Liane holds an MFA in arts administration from Columbia University in New York and a BA magna cum laude in art history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Liane’s original techniques for training artists can be traced to her art history background, where she learned the value of putting two images next to each other (juxtaposition) in order to see each one’s unique attributes more clearly.
Liane began painting on her birthday on August 25th, 1995 when she was still a freelance journalist. She has been painting, drawing and exhibiting ever since. The Genesis Cards are taken from Liane’s sketchbooks and canvases over a twelve year period. They were published bilingually in English and Japanese as a deck of cards with guidebook in 2008.
After publication of the Genesis Cards and Guidebook–“The Genesis Way”– Liane introduced Level 1 and 2 workshops to thoroughly train artists of all ages and stages of development to make drawings and use the Genesis Cards to create an intimate dialogue between art and artist.
Q1. How did you become an intuitive artist?
It came about through coincidences. Despite my art history training I had no art school training, so when I first started getting this impulse to draw and paint, I turned to my imagination. I put pastels down on paper until they looked like something recognizable. Doing art this way was fun and took a lot of the pressure I was feeling as a journalist to think and write in a structured way,
Q2. So intuitive art means that there’s no planning or prior knowing what you’re going to draw?
Yes! I like to start with a word that conjurs a feeling, something with an emotional charge going on in my life at this moment. Picking something juicy –off the top of my head –leads the way into the creative process. Colors follow. The hand moves from color to color without any awareness of where the art is going until it’s completed. So for example, something in my environment might set the mood.
I’ll never forget the first painting I did since I was in high school. It was on my 36th birthday and came about at a wonderful home near Mount Fujii, where the artist Pam Honda was giving my husband Aki and I our first art lesson.
She put out pots of paint and paper and left us to it. No instructions! We meditated first, and I became so peaceful I thought to myself it is wonderful to be so close in the vicinity to Mount Fuji but I’m glad I can’t see it. Mt Fuji was blocked by a small hill in Pam’s backyard. I thought to myself “go within instead,” and these words were the key to unlocking intuition.
Without any intention of painting Mount Fuji, without seeing it from Pam’s art studio windows, I nonetheless had a strong feeling of its presence. The way Mount Fuji showed up as the strong central subject took my breath away. I had no idea I could draw a mountain, especially this iconic mountain which I couldn’t see with my eyes. It was more than just Mount Fuji. It was my climb, my relationship to life’s uphill challenges and I was excited to see my hand had guided me to draw three pathways up the mountain.
From this experience, I realized that if I could draw Mount Fuji, anyone could draw whatever their heart desired. The real world provides powerful metaphors for the way we see our lives, and art gives us a chance to revise and improve upon perceptions to the point where any challenge can be seen for its creative potential. In art there is always a solution. Seeing the solution in art, you take the artistic metaphor and apply it to a real life situation. Like climbing a painting of a mountain.
It was an exciting moment to realize this. I had been struggling between three paths in my life — the role of journalist, teacher and the one that eludef me at the time, motherhood. The three paths up Mount Fuji helped me see that I didn’t need to choose. I could have all three paths. It took a few more years but eventually I became a mother and true to this painting, my life continues to take place on different trails. One thought that stays with me to this day is the realization that we can see with our eyes closed when our hearts are open. I didn’t see Mount Fuji but I was certainly living on those trails!
Q3. Is there an artist who inspires you to do intuitive art?
Yes, I can tell you about the intuitive artist who changed by life by making a very persuasive argument in favor of taking one’s own creativity seriously. Playful and serious at the same time.
This was the late Sachiko Adachi. She had been a color coordinator for a design firm in Tokyo until her late 30s, when she left because of growing demand for her art. She was both a counselor and artist combined. People would come to her with a problem and she would draw them the solution! The pictures were very simple, more like calligraphy, with beautiful strong colors. In 1998, I was asked by Sachiko’s brother to edit Sachiko’s translated book, one of her last lectures. The book is called “To Live As We Are,” and I highly recommend it for everyone who is interested in learning more abou the connection between spiritual development, creativity and intuition. Sachiko made an amazing case for doing art, saying the more you do, the more intuitive you become. This book influenced me in deep and subtle ways. I didn’t want to draw in Sachiko’s style but I took with me what resonated of her artistic philosophy–that the universe is always available to answer our questions and prayers through art.
Q4. Where can one obtain a copy of Sachiko’s book?
Sachiko’s book, To Live As We Are, can be purchased at Amazon or other major online book retailers.
Q5. Can you tell us about how the Genesis deck of cards came to be?
The Genesis Cards, a deck of 44 cards and guidebook, began as a collaboration in the year 2000 with the very talented artist Andy Boerger. When we first decided to work together in 2000, we thought how nice it would be to inspire writers to paint, which was what I was doing, and in Andy’s case, to inspire painters to write. As a writer, I would come up with the card labels, then together we would think up creativity exercises that people could do to break out of old patterns of thinking. I wanted to reach people who were pretty good at one creative form, art or writing, but had a hard time switching on the possibility that they could be good at both. Over time we discovered that the cards were effective as a tool to get beginners going as well.
Back in January ‘00, we started to give workshops in some of Tokyo’s most popular cafes–Las Chicas, The Globe, Pink Cow, where we would hang a home-made laminated deck of cards from a clothesline and everyone would pick cards to trigger spontaneous writing or art.
Q6. What’s the hardest thing that prevents people from doing art?
Definitely, it’s coming up with an idea. The Genesis Way gives you a place to start and a goal to reach for. But what you draw is entirely original. Say you pick the “Spring Seeds” card. That card will lead to all kinds of associations to explore about seeds you wish to plant for your own life. The cards always guide you to think positive about the potential of your life and by visualizing what you want in a work of art you are much closer to manifesting it.
Q7. What are the advantages of doing Genesis Art in groups?
Our groups are usually small. Everyone works at their own pace. Then we talk and share what just happened. We create art, but just as important, we create this common bond through doing Genesis Art together. When it comes time to talk about our creative experiences, it is amazing to see how a single Genesis Card can lead to heartfelt sharing and inspire the artist to take off in new directions.
When you begin to talk about your own art and other people ask you questions, it opens up channels of thinking that weren’t there before.
Q8. Is the workshop setting the only way to do Genesis Art?
Actually, it’s only the beginning. Graduates who have completed the 12-part Genesis training course come up with their own approaches to Genesis Art. A French literature professor uses the Genesis Cards to stimulate thinking in a university course she teaches here in Tokyo. Shoko Uchiya uses the Genesis Cards to inspire her work as a creator of wildly original flower coursages. I’ve given the Genesis Cards to friends in the hospital and as gifts to people in need of cheer.
Q.9 How does doing Genesis Art make you more intuitive?
The Genesis Cards don’t make you intuitive. It’s the action you take as a result of creating a work of art that confirms how well your intuition is working. Say you sit down and draw yourself on a tropical island even though you think there’s no way you can leave your job and family right now to take this sort of trip. Well, six weeks later you are sitting in Phuket, Thailand on a beach that bizarrely resembles what you just drew.
That’s the result that can and frequently does occur when you start to draw from the imagination and then take action on suggestions that come out of your pictures. I’ve experienced this so many times, and my students have too, that I just take it as the norm now.