Art, Symbols, Fascination
& The Eternal Love Of The Light
A Retrospective With Silvia Hartmann by Nicola
IV: Art Solutions For Broken Hearts & Heroes
I am glad you mentioned Art Solutions, because you have quite a few
symbol paintings from that series in your house ...
SFX: [bursts out laughing] Yeah and I have another 864 stacked up
in the loft!
NQ: I think it would be good to have it on record what Art
Solutions is, and how it got started.
SFX: Alright. So I was sitting in my house, following a failed
love affair, very distraught. I was in the sitting room, and there
was a pad and pencil near me (there always is!) and I was just so,
so distraught. I was crying, and was having this whole “Nobody loves
me and no-one ever will ...” moment, you know those?
NQ: Yes, indeed I do ...
SFX: And in this distraught moment, I said, “Oh somebody come to
my rescue! Somebody make this misery disappear! Give me something
And my right hand went to the pick up the pencil, put it on the
paper and drew the first ever symbol painting.
At first, I thought it was going to write something.
NQ: So this wasn’t conscious, you were not aware of what was
SFX: No, I was way too distraught, I just saw from the corner of
my eye my hand picking up the pencil. It was really disassociated, I
thought, what is going on? And I thought that I was going to write
A message – for fuck's sake, woman, pull yourself together! Or
the beginning lines of a heart rending poem – “I loved you but now
my heart is a pool of ooze ...”
I thought it was going to be writing, but it wasn’t.
was this looping, flowing line that crossed back on myself.
And I could feel the stress just drain away as I was watching
It was only five, six lines but it came back to its own starting
point and closed the loop, and when it did, the pain was just gone.
It must have been 20 seconds, no more.
NQ: So when it joined up that’s when the pain went?
SFX: It flowed away whilst I was doing the movements. I just
could not believe this. As an energy therapist, I am familiar with
approaches of energy healing whereby you feel a cessation of pain in
your body – something flows away, something that was stuck or
blocking or hurting, it flows down your face like warm water, or
down into your stomach and out through your legs.
It is a lovely sensation, very specific, like standing under a
warm shower. But I was used to getting this specific sensation from
hands on healing, or EmoTrance or tapping meridian points.
NQ: And had you done those things and they hadn’t helped you?
I was too distraught to even think of doing anything, I was stuck in
this loop of “nobody loves me and no-one ever will and I’m going to
die soon without ever having experienced true love and it’s all
over” – in that place, you just do not remember to tap your meridian
I thought that this effect was absolutely amazing and was
instantly fascinated – just like I was when I found out that you can
represent anything with symbols. I became absolutely fascinated with
this and immediately wanted to know, can I replicate this?
Was this a fluke?
A one off and it will never happen again?
So I turned the page of the note pad, put the pen back on the
blank paper and said, “Ok, give me something to cheer me up!”
Obediently, the hand began to draw another symbol, and as I was
watching it, I started to chuckle.
But I’m not that easily convinced.
NQ: [laughs] No, not just by two!
250 symbols later, the note book had run out and I was completely
Give me something ...
... and it always responded most reliably. And each one was
I know a bit about the human neurology, when you ask someone a
question they can’t help but come up with an answer – its natural
and normal, it is a generator that exists, and I thought, “Oh my
That’s where the essences book, “For You, A Star” came from.
I turned it around at some point during that evening to make them
into evocations – give me joy, luck, fortune, abundance.
And I thought that is marvellous, to have that in personalised
symbol form. It stops the whining too. Instead of “stop my pain”,
you ask for something positive and that by needs only comes when the
pain is gone. If you ask for joy, pain removal is handled – plus you
get a gift on top.
Now that by itself would have been fun, but there’s more to this.
The universe is kind to me on occasion.
Just a few weeks earlier, I saw a sun spot on the wall, from a
mirror ball I had hanging on the washing line outside the window.
The sun had moved a little bit more and the sun spot appeared
from nowhere. Outside it was windy, so the spot was dancing lightly
and it occurred to me that it was writing a message. See I keep
thinking its writing but it is movement instead – symbols. I was so
fascinated by that I ran upstairs and fetched a canvas. I blue
tacked it to the ceiling, standing on a chair, then I got a pencil
and tried to trace the path of mirror ball light spot as it was
dancing to make a record of its message.
Now that leads obviously to a large canvas full of lines and
As I was taking it down and laying it on the kitchen table it
occurred to me that where the lines crossed, they created segments
which could be filled in with colours, and that again fascinated me.
We had just moved into a new house a few days previously and the
only colours we had were a few little acrylic enamels my son was
using to paint his Lord of the Rings models – we only had Mithril
Silver, Blood Red, Goblin Blue and Skull White. I didn’t have a
brush so I used a kitchen sponge.
It was so amazing! And when it was done, it was so unique, and so
magical – it was so wonderful, it really brightened my spirit and
cheered me up immensely.
So when this other symbol thing happened a bit later, the idea
was already there that you could fill in the sections created by the
crossing lines with colours.
And that’s now where the last interesting puzzle piece to the
symbol paintings comes in.
you have dozens, hundreds of little segments to fill with colours,
and you have your entire paint box with hundreds of shades, how do
you choose which colour goes where?
If you had a paint box the size of an ocean, how do you choose?
And I found out that there is a part of me that knows.
Not only does it know, but it is actually extremely insistent!
You can point at a little square and say, “That should be green
And you immediately get this reaction, this really physical
response – “Oh my God, are you INSANE! No, no nooooo ...”
It’s a zzzzt that you can physically feel all over your body.
Ok, so we have clearly established that this square isn’t green.
What could it be instead?
Hmmm ... sort of ... getting closer ... It’s either side of
purple, red? No, it’s blue.
So it must be blue. But which one? We have all the blues in the
universe to choose from, and that’s a lot of blue!
NQ: How do you go from a paint pot with blue to mixing the right
SFX: They are all done in the same way. The same process that
showed you the way to the blue will also show you if this blue from
the paint pot needs a little bit more white in it – no, that’s not
it. A bit of yellow? Yes, it needs a tiny shift towards green. That
much yellow? No, that’s way too much, put more blue in to shift it
It guides you every step and all the way through the process, and
you just can’t do it wrong.
You literally can’t do it wrong.
That is the most amazing thing about it. It takes all the stress
out of it because you really can NOT do this wrong.
And as you are doing it, you are having a conversation with
NQ: Yes, I was wondering what is going on when you are
painting like this.
You are standing in feedback with YOUR SELF all the time. You are
asking not an art teacher or consulting a colour book. You have to
ask yourself. But consciously you can’t know, and you have to accept
This doesn’t work by logic, or by memory, or by rules and
regulations. It works by direct feedback through your body. There is
a part of you that DOES KNOW.
The most extraordinary thing about the symbol paintings is that
even though that they are made out of these weird colours, and
sometimes that is thousands of different shades of different
colours, they work.
They work together.
That’s the most extraordinary thing.
NQ: Yes, that is really fascinating. There is such cohesion of
the finished work, no matter how many colours are involved, or what
the combination is, it is extraordinary.
SFX: Yes it is. It really is absolutely extraordinary. And they
are rivetingly fascinating.
And if you put on top of that that you get to ask a question up
front, get to ask for a gift ... They have a purpose, they are
healing art. “Tell me something about the mermaids that I don’t know
NQ: So it is also a discovery process.
SFX: Oh yes, it gives you answers.
symbol painting is a giant, amazing meditation with your self.
I did one of those which was absolutely enormous, it goes under
the title of “Asked & Answered” cause it deals with some childhood
incidents that I have under a certain heading.
I said, “Please give me something that will sort this out once
and for all, that will put it all back where it belongs, I can’t do
this any more.”
It’s a huge painting, the densest, most tightest of them all,
it’s nearly all black because there are so many lines on it.
See, let’s say someone walked in one day and found their father
stabbing their mother to death. That would haunt them, of course. So
instead of painting that scene over and over again, to call this
whole experience something like, “The Stabbing Day”.
So you stand in front of the blank canvas and you say to the part
of us that does this stuff, “Give me something to heal the stabbing
day,” and your hand will move, and it will these movements across
the canvas, and you get these most extraordinary energy sensations
up and down your body, the most extraordinary thoughts, but it isn’t
an abreaction, it’s a healing.
So I have some trouble calling these things “art”.
NQ: You can hardly call it therapy, it seems much more than
SFX: Well I think of it as art plus science equals magic. It’s
magic, that is magic. Symbol making for a purpose, using symbols and
movements and colours to heal yourself. You can call it art therapy
if you want, it isn’t really art in its purest form, if you will.
But it certainly does such a lot for the artist.
It really improves your communication with your self, and the one
thing we’ve discovered that because you are clicking these – we call
it a click, is it blue, is it yellow, is it green? Click! And the
righter you get it, the better the click – and the click guides you
all the way through. Should this have a black background? Pink?
Orange? Stripy? Click!
One of the biggest problems for artists is criticism. So someone
comes along and says to you, “Well that square shouldn’t be purple!
What were you thinking!”
But when you use this method, you’re quite immune to criticism,
because it just can’t be anything else.
So you say, “Well I’m really sorry, but I clicked that and it is
correct. If you don’t like it, that isn’t my fault nor is it my
And because I felt it and experienced it, you can’t argue this
with me. The purple is the outcome of a specific process, it didn’t
want to be anything else but that and so now it’s purple and that is
And if someone doesn’t like it, well, there’s a brush, there’s a
pen, draw your own mate, and that way you get to be in control of
your own squares and what colour THEY should be – bye!
NQ: So in the process of creating the symbol painting, you
have achieved what you wanted, got what you asked for. But when they
are finished, do they still have an effect?
Oh of course! They must have an effect. They glow! Even if you have
no spiritual awareness or energy consciousness, you can still see
that the buggers jump off the wall. They definitely do some thing
when they’re finished.
But because they were solutions, they were healings, as it were,
they are not reminders of the old injury but instead, a reminder of
“The day I painted this was the day I got healed from the
NQ: The symbol paintings evolved, and you found other ways of
using the direction of energy through the process. How did the
“People Symbols” evolve out of this?
SFX: Thing is, you can ask for anything you want.
Anything at all. “Give me a bright idea for a book”. But it
doesn’t stop there, you can ask for things for other people too.
A symbol painting can be a wonderful opportunity to give
something to someone else. When you do a painting for another
person, what you are doing there is to give whatever you have got to
That’s where you can say, “Give me something FOR ...” and that
channels whatever I have got to give, and whatever that may be,
towards that person.
The paintings that result from this are noticeably different from
the self healing kind. They’re still squiggles with filled in
colours but they’re still different somehow.
NQ: How are the sensations and experiences different in
painting a symbol painting for someone else as opposed to a self
The very first thing I would say to that is that you make such a
strong connection to the person you’re doing it for because you
really do get to tune in.
But at the same time, you are also making a strong connection to
the person you are. Let’s say you’re making a symbol painting for a
guy called Peter. Now consciously you might think he needs more
love, but that’s not necessarily what you have got to give. Peter
needs green and blue, but that’s not you, or not in relationship to
him. But me, being EXACTLY who I AM, have something to give to Peter
– gold, black and red. That’s my contribution. It alleviates the
fact that I can’t give him blue and green, and for all we know, the
gold black and red which I do have to give might be useful to him in
It’s a very humbling experience, a very wonderful way of working
You also have to bear this in mind.
From the beginning of the idea for such a painting, the
motivation, the drive to do this, all the way through all the
processes and to the last bit of glaze at the end, we are talking
about an intense meditation on a certain topic area that lasts for
NQ: That is indeed very unusual. Meditations are usually an
hour, at the maximum.
SFX: The paintings, the ideas, choosing the colours, the lines,
filling it all in, it takes a long time. And the whole time you’re
doing this, you are focussing on a positive aspect of some thing,
you are holding a healing desire, or your desire to help Peter, in
the case of the people paintings, and you’re holding who you are and
finding out what you have to give.
It is a very highly positively focussed meditation, and it lasts
There isn’t anything that I know that would give you such a deep
involvement with ANY TOPIC OF YOUR CHOOSING, with the intent of
resolution on top of it.
I don’t know anything of such depth and intensity.
It is extraordinary.
And when its done, your sensations are so different.
You KNOW that everything has changed.
In the case of people painting, your relationship to Peter has
undergone a total transformation, very different, much more
respectful, much more deep and wide, less needy. It is an
extraordinary thing. An amazing thing.
we must also remember that it isn’t as heavy duty as it sounds.
I don’t know of any way of dealing with repressed rape memories
that is this delightful.
The colours sooth and heal, your thoughts flow into directions
they have NEVER before been in, you have sensations all the time
while you do this, feelings, good feelings.
You can think a lot of things in three days.
You can feel a lot of things in three days.
And every colour, every movement, every placement, every shade
and every line is specific to the topic on hand.
You just don’t lose your focus.
And that is what is making this so powerful and so concentrated.