This month’s Artist Spotlight shines on Dominique Hurley, a multi-disciplinary Canadian artist living in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Her purpose is to travel through life exploring and expressing her love of beauty and the beauty of love.
I discovered Dominique’s visionary art work and her philosophy around creativity through an artist mastermind group we’re both a part of and the more I learned about her, the more curious I became. Her vibrant and colorful paintings have not only beautiful, swirling imagery, but symbolism and meaning behind each piece.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in art? Have you taken art classes?
I have always been fascinated with color, beauty, and making things. One of my earliest memories of art appreciation was when my family lived in Germany for 5 years when my father worked for the Canadian Armed Forces. We went to a lot of museums, but those never really interested me. What I do remember is being in a campground somewhere in Europe when I was about 7 years old. Our camp counselor had taken a group of children to see an artist who was using a potter’s wheel to spin a piece of paper while he dripped fluid paint on it. I can easily relive the sense of awe and elation that whole experience gave me at the time, especially when I got to create my own spectacular designs in such an immediate fashion.
As for art education, I didn’t do so well in high school art classes– almost failed, to tell the truth. I simply hadn’t found my medium yet. Instead, I developed quite the psychological baggage around drawing and trying to fulfill others’ expectations.
When I did find my own way into a more abstract energy-based way of painting with fluid acrylics in the late 80s, I was invited back to my high school for a solo exhibition. I love sharing that story because it shows the importance of finding our own creative voice and not giving up until we do. Because of this, I considered myself a self-taught artist for a couple of decades.
When my artistic vision came face to face with my limits, however, I decided to go back to school. I got a Certificate of Professional Photography in 2006 and a Certificate of Art & Design in 2011 (with a focus on painting). Then, in 2013/14, I was fortunate enough to spend a year studying at the Vienna Academy of Visionary Art in Austria.
I also took a couple of workshops in both visionary and intuitive painting online and in Bali. I’m glad to say I no longer fear incorporating stylized versions of figures into my artwork. My Higher Self did a great job at showing me the areas I needed to grow as an artist and as a person as well as the environments in which I could do that.
2. What is your preferred medium and why?
I love being creative and that has meant different mediums at different times. This is the world of a multi-passionate. When I graduated from university and started working for the government, I became prolific as a painter. The more dissatisfied I became with bureaucracy, the more I needed to paint for my own well-being.
In 1992, I started traveling the world teaching English. That’s when I got into photography for the first time in my life (before the days of digital). It was equally effective in bringing me fully to the moment as painting was, all the while opening my eyes to the various levels of beauty present in the natural and manufactured worlds I was discovering. When I got back into painting 15 years later, I started looking for ways to incorporate both photography and painting in my work.
Right now, however, I’m focusing mostly on painting and on integrating everything I’ve learned overseas with my own unique voice and preferred materials. Although I have greatly benefited from the skills I learned in Vienna through the layering application of oil paint glazes and egg tempera (mischtechnik), my love for the fast-drying acrylics is steadfast.
Indeed, I enjoy the versatility of acrylic paint – especially in its more fluid forms as they increase the mysterious and intuitive flow of the creative process. Also, the array of mediums available today, particularly in the Golden Artist Colors Inc. line of professional products, enhances my exploration of textures and mixed media in my artwork.
3. What is your favorite inspiration for your works? How do you gather that information?
The creative process itself is my inspiration. In fact, my art is as much about the creative process as the final results, reflecting the dance of Spirit within Nature and the Self – energies that illuminate, transform, move, and lead to reflection. Painting brings me right into the here and now. That’s great for someone like me who spends way too much time in my head. My paintings are my meditation, my teacher, my portal into the universal energy flow. I feel like I’m only a channel for what is being created through me, and so being open to that process is my greatest inspiration.
I sometimes receive a vision of my next painting while in a meditative state, such as while walking or doing yoga. More often than not, however, the final outcome is a total mystery. It evolves as I sit crossed legged on the floor with multiple canvases in front of me, often with an intention, a question, a prayer, or a feeling guiding the process. Painting in that way becomes a collaborative effort between Spirit, my Self, and the art supplies in front of me. As each layer dries, it inspires the next step – often taking me far from what I may have envisioned along the way.
4. Do you have any other interesting hobbies, or maybe a story about an experience involving your artwork?
I guess you could call personal and spiritual development a hobby. I’ve enjoyed attending workshops for decades and have more recently started leading some as well, such as Trusting Your Intuition, Simplifying Your Life, Intuitive Vision Boards, etc.
For a few years, I practiced various forms of energy work with friends and healing circles. This became challenging, however, because my highly empathic nature made me vulnerable to the person’s issues and I wasn’t very effective at using energetic protection techniques. Doing energy work indirectly through my artwork, therefore, became a natural for me. Often, the piece that results from whatever energies and healing I experience for myself during the creative process ends up appealing to those at a similar stage on their journey. That’s why a lot of healers purchase my work for their offices, and some even use it within the context of their treatments.
Sometimes, however, I become aware that a painting is being created through me for the benefit of someone else entirely. There have been a couple of times, for example, that I didn’t resonate at all with a finished piece and even hesitated putting my name on it, only to have it sell while it was still being unpacked from the box at an art fair. That has certainly taught me to step out of the way.
5. Do you have a favorite artist? What draws you to that person’s work?
I’ll admit, I haven’t spent much time looking at other people’s work. Art has mostly been a personal spiritual practice. Having said that, I remember as a young adult being fascinated with the freedom of expression, texture, depth, colour, and non-representational nature of Jean Paul Riopelle and Jackson Pollok’s work. Five years ago, I was deeply moved by the love and beauty oozing from the inspirational paintings by Rassouli.
When I was in Vienna, I reconnected to the work of artists I was exposed to as a child and during the early 90s when I returned to Europe to teach: Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, and Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Their use of symbols, colours, and stylization must have had a deep influence on me.
Great Spirit, however, is truly my favourite artist and has channeled Love and Beauty through Nature and so many artists around the world – it’s that energy which I resonate with the most.
6. Where can we reach you to see your works of art online or commission you for a custom painting?
You can access all of my offerings via my website at www.DominiqueHurley.com. I blog extensively, have a monthly newsletter, show all my work online, and lots more.
7. Finally, please share with us three of your favorite paintings and tell us a little bit about each.
1. “Divine Union” – 30” x 40” –acrylic on canvas, $2,500
This is my latest paintings, and as such one of my favorites. It became such a wonderful exploration into the meaning of unconditional love within a couple relationship. Its wintery background represents as much my current physical environment as it does the everlasting nature of love, through all seasons.
This painting also gave me a chance to further develop my stylized human figures and explore my growing fascination with the Zentangle® movement, reminiscent of Klimt’s and Hundertwasser’s work.
The couple standing in a yoga tree pose is firmly rooted to the ground all the while reaching upwards in a joint commitment to growth. They stand strong, centered, present, and balanced on their own in this pose of dynamic stillness, yet they stand together on a shared path in a spirit of awareness, support, respect, and unconditional love.
Their spirally roots emanate from a series of three symbols: the circle (God, wholeness), the yin-yang (balance of male and female energies) and the vesica pisces (intersection of physical and spiritual). In dim lighting, their shape turns from that of a tree to that of an orchid – symbol of pure affection, love, fertility, beauty, strength and luxury/abundance.
2. “Lighting the Way” – 20” x 28” – mischtechnik on panel (oil and egg tempera), Original Not For Sale (reproductions available on canvas and luster photo paper in various sizes)
As you can see, tree people have long been a favorite of mine – so filled with symbolism. It took me 6 months to plan and create this painting at the Vienna Academy of Visionary Art – a very different approach than my usual intuitive style. It’s as close to a self-portrait as I’ll ever create, although all paintings can be said to be self-portraits in a way as they capture the spirit of an artist.
“Lighting the Way” is a visual representation of my daily prayer: “Dear God and Guiding Spirits, Angels of Light and Love, Guide me on my Path to my Highest Good”. My roots are still nourished by the Source.
My childhood totem animals rest at my base, and my guardian angel, in the plumage of an iridescent bird, beckons me towards the light as I continue to grow with sacred symbols (sigils) imprinted in my very being. This all comes to life in the vibrancy of Love and Beauty (colour) that nourish my soul.
3. “Flower Child” – 48” x 48” (hung diagonal 67.9” x 67.9”) – $3,450
It was hard to pick only 3 favourites – many of my small pieces move me just as much. I’ve chosen to talk to you about “Flower Child”, however, because she marked a significant moment for me.
You see, this woman resting peacefully within the heart of a flower asked to be birthed after weeks of my looking at the initial 8 layers of intuitive abstract painting that formed its foundation.
And birthed she was, with ease and grace, helping me realize that I had let go of my fears around drawing/painting human figures. For me, she became a symbol of rebirth into a life aligned with Love (including self-love), Peace, Truth, and Nature.