Phil Linder: My Journey to Painting

Hi, I’m Philip Linder, and I want to share my journey of becoming a painter with you. Growing up, I never considered myself an artistic person. I thought of art as just a pastime for people with too much leisure. Instead, I was an athlete and an academic achiever. I never gave art a second thought until high school when I was that overachieving kid who wanted to be the President someday.

My life has never followed a straight path. I attended West Point after high school, but I hated it and left after two years. I then went to a regular college and enrolled in ROTC because I wanted to serve in the Army. I finally got my chance to fly Blackhawk helicopters, which was always a dream of mine. I then worked in politics and moved to DC to attend graduate school, still holding onto my childhood dream of becoming the President.

Living in DC was exciting, but I always felt like something was missing. I wanted a real calling, a purpose in life. I believed that the military was a profession you could believe in, not just a job, but a calling. However, I was searching externally for something that I could only find internally.

I didn’t know where to start looking for my purpose, but I knew I needed to find it. One day, while walking around in a suit on the US Capitol grounds, I realized that I had to leave politics to find what was missing. I got a job at a tech startup, which I loved. I enjoyed creating something, and it was a step in the right direction. I worked there for several years, but then my life became complicated. My relationship ended at the same time as the pandemic hit, and I started searching for my purpose once again. Instead of searching externally, I looked inward. I asked myself who I was, what I stood for, what motivated me, and what I wanted to achieve beyond status and money.

I started with a sketchbook and began drawing. Then I started collaging by combining photos and drawing together. Each step brought me closer to what I was searching for. Eventually, I found my way to the canvas, and painting overtook my life. I painted after work and on weekends. I set up a small studio in the hallway of my apartment in DC. It was a mess, but it was what I had to do. I was drawn to abstract expressionists like De Kooning, Pollack, Frankenthaler, and Diebenkorn, and I worked to emulate them.

At first, I kept my passion for painting to myself because I didn’t know how to explain it to people who knew me. I worried about what people would think, that I sucked, that I had no formal training, and that it was just a distraction from my day job. I didn’t know how to incorporate it into my identity because I was a military tech guy, not an artist. However, the more I pursued it, the more people started taking interest, and my confidence grew.

I started taking the craft more seriously and enrolled in courses whenever I could find the time. I attended two-week painting workshops at the New York Studio School, workshops at the Washington Studio School and Scottsdale Studio School in Arizona, and live drawing sessions. I also visited as many museums in DC and NYC as I could. I learned that technique and skill are just as important as inspiration and subject, and that the craft of painting is a lifelong calling that will continually challenge me.

This past year has been full of milestones for me. I got my first real studio at the Jackson Art Center in DC and my first gallery show at the Arts Club of Washington. As time goes by, my confidence continues to grow.

If you would have told me five years ago this would be my life, I would have laughed. I couldn’t have predicted this. But the power of opening yourself up to Fate is mysterious. You’ll find yourself in places that you would have never dreamed of. And that’s a good thing. 

I think we often pursue things for reasons that we don’t fully understand. So much of our behavior and motivation come from our unconscious. And it was only when I started communicating with my own unconscious mind that things started happening for me. 

Much of my work is an expression of the unconscious forces in our lives. The complexity of the human mind and soul. It’s a fascinating subject for me to explore. 

Before I discovered painting, I read a lot of books and watched a lot of videos about “pursuing your passion.” It’s such an overused term these days. And I remember thinking at the time, well what if I don’t know what I’m passionate about? If I don’t even know what my passion is, I don’t know where to start. 

For me, the passion didn’t emerge until I started to face myself. And there were parts of myself that I didn’t really like, that were quite ugly. But the more I talked with myself, the more my understanding grew. I learned how to communicate with my unconscious, the good parts and the bad. And through that process, I was transformed. Not overnight, but over time, step by step. Bit by bit. 

 I know there’s a lot of you that feel like you’re destined for something, but just haven’t found it yet. There’s also a lot of you that have become disillusioned with whatever you were doing. 

 My advice is simple: stop looking outward, and start looking inward. All the answers are within you. You just need to be brave enough to go look for them. 

The Role of the Muse

The muse has played a critical role in artistic creativity throughout history. This concept of the muse as an inspiration for creativity can be attributed to the Greeks, who believed that muses were divine beings who bestowed creative inspiration on artists. Today, the concept of the muse is still relevant, with many artists citing a muse as a source of inspiration for their work. In this article, I will explore the role of the muse in artistic creativity, referencing the work of Carl Jung, other psychologists, and artists.

According to Carl Jung, the muse is an archetype that exists within the human psyche. In his book, “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious,” he wrote: “The Muse is an aspect of the anima or soul, and hence is related to the deepest levels of the unconscious.” Jung believed that the muse served as a conduit between the artist and the collective unconscious, tapping into a deeper well of inspiration and creativity.

Other psychologists and artists have also commented on the role of the muse in artistic creativity. Psychologist Rollo May wrote in his book, “The Courage to Create”: “The Muse is not an artistic mystery, but a mathematical equation. The gift are those ideas you think of as you drift to sleep. The giver is that one you think of when you first awake.” Similarly, artist Pablo Picasso once said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”

One of the most famous examples of a muse in art is the story of Pablo Picasso and his muse, Dora Maar. Maar was a photographer, painter, and model who inspired some of Picasso’s most famous works. She also documented the creation of “Guernica,” Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece. Their relationship was tumultuous, with Picasso often describing her as difficult and demanding. However, Maar’s role as a muse in Picasso’s life and work is undeniable.

In my own personal work, the Muse has come to me in a dream. I’ll never forgot that I had a dream that featured the Muse: I was locked in a dungy basement made of stone. It was damp and dark. An ominous deep voice shouted from the dark, telling me “face her.” A woman appeared out of the darkness, wearing a red dress. I had a decision to make: face her or run away. I ran away, afraid that she might kill me. I clawed through the stone walls of the basement and found an opening. I removed the stone rocks to reveal a tunnel that lead to the outside of the basement prison. I crawled through the tunnel which lead me outside, into a beautify sunny and green pasture. Yet as I was exiting the tunnel, a laser beam booby trap, set up at the end of the tunnel, cut my chest and neck, almost decapitating me. I was bleeding profusely from the neck, and I thought I was going to die. I stumbled through the pasture, over a hill toward a beautiful old victorian house. I approached the house and banged on it’s ornate wooden door. A butler opened the door and saw I was wounded. He ushered me into the house, which was filled with many fancy people have a cocktail party. The party guests attended to my wounds and bandaged me and put me to bed. A phone call rang in the house and the butler picked up. The ominous voice from the basement dungeon came on the line and asked the butler if he had seen me, as I had escaped the basement dungeon. The butler lied and said he hadn’t seen me, and put the phone back in it’s receiver. 

 Carl Jung believed that the muse served as a conduit between the artist and the collective unconscious, while other psychologists and artists have described the muse as a source of inspiration that requires hard work and dedication to manifest. My dream is just one example of how a Muse can enter your life. I’ve had women in my life that are Muses, one in particular Whether divine inspiration or a result of hard work and dedication, the muse remains an integral part of artistic creativity.

Carl Jung on Art and Creativity

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who made significant contributions to the field of psychology. In addition to his work on the human psyche and the collective unconscious, Jung also had much to say about creativity and art. In this article, we will explore some of his thoughts on the subject and provide practical ideas for anyone looking to discover their own creativity.

According to Jung, creativity is a fundamental aspect of the human psyche. In his book “Modern Man in Search of a Soul,” he wrote: “Creative powers can manifest themselves in all spheres of life; they are not confined to the arts.” Jung believed that creativity was not just the province of artists, but that it was a universal aspect of human nature. He saw it as an essential part of the individuation process, the journey of self-discovery and self-realization.

Jung also believed that art had a powerful role to play in the process of individuation. He wrote in “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious”: “Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him.” For Jung, art was not just a means of self-expression, but a means of tapping into the collective unconscious and connecting with something greater than oneself.

So, what can we learn from Jung’s thoughts on creativity and art? Here are three practical ideas for discovering your own creativity:

  • Embrace your unconscious mind: According to Jung, creativity emerges from the unconscious mind. Therefore, it is essential to embrace your unconscious and explore it through dreams, symbols, and other forms of expression. Jung wrote in “Man and His Symbols”: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
  • Follow your passions: Jung believed that creativity emerged from a deep connection with one’s passions and interests. Therefore, it is essential to follow your passions and explore the areas that excite you. Jung wrote in “The Red Book”: “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
  • Engage with the world: Jung believed that creativity was not just an internal process, but a dialogue with the world. Therefore, it is essential to engage with the world and explore the rich tapestry of human experience. Jung wrote in “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”: “The world into which we are born is brutal and cruel, and at the same time of divine beauty. Which element we think outweighs the other, whether meaninglessness or meaning, is a matter of temperament.”
  • In conclusion, Carl Jung’s thoughts on creativity and art provide us with a profound understanding of the human psyche and its potential for self-realization. By embracing our unconscious minds, following our passions, and engaging with the world, we can tap into our innate creativity and connect with something greater than ourselves.

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