Homage to Mystery

K. Kauffman, Aurora Blue Gold, 18”x26”, acrylic, oil, pastel

I love to ponder mysteries. When I hike in the desert, I often feel strong energy fields. These dynamic waves hover above landscape shapes such as alluvial fans (dried earth that crumbled off of mountains in the past), rocky promontories or arroyos (stream beds that may or may not contain moisture).

Perceiving these energies enhances my affection for nature and increases my desire to paint my inner perceptions. When I get back home, I try to depict them in my art. For some reason, I paint these active auras as strips of color. Perhaps this is because of a childhood experience.     

At age seven, I routinely saw bands of white light that stretched from me to each of my family members. The widest luminescent ray streamed out from between my shoulder and waist, probably about twenty inches long and several inches wide. It bound me to my father, the person I felt closest to. The light connecting me to Mom latched onto about thirteen inches of my midsection, just two inches wide. She had a flamboyant personality and frequently spouted high emotions. I often felt wary around her; this seemed to be why our connection appeared smaller. Tiny wavering strings of light, the size of shoestrings, connected me to my older sisters, who mostly ignored me. 

The iridescent beams didn’t hurt; rather, they comforted me because they validated the truth about my relationship to each family member. If Dad worked outdoors in his garden and I played in my bedroom, the light bands arched through the air to connect us. The light didn’t seem to care how far it had to stretch between me and a loved one.

Seeing those arcs of light in childhood remains a strong memory. When I want to depict abstract feelings of the energies I discern in nature, I naturally render long narrow stretches of color. They seem to shimmer in the air, hovering above the land.  Perhaps they express a feeling of closeness I have for the earth, much as the childhood bands of light that defined the depth of my family relationships. I often paint multiple layers to express the intensity of love I have for nature.

I call these paintings The Aurora Series. Although the Aurora Borealis occurs in frigid climates, I find the electro-magnetic waves intriguing and enjoy studying photographs of them. They arch through the sky in moving bands, the same shapes I remember from childhood. The Aurora Borealis is colorful, whereas my young visions remained white. I combine the two sources in this current series of paintings when I illustrate the energies I feel in the landscape. In Aurora-Grey Shadow Gold below, I give the energies an additional sense of reality, by allowing them to cast a shadow below (the dark grey line beneath the two gold strands), like floating clouds do.  In the lower left corner, large boulders anchor the landscape, creating a foreground, making the arches above appear to be in the sky.

K. Kauffman,  Aurora-Grey Shadow Gold, 22”x26”, acrylic, oil, pastel

Although my perception of earth’s dynamism seems real to me, in painting it, I also honor mysteries that are harder to perceive.  Coincidences abound in my life and I wonder where they come from and how they travel vast expanses of space. It’s harder for me to create a visual vocabulary for such a phenomenon, although it happens to me almost every day.

Yesterday I spoke to a close friend who confided that she was pondering a specific question in her mind. Unbelievably, I’d made this exact inner inquiry as I’d walked outdoors just before I called her. Another friend, who’s British and travels a lot for United Airlines, communicates once every week or ten days. She might be anywhere on the globe. Often, I think of her right before I receive a text or email from her. These synchronicities seem to exist outside of the normal convergences of space and time. The Aurora Series honors these frequent intuitions by giving visual form to vibratory possibilities. When colorful arcs join together, they represent singularities that exist far beyond my understanding. Of course, there are many more unexplained phenomena than earth energies and coincidences. However, these two are obvious to me and impact my daily life. I enjoy attempting to make them visible. By expressing them, I hope to keep my mind open to their presence and encourage their positive effects – a more profound connection to nature and to my friends.

K. Kauffman,  Aurora-Red Blue, 15”x24”, acrylic, oil, pastel

Events and Exhibitions