How “catastophe” allowed me to paint life the way I like it

Fifteen years ago, I would have never predicted the life I have today…no way! When I first picked up some oil paints a little over a decade ago, I had no art training, having dropped art at school to pursue “more academic” subjects. Yet what looked like a total “catastophe” in my life when my health crashed turned out to be a rebirth after I did that very thing and found myself painting, creating and writing full-time in between walking my dog, travelling and truly relishing life in a way that so many people seem to overlook. A big part of my inspiration to write what I do in this space is to convey to people how these life recalibrations are not only possible and desirable but that they are essential to gain the fullest sense of who we are and what we came here to experience.

Before my health took a nose dive, I gained a degree in English Literature and Language, did a variety of jobs and ran a handful of small businesses from home before going back to conventional work in a high-pressured solicitor’s office. Though I painted some sort of idea of a prosperous and safe future in my head, I had no real sense of what I wanted to do or where I was heading and was deeply unfulfilled, unhappy and stressed in a way that I tended to deny to myself. To put this blog into context, here’s my “career” bio since that time…in the hope of conveying a sense of how much I have managed to rewrite my life in remarkably short time. I have no idea where I am heading…and I like it that way since life has never felt more unexpected, rich and rewarding.


Self-taught in the use of oils, the paints found me when they fell out of a cupboard in 2006 and using them came naturally from the start. Within two years, I was invited into a prestigious Hampshire art gallery and so began a full-time art career. 

My paintings (viewable at www.helenwhite.org) have since been exhibited in galleries across the UK and at events such as The Affordable Art Fair, London and the Story of the Creative, New York, on local art trails, in numerous group exhibitions and at charity events. They are held in private collections internationally and displayed on the walls of various private health clinics as a direct result of the fact that my work is deemed to hold a uniquely calming, healing quality. ‘Dealing direct’ with my growing customer base is something I particularly relish since I enjoy chatting about what inspires me and watching my paintings find their way ‘home’ to exactly the right wall. With that in mind, I encourage you to contact me via this link if purchasing originals is of interest to you. Reproductions of my work are broadly available across the internet.

It’s fair to say that art has transformed my life and, in 2013, I accepted an invitation to publish an account of my art-journey in a collection of autobiographical stories as part of a best-selling series of inspirational books that includes contributions from the likes of Marianne Williamson and other self-help veterans (see below). In 2014, I was awarded a prize in The American Art Awards for ‘The Yellow Window’; an award that receives many hundred of entries from over 50 countries and which is juried by 25 top US galleries. A further three American Art Awards followed in 2015, including very high recognition for my first ever portrait.

Scattered light painting of dappled light through trees by Helen WhiteMy work is diverse but my core subject is ‘light’ or, more particularly, those moments of intense radiance that are as transformative as they are fleeting. Colours are vibrant and bold yet there is a subtle energetic quality that has been commented upon numerous times. People have described my work as ‘healing’, ‘mesmerizing’ and ‘like a portal into another dimension’. The latter is a quote from world famous energy intuitive Lee Harris, who proudly displays one of my light-infused landscape paintings on his wall in the United States.

Both my subject matter and my style are open to continuous evolution in a journey that feeds a passion for painting that never grows stale.

Painting my way back to wholeness

Alongside my eventful journey as a self-taught artist, I have been on a parallel one  – towards health or ‘wholeness’, as a recoveree from fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. At the same time as pursuing this return to health after fibromyalgia ‘happened’ to me, back in 2005, I started to spend much more time walking in nature, noticing how being outside, where my preoccupation became photographing moments of intense light, accelerated my recovery process, however lousy my body happened to feeling when I set off on these daily jaunts.

Canvas small

As I traveled further along this road, sampling various healing modalities and learning how to expand my own awareness in order to assist my own recovery, I became increasingly conscious that energy is absolutely everything. That is, thoughts and intentions are energy, objects are (slower moving) energy, we all exist as part of an energetic universe in which all things are intricately connected by energy; something my journey back towards health and wholeness demonstrated to me, over and over again, in many countless ways. When we ‘see’ something, there is so much more going on that what our eyes take in and, when an artist paints their intention, they energetically connect with the viewer as well as connecting that viewer with an aspect of whatever it is that inspired them to create. I discovered that when that inspiration came in the form of a light-infused subject, a moment of intense radiance, an experience of time seeming to stand still in the glow of its own serenity, those experiences could be felt through the artwork and could be transformative or even healing.

I discovered also that subjects such as these hold a particular vibration, a frequency, that can be felt by others and which can uplift them or even activate their own positive experience. This is conveyed through a visual language that relies on balance, beauty and light, visual cues that we all know how to read because they are already ‘out there’ in nature, instinctively read by us from the moment we are born and capable of lifting our souls whenever we choose to tune into them. As such, the visual arts are able to tap into the broadest ‘unseen’ realms of experience using what is seeable as a prompt to the eyes, a reminder that activates memory and healing. If my own experiences are to be believed then, at the very core of this shared universal ‘language’ of wellbeing and healing is ‘light’; the most central preoccupation of my art.

Painting of divine feminine garden in moonlight with a path leading to the goddessIf my crashing health had felt like an experience of fragmentation, of profound disintegration, then moments of light intensity seemed to serve as a reminder of the very return to ‘wholeness’  that I sought. Even before I noticed the theme, my work started to look like a deliberate exploration of this motif of a journey back towards unity, typically conveyed as those moments of supreme intensity and radiance (at first, my subjects included many sunsets) when all the diverse colour and contrast, the hard lines and structure of physicality begin to soften and fragment, then to draw back into their co-creation of the full-spectrum white light that is at the source of everything. In those fleeting moments of intensity, it is as though the oneness, the one source, that underlies everything in creation is made overtly – if temporarily – visible to the eye. This is something that I found I loved to play with, not least through the theme of light streaming in through the ‘hard edged, man-made boundaries’ that are windows, dissolving those structures until the separation between inside and out is no longer so apparent. It taught me something else that proved to be so important to my own recovery; that, in order to return to this state of completeness, wholeness, unity and light, it had been entirely necessary to, first, soften and fragment…just as I had watched happen in nature, time and time again. In other words, my own health ‘crash’ had been the gift that had broken me down in order to help me reformat myself in an altogether more cohesive and inclusive way.

Beyond the canvas

My journey from a place of ‘crashed’ health towards a state of profound wellbeing fuelled such enthusiasm to share my journey with others – to scatter light in words as well as paint – that this blog, Scattering the Light, was born in March 2011. I was then invited to publish my art-journey as an autobiographical story to be included in a best-selling series of books entitled “Adventures in Manifesting” (see below) which was published at the end of 2013.

Two further blog-spaces – Light on Art and Living Whole – were created in 2015 to further specialise in the two main topics that remain closest to my heart. In the meantime, Scattering the Light continues to do what it does best – that is, to scatter light in all directions without specialising too much at all.

Meanwhile, even the photography that underlies my painting, which can be found at Helen White Photography, has attracted its own audience, with my images being used for numerous commercial and charitable applications and a handful of published books.  

For well over a decade now, I have been based in Berkshire UK, in that little patch of rusticity that lies between Reading and Wokingham where I live in a somewhat topsy-turvey house-come-studio with my husband, daughter and Rhodesian Ridgeback, all of whom are (thankfully) tolerant of, and hugely entertained by, the many eccentricities that fuel my creativity.


Published author

As a child, I would lose myself in writing and kept an elaborate journal for many years; well into my twenties. I also loved to read and, though I signed up for a joint English and History degree at university, I switched over to single honours English Literature at the end of my first year. My immersion in books helped develop the natural wordsmith that I am  and my career has included many years copy-editing and “tweaking” other people’s words. If you’d asked the pre-teen me what they planned to do with their life, I would have said “write books” without a moment’s hesitation but those later school years weren’t kind to my confidence and I let the thought subside for many years.

It was a vague and somewhat nervous intention to write about my art, to better engage my public, that brought me to blogging early in 2011. Once I got over the initial trepidation, the feeling of going back to this skill-set was like arriving home and it wasn’t very long before I was spending as much time writing as I was painting!

Spinning the Light was three years old when I was offered an opportunity to see my autobiographical story in print; the one that shares how I found some paints and, through using them, taught myself how to get well from chronic illness. The immediate flutter of excitement, when this offer landed in my inbox, told me an awful lot about how this ‘old’ love of mine was still there, if a little buried under life’s clutter.

The couple of weeks or spent writing, editing and submitting my story for publication were amongst the most satisfying and idyllic of my life and it was a thrill to hold my first copy of ‘Soulful Relationships’ in my hands. The whole rhythm of settling down to write each morning felt like I had landed in my bliss-zone; complete with all those butterflies fluttering around my makeshift garden-office (see Year of the Butterfly to find out what I mean). I am still a regular morning writer and my love of blogging has grown exponentially since that particular door was held open for me.

Starting from Jan 2017, my own book on topics related to this blog is in the planning-stage and I am looking forward to deep-diving into this as the year progresses.

Meanwhile, I write two other blogs Living Your Whole Life and Light on Art, curate an art blog Painting Light and have a photography blog Helen White Photography.

More about ‘Soulful Relationships’

In 2013, I was (with perfect synchronicity) approached out of the blue and invited to become a guest author for the Adventures in Manifesting best-selling series of books. My chapter appears as one of 33 personal stories on the subject of Soulful Relationships (attracting meaningful connection into your life), a subject very close to my heart. The Adventures in Manifesting book series is the flagship project of Älska (pronounced ‘elsh-ka’, which means to love) and is currently a bestseller distributed to 19 countries with 30,000 books in print. My unexpected contribution to this project helped anchor the latent writer in me, allowing me to own up to the fact that further publication was not only posible but was actually very high on my bucket list. That was four years ago, across which time-span I have been playing with ideas for my next project.

Therefore, if you enjoy my blog then watch this space for news of my forthcoming book!

 

 

 

 

About Helen White

Helen White is a full-time professional artist (painting moments of everyday radiance in oil on canvas), a photographer, product designer and published writer with several blogs, on various topics, to her name. Light on Art is her art-related blog sharing recent artworks and inspiration.Living Your Whole Life is a health and lifestyle blog sharing all the many highlights of learning how to transform your health and wellbeing (spiralling out of ten years recovering from fibromyalgia). Spinning the Light is a very broad-based platform of self-discovery where she explores the everyday alchemy that is available to all beings just as soon as they open up to life's fullest potential.Helen White Photography is a portal for sharing her Fine Art photographs which are available as Limited Edition prints.
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