Touched By Fire Artist Profile: Lynne Jenkins

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Lynne Jenkins can’t say exactly when her mood swings began, and although there were signposts along the way, she says, “no one recognized the symptoms as such when they first occurred.” Lynne was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was about 28 and has been on a life-long quest to heal from bipolar disorder ever since. Through her search she has become a therapist and seminar leader and integrates art into her life. 

Lynne first got involved with MDAO about ten years ago. “I used to do volunteer work with MDAO. I looked after the library. I’d never heard about Touched By Fire until fall 2013 when I received an email about the call for entries. I entered and I wasn't selected in the jurying process, but I chose to enter because any opportunity to present or show my art is always appreciated. So many artists haven’t had the opportunity to go to an art school or take art courses, which can be expensive, so when MDAO is able to offer free art courses for artists with mood disorders as part of the Touched By Fire program, it’s helpful.”

“I am not that into promoting my work or managing an ‘art career’. I create because that is what I do and who I am, and it helps me to balance my life. I notice that many artists with mood disorders paint from their dark side. I prefer to paint from my light side. Sometimes I look at my work and I do not even remember doing it. It comes from somewhere else. Mostly I paint nature, especially trees and many Buddha's, although I am not a 100% Buddhist.”

Lynne's work emphasizes symbolism. “I use a lot of symbolism because for a time I was so disassociated from my body and I was frightened to speak, thus talked in code. Sometimes I use the Nordic Runes, sometimes the symbolism is in the colours, for example the colours of the chakras. Sometimes If I do trees, is it without roots, or deep roots, or a tree has no leaves, or leaves are falling. Everything means something. So, when looking at my work, viewers need to ask themselves, what might this symbol mean and what is it trying to say?”

“One of my paintings is the back of me looking at a dilapidated old building with flowers in the sky. If one looks closely, the label is on the outside of my shirt. What the painting means is that I am now showing my private self and am examining the structures or foundation of my life (the old wooden building) and I trust the spirit in the sky.  My shirt is on inside out because often I neglect or forget to take care of myself.”

Lynne says that she sometimes paints on the front of a canvas, which is the public self and often also paints or puts something on the back, which represents the private self. She says, “Often I will put a medicine bag on the back of my work, which contains a lot of symbolism relating to the person who is purchasing the painting or who I made the painting for.”

Lynne learned Rebirthing from Leonard Orr, and to further her work she became a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, a Reiki Master, a certified Therapeutic Touch Practitioner, and has pursued additional education in Craniosacral, Healing Touch, and Alternative to Violence courses and Colour Therapy. “We all have our wounds and our stories to tell and I am no different. If I am to believe that we pick our race, culture, family, and life lessons, then my life is right on track.” She concludes, “what I teach and use, I know works."

As for mood disorders, Lynne believes that while people can manage mental illness with medications, “finding out where our lives are out of whack and working on that” is also helpful. She says, “It could be diet, our thoughts, or lack of physical activity, or spirituality.  If for example, stress is what triggers a person, then that is what needs to be managed. It is all about balance and self care. I lead a very disciplined life and it helps. I also know that I have to work more on boundaries and emotions as I seem to feel life deeply and often get emotionally over-loaded. We are all different and have different triggers.”

See more of Lynne’s work in the Touched By Fire Galleries and find out more about Lynne at Rebirthing Plus