Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fusionart Retreat

The clouds came closer once we left the hot, sunny desert floor in La Quinta for the cool mountains of Pilgrim Pines, high above the apple and cherry orchards of Yucaipa. I had been looking forward eagerly to spending this first weekend in June among the tall pines and the green meadow of this beautiful retreat center and participating in the painting workshop (a better description would be a “playshop”) led by my teacher, Rassouli. I was among the first to arrive. Throughout the afternoon, Friday, the rest of our group found their way up the rural, winding road to our quiet haven. A number of the other students were fellow Fusionartists, and we have formed a strong bond of unity over the past several years. We immediately felt the joy of coming together again to do what we love. There is always a safe, happy energy when we create together. There were some new faces as well, including beginners, and getting to know them added greatly to my enjoyment of the weekend. The clouds, by the way, never transformed into rain and the weather was lovely for the entire weekend.

After a delicious dinner in the dining hall at Pilgrim Pines, prepared with food grown at the retreat center, we gathered in one of the rustic meeting rooms assigned to us and Rassouli gave an opening talk on the agenda for the retreat. He also spoke about the interplay of music and painting as well as Fusionart’s approach as an expression of the soul. He then put on some marvelous Middle Eastern music to inspire us, and we began to paint. This music always opens my heart, and I quickly entered a meditative state in which I was experiencing a feeling of enchantment and romance. Automatically I began applying the colors I was seeing with swirling brushstrokes. I had no preconceived idea of what I would paint. I was just immersed in the process. This is the part of me that can create because it does not judge. Rassouli noticed that the strokes were creating 2 figures. He then used my unfinished painting as an example of how beautifully the soul can reveal itself when we allow it to express itself freely. I continued to develop the painting, which I titled Etheric Embrace (below), for the rest of the evening.

Bright and early at 7 o’clock, the crowing of the retreat center rooster served as my alarm clock. I thought, now I know I am truly in the country. Breathing in the fresh invigorating air as I made the quick walk down the hill to the dining hall for breakfast was a luxury that cost nothing. After enjoying a breakfast of eggs laid by the Pilgrim Pines hens, we reconvened at our “playshop” to continue creating. Mehrdad, a fellow Fusionartist, put on some of his amazing music and we were on our way again. This time my consciousness was suffused with a feeling of profound peace, and a scene in rich shades of blue appeared before me. Embracing its mystery, I was completely content in this world. I was reminded again that we must follow what we love, whether we understand it or not. Let go or be miserable. I choose surrender over resistance to love, happiness over suffering. After I don’t know how long, I returned from my creative state to observe what I had created. Below is the finished piece, which I titled Atlantis Rising because a number of my fellow students told me that it evoked the lost continent for them.

Later that afternoon I began a third small canvas. The group energy had been building and fusing to a crescendo throughout the day and I was filled with a powerful feeling of Light. My brush was expressing this on the canvas, but I had to express it with my whole body. I caught the eye of my good friend Felix, who was painting next to me, and he immediately understood. We both began dancing, paintbrushes in hand. Mehrdad turned up the music and soon everyone was painting and dancing, dancing and painting, until it all became inseparable. In our state of blissful unity, “under the influence” of divine drunkenness, we became playmates of God and the embodiment of Fusionart. I realized again that this energy, rooted in creativity and a joy beyond judgment, can truly transform the world, and we must share it. Below is the result, Transformation.

After dinner, Rassouli demonstrated for us how to transform an old painting into a completely new one by using the power of imagination. We spent the rest of the evening over a glass of wine in a sitting area next to Rassouli’s room. As we basked in the afterglow of the beautiful atmosphere, Rassouli entertained and enlightened us with Nasreddin Sufi stories and we deepened our connection with stories of our own past. It was the perfect way to end the day. The following morning we had our last painting session followed by the group critique. We had become so close in such a short time, and I left totally satisfied with the weekend, filled with positive energy and eager to continue painting. The weekend also reinforced for me some very basic but vital life lessons. Stay curious and open to the unknown. Always take time in your life to do something that makes you happy and satisfied. Share it with others. This is the true abundance of life, greater than financial well-being and material possessions. Above all, whatever it is you want out of life, “Be It.”

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Above is my latest painting, Astral Realm. Looking at it reminds me that creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy - pure creative energy which infuses all of life and connects us with the Divine. Creativity is the expression of our true selves. When we surrender to this energy, and allow it to flow through us, we express our true selves and we grow. When we resist this energy, we are captured by our small selves and we stagnate, then contract. This painting came to me through my imagination as I was looking at the sky and the formation of the clouds. Everything happens first in the subtle realm of the Astral, and I could see the Earth gracefully circled by the energy of the Divine Mother as if protecting a child. Art is very personal, yet it also transcends the personal. We can go anywhere in our imagination, and the artist takes great joy in this process. I believe that developing the creativity of children is an essential factor in the survival of our planet. As they learn to recognize and trust their Divine connection, they will receive the resources to overcome the seemingly intractable conundrums of our time with as yet unimagined creative solutions. Nurturing the creativity of younger generation in all aspects will enable them to bring forth fresh ideas of beauty and lead mankind to higher levels of civilized development.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rickeysart.com gets a "facelift"

I, Rickey Hoefnagel, am proud to announce that rickeysart.com has just been updated and is now better than ever thanks to the tireless efforts of my new webmaster, Jean-Louis Boers. In checking out the remodeled web site, the first thing you will notice in addition to the elegant new font is that the video of the Bridging Heaven and Earth spiritual talk show mentioned in my previous post is now available on the home page. Just click and play. We will have more videos for our visitors in the future. The Gallery features a large selection of my paintings, and is now divided into 3 categories. The Main Gallery features current works available for purchase. The other 2 sections contain works previously sold and works that have been donated. Works in each section can now be viewed as a slideshow, and each piece can be expanded with a single click. Acrylic on canvas continues to be my primary medium. Poetry now has its own area for your enjoyment. In the Artist's Statement, I discuss briefly how Fusionart and its founder, Freydoon Rassouli (see http://www.rassouli.com ), have inspired me to create art that is expressive of the heart, the soul and the Spirit. Art for me is a sacred journey. The Bio page has been reworked and expanded to include listings of recent and upcoming exhibits as well as some information on my training over the last 20+ years leading up to my current artistic incarnation as a founding member of Fusionart International (see http://www.fusionartinternational.com ). We love to hear from people who visit our site, and that is now very simple with the Contact Us page. I believe you will be impressed and appreciative as I have been with how simple and easy it is to navigate from place to place within the site with a single click. Rickeysart.com can truly be described as "user friendly." Also, please be aware that rickeysart.com has now replaced our old address, www.rickeyhoefnagelsgallery.com. Always go to http://rickeysart.com . So, please check out our new look and let us know what you think. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Recession for Fusionart

Well, Spring is here and a lot has been going on already this year. In January one of my paintings, Creation, was featured as part of the spiritual talk show, Bridging Heaven and Earth, seen on cable television and also uploaded to youtube.com and google.com. The show is #236, and it can be seen on their web site, http://www.heaventoearth.com/. Check it out. The painting, which was inspired by and created for this project, can also be seen at their online art gallery, http://www.heaventoearthart.com/. (You can find me under "R" for Rickey.) We were invited to attend the taping in Santa Barbara, and the high energy in the room was quite palpable. It was a real joy to be able to connect again with Alan, producer/host of the show, and Bianca. They are an amazing couple, and their commitment to producing this wonderful program and contributing to the healing of the planet is truly a labor of love.

From March 13-15, I had the opportunity to exhibit my work and demonstrate painting at the Quantum Leap 2012 Conference in Burbank, California, along with more than a dozen of my fellow Fusionartists. The Conference was a gathering of speakers, workshops and vendors united in the intention to bring greater spiritual awareness, healing energy and peaceful cooperation to our planet. 2012 refers to the end of the Mayan calendar when some believe great changes will take place. Our Fusionart founder, Rassouli, was one of the featured speakers and delivered an inspiring multimedia presentation of his incredible work that transported the audience. I know it transported me. In addition to exhibiting our works, throughout the Conference we took turns demonstrating at our easels set up in a large room adjacent to the main hall. The people who wandered into our Fusionart "play room" were invited to create art too at a table in the center of the room supplied with paint and paper. Sometimes people would say, "But I can't draw," and I had to laugh when I remembered I had uttered the same words back in 1985. The point we wanted to make is that we are all artists if we allow ourselves to be, and we can bring our creativity into all aspects of our daily lives at any moment when we choose to do so. "Life is what you make it," is one of my favorite sayings. Many children of all ages joined our creativity fest and quickly became engrossed in the process once they let go of self-judgement. We even got some free publicity on the front page of a local newspaper. I was pleased with the small painting that came to me while I was demonstrating(see below). The title is, guess what, Quantum Leap.

I demonstrated Fusionart again this year for Art Night at the Amelia Earhart Elementary School in our La Quinta neighborhood. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this last year. Color often evokes a natural excitement in children, and their interest and enthusiasm is most rewarding. Art Night was March 26th.

Speaking of art for children, the Hollywood Arts Council recently contacted me. The Council is holding its 23rd annual "Charlie Chaplin Awards" evening on April 19th at the Hollywood Palladium. The "Charlies" are presented by Hollywood celebrities to honor outstanding merit in Hollywood and its arts. I was asked if I would donate a painting for the silent auction, which is part of the event. The money raised helps to fund an after school art program for "at risk" grade school kids. Since I believe passionately in the value of developing children's creativity and appreciation of art, I gladly accepted. In addition to supporting a worthy cause, the event is well attended and affords an opportunity for some good exposure. Below is the painting I donated, Branches (recently re-titled).

Ignoring the doom and gloom of the news, I continue to paint for the love of painting, as do my fellow Fusionartists. A group of us get together 2 Saturdays a month at Clover Park in Santa Monica to paint under the trees near picnic tables, basketball courts and soccer fields. People stroll through our outdoor "studio," often stopping to chat or just watch. The group energy of artists painting together is so positive that it naturally attracts. The world needs to experience the joy of positive self-expression and creativity more than ever now. By simply taking pleasure in our art and each other's company, in our own little way we make the world a better place.

Note: My new webmaster, Jean-Louis Boers, who is gifted in all things technical, is hard at work on a new, improved version of this web site. Look for it soon.