By Jordan Staggs | Artwork by Margaret Biggs
For artist Margaret Biggs, nature, healing, and creativity are all wrapped into one mission to promote wellness in the viewers and collectors of her colorful oil paintings.
Growing up exploring the banks of the Gulf of Mexico, the bays, and the bayous near Pensacola, Florida, gave Biggs an appreciation for the cathartic properties of the natural world. From an early age, she connected with the flora, waterways, and skies that brought her hope and inspiration. Today, as she splits her time between Pensacola and Portola Valley, California, she gets a broader variety of inspiration from the varying species of trees, flowers, and animals that roam in each location.
Also a passionate practitioner and, soon, instructor of meditation, Biggs says, “Mindfulness and meditation are pathways to inner peace.”
Biggs is halfway through her Mindfulness Meditation Teacher’s Certification Program taught by two of the great spiritual leaders of a generation, Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. The two-year course aims to provide instructors with the tools to “teach awareness and compassion-based practices through understanding the principles underlying meditation, exploring the interface of meditation with Western psychology and cutting-edge science, developing teaching skills, and much more.”
Having experienced much emotional hardship throughout her life, Biggs explains that meditation and art, each stemming from the peacefulness she has found while immersed in the natural world, have helped her on her own healing journey. The energy she puts into her paintings must be palpable to those who view them, as well, because they have adorned the walls of medical facilities around the United States.
Healing a broken spirit isn’t easy, but it’s something Biggs wholeheartedly believes can be achieved through deep self-reflection, meditation, and mindfulness practices. Her Broken Shell series of paintings represents that journey by depicting different seashells that are cracked, weathered, and worn but no less beautiful.
“The Scotch bonnet is a species of shell found up and down the mid-Atlantic states of the US and along the Gulf shores of Florida,” Biggs says of her recent painting entitled Broken Bonnet. “The broken specimen I found has had a place of honor on my shell shelf for many years now. Little more than two inches long, the whorl that once housed a snail’s body has been completely removed, leaving the axis of this spiral shell visible. In this painting, the goodness within each of us is represented by the axis. At the core of the univalve shell, it often remains intact even when the shell has been badly broken. There is beauty in brokenness. None of us gets through life without suffering and pain. Unfortunately, it often takes painful events and challenges for us to finally turn away from the superficiality of today’s world and focus instead on our inner life.”
Biggs urges her audience to consider how they can live peacefully, let go of selfish desires, and find ways to practice mindfulness and service to others that will be mutually fulfilling. She poses the heartfelt question, “Though we may have been deeply hurt, are we willing to turn that pain into compassion?”
Another Broken Shell piece titled Against the Sky further shows the twists and shadows within the seashell’s inner valve. “The beautiful shapes of the shadows within the broken shell are not seen when the shell is fully intact,” Biggs explains in reference to this painting. “Often, it is the shadows in our lives that bring us to the point when we become ready to look deeply at ourselves, at our faults and foibles, and begin the healing process.”
She continues, “The broken seashells I paint are used as operating metaphors for the aging process we all must endure and the painful events that will inevitably come our way, should we be lucky enough to live a long life.”
Also a poet, Biggs clearly has a way with words as she emphasizes the story behind each of her paintings and shares her innermost thoughts with the world. Her work is available through her website, with high-quality fine art prints available for those who might desire a piece that’s already sold or those who want a custom size for their space. In addition, her book of poetry, Visions, is available via Amazon. Biggs’s depictions of shells, coastal landscapes and icons, flora, water surfaces, and more offer a colorful yet serene addition to any home or commercial space.
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Visit MargaretBiggs.com to learn more and browse original paintings, fine art prints, books, and more. You can also find Biggs on Instagram @margaretbiggsfineart. Margaret Biggs was a guest on VIE Speaks: Conversations with Heart & Soul podcast, where she discussed her healing journey in-depth with host Lisa Marie Burwell. Watch or listen to Episode #17, “Soul-Full Art That Heals,” at VIEmagazine.com/vie-speaks-conversations-with-heart-soul-podcast.