Painting Like the Wind

a collective expressionist work of art

facilitated by Kelvin Free at Studio Central

 about the exhibition

“Painting like the Wind” is a series of 38 panels created by 10 artists in the fall of 2012 is specifically for the SOGH-ER corridor. This installation is the result of partnership between the Seven Oaks Hospital Foundation and Artbeat Studio, Inc. Art installations will be rotated every six months.

In a series of applications, layers of paint were applied to a single surface. Each layer is made up of brush strokes and colour that responded to the narrative and music of artist Kelvin Free. The theme revolves around the wind, a phenomenon with many voices and often applied by the great poets in communicating a mystery of life and inspiration; “knowing neither where the wind started or where it will end up”.

The artists worked together on a single panel which was later cut into sections to be exhibited. The emotions conveyed through the colours, textures, brushstrokes and imaginative energy reflects the personal response and inspiration of each individual artist to the compelling narrative of Kelvin Free.

message from Kelvin Free, facilitator

As the wind howls, blows, whispers, it is often used by poets to communicate the mystery of life and inspiration. Where does it come from? Where does it go?

I have used a description of the wind, as it rises and falls, to inspire artists to work on a single piece. The gesture of the brush and colour is the only means used to communicate. I also played piano allowing the sound wave to inspire the motion of their hand. The piece is fundamentally an abstract, expressionist painting also known as action painting.

The principle of this form of art is that the action of the brushstroke communicates something that is evocative and mysterious. It taps into that part of the mind that is hidden and usually manifests itself in dreams. The dream somehow unifies and makes sense of the preceding days. The art taps into this realm because the artist moves the brush instinctively rather than direct it to follow a preconceived shape like a bird.

In this piece each artist reacted to the marks of the other artists to communicate inspiration. This work is truly a communal and co-operative piece opposing the notion of the rugged individualist standing on his own two feet. The idea that there is one source of inspiration, the genius of the great artist is contradicted by this social painting. Everyone reacting to the description of breeze and storm created a whole greater than the individual artists.

These instinctual brushstrokes penetrated what Jung calls the collective unconscious as something underlying all individual consciousness.  Since each artist was reacting to the other, something came into conscious being that is collective rather then individualistic.

Using the talent of many artists to create a single work of art is not without precedent. During medieval times the architect was not the sole creator responsible for designing everything. Each stone mason was allowed to design their own gargoyle and other sculpted designs. Michelangelo employed artists to rough in the general sculpted or painted works of art which he had designed. He finished the pieces with his masterful work. During the renaissance many masters employed others to “flesh” out a work which the master would finish.

What is called mental illness may in fact be a dream state that manifests itself in waking life. That individual labeled “mentally ill” may be sensitive to the hidden realm of the collective subconscious whose forces and currents move us all. This may indeed be why artists, like Van Gogh, Virginia Wolfe and others, today labeled as schizophrenic or bi-polar, etc. created such powerful works of art.

In fact, the very term schizophrenia was invented in the nineteenth century during the rise of the industrial revolution. This revolution created a vast disconnect between labour and what was created. Where leisure, labour and craftsmanship were intimately intertwined came a new world of stark contrasts. The purpose of ones work was to earn money to purchase products. Labour was no longer about the intimate relationship between craftsmen and the products they created. Leisure was not intertwined with labour but was the time period that came after toil.

Theatre, craftsmanship and other arts, as leisure became entertainment rather than something that examined what seemed like a meaningless futile existence and gave life meaning. Art seems to create a moral, purposeful pattern in the chaos of existence. The works of Shakespeare are an example of art giving life shape and meaning. Entertainment however depends upon turning everyone into a cliché and rarely creates any kind of depth to an individual.

The “mentally-ill” may well be individuals who cannot tolerate these deep divisions in our psyche created by the industrial revolution. Are the” mentally-ill” alienated from a healthy society or a dysfunctional society. That is a profound question.

– Kelvin Free


  • Mark Carruthers
  • Shena Alcock
  • Victoria Stone
  • Steve Falk
  • Katrina Koltek

  • Roberta York
  • Joyce Lancaster
  • Richard Edwards
  • Kate Kaplun


 …doing my art helped me open up socially and artistically… Art is a great way for me to express myself…I was shocked the first time I did a ‘painting like the wind’ exercise with Kelvin.

– participant Steve Falk