by Tina Kloraris-Robinson
Bahamian author and artist Tina Klonaris-Robinson shares a story of personal tragedy, and how she used art as a form of healing as well as a message to others.
Around the time I began painting, I was working on a different book about personal growth after grief inspired by the death of my newborn daughter ten years ago. I was running the Meah Foundation named in her honor, and an ornament and jewelry business, as well as raising my three sons with my husband.
Painting was an antidote to stress, a hobby I picked up during a family vacation to Canada. A month after we got home, I phoned my book editor in New York, Stephanie Gunning, and asked what she thought about the idea of taking some of the material from the self-help book and pairing it with the images I was producing. She loved the plan. Immediately she saw the book’s potential and volunteered suggestions on how to format it.
Everything came together quickly after that. Painting the final images for the book was joyful and effortless. This project felt perfect. It felt right. It felt like the best next step to take. In a matter of weeks we produced the final manuscript, brought on an experienced book designer, Gus Yoo, who contributed his own visual flair to the spreads, and sent the book off to the printers—the day before a hurricane. The hardest part was waiting for banking and shipments to resume in Nassau.
How did I feel confident enough as a new artist to publish a book of paintings? I trusted the process. I trusted that painting had come into my life for a reason. Every day painting was transforming me at a deep level and giving me insights. And people looking at my paintings told me that they could feel positive energy coming from them.
My art often features angels flying in a starry sky and sea life. But I never know what a canvas will look like before I begin it. I don’t try to picture the end product, I just begin. I never use a pencil to outline shapes. I begin with paint. I might paint an angel and then I will stand back and “listen” to where the paintbrush wants to go next. Typically, I’ll paint a few dots across the canvas and then build circles or patterns around those individual dots. As I paint the dots, I experience scenes in my mind. I am reflecting on the past and changing it, seeing it differently. It is a meditative or prayerful experience that absolutely entrances me.
The affirmations and spiritual principles in my book FLY, MY LOVE, FLY, are part of my creative process. Let’s say I’ve gone back to a time in my life in my mind’s eye for which the memory is difficult or challenging. It is almost like I am adding new layers to the memory, layers filled with new, empowering perspectives. This will infuse the memory with something positive, so as I come away from painting, the memory no longer has the same emotional charge as it once did. It’s healing.