Higan: The Other Shore

Dina ClineNew Work2 Comments

Higan: The Other Shore

This painting started as an idea with a really sweet Japanese couple from the Bay Area. They walked by my booth, came to my studio, and we all just decided to go for it.

I think people often underestimate the emotional and psychological process that occurs during a painting. Creating something from nothing can be completely draining. I’d have days where I felt really good about the progress, and days where’d I’d look at the piece and wonder what the hell I was thinking when I agreed to make it. I often felt like it would never come together, which can be hard because I’m trying to make the absolute best paintings possible.

I don’t think I understood initially how much of myself would get lost in this giant blue, watery image. There were perspective problems to accommodate. There were issues with not having a large enough studio space to take a far enough step back to view it properly. I’d use my camera phone to scale it down so I could view it without being so close to it.

It wasn’t all a struggle. Sometimes I’d find myself in this flow-like state where brushstrokes were just going back and forth, and every time I took a step back, it looked like it was really coming together. Music was blaring, and marks were being made without actively thinking about them. That experience- becoming completely and totally lost in creativity- it’s the most addicting feeling. It’s so hard to explain, but it feels so real to me. I initially told them it was only going to take a few weeks, but I spent over 2 months working layer by layer. When I finally took a step back and said “it’s finished,” I didn’t add another brushstroke. That was it. I couldn’t take it any further, and I had to accept that this was the end of the road. It was really bittersweet, honestly.

I titled the piece Higan, which directly translates to “to the other shore,” and references the Buddha’s journey into Enlightenment. The family has an emotional connection to Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism, and I started learning more about it while trying to think of a name for the piece. It all seemed to come full circle when I learned that the important virtues in that particular sect are resilience, acceptance, and satisfaction- not too far off from what I had experienced while painting it. It’s leaving to San Fran once the varnish dries… feels a little like losing an old friend, but it belongs somewhere other than my studio.

2 Comments on “Higan: The Other Shore”

  1. Your artwork is beautiful. I’m just recently researching art on my own. Trying to figure out what I really like you know, to put in my home instead of what’s trendy or cool to other people. This one was so captivating. Hypnotic almost! resonated with me in many different ways. Feel peace, serenity, an isolated calm.. as you are when underwater. Also the light at the top to me symbolizes hope through hardships and/or depression.. feeling like drowning & the dark will take over but there’s a light to find your way out of being submerged. Hopefully I’ll buy a painting of yours one day! Keep up the great work. You have a gift

    1. Wow. That was a pretty stellar comment. It’s a process. Go with it! I’ve found that the more I lean into it, the more free and successful I become. It’s cool to listen to the various interpretations of my work, though, so thanks for taking the time to write me.- DC

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