Saturday Salon - Lori Portka

Painting created by Lori Portka

Following is my ongoing series of 'Saturday Salons' - where I will continue introducing and sharing the work of other artists who I've met along my creative journeys here on this great world wide web.

Today - I am thrilled to be interviewing Lori Portka whose inspiring creative work can be found on her blog:

Spreading Happiness Thru Art

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'"I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow."

-Julia Cameron

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Can you tell me what first ignited your creative spark?

I was wildly creative when I was a little girl, but then as I got into high school I thought others were 'better' at art than I was and I got away from it. I focused on academics in college and graduate school, all the while becoming increasingly unsatisfied with my career. Then, about ten years ago, a friend told me about Julia Cameron's book - The Artist's Way. I immediately felt drawn to the book and read it from cover to cover. I started morning pages and began making art again. I really connected with what Julia calls a 'shadow artist'. This is someone who is around art and artists, but not creating art herself. I knew it was time to reclaim my creative spirit that I had left behind so many years ago.

Do you have any favorite artistst that you believe have influenced and informed your work?

I love Leigh Standley of Curly Girl Design. Her artwork is fun and sweet with a positive message. She is also a booming business - I love that she is thriving and abundant. I also really adore Anahata Katkin's work. I believe she is the founding artist of the company Papaya. Her work is magical and inspiring. She is also a powerhouse artist with a business that keeps expanding and growing in ways that I hope my business will grow eventually.

You have an amazing sense of color. Can you speak to how that has evolved?

After reading The Artist's Way, when I first picked up art supplies again, color is what showed up for me. I love color! I never went to art school, but a friend of mine who is an art professor told me how my artwork follows the rules of color and composition that she teaches her students. I laughed when she expalined it all to me - I had no idea! I'm grateful that it seems to come naturally to me without really any left-brain thinking!

As an avid yoga practitioner - I especially love how you incorporate heart-opening happiness and joy in your art. Can you speak to how your painting and yoga practices connect?

My favorite part of yoga is the connectedness to all beings, being still and looking within. I love the spiritual practice of yoga. I begin every work of art with meditation. I sit on my  meditation pillow and close my eyes. I trust that by opening up my heart, the artwork will flow through me, coming from something bigger than myself. I breathe deeply to center myself. I calm my mind and create a space for the practice of art just as I do for yoga. I've learned to persevere through both art and yoga even when it is hard, even when I want to quit. I become a witness, continuing to go deeper and increasing my compassion and connection.

I'm especially intrigued and inspired by your 'One Hundred Days of Thank-Yous' project. Can you tell us about it? 

This project has been the most favorite project I have ever worked on. I was inspired by Hailey Bartholomew and her photo project, 365 Grateful. I am making 100 paintings for 100 people that I adore. So far I have 65 paintings finished. I am making paintings for people that I know well - close friends and family, but also others I admire that have influenced my life in a positive way, some of which I have never met in person. For example, I made a painting for the guy who had been taking care of my car for ten years and for my gynecologist who detected stage zero cervical cancer and removed it before it had a chance to grow. I have learned without a doubt that being grateful creates more gratefulness.  Focusing on gratitude makes it grow and expand. As an artist, this project has had a tremendous impact on me. I've discovered that there is a never-ending supply of creative ideas. I just need to be still and listen, open myself up to it, and begin to create. Once all 100 paintings are finished, I will have an exhibition and then give them all away. I can't wait to give them all away!

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Interested in being interviewed here? Please contact me.