what my soul knew. My sensitivities to animals had created reactions to eating any products that came from them and so the more I continued down my path of dietary changes, the more I connected with the deeper soul reasons for my choice.
Being vegan is a spiritual choice for me now and as this unfolded I started to see that as a person, an artist, and an evolving soul, the best choice for me was to go raw. Being a raw vegan supports the clarity and higher vibration I need in my life to do my service, the exuberance I feel for what I am here to do, and definitely opens the channels for divine inspiration and creativity to flow more freely. And because of my commitment and choices on that path, I also naturally saw my artwork evolve into deeper connection with the Earth and animals…wanting to share their stories and the realization of our connectedness…to bring about conscious awareness, a return to natural harmony, and honor for all of Earth’s children. My work celebrates life and living from that place of compassion, celebration, and unity.
What does it mean to you to be “a visionary artist”?
As a visionary artist, I create from my soul and intuitive connection to the Universe. For me, that entails creating “outside of the box” and having the ability to see beyond the boundaries of physicality and enculturation. It’s also about my ability to capture moments of inspired vision and thought, feeling and expression, in a form that conveys something bigger than myself and speaks in foresight and deep messages to the viewer. This involves not buying into the idea of “impossible” and reflecting the miracle in knowing that what I can see and feel in my heart, “is possible.”
I feel it encompasses the ability to mirror a vision, manifested in form, that reflects our co-creation potentials. It denotes being a dreamer and leading through innovative visions, feelings, and imaginary foresight of what “can be” if we allow our creative expression and limitlessness to flow freely. Sometimes that involves dreaminess, idealism and fantastical vision, which in some ways makes a visionary artist, like myself, somewhat of an inventor or philosopher; teaching, conveying, and expressing profound messages through the gift of art and imagery.
Does Reiki affect your painting?
Reiki has also affected my life and painting tremendously. Every choice and step I make along my spiritual path has opened doors for the work I do. The more I connect to that Universal Oneness and Love, the more I understand and connect to my authentic self. This remembering and reconnecting helps me on my path to embracing my essence more and more each day and in doing so, my work evolves as a mirror of that unfolding process. Choosing to embrace Reiki into my life was a big commitment to saying I am ready for more and I am ready to take greater responsibility in my life. This has been reflected in not only having a clearer channel for the messages I receive for my paintings, but in the depth of the messages and my abilities to convey them.
I have never taken any art lessons or classes and so experience is the only learning I have had and Reiki is definitely a channel that has fueled that experience in broader ways. It has helped me to direct my work in the healing direction it is meant to go. I imbue and encode my paintings with Reiki energy and healing messages, which people have noted when viewing them. Everything that I am and everything that channels through me goes into my paintings. When I am in that space of creation it is a pure connection to Spirit, and Reiki has helped open that connection to receive in greater depth and with greater ease.
Having the ability to self-treat myself with Reiki also helps me move through any challenges and blocks I may have or run up against and so it has also been a supportive tool in my artistic and life processes. I have experienced the aliveness of my paintings through my ability to feel energy. There have been times that I am so connected with what I am painting and so in my heart, that I have felt the Reiki heat radiating from the images. Very profound indeed and part of why I refer to my work as “living art.”
UPDATE: For a video on Tania, please see below. I just learned that she’s in the running for an art contest. You can view her entry here. Click on Marie Tania and vote!
How does music influence the way you paint? Any favorite tracks?
I “need” music to help my creative process. It’s that simple. Without music my art is a struggle and that is not how it is meant to be. Music is food to my soul when creating. It is the missing ingredient to the recipe of my painting. Music moves me and takes me to that place I need to be to receive the inspiration, visions, and messages. It helps me move into my right brain, while my left brain is guiding the brush in my hand. If I don’t have music I will strain endlessly and literally get drained trying to make something work with what I’m painting. But when I have the right music and get into that space of divine connection, everything flows and the process of creating is so much easier and natural. The music moves me and connects me deeper to what I am painting. I can feel the messages and many times am moved to tears of joy or sadness because of how profoundly the music connects me. And sometimes it even moves me to dance while the music channels through, making the process of painting such a “whole experience” for me.
The type of music needed can vary greatly and is all dependent on what the painting and part of the painting calls for. There can be a general theme for the painting or it can vary from image to image within the painting. Each part has its own energy and speaks to me as to what it needs in order to come alive. I then follow my intuition as to not only how it will look, the colors chosen, etc…but as to what music speaks its story and energy. I know when I’ve found the perfect music as it “just feels right.” And sometimes when I find the right music, I may play it over and over for hours, days, weeks, or whatever is needed, never getting sick of it, because it speaks the essence so perfectly. But the moment I am done with the music I instantly know, as I no longer have a desire to hear it anymore and it just won’t work.
That connection with divine inspiration, sound, sight, expression, and physical manifesting is accessed when all is in place. I work with all the senses, but for some reason sound is extremely important, alongside visual and feeling. So the music can vary and I will be drawn to all sorts of music, some of which might not make much sense to me, but then that would be my mind thinking and not my heart and soul feeling. It can be music ranging from current pop, Latin, foreign, R & B, classical, opera, new age, nature sounds, mantras, and even techno and more. I continually have to update my cd collection to mirror what my paintings call for.
Some of my favorite painting music comes from Lisa Gerrard, Yanni, Enigma, Deva Premal, Josh Groban, Gipsy Kings, B-Tribe, Krishna Das, Qhapaq Nan (a Peruvian folkloric group), Enya, music from Cavalia, several movie soundtracks, various Celtic and techno artists, and the list goes on….
What do ancient cultures have to do with today?
My newest series, “In Lak’ech” focuses on different ancient civilizations that come to me as being meaningful to what healing message is being relayed and needed. I have very strong connections to our ancient cultures, mirrored in much of what you will not only find in my paintings, but my home, my life, and even my tattoo body work. To me, it is part of remembering our connectiveness, remembering what we have forgotten, but what lies within us. Integrating as part of the healing process. The ancients knew this and now I feel we are becoming aware of what was once known. I also feel that there is much to learn from our ancient history and that part of that process is recapturing and embracing the pieces that worked and produced beautiful results and learning from the choices that brought about destruction and separation. I believe we have the ability to utilize many tools and avenues to help us make wiser choices, so as not to repeat the past. Simultaneously recapturing in a new way, the pieces that created harmonious, connective, and inspired, co-creative existence.
The In Lak’ech series consists of five paintings representing the five elements and conveying healing messages from various ancient civilizations. Their purpose is to support harmony and balance between the Earth and the Cosmos, as the Ancients once knew how to do. They also express the connectedness we share and the importance of Universal Love and Compassion and our responsibility to co-create wisely as self-empowered beings, so as not to repeat the past. We have the potential to achieve great things that can surpass what we’ve ever known on this Earth, but part of that involves embracing all of our parts and understanding where we’ve come from, what works and what doesn’t, embracing and imbuing it with the new. In Lak’ech literally translates as: “I am another yourself, you are another myself” – “I am you and you are me.” I feel that this profound realization will become the centerpiece of our lives as we move towards becoming one global human being.
I see that you also design crystal healing pendants and offer crystal healing classes. Is there a tie-in to your work as an artist and the message of your paintings?
There is a definite correlation between crystals, the work I do, and the artist and person that I am. I have a great love and resonance for crystals and that stems from my connection with ancient cultures and the healing and messages that I receive through them. My art studio and living space sanctuary is surrounded by crystals and their potent energy supports my work daily. Living in their vibration is not only a reminder of how these crystalline beings were once a major part of spiritual ceremony and healing use, but they emanate and channel information that facilitates both my artistic and healing work. Even my new painting I’m working on will feature beautiful crystals as part of the energy needed in conveying the message. And now I am expanding my artistic abilities to the designing of unique crystal healing pendants as well. It is no coincidence that crystals are so prevalent in my life and work, given their ancient connection and the symbolism ancient cultures have in my life. The Earth’s consciousness is supporting humanity’s awakening to the re-discovery of ancient and forgotten healing arts, such as the utilization of crystals.
Reverence and use of crystals goes back to the dawning of civilization. Crystals have been connected with specific parts of the body and its organs for thousands of years and many of these connections come from traditional Western and Eastern Astrology. India’s Ayurvedic records and traditional Chinese Medicine claim healing with the use of crystals, which appear in ancient text formulas over 5,000 years old, now used in modern medical prescriptions. The Christian Bible refers to crystals over 200 times, crystalline structures have been found in the ruins of Babylonia and in the ancient Egyptian and Chinese tombs of rulers, and many of the early civilizations of the Earth (Mayan, Aztec, American Indian, African, Celtic) utilized quartz crystals in sacred ceremonies. For ages, shamans and crystal healers have been familiar with the crystals’ ability to focus light and sound vibrations into a concentrated ray for healing purposes.
I feel that each crystal contains their own “personality” and can be utilized in unique ways to assist understanding of the nature of existence on the Earth plane. They are nature’s gift to man and are found in all shapes, sizes, colors, and composition. They each have a unique vibrational resonance due to their varying mineral contents, their inherent geometry, and the color frequency they emit; hence can be powerful healing tools. I just love to be in the essence of crystal energy and to share that experience with others.
You not only paint on canvas but also have created a canvas on your body with tattoos. How does the process of tattooing mirror and/or influence your artwork?
Tattoos have been an evolving process for me. It’s not something I ever initially intended, but unfolded as I continued on my path. I have come to see that, just as my paintings are visual stories, my body work has become a visual story of my soul’s history as well. I have recently been saying that it seems as if they symbolically represent my epitaph, so to speak, an inscription of symbolic messages that speak of my essence and the depth of my heart and soul. I very much revere the sacred process of tattooing and in no way take it lightly what I put on my body. To me, it is also a way of recapturing an ancient process that has a very spiritual symbology – again recapturing the old and infusing it with the new. Everything I have put on me has been very symbolically placed and has been intuitively guided. Nothing is arbitrary and sometimes the even deeper meaning gets revealed to me later…I just know to trust what comes to me and then the rest divinely unfolds.
Like my art, my tattoos are a profound experience of self-discovery and healing and I have seen how that healing has transcended the personal and become collective. Many people have been moved by my tattoos that would never have otherwise been drawn to such and I can see how I have helped support people’s processes through their experience of my tattoos, just as my paintings facilitate. I never intended such on a conscious level, but I do now recognize this an undeniable truth.
I also know that in many ways I may seem like a walking dichotomy, as one would probably not think I would have tattoos and that’s the beauty of the message, which transcends judgment. The specific images, writings, and symbols each hold a significance and span different ancient civilizations. My back is more my artistic canvas and my hands and inner wrists are what I like to call scriptures of communication. The way they have come about has very much been tied into my personal processes and the energy I am working with at each given point, and especially tied into the energy of the paintings I’m working on.
I am a very symbolic person. My tattoos help symbolically to open and strengthen the energy needed and so even where the images are placed on me holds significant. For example, certain tattoos are placed on each of the chakras on my back. I am intuitively guided as to when and what I have tattooed on me and have been intuitively led to the perfect artist to convey the right energy and visual needed.
Having my inner wrists and hands tattooed was relatively new, but important as I work with my hands. Whether through Reiki, painting, or simply the way I communicate and speak with my hands, it became important to me to strengthen the energy of my hands with potent symbols. All of this has not only mirrored the healing portrayed in each painting’s message, but has helped me connect and commit deeper to the work and service flowing through me.
Interestingly, the very first tattoo I got was when I started painting on canvas for the very first time. Then I broke away from painting for quite a while and the second tattoo I got was when I picked painting back up and created the pieces that first connected me with ancient civilizations and transformed the way I painted. Depth and complexity grew with each tattoo and each painting. Then I had another break from painting and the third round of tattoos began and has continued with the unfolding In Lak’ech series. I actually had never seen that part of the connection, but wow…the tattoos HAVE actually been an important partnership and mirroring connection with my entire painting path.
What are your dreams for your art?
I dream of continuing to create moving and healing paintings and to have them received and experienced on a much larger scale, support authors in creating beautiful and meaningful book covers that convey the heart of what they are expressing in the entirety of their book in one image, illustrate books that magically capture the author’s beautiful words, and create awe-inspiring, portal-like murals for healing centers and beyond. And lastly, to perhaps one day be a part of creating grand, live art experiences that incorporate art, sound, healing, and much more.
It is also my dream and desire to help bring the arts back into our lives in a bigger way. I support the creative arts and realize how important creation energy is to us all. I feel that not only is it healthy to express creativity in a way that is relative to the individual, but it is also important to surround ourselves in creative beauty and to honor that energy. I believe if we would honor it within ourselves more, then we’d honor it in each other and realize the mirror of it in Mother Nature and our Earth, which would change how we relate to everyone and everything around us. I am a big fan of supporting people to feel safe to express what is inside of them and to understand that creativity does not have rules.
I would love to help facilitate the understanding and channeling of that raw energy into creative outlets, which I believe inevitably would help cease some of the misdirected energy and help people connect and learn about themselves. I would also love to help people believe in their dreams again and to let their imaginations run wild and that is part of why I create the kind of art that I do and push the boundaries a little further each time. The sky’s the limit and as a dreamer I will continue to dream and revise my dreams to mirror my process.
What do you hope or intend that people receive through your art?
My main drive to create is a simultaneous desire to express my heart’s passion and to help support collective healing on a global and Universal level. To experience how my work touches people is the reason I create. I am so in gratitude and joy to see and feel through people’s experiences of how my work moves them. Not because it is mine, but moreso because of seeing how we each have the ability to positively affect so many people’s lives, simply by authentically expressing ourselves through our joys. I hope to touch people with my art in ways that are thought-provoking and facilitate their evolvement. I hope for them to receive the healing messages in their own relative way and to help bridge separation, inspire, support change, bring natural harmony and compassion into more prevalence, cultivate honor for ourselves, others, the animals, our Earth and Cosmic connection, and nurture unity.
If someone else wants to interview you or purchase artwork, what’s the best way to reach you?
I am easily reachable either by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or direct line, (775) 343-9244. People can also visit my website for more information about me, my work, and the vision of my heart at www.taniamarie.com.
Thank you, Tania, for this interview and for your generous and talented spirit. Blessings to you!
~Interviewed by Laura Bruno www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com