Focus on Art
By Rob Mohr
Lois Schroff—Painter, Philosopher, and Mentor
Lois Schroff , a master artist, has enriched life at Lakeside with her profound understanding of color and the spiritual nature of the arts. This quiet, reflective, socially-minded woman daily continues to work at the cutting edge of human understandings of color as a spiritual and therapeutic agent which has substantial impact on the quality of human life. Her publications are essential reading for artists as well as those interested in a spiritual life. Color – Its Relationship to Soul and its companion DVD, Spirit in Water Color, along with her 2011 book Evidence for Color as Visible Soul, are available through Rudolf Steiner College Books.
Lois Schroff’s knowledge of color is based on Goethe’s (1749-1832) breakthrough probes into the nature of color; the work of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) on color as a spiritual and emotional element; and paintings by Liane Collot d’Herbois (1907-1999), Lois’s foundational teacher. Goethe wrote, color is created when light and darkness interact in a transparent form of matter. Light moves into dark through cool colors: faint blue, to blue, deep purple into darkness. Darkness is pushed into light through warm colors: black, to deep red, red, orange, yellow and finally to translucent light. The emergence of color out of dark and light evokes a spiritual response which affects emotion and our state of well-being. In his poem Faust 1 Goethe wrote: “What you don’t feel, you will not grasp by art. Unless it wells out of your soul, and with sheer pleasure takes control …”
Building on Goethe’s writings, Rudolf Steiner explored the spiritual and therapeutic qualities of color and color’s impact on the well-being of the observer. He understood that artists’ creations reflected more than just their personal view and were (in part) derived from humanity’s collective memory. Color therapy currently plays a role in psychology, along with other modalities involving emotions, spirituality, and self-healing. J.M.W. Turner’s (1775-1850) seascapes faithfully reflect Goethe and Steiner’s view.
Artist such as d’ Herbois, Schroff, and Beuys gleaned from Steiner that color, form, setting and sound were interactive elements playing a direct role in the evolution of human awareness. Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) had major impact on the arts in the 1960’s by introducing performance art and ‘happenings’as art. www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/beuys/
Lois shared: “It is not possible to use color without it being spiritual. This is why experiencing a work of genuine art we get a spiritual feeling when there are no religious themes present.” In Lois’ painting, Water, the spiritual feel of water as refreshing, cool and soothing to the spirit is conveyed by the subtle use of cool blue hues given life by touches of violet and magenta. The colors shift between light and dark to create an integrated whole. Lois’ works may be purchased through the Centro de Arte y Cultura, Constitution #16, Ajijic.
All the arts, when they break through barriers into places never entered before, transform our understanding of ourselves, and by implication, our culture and way of life. Authentic art (such as the works of Lois Schroff), ultimately satisfy on both emotional and spiritual levels as they engage and edify the human soul.