This is exciting. I have a new project! It solves a problem I’ve been considering for a while over where to direct my creativity. I have so many projects I want to work on that it’s hard to decide.

What’s this new project all about? Check out my nifty navigation list below to toggle through the article.


    1. The problem
    2. The project! in brief
    3. Sample gallery
    4. More on the Purpose & Inspiration
    5. So how would this work?
    6. The Project Underway
    7. Updates
    8. Want to collaborate?

The problem

I’ve been trying to decide how to focus my creative energy for some time now. I have so many projects I would like to do but not enough hands or hours in a week.

As I’ve been mulling and painting my favourite form, large abstracts, I also started thinking about how much richness student input adds to what we create as a class together each semester. I find this creative, collaborative work highly fulfilling. Together we go further or in directions I never would have gone on my own. Then, I had an exciting idea (insert lightbulb inside brain drawing). Why not combine these two favourite creative processes in my art!?

The project! in brief

I’m calling this abstract painting project Life thru art. It is an imagining of one’s experiences in life through abstract art.

(Is this title too vague? I’m open to suggestions. Shoot me a message or comment below.)

Curious and enthusiastic friends and family could choose a photo that has particular meaning or attraction for them. Then they could discuss this with me, helping me to see and perhaps feel that meaning or attraction. Then I could use this image and the inspiration to create a painting that expresses this meaning in abstract form.

Perhaps it focuses on the feeling of movement or life in the painting, a sense of rushing water, a balance between nature and human forms, richness in colour, optimism, strength, or love, or something you can’t quite put your finger on. What do these things look and feel like to you? I’d like to work with people to discover new ways to express these human experiences.

My large abstract paintings have focused on tension between dualities: light and dark, creation and destruction, movement and containment. These were at first completely conceptual–from my imagination–but then I started contemplating the sense of duality that fascinates me through pictures, and I started painting balance and tension between human and natural forms. I will continue to do this to explore my own fascinations, but I would also like to enrich this experience (of life in paint) by making connections with the fascinations and important thoughts, experiences, and feelings of many people.

More on the Purpose and Inspiration

Here is the message I shared with friends on Facebook as a call for collaborators, for participants in this project. It offers a more specific rationale for those who would like to know more about the concept I am working with.

I would like to collaborate on some art. All you need to begin with is a meaningful image and some enthusiastic curiosity. I would like to use this as the basis for a new and evolving project. You do NOT need to be an artist, just a human being. Haha.

… first a bit of background.

I’m thinking a lot these days about what direction I want my art to take. As I contemplate my intuitive process and what is meaningful to me, I realize that almost everything I create is part of some sort of conversation, or I would like it to be.

My art aims to have meaning for other people as well as myself, but this is often a guessing game, and it is not so much about pleasing people or molding my practice to suit other people’s interests as it is about forming a sort of collaboration.

I want my art to be meaningful for average people like me, my friends, and my family. I want to create for you–not only for the fine art world. Though that level of recognition would certainly be nice, I see rising in the fine art world as a potential byproduct of succeeding with my art, not the ultimate goal. I want to create and co-create meaning more so for people than museums, cool as they are.

This is why I am sending this invitation to you and not a world of strangers. I want to know what is meaningful or beautiful to you, and I would like to add to that if I can. I would like my art to add meaning first to the lives of people in my life.

So how would this work?

From me:

I am offering to do 5 paintings for 5 people (one each)–at cost–that experiment with creating this conversation.

From you:

1. Tell me if you’d like to participate. This could be really exciting! I hope you will.

2. Choose an image that is meaningful to you for some reason: perhaps it is a fond memory, it makes you feel something, it makes you thoughtful, it captures something you aspire to or a place you’d like to visit, or maybe you just like it for some reason and don’t know why. It could be your picture or someone else’s. It could be a famous painting even. That is what I am using in my current experiments. It’s important to keep in mind that the result will not look like the original in the traditional sense, but it will capture something cool or interesting or etc. about it.

3. We make some time to discuss the image and what it means to you or what draws you to it.

4. We figure out some logistical details like size–I would like to work large here, so probably 30+” x 30+”–and cost (for participants in the initial experiment)–based entirely on the cost of materials, which for an original, custom painting is quite a deal!

5. I create an abstract painting of the image inspired by both the image itself and your thoughts, ideas, feelings about it, your connection to it.

6. You get an original painting that, if my intuition serves me well as it usually does, is truly meaningful to you.

I’ve been painting pet portraits for people for a few years now using this same process, except without going abstract. I would like to continue this collaboration but level up the creative factor by working with any kind of image and aiming to capture not the objects in the image so much as some aspect of the image that you find captivating.

The attached images show two paintings I am currently working on and one finished that do essentially this, except without the input of the collector. I find it immensely satisfying in itself, but I want to bring the level of connection with the collector into this, the kind of connection I see with people who are so touched when they get a freshly finished custom painting of a beloved pet. This is priceless to me.

So you get a beautiful and meaningful new painting at very little expense, and I get priceless fulfillment and the opportunity to define and refine how I create my art and who I create it for. Win-win.

It will also help solve the problem I have with letting go of my abstract work. Haha.

There we have it!

I hope you will join me in following my nose here to take my art in an exciting new direction. Shall we?

The Project Underway

To begin the experiment, I put out this call to my friends and family on Facebook. I was happy to see a lot of interest pretty quickly. I’ve now got a project of five paintings to create over the next 5-6 months. I will be looking to arrange a show with the paintings once they are all finished.

As an unexpected surprise, some of my collaborators want to pay full price, which is pretty amazing. Thank you! You know who you are 😉 .


The good news: I have finished two collaborative abstract paintings so far!

Find out more about this abstract landscape in my post Start to finish in Pictures | Abstract 1 of Life thru art.

Find out more about this abstract cycling landscape in my post Christina “Bites the Dust”… A New Collaborative Painting.

The bad news: My chronic illness has slowed things down a lot, so the outlook for completing the experimental part of this project will more likely be 8-12 months.

See some of my other posts for more about the intersection between my chronic illness (CFS/ME) and my artistic process.

Would you like to collaborate?

Eventually I will continue this project more broadly. The aim will be to reach more of a wide network of art lovers and everyday people.

I won’t be able to do paintings at cost after the experiment, but I also do not charge high art prices. I believe my work has value, and I hope you do too. My hope is that the average person can find worthwhile meaning in such a painting as this project offers.

Stay tuned to see how it develops over the coming months.

If you’re interested to know more, please feel free to send me a message through my website here or to my email address below. You can find more in-situ posting about it on my Instagram page as well: @jukareyote.

Happy Saturday, folks 😉


2 people talking


I look forward to seeing the results of this experiment. Your art is very enjoyable to me.


Thank you! I am so glad to hear it 🙂