proudly presenting inspirational shows and lectures on art and anthroposophy



regional sketch group exhibition 2017: studies of nine training sketches of nature moods for painters by rudolf steiner


In the summer of 2014 Laura Summer, founder of Free Columbia art school and a 2014 Art Hall artist, offered a workshop based on Rudolf Steiner’s Nine Training Sketches of Nature Moods for Painters, in Corvallis, Oregon. Artists from Portland, Eugene, Corvallis and elsewhere in the region were inspired to further pursue their investigations. We at The Art Hall are now pleased and privileged to offer an exhibition of ten participating artists’ interpretations of their artistic research.

Please join us to meet the artists at our opening reception on Friday, January 13th, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m., and take in a presentation by Wade Cavin, High School Life Sciences and Mathematics teacher at Portland Waldorf School, who will introduce these studies in his typically comprehensive and engaging style. To learn more about the week-long workshop which gave rise to the works please read fellow 2014 Art Hall artist Patricia Lynch’s personal reflections in the January 2017 newsletter of The Portland Branch of the Anthroposophical Society.


valerie miles: working out of anthroposophy

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A loving crowd representing various periods in Valerie Miles’s career as teacher and artist here in Portland attended her opening reception for Playing with Color, Rhythm and Form: students, from high school seniors who were in her last 8th grade class at the Micha-el School to a fourth grader who had Valerie in her first year; parents of students; Waldorf teacher colleagues; artists; other professionals in our community; and her ever-present husband and partner in life, John—all eager to hear her eloquent presentation amidst her gorgeous and riveting works of art.

Valerie took to the podium with the familiarity, ease and confidence of a professional. She began her inspiring presentation declaring that her life’s work comes out of anthroposophy and how out of personal tragedy, losing someone very close, she came to work with color, learning from the well-known German painter, Karo Bergman. In this relationship (Karo spoke no English and Valerie spoke no German!) they communicated through the being and essence of color. After this time in Germany Valerie and her family returned to England, enrolled their children in a Waldorf School, and John and she began their training. She told us that Waldorf Education contains every aspect of anthroposophy and has the power to heal and change lives, most of that streaming through the Arts.

Valerie delighted us with a story of awareness, explaining how one of her teachers once said, “an artist should not be a teacher”. Her reflections:

That’s an interesting concept and I had never thought about it before. Now I can think about it…I like it! Why did she say that? I think as an artist now I can just start to feel the communication that I need to bring the forces, and what I see behind those forces, and bring them into the Arts. When you’re a teacher you’re always preparing, marking, giving out, going to meetings…You can’t hold that space, not if you’re a Waldorf teacher. I’m just about getting to that place. But what I found most of all, most satisfying, and this has always been so, ever since the work with Karo Bergman and later at Tobias School of Art, and (with) many other teachers: that power of color.

We’re forgetting what’s in our environment…what’s God-given, if you like, what sustains us. The power of color, all that rhythm that lives, how it changes…This is why I’ve always been so fascinated by the seasons and what’s happening.

Sharing her process Valerie said: I’m a very fair weather artist and I have to be in the mood. But I’m getting past that a bit…If I feel inspired I just take a color—any color—and put it on paper and then another color and another and I just play with them; I literally play with them and hope—there’s a lot of trust involved here— “is something going to turn out?” And fortunately, a lot of times it does work! It’s a trust process.

Most telling, a child in the captive audience asked a question at the end of Valerie’s presentation “What inspires you?” Valerie’s beautiful response was “children, like you, who are closest to the spiritual world.”

Thank you, Valerie, for your dedication to the Arts, anthroposophy, your impeccably executed work, and a most beautiful exhibit at the Art Hall! Many, many beings received the healing power of the color you shared. We hope you’ll come back!


valerie miles: playing with color, rhythm, and form

valerie-miles-october-november-2016-8-5x11We at the Art Hall are delighted and honored to exhibit the gloriously colorful work of Valerie Miles, a pillar in Portland’s Waldorf and larger anthroposophic communities for years with her husband, John.

Valerie was born and raised in Nottingham in the English Midlands. She found satisfaction as a young child in drawing the nature that she saw around her. Valerie later studied at Nottingham College of Art and then at Hatfield University, gaining her first degree in Art and Literature.

Valerie raised her children in Germany. While there Karo Bergman, a well-known anthroposophic artist and professor at Dusseldorf University, invited Valerie to paint and draw with her on a regular basis, which they did for several years in Karo’s studio.

After the family returned to England, Valerie trained as a Waldorf Teacher and then first taught the History of Art in the High School. One of her first pupils, Gill David, is now the Director of Tobias School of Art and Art Therapy.

Soon afterwards Valerie became a Class Teacher, taking her first class through Grade 8. Partway through her third class the family moved to Canada and then at last here to Portland, Oregon. She again taught as a Class Teacher at the Portland Waldorf School.

Valerie then trained as an Art Therapist at Tobias and later, with her husband, John, founded and taught at the Micha-el School, which offers a full kindergarten through Grade 8 Waldorf education. She also has taught at the Micha-el Institute, especially at Summer Conferences, which among other things has provided teacher training and continuing education for many of Waldorf teachers in the Portland area and beyond.

Valerie has now retired and is developing her own work, “playing” with color, rhythm and form. Please join us for the Opening Reception Thursday, October 27, 5-7:30 and Valerie’s presentation at 6:00. Private viewing can easily be arranged by contacting Robin, at 503-222-1192 or


jennifer thomson: the art retreat

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Jennifer Thomson’s enriching five-day Art Retreat, which took place at the Sunlight Community Building in Portland’s west hills, was attended by an enthusiastic and eager group of ten painters—some of whom had never held a brush before! Jennifer taught with love and reverence for the color beings, polarities, and composition, through well-prepared demonstrations, a sense of play, and freedom that was accessible, challenging and richly rewarding.

We all worked very hard and enjoyed well-deserved, catered lunches together, took time to observe others’ work and learn from one another, and participated in break-out sessions to talk about the work and learn yet another sketching or painting exercise. We had one large veil painting we worked on all week as well as subsequent smaller paintings and charcoal sketches, all of which helped build a layered appreciation for our tools for painting and the language for talking about our process. Some participants left the Retreat with over fifteen pieces of art!

The following are just a few of Jennifer’s gems from the Retreat:

  • Being an artist means reaching for the spiritual, beyond what’s visible; play with what you find: light and darkness/periphery and point.
  • When you get to an edge it’s an opportunity to cross the threshold: something more beautiful is waiting. Focus on the heart sphere.
  • Try to enter the painting until it becomes part of you. Try to be brave; don’t worry about what it looks like; we can salvage anything. It’s your painting! Break the balance. You’re at the threshold.
  • When you’re not sure what to do it’s good to try different approaches. Look for each step to improve: an artist’s spiritual path.
  • Everyone must discover what’s built into us in terms of how we work (Jennifer works by communicating with the color, light and dark, finding balance). And when you work something out (“ugly work”) something moves in you.
  • Get it in your bones by nature observation; then you can paint in the studio.
  • Light and darkness practice helps compositional skills. If you have a question about it try it!
  • Making art is like meditating: ritual, practice, gets harder; make it conscious when you have blocks of non-working time.

We learned to create and paint with three different grays by mixing complementary colors to give a shadowy feeling: tree trunk and branches would be the first layer, upon which we would then paint the fullness of trees from our imaginations. We also learned that the artist is always trying to achieve balance between two major forces: blue coming in and yellow going out, to experience color as alive.

We were encouraged to stretch our imaginations and reach toward the cosmos and play; to move from the periphery to the inside, drawing with charcoal to make our lines alive…creating organic, alive space, play and dance. And that we did!


jennifer thomson: soul and heart nourishment

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With the gentleness of an attentive caregiver, the thoughtfulness of a good friend, and the knowledge of a true master, Jennifer Thomson humbly and fully shared her Path as an Artist with an intimate group of attendees on her opening night, Friday, September 16th. Everyone remained perched like a nest full of open-beaked baby birds waiting to be fed and no one left disappointed.

Jennifer poetically and generously shared a rich biography, from her roots in Tennessee through her attendance at the Fort Lauderdale School of the Arts, where she and fellow students first took up of the task of realism and where Karl Voster, an anthroposophist, then awoke in them an awareness to “what lives inside, such as the soul of a human being or essence of a flower. Studies with Beppe Assenza at the Goetheanum followed.

Documenting a number of artists with whom she worked, learned from and taught, Jennifer led us further through a carefully curated slide presentation of all the stops along the path of her life as an artist. We learned of her early years as a fellow student with Larry Young, who continued on the path of painting the evocative soul portraits of human beings. We saw slides of her beloved teacher Beppe Assenza, her former student and fellow Art Hall exhibitor, Laura Summer, and others woven into a complex and compelling story of her emerging as an artist who has learned through lots of hard work to paint with a sense of freedom, joy, laughter, intense observation and living consciously.

Jennifer’s show remains open by appointment through Friday, October 14th. Please contact Robin at or at 503-222-1192 if you’d like to stop by! And last, please check in here again soon for a post about Jennifer’s week-long retreat.

All photos provided by James Lee.


jennifer thomson: show and five-day retreat!

Art Hall Jennifer Thomson September-October 2016 [8.5x11]After years of loving invitations (“might you accompany your husband, Philip Incao, MD the next time he comes to Portland?”) the legendary Jennifer Thomson has agreed to lead off our 2016 – 2017 season at The Art Hall as our September artist! In addition, Jennifer is offering a five-day painting retreat, until now exclusively held at her marvelous studio in Crestone, Colorado. Excited? Indeed!

The following excerpt is from Jennifer’s website:

Roaming the rolling hills around her childhood home in Tennessee, Jennifer developed a spiritual connection to nature. In her art, she strives to use color to reflect the “aliveness” of the natural world, to express the interweaving of the living, musical elements of light, darkness and color. Jennifer is an established fine artist and art teacher. Her Studies included, Goethe’s color theory, Rudolf Steiner’s color indications and Spiritual Science at the Beppe Assenza School of Art in Dornach Switzerland. Jennifer’s paintings are created watercolor, gouache, acrylic, encaustic, plant colors with beeswax and mixed medium on different surfaces. Jennifer’s work with students is very individual; her goal is to help students find their own path and voice through the unfolding colors. For 11 years, she was director of the Internationally known Atelier House School of Painting in New York, while continuing to develop her own work. Her students came from North America, Europe and Asia. She taught art at State Institutions for handicapped children and adults, Triform Camphill, Senior Citizen’s retirement centers, in Michigan, New York, Switzerland and Colorado.  Presently Jennifer lives in Crestone, Colorado, teaching and developing her art.

The installation of Jennifer’s paintings, featuring new work and several works on loan from private collections, took place on Tuesday, August 16, 2016. To learn more, join us for the opening reception on Friday, September,16, 2016, including Jennifer’s presentation “A Path of an Artist.” If you are interested in Jennifer’s five-day art retreat, please contact Robin Lieberman at 503-222-1192 or


pamela whitman: opening and weekend workshop

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Pamela Whitman poured warmth and wisdom from her heart and soul at her opening on Friday evening, March 11th. Drawing on her years of continuous study, independent research, teaching students, and treating clients, Pam provided a clear and accessible explanation of how Light, Color, and Darkness manifests in the three-fold nature of the human being as described by Rudolf Steiner. Pam further explained how this concept of color resulting from the interaction between light and darkness has been researched and shared along the lineage uniting not just Goethe, Steiner, and Liane Collot d’Herbois, but going as far back as Aristotle and Plato.

First, there is the connection of light with our thinking and nerve-sense system, the upper pole. Expressions such as “I see”, “a bright idea”, and “it dawned on me” all show our common experience of light as a spiritually creative principle.

The connection of darkness with our willing and metabolic/limb system, the lower pole, involves those functions usually outside of our conscious awareness or control, such as digestion, the precise details involved in how we move our limbs (e.g., lengthening this muscle while contracting that one). In this realm, whenever our awareness is heightened something is usually wrong and pain can result. Yet the darkness is also a spiritually creative impulse, as warmth, as love, as the darkness of the earth nurturing a seed until it germinates and grows toward the light, as the darkness of the womb carrying and nurturing the fetus, and even as the warmth of our bed as we sleep at night to refresh for the day to come.

Color is the meeting of the two in the middle realm, the rhythmic system of breathing and circulation. We often associate color with our sensations and emotions, e.g., feeling blue, in the pink, seeing red, etc.

As Pam further explained, she has been drawn all her life to the meeting place of science, art and spirit. She came to veil painting through Waldorf education, first taking a course with Ted Mahle. Afterwards she viewed some veil paintings in a gallery in Tahoe City, recognizing that that was the kind of veil painting she wanted to do. These paintings had been created by a student of Leszek Forczek, who had studied with Collot d’Herbois. Years later, he became her painting teacher. It was slow going at first, one workshop a year with Lois Schroff, then going to the Emerald Foundation to study the therapeutic principles behind the work, where she continues to study today. Pam seeks to learn from all the available teachers of Light, Color, and Darkness and to share this meaningful work with others.

Pam studied with Liane Collot d’Herbois during the last five years of Liane’s life and learned that doctors had sought out Liane’s impressions of their pediatric patients which followed from insights she gleaned from their paintings in the home where she worked. Liane also collaborated with Dr. Ita Wegman, who further developed and explained the connection between Light, Color, and Darkness within the human being, sharing her gift of wisdom so that others could learn it too.

Pam then described the process of veil painting, furthering our appreciation of her exhibit and the laws of color it reveals: building up layers of transparent watercolor, allowing them to dry before adding another layer, creating unique color nuances in the process; first creating a color atmosphere, then color weaving, and only later form. Creating a space in this manner for color on paper creates a space in the soul for spirit. When veil painting is created while following the laws of Light, Color, and Darkness, something in us resonates with it, recognizes it. That’s what attracts us to veil painting. Often we expect to get something from a painting, but these paintings can instead evoke something already within us and thereby help us be filled from the inside.

Pam expressed her appreciation for The Art Hall, as it is providing a space for work like this which might not be seen in regular galleries. This exhibit has been an opportunity to share her striving, her process in Light, Color, and Darkness.

Nine participants also had the benefit of immersing themselves in an intensive, two-day veil painting workshop with Pam the weekend following the opening of her exhibit at The Art Hall. In a beautiful, forested setting with floor to ceiling windows—and a pot of soup on the stove—Pam guided us further into this world of color with her finely-tuned experiments, illustrating color behind and in front of the light, and walking everyone through her “color tunnel” after reading Liane Collot-d’Herbois’ description of the movement of colors.

With this teaching, participants were then better equipped to press on with their own work with a richer understanding of how color veils were forming out of light and darkness. Pam’s clarity and compassion provided excellent support for everyone to develop improving capacity to follow the laws of color and to allow form to emerge, developing subtly at first and then more robustly over time. While our group was quite eclectic, Pam graciously met the needs of each painter. Her breadth and depth of knowledge, experience and sharing was so generous and thoughtful!

Pam’s stellar exhibit will remain hanging through April. We recommend spending some time with this work, for the healing potential is clearly felt, and encourage scheduling an appointment. Even if one was not at her presentation, Pam’s evocative veil paintings and pastels speak volumes to the human heart and soul.

Many of the works are available for purchase. Fine giclée prints and art cards are also available or can be ordered through Robin at 503-222-1192 or As has been the case for other visiting artists, Pam will be donating 50% of all sales to The Art Hall (a kind of pay-it-forward gesture!) in support of the Hall’s ongoing growth. Current proceeds are intended to help us procure gallery-quality lighting.

Thank you, Pamela Whitman. You have graced us all with your beautiful spirit and art. We look forward to your return!