Liane holds an MFA in arts administration from Columbia University and a BA magna cum laude in art history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Liane credits her ability to read and interpret cards largely to her art history training which impressed upon her the value of ‘juxtoposition,’ or putting two images next to each other in order to see each one more clearly. She began painting on her birthday on August 25th 1995 when she was still a freelance writer. 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 as a deck with guidebook in 2008. After publication, Liane introduced Level 1 and 2 workshops to thoroughly train artists of all ages and stages of development in the creative and intuitive uses of the Genesis Cards. Formerly an arts, natural healing and travel writer for The Japan Times and ANA Wingspan, she credits her discovery of intuitive painting to a healing art workshop led in 1995 by her husband, then senior therapist at the Akahigedo Eastern Medicine Clinic.
Interview with Liane Wakabayashi
Q1. How did you become an intuitive artist?
It came about through coincidences. I have 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 in a linear rational 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 in Pam’s art studio, 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 a specific mountain I couldn’t see with my eyes. I felt this mountain had come from the world behind 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 instantly 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 embraced 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.
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 be hooves 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 Sachiko Adachi. She had been a colorist for a design firm in Tokyo until her late 30s, when she left because of growing demand for her art. She was like an advice lady 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 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 such 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 deck began with paintings by me and the very talented artist Andy Boerger. When we first decided to collaborate in 2000, we would make these individual cards out of our works from our separate portfolios. 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 cafe settings, where we’d hang what at that time was a home-made laminated deck from a clothesline and our group would pick cards to help focus their intentions.
The Genesis Way tells everyone that it’s possible to do art, but I noticed that as long as the art was made mostly by Andy, an award-winning illustrator, the Genesis Way wasn’t fully walking its talk. My art is simple and childlike and I hope gives anyone the impression that they too can make art. So I made the difficult and scary decision of going it alone and making the “untutored” art myself in the summer of ‘2005. It felt like a miracle when September rolled around and the new paintings were done.
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 the Genesis Way in groups?
Our groups tend to be small. When a group do a Genesis Way creativity session for a few hours, everyone works at their own pace until the end. Then we talk and share what just happened. We all have this common bond through the Genesis Way, and when it comes time to talk about our experiences, it is amazing to see how a single Genesis Card leads the imagination to think and take action 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 work with the Genesis Way?
Actually, it’s only the beginning. I use them for private readings to look at personal issues.
It’s interesting how people are now finding their own uses for the Genesis Way. A French literature professor, uses the Genesis Cards to stimulate thinking in a university course she teaches here in Tokyo. My husband Akihiko Wakabayashi uses the Genesis Way in his “Consciousness” healing course. I’ve given the Genesis Cards to friends in the hospital and as gifts to people in need of cheer.
Q.9 How does the Genesis Way make you more intuitive?
The cards don’t make you intuitive. It’s the action you take as a result of the art that make 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, in your picture, you draw a pod of dolphins.
A few days after the Genesis Way session, you get this sudden idea. . . to take the kids to an aquarium. Then, there by the dolphin pool, I run into an old acquaintance who reminds me of past times when I didn’t feel “stuck” at all. It’s a conversation that last minutes but changes life because you are energized to try something new in your life. That’s the intuitive chain reaction that occurs 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 I just take it as the norm now.
Q. 10 How do we get started on the Genesis Way?
The Genesis Way deck of 44 cards with Guidebook can be purchased through my atelier for ¥3,000 (for overseas orders $35 includes airmail shipping). For Tokyo residents I offer a range of workshops and private consultations by appointment. A trial lesson to introduce the Genesis Cards costs ¥3,000 for 90 minutes, a private consultation to discuss a personal issue in your life that would benefit from a creative approach ¥8,000 for 60 minutes and ¥11,000 for 90 minutes. Please feel free to contact me for reservations and inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.