The Heroine’s Journey of Lorelei Sowa

What is the best thing that I love about my work? It doesn’t always happen, but I look at something I created every once in a while, and I have no idea how I did it. It holds an element of mystery and surprises for me that I find just delightful.  Einstein’s famous quote goes, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” In these rare pieces, I discover so much about myself that lies beneath the conscience. It is here, when I discover something authentic about myself, that I find myself most content and satisfied with my work.  It seems to come to form a source bigger than mine.  Perhaps a collective conscience gathered through generational time. My paintings reflect a positive view of life; I hope that, like a good book, they have a narrative that, to some degree, you can get lost in.

What is my idea of happiness? I spend so much time battling the extremes that I am at a point where I find flow, contentment, and inner peace to be the keys to happiness. I wish I had better use of language to explain it, but true happiness, it seems, is a state of the body that is regulated by breath. It sounds so yogic and simple, but I can’t find a way to write bliss other than that.

What is my greatest fear? I fear dying. Not being dead so much as actually dying. Losing my breath. I watched my father die, and the moments between life and death haunt me.  It is so final, and I have so much I want to say and do before then.  I suspect all of life really is grappling with death. 

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I wouldn’t say I like when my brain reverts to negative loops that are neither true nor productive. But like all the things I dislike, this one I can work to change. My height, physical characteristics, I can’t change, so I neither like nor dislike them, it is the size and complexion I have control over, and that is a matter of discipline and desire, it’s a game of balance really, and it’s best fought in the positive helm.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? One of my favorite works at the Metropolitan Museum of art is Anselm Kiefer; therefore, he needs to go on the list.  His work has a quality that draws me in through texture and scale. On the opposite spectrum, I also greatly admire British artist Jenny Saville.  Saville’s methods and subject matter are both traditional, reinventing the art of figure painting. Her work features distorted flesh, high-caliber brush strokes, and patches of oil color. 

What is my greatest extravagance?  I am actually fairly simple.  I don’t have any outrageous daily habits or hobbies.  I love good espresso and am known to travel with my Nespresso maker if I happen in a remote area that still insists on serving the old-fashioned drip method of coffee.  Fine sheets should be long-staple cotton, and I really prefer them on a feather topper.  I love the feel of raw silk around my neck and shearling slippers on my feet.  Nothing beats a good massage and a bold Bordeaux.  

On what occasion would I lie?  I don’t particularly appreciate lying.  My whole body tenses up, and I miserable for days.  Of course, I wouldn’t know this if I hadn’t told a lie or two in my day.  When I was younger, I would lie to make myself seem more important.  I would lie to protect another person’s feelings.  As I grow older, I realize I can’t protect people, and I am never more important than the other person, so I see much less use for the whole business.  Nonetheless, I would still tell a lie to protect the lives of my immediate family.  This really isn’t necessary in the United States, but I see other countries, like North Korea, and I see that everything has its place.  Self-preservation is always the root of a lie, I think.  Or preservation of a loved one. 

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?  Sometimes it takes forever for a thing to be realized in my painting.  I start getting lazy and losing focus, and adding marks randomly without thought.  This is usually when my work falls apart. My own patients are the most important thing for me to work on.  I want everything to come together fast, but prolonged is the best method.  

When and where was I the happiest in my work?  Right now, of course!  When I am absorbed in working, time stands still.  I am in the moment.  

If I could, what would I change about myself? I would change my negative cycling brain. I would stop comparing myself to others.  I would stop feeling inferior. 

What is my greatest achievement in work?  The greatest achievement in my work is that I have the courage to start it at all. 

Where would I most like to live? I Loved living in Manhattan!  I mean, the energy in that City Is unreal.  Now I live on the Connecticut coast, and while the town is quite sleepy, I discovered new energy in the Sea.  I don’t think I have the best answer to this question, because the world offers so much!  When I am in the City, I love the city.  When I am in the country, I love the country. 

What is my most treasured possession?  My diamond engagement ring from my husband and I have a clock passed down to me and through three generations.  It no longer has the original hands and does not work, but it reminds me of the passage of time and the timelessness of a moment.  Art thrives in a space free of worry.  Formless and spaceless quiet.  Art is best undefined.  It is the space of flow… deeper than time.  But time will not wait for me to create.  It must be now. 

What is my most marked characteristic? I am tall.  

What is the most inspirational location in my city?  Central Park NYC was my favorite place, but now it is by the sea. 

What is my favorite place to eat and drink in my city?  My Kitchen!  But outside of that, I love the French Bistro  Match 65 on the Eastside or Salumeria Rossi for Italian on the Upper Westside.  Now that I have moved back to Connecticut, I have to say nothing beats a Lobster salad at Ford’s Lobster in Noank.  It is as casual as it gets, but the salt air makes everything taste better and fresher. 

What books influenced my life and how?  The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer. …What would it be like to free yourself from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to discover inner peace and serenity?  1984 by George Orwell, which ironically I read in 1984.  themes in this novel have become a major part of modern culture, creating terms and concepts that have been incorporated into our own society. Surveillance, truth, and censorship take center stage in this novel.  The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, also gives a cautionary tale of a totalitarian regime in which women are property of the state.  My favorite story on death is Harry Potter.. the entire JK Rowling series.  I can read them over and over again. 

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen to on my last day? Ave Maria by Charles Gound (after  J. S.  Bach). My middle name is Maria, and I remember my mother telling me it came from this song.  I love contemporary music, but the abstract quality of classical allows my head freedom of thought—Vivaldi’s four seasons and Tchaikovsky as well as anything by Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach. 

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Of course, the goddess Athena from Greek mythology.  But I also adore the Lady of Shallot from the poet  Alfred Loyd Tennyson.  Hermione Granger from Harry Potter is constantly saving the day and is the smartest witch around.  Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind) was exceedingly bold for a woman of her time.  I just finished reading “Bringing Down the Colonel” by Patricia Miller, in which I greatly admired Madeline Pollard, an unlikely nineteenth-century women’s rights crusader. 

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?  My Father, James French, My mother, Dorothy Johnson, and my daughter Abigail Sowa.  I am also a big fan of Queen Elizabeth II, Patti Smith, 

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? The Life of Pi, The Matrix, Troy

What role-play stories in my life and work? Epic tales from the Illiad and the odyssey to modern tales like Harry Potter excite, enchant and entertain me.  They are the source for imagination, inspiration, and image-making.  Storytelling can occur auditory or visually but is always impactfully powerful. 

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life to me?  I think this statement is that only I can tell my story the best.  Only I know my heart and my feelings, so only I can arrange the story.  Events can be told from multiple angles and perspectives, but how I choose to tell the story directly impacts the story’s impact and meaning. 

What project, in 2021, am I looking forward to work on?  I am learning how to use Lightroom from adobe so I can photograph my painting in Raw.  I am excited about my scarfs that I am creating from my paintings that can be found at https://www.paintbylorelei.com/scarves or on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ScarvesbyLorelei?ref=profile_header

Where can you see me or my work in 2021?  My new Studio is in my Home on Chimney Corner Circle in Guilford, Connecticut.  I love my perch on the third floor overlooking Long Island sound with a Western view. 

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