WHO is “The Seeker”? and WHY is Katie painting this character instead of her Mother & Child art? If you are willing to read, then by golly I’m willing to share…
(also: I’m still painting Mother & Child!)
In 2018 my heart was broken when my best friend walked away. I was officially ghosted after sharing my inner pain with someone I trusted. With no way to share and find mutual understanding, confusion, hurt and silence followed. I expected a call, a text, a sign that it took more than vulnerability to end a friendship.
(I personally believe we provide a safe place for our true friends to break open… and to heal with the help of our understanding, love and listening. However, it doesn’t always work that way, as I’m sure you know.)
While in despair, I searched for something to set me straight. I listened to podcasts and read books about friendship… but I couldn’t find anything that scratched just the right itch.
My husband was caring but couldn’t relate to the depth of my despair. How could another person’s choices and silence have me sobbing in the night?
I shared with two friends, careful not to gossip, and neither asked for more details. They didn’t want to get involved and I understood. My sister listened and advised with no judgement, thank goodness.
I re-discovered the teachings of Byron Katie and read and journaled for hours. Send the kids off to school… read, cry, write. Then repeat. I was exhausted.
One day I realized that I could put together an actual story with this energy. I could see the beginning and middle, and trusted that with art, I would find the end, too. The light after the darkness.
My hands were shaking as I drew out the storyboard… how the character would hold their broken heart, would lay flat, how the darkness would menace over them.
But WHAT would the character look like? WHO would represent my feelings and show how grief and lies can affect us from head to toe? A boy? A girl? How would I represent the relationship? Would I follow the urge for the story to be art-filled and word-LESS? Or would I pen a text?
While sketching, I looked over at a painting I had completed in 2007 called “Seeking”. A piece that had felt special enough to keep on my studio wall for 11 years. There was just something about it…
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I realized this “Seeker” could tell my friendship story and help me heal. This figure was without gender, bodyweight, hair, accessories, clothing and other attributes that we use to judge ourselves and others. The Seeker is pure heart, emotion and pure soul. I was absolutely SMITTEN with this idea!!
I delved back into my portfolio and was flabbergasted to discover that The Seeker had INDEED been showing up in my paintings for YEARS! I hadn’t even made the connection! This character almost always represented my darker pieces, the more thought-provoking pieces that showed my seeking urges as an artist and mother.
I began painting The Seeker afresh. Her long body which had doubled over with grief in earlier paintings (in response to the death of my father and my grandfather) was doubling over again, with a different kind of heartache. The book truly began to take shape, with a working title of “Silent Story” (which stuck!).
Through painting The Seeker, I discovered how I felt about my friendship loss. I uncovered the loneliness, the feelings of disgust toward myself, the heaviness of a broken heart, the lack of communication. I painted these emotions, and I began to heal. One day I unearthed with paint the first signs of light and hope: the warm sun, the little bird friends, the changing trees. I talk about The Seeker’s birds and trees a LOT in the audio book.
Beneath my pencil and brush, The Seeker morphed into a softer version. She became more rounded and empathetic, with a heart that could burst from her body. Although I see this character as non-gender specific, I can’t help but relate to her as a “her”. I believe that is because I am a “her”.
Maybe this all seems overblown… maybe you think I was over-dramatic creating 85 paintings about a specific event? I feel things BIG. It allows me to paint big feelings and love my people whole-heartedly. When we love authentically, we can get hurt.
The book paintings continued for another year. I eventually shared the story with a few special people. Their responses FLOORED me. THEY had similar experiences! They told their stories through tears, and more pieces clicked into place.
The narratives of people I loved fueled my purpose. So, I gently shared the story with a broader base.
Long-time collectors wrote to me: “The Seeker is ME!!” ♥ “I am so drawn towards The Seeker!” ♥ “She helps me to not feel so alone…” ♥
Art and connection have a funny but awesome relationship.
The Seeker is truly my friend and the friend of many of my collectors and friends. This soulful being has moved beyond me and calls me to the easel to make herself known.
To make a LONG and challenging story much shorter: in April of 2022 I put the finishing touches on the final (85th) painting for A Silent Story of Heartbreak & Hope. The Seeker’s story. My story. Your story. A way for myself and others to hold our sorrowful experiences at arm’s length, and to realize that the light IS coming back. No matter how dark it may seem for you now.
In June of 2022, I welcomed the published book with over 90 pages of art into my studio. And it has since entered the homes of around my favorite collectors and friends.
Before the book was even at the printer, I was working on the storyboard for book 2. The Seeker is clearly not finished. The 2nd book is dedicated to the dreaming of, manifesting of, arrival of, cherishing of, and the challenges of raising a child.
Follow along with the creation of Book 2:
A Silent Story of Loving & Letting Go, in my private group
We can trust that obstacles will be put in our path. The ending of a dear friendship was my stumbling stone, but surprisingly, with a different perspective, became a launch pad. I am healthier now and grateful for the true friends who still love me after I cry. And I am a better friend.
So, my dear fellow seeker, THAT is who The Seeker is. This unique character that has been showing up in my work. She is a friend for us all. I talk a LOT about The Seeker in the audio book.
With her birds and her trees and her painted energies, The Seeker will show you that you are NEVER truly alone. You ARE worthy and LOVED.
My hope is that A Silent Story will scratch an itch for you and will validate YOUR OWN journey of heartache and hope. “Read” it over and over and find your place, with faith that there is an end to the dark times. You will also probably LOVE the audio book where I guide your through The Seeker’s journey.
Thank you for reading. ♥ Katie m. Berggren