Artist Laura McRae Hitchcock explores the idea of Thin Places through her ethereal nest and abstract paintings. Visit her website to find more of her portfolio.
My art moves between realism and abstraction in much the same way that I myself move between living and loving my life as a human being, and experiencing life through my ever-deepening spiritual practice.
For over five years, I’ve been exploring the idea of Thin Places. To me, this has come to represent the intersection of my two worlds. I heard the term used in 2016 during my two-month artist residency in Ireland. Thin Places describes a physical place on earth where heaven is so close you can feel it.
I’ve been trying to capture that feeling in my art ever since.
At first, I began with painting landscapes en plein air. I began to travel, thinking that was the reason I’d been so inspired. I even started a travel art workshop/retreat company called Wild Hair Adventures with a couple of friends so I could experience even more new places.
But while the small studies I did while traveling came close to helping me remember how I felt outside, they didn’t translate into the feeling I was trying to create in my large studio paintings.
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I began to exaggerate colors and shapes and finally jumped into full abstraction to interpret what I’d seen and felt in those Thin Places. That’s when I began to get as excited about painting in the studio as when I painted outside.
At the same time that I started traveling, I began a series of nest paintings. What started with one nest, painted to work through my sorrow (and hope) as my last child left for college, turned into an ever-evolving series of nests which became quite autobiographical.
When Covid hit, all travel came to a screeching halt. I’ll have to admit, I was stumped for a bit. But being stuck at home has actually brought more insight and more spirituality to my work.
Staying home, I have had time to study, read and dive deeply into my own beliefs. As I continue to work with this idea of Thin Places in mind, I have come to understand that paintings themselves can be Thin Places. They are a kind of portal; the artist channels her own feelings, energy and ideas into this work of art and Spirit joins her in that process. When it is finished, the viewer stands before it and can actually be moved themselves to feel something new, gain some new insight.
That is my hope, my prayer—that when a person sees my work, whether it is one of the nest paintings, a little plein air or one of my abstracts—it creates an opening in their heart to receive a renewed feeling of hope, a sense of peace and love, and a feeling of being connected to Spirit. For in the end that, to me, is what a Thin Place does for us. It is what my paintings do for me and I hope for the viewer as well.
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