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An Exhibition of New Works 
by Erna van Dyk

FORTY40: Celebrating Women

by Erna van Dyk

A Solo Exhibition at Laguna Art Lounge

1951 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach 92651

Saturday, April 14 | 5:00–9 :00 p.m.




Please join me the evening of Saturday, April 14, as I celebrate my first solo exhibition at the Laguna Art Lounge in beautiful Laguna Beach, CA.


“To fall in love with your own feminine power is to fall in love with yourself.” —Lisa Erickson


“A woman is the full circle. Within her in the power to create, nurture, and transform.” —Dianne Mariechild


These are the quotes that I’ve lived by for the past 365 days.


Last April, with my 39th birthday upon me, I made an artistic commitment to myself and to my community: Before I turned 40, I would paint or create paintings of 40 women, and host a solo exhibition.


Many of you who know me in person or who have followed along with my blog and website for the past several years know me as a happy, creative artist. I love to paint and draw and work in multimedia, and I enjoy the transformative power of art in our everyday lives. You’ve seen me create projects to teach. You’ve peeked inside my art journals, and you’ve viewed painting commissions that I’ve done for clients.


For many years, painting and creating everyday, and sharing my passion with my community felt like enough. Until it didn’t.


Looking ahead to my 40th birthday, through the lens of a major milestone in my life, I wanted to open myself up to challenge and vulnerability in a way that I hadn’t before. I wanted to share my voice, and fully step into my feminine power.


A milestone birthday meant change. I love getting older. I like the lines and wrinkles and experiences, embracing life and growing old with loved ones, familiarity, comfort, wholeness love.


And while age is truly just a number, something clicked in me, an inner voice that called out to show more of who I am and how I see the world through my own art. It was time for me to live and serve my divine life purpose and soul mission with passion, confidence, and enthusiasm. I was surrounded by a loving community, and painting for myself was a way to honor that.


When my friend Whitney shared with me the angel numbers created by Doreen Virtue, the symbology of being 39 years old seemed to fit exactly what I was feeling called to do.


“You are being helped by the ascended masters, who are strongly encouraging you to work on your life purpose right now.”


That was it! That was what I needed to do. I thought about it, and I realized I had never honored my art, never truly given in to making art just for me. A couple days before my 39th birthday, I signed a contract and received a key for my very own studio space. It was a BIG deal! Something purely for myself—totally separate from my life as a wife, a mom, a teacher, a coach. This was something for me! I went into the year deciding to fully embrace myself as an artist, and as an inspirationalist.


While I only kept the studio space for a few months (life is busy, and I couldn’t always find the time to spend there), I stayed true to my artistic goal all year long.


Good goals are specific and measurable, so rather than keep it loose and say I wanted to make more art for myself, I set a specific outcome for myself: 40 women by my 40th birthday. I initially intended to use many forms of mixed media, but as the year progressed, I found myself primarily focused on painting.


The experience changed me, in the best way possible.


I will say that I missed out on some fun activities because I needed to put in the time to paint and create. In the beginning, I was sad, but towards the end, I didn’t even care as long as I could sit and paint. I can totally understand why some artists become loners because that is honestly all you want to do.


The biggest challenge for me was doubt. Doubt about whether I’d be able to pull it off. Doubt about whether I could stick to it for a full year. Doubt about whether I’d find inspiration enough to create 40 women. And what I learned was that all I needed to do to shut doubt up was sit down and do the work.


I am known to change my mind if I get bored or if things drag out too long, and I worried that would get the better of me. Now I know that I can do so much more than I ever imagined.


I learned that waiting for inspiration doesn’t make art. I had to sit down, be committed, and do the work. When I was willing to do that, I found that the women picked me more than I picked them. Images of women from all around the world would grab my attention and request my attention, some time together at the easel. Working through them one at a time made it work. I felt very connected to these strangers, and even more connected to my community that supported me in every step of the way. It was really special to see all the people who cheered me on and said they were inspired by what I was doing.


When moments of doubt would roll around in my mind, I had to whisper to myself in a very gentle voice, “Darling, you’re an artist, a badass. You’ve totally got this.” I find there is nothing more supportive than positive self-talk. That’s how to start attracting miracles.


I want to thank and honor all of you for your support along the journey. I feel very vulnerable opening myself up to an exhibition, to critique. It is scary. But I also feel thankful. It is the greatest feeling to see the 40 women all together, like old friends that I grew to know so well, and your support has made me feel so very special. The process gave me more courage to open up, to share my heart, to share my work.


I look forward now to what the next decade will bring. And I invite you to celebrate my first 40 years on this planet with a fun party at an art gallery!

See my whole collection here

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