Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu.

During Valentines’ month we see hearts everywhere, a shape recognized as the symbol* for love. The heart has taken on added associations this year as it is linked to support for frontline workers as well as a reminder to be kind to others and to not take our pandemic frustrations out on innocent people.  We’ve seen hearts pinned up on windows, stuck on fences and painted on rocks placed in spots where people walk by.  In this way a symbol is so useful – one simple shape (limited art skills needed) conveys meaning that is identified across language or cultural barriers.  We all have a beating heart, it is something everyone shares!

I’ve painted many hearts: floating hearts, hearts over a city or on beaches, hearts with roots, hearts with wings and constellation hearts.  I think that for me they often symbolize the courage (the root of the word courage comes from French “cor” which means “heart”) needed to be true to yourself – which every artist especially needs.  By painting hearts I feel somehow that I am reinforcing inner qualities of courage, self-respect, groundedness and also expressing my love for nature or community.  I think love is a blend of several different qualities and that it is hard to explain which is maybe why so many songs have been written about it.

Through my painted heart images which are reproduced as cards, I have hopefully given people a means to share their own sentiments about love. I think when the heart symbol is shared in a card, a note or taped in a window, it is in simple terms telling others that you see their heart and that you are willing to share and open yours in return. It is like an invitation to communicate, an expression of love and a leap of courage all in one.  Happy Valentines!

*Symbols, which have often been used in art, are simplified images that stand in for a greater, often abstract meaning.