Painting for me does not start with the physical act of putting paint on canvas. Each of my paintings starts with a single thought, a spark that gradually expands and grows into a theme. At its core often lies a longing for optimism, empowerment, and courage and the desire to welcome change and pursue what seems to be missing in our busy lives.

I plot out the story and make it my own. In my mind I combine figurative with abstract elements, familiar with arcane images until I have found the right visual expression for my narrative. When I start the physical process, it is not much different from practicing yoga: I paint, layer on, scrape away, change perspective, trying to capture and shape the very essence—the flow of painting.

Then I pause. I put the painting up and live with it for a few days or even weeks. This helps me decide if the painting effectively conveys my story, or if I have to get back into the flow and continue with the process. In the end, every painting becomes a projection screen, intended to conjure up a reverie or happy memory.

—Chris Ehlers