By Noah Nelson
Brushstrokes and Chakras
Langford Barksdale is the featured artist at the Downtown Bend office of Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty for the month of August. Barksdale has been painting since she was just a child living in Nashville, where her mom worked as an interior designer. Growing up in a family that paid the bills through art and design, it only made sense that Barksdale would flourish as an artist.
Her love of painting led her to pursue a degree in the arts from the University of Georgia. This study of artwork led her on a study abroad trip that took her to Italy, where she was inspired by the incredible work of Michelangelo and specifically, the Sistine Chapel.
“My Art History professor would take us on these day trips to all of the nearby cathedrals and chapels… the details within were incredible,” Barksdale said. “It spiritually changed me.”
This trip to the Sistine Chapel, which holds the world famous fresco The Creation of Adam, did more than just change Barksdale, spiritually. It also cemented in her mind how impactful it can be when a society dedicates time and money to supporting the arts. This Sistine Chapel and all of the breathtaking scenes painted on the walls and ceiling stand testament to how funding the arts now can create boundless beauty for future generations.
500 years after the initial painting by Michelangelo, artists are still being inspired by his work. Barksdale took this inspiration and ran with it, adding a level of spirituality to her artwork.
Back at the downtown office, Barksdale and I walked down a hallway lined with her artwork. She dove into the details of her paintings, and provided me with more information on the meanings behind her work.
One series of paintings were all created with broad, horizontal lines of varying colors. This series is abstract enough for the viewer to interpret it in any number of ways, but some sections were designed to create a specific image in your mind. For example, one of her pieces in this horizontal line series that struck me began with dull gold on the bottom of the canvas, with varying degrees of dark blue above the gold, followed by hot strokes of red and orange above that. At first glance, these are just lines that are aesthetically pleasing, but if you stare long enough, you will see an oceanfront during a sunset, breaking it’s waves on the warm sand.
Following the theme of spirituality, Barksdale mentioned that she sometimes chooses which colors to use in accordance with chakras. Some Eastern traditions, like Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism, believe that your body has seven of these chakras, which can be described as energy centers, that lie vertically on your body, starting from the base of your spine and ending at the crown of your head.
The belief of chakras has become more popular in Western spiritual traditions, ever since Buddhism made its way to the United States in the 50s and 60s. These beliefs sometimes combine Western scripture, like the bible, with Eastern beliefs. Artists like Barksdale incorporate these spiritual beliefs into their artwork and their personal lives, so much so that Barksdale even went to meet the Dalai Lama in person to learn more about these beliefs and practices.
Barksdale cites that the first verb used in the bible is “to create”, and from this, she believes that creating art is something of a spiritual practice.
For a full bio on Langford Barksdale and more information on her art and how to purchase, go ahead and visit her website here.