Visual Language and Portrait Counseling

by MartinJon Garcia
(Chicago, IL)



Today we are not well versed in visual language, there are many studies out that tell us how we react to visual stimuli but very little research or study done to how to decipher that which is created. Most of the research being done is done for marketing so it's not always done with the best intentions. On the other hand there is of course art therapy. There is a big difference between what I am developing, Portrait Counseling, and art therapy though, because the art being made in Portrait Counseling is guided by the intuition of a trained artist and practiced in meditative practices. In Art Therapy the art is made by the patient and they may know nothing about the issues they are facing but the art finds a way to talk to us and search for a solution.

During the portrait session, in Portrait Counseling, the counselor connects in a way we have been driven to connect for as long as people have made art, through the portrait. Through looking, and this is not limited to be with the eyes; I see the hugging saint Amma as someone who renders portraits through hugs, I connect, communicate and allow myself to be spoken to through paint. It is a purposeful looking and connecting. It is less for achieving a likeness than it is for achieving a bond.

Although the ability exists for an artist to make a flattering portrait of a person is it less likely to hold true connection and honesty. For an artist, one trained in the crafts of rendering, it is not difficult to recreate a likeness on the page, but when there is an attempt to recreate a likeness, the artist’s attention is on themself, and what the client wants, the artists works from a place of being pressured; this may not be that case when the artist is being hired for their insight and working style, but most artists do not get hired with that agreement presupposed. The connection is only made possible by not thinking of the likeness, although the bust of the client is the center focus of where and how the image will form itself, the portrait is made more from the aether.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,but their inner significance: for this, not the external manner and detail, constitutes true reality”
- Aristotle

Portraiture, in art history has an important place dating back to prehistoric times. We can see evidence today of ancient Egyptian portraiture which is the oldest and, most likely, most notable. These were highly stylized of course, but that was a primary form of communication, we lack that sort of visual communication style today.

The question arises, is portraiture the means of communication or is communicating the purpose for the portrait. Either way portraiture and communicating are going hand in hand.

I present to you the claim that honest connection between an artist and their source can open pathways that previously were closed. We accept that meditation is a way that we can center, and hear the voice of the universe or god. It has been proven within the organizations that we trust for information regarding the weird wonky world of the unseen. Both science and religion would not hesitate, when in a space they can speak honestly, to say that meditation (prayer) works towards your overall health.

We also accept that group meditation or prayer is a stronger form of this. Of course group dynamics can alter or disrupt those benefits so, and although organizations like churches and yoga or meditation studios won’t suggest this often, it is always good to explore new groups and new approaches to one's self realization practices. It has still been proven that connections among multiple people can more quickly calm the body and mind and affect things as simple but important as breathing to things as complex and mysterious as cancer. Group meditations can affect things as well as others as well as the efforts of groups like UNIFY, the Wash Alliance, Uplift and others prove.

Under these circumstances both more is better and less is more. I fill the space with less distraction, less intervention, less judgment and at the same time be more, more connected more aware, more present and allow that to drive the moment. I begin by intending to connect through the oneness that has existed since, if not before the Big Bang, the oneness that we all are, the oneness that all is connected to. That connection drives the creation of the portrait. upon completion the client reads, harnesses, and tames the painting. They see themselves, it is a book of sorts for them to read their own story. It is easier for a client to say the portrait looks angry, when they see anger around them because they are angry.

Science has proven to us that what we are experiencing is a mirror of what we see in the world so to create an image of someone and to ask them to study it for a few days is an exercise that will give me a clear vision of how they see themselves and where to prod a bit to open their eyes to the blocks that they are experiencing. this is not comfortable but as we see in every other meme on Facebook, growth exists outside the comfort zone.

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