An Artist's Quest for "Soul" in a Chaotic World—by InnerSpirit

This is my InnerSpirit blog page...a page of reflection...inquiry...
and artistic questions about myself, my life, and the world around me. A place for my own personal contemplation of my emotions, my actions, my art, my spiritual journey and how they all intertwine and influence each other. I hope that you check it out, think a little about your life and the many creative things that you might be engaged do those fit into your life and impact the various aspects of your own life? Let's reflect together!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Growing, Reflecting And Trying To Cut Through The Tangles Of Life

Once again I am amazed at where all the time goes. It has been over a year since my last blog, a year and a half actually. A lot has happened in my personal AND professional life. 
  1. I finally passed the Michigan Social Work Licensing Exam, giving me full licensure and changing my credentials from LLMSW (Limited Licensed Master Level Social Worker) to LMSW (Licensed Master Level Social Worker). I'm not sure why loosing an "L" is actually a higher level. Oh well, at least I can legally be in private practice doing psychotherapy and using art to help facilitate that work.
  2. I completed my Thesis for my Art Therapy Master degree, which at times I thought that I would never be able to see through to the end. 100 plus pages later, it is done. I only have my internship left to complete my degree.
  3. I will be starting my Art Therapy Internship in August at The Center for Disability Services at Western Michigan University. My current employer has agreed to allow me to do four ten hour days Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday to allow me to work Mondays and Wednesdays at my internship field placement site. I will FINALLY graduate with my Master of Arts in Art Therapy in July of 2014.
  4. I have made great progress working with my iPad and iPhone art apps since my last blog. If your interested in seeing some of that artwork, hop over to my Facebook page via the link to the right and browse through my photo albums, a lot of the artwork there is digitally created on either my iPhone or iPad. 
  5. I have just passed a year and a half in a new personal relationship after five years of being single and on my own. Life can "change on a dime" they say!
A friend of mine made the following comment regarding this digital art piece of mine on my InnerSpirit Facebook page, she said, "Beauty in chaos, surviving and thriving in spite of it all."The Thorns Of Youth

Sometimes beauty can be found among the chaos of life. Sometimes we grow among the "tangles"...have you been encountering any of the thorns or tangles in your own life? Have you felt that you have grown, learned or gained something from them? Please share with me some of those stories. I know that I am not the only one that keeps trudging forward on this crazy ride called "Life"!

Blessings and Love,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

AEDM 2011 Is Still Stretching Me This Year

As I continue with  Art Every Day Month 2011 I am continuing to try and STRETCH myself a bit. I have been working with my iPad exclusively the last few days. I should get back to my website, but after uploading all of those art pieces, I was feeling like I needed a break. I am still working at trying to make the the iPad apps that I am using to feel a little more comfortable and not like I have to think about everything that I do, every brushstroke etc. Thinking about "how to do something" after being able to just "DO IT" with traditional media is kind of frustrating for me and sometimes I put the new stuff down because it "hurts my head" trying to figure it all out and I long for the old traditional mediums. 

BUT...I try and remember how I felt when I first started using Photoshop and I thought, I will NEVER understand this program. Then I began teaching it, so anything is possible I tell myself. focus the last three days was iPad using two of my favorite apps, ArtRage and ArtStudio. I was able to get them to mimic some traditional media that I am used to using. The sketching technique was a bit hard to get used to, but the results are coming together after much trial and error at tonight's Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School-Grand Rapids. If you are interested, you might have one in your is loads of fun. Burlesque meets art, sketching burlesque models for three hours and then live burlesque. Look it up on the internet, there are many groups all over the country.

©InnerSpirit/Diane M. McKnight

©InnerSpirit/Diane M. McKnight
Days 11, 12, and 13
The first painting was just created with me playing in ArtRage with the brushstrokes and I ended up liking how it turned out. The second spiral effect painting is just in the beginning stages and it is a small segment in the middle of a bigger painting the I am working on in ArtStudio, but I thought I would show what I am doing as it evolves.

©InnerSpirit/Diane M. McKnight

©InnerSpirit/Diane M. McKnight

©InnerSpirit/Diane M. McKnight
Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School
There are several sketches here of varying lengths of time. I thought I would put a fun "themed" sketch in here, since it is rather out of my normal realm to do the little "contests" that the Dr. Sketchy group offers for free drinks and prizes. But I did one tonight because I saw something that I thought could work. They usually ask the audience to make suggestions for "themes" to draw the model doing. Then they pick one out of "the box". This theme was "draw the model as a monster". I had to have a little fun while I was plugging away at learning my little iPad. AND...I could have won a drink, but no luck, I had to buy my own wine tonight. Maybe next time though. :)

©InnerSpirit/Diane M. McKnight
I would like to add a disclaimer to these iPad drawings: The artist creating these is still adjusting to creating sketches that mimic pencil drawings and any shading, line work and general rudimentary qualities of these drawings should be overlooked in the estimation of said artists true abilities. That said, it is a process, and it is getting better as I go. You have to start somewhere, and I can only get better.

Do you have any art mediums, projects or other things in life that you sometimes find very daunting to tackle? Are you trying to figure out how to start? Please share your stories of "firsts" or "trial and error" on something that was difficult for you. I would love to hear what challenges others are facing.

Blessings and Love,

Friday, November 11, 2011

AEDM 2011 Waves Are High

This year's  Art Every Day Month 2011 feels very disjointed for me for some reason. I feel like I am jumping all around creatively right now...a little bit here, a little bit there. I am trying to work all of this around the other things that are going on with my Master's of Art Therapy degree so I guess I should not be so hard on myself and just ride the waves of creativity wherever they take me. So, here go the posts...hold on for the wavy ride!

Cocoa loves his blue ball!
Little Cocoa waiting patiently.

Day Seven:
I did not really do too much creatively this day, though I did try and take advantage of one of the last lovely fall days that we had before the snow started in today. I began reading The Validation Breakdown which is feeding my soul and helping me to better understand and help the elderly with dementia that I work with every day, so they are not so frightened and angry. Understanding their situation and learning how to better my compassion for them helps to make me feel good inside and that leads to positive energy coming in that can later be put back out in my art or art for healing. Playing ball with my little buddy, Cocoa also helps feed my soul!

Day Eight:
I went back to work on my website design. I started importing photographs in of my artwork and then I worked on adding all the titles, sizes, medium listings etc. That was very time consuming and it is still is not done. That did me in for the evening, but I am making progress toward my goal. I just have to breathe.

©InnerSpirit/Diane M. McKnight

Day Nine:
I decided to start working on collecting collage elements to add to the painting that I started earlier this month at my friends studio. I started collecting images that just "called out to me" while flipping through magazines and I started ripping them out. This is a way of working that I often use with clients since it allows free association and a bit of the "serendipity of the moment", and it also allows people to get away from their cognitive side for a while. After I got a good pile of images, I cut some out and started playing around with the composition without trying to do much processing of what the imagery might mean to me. That will be the other part of this project, where I will explore what I feel may be hidden messages or meanings that my art might be trying to tell me. More on that as this artwork progresses (sorry about the glare from the overhead light on the glossy magazine cutout pieces). I will be refining the images and composition and then adhering them to the canvas with acrylic matte medium.

Day Ten
I signed up to take Reiki training Classes. I have wanted to take lessons in this forever, but I kept putting it off for various reasons (money, timing, etc.). Today I decided that I was just going to have to dive in and sign up! This really is a creative move since I have often found that when I am moving forward on my spiritual journey which is directly tied into my journey toward helping others to heal, I am overcome with creative potential and ideas that I can record and come back to later.

Everyone is doing some fantastic artwork for Art Every Day Month 2011. Go to the main website and click on the participants posts for each day to see some other terrific artists works. Are you participating in AEDM or have you ever considered taking the plunge and trying it?

Blessings and Love,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

AEDM 2011-Creativity Comes Around Again

Behind Already In The Posting
Once again this year I am participating in Art Every Day Month 2011 created and ran each year by Leah Piken Kolidas. Well, as usual, I am always trying to get lots of different things done. My mind is always flowing with many projects and thoughts. Though my projects may seem haphazard, there is usually some coherence or common thread between them all so I have learned to just go with the flow and embrace creativity however it is manifested. It seems that the only time that I really write in this blog is during AEDM. I keep saying that I am going to get better and here we are again. Posting some I guess is better than none...though that doesn't really get many followers. 

I decided this year for AEDM that I would incorporate some creative work that I need to get done for my website into part of the daily creative sessions. This way, it will actually give me the motivation to get something moving forward in that department. It has sat idle WAY too long! So...I started out this month with a sporadic array of creative endeavors, which, other than the website agenda, they have been pretty unplanned. A small correction to that statement, the tattoo designs have been rolling around in my head for some time, and I had already decided on the Chinese writing symbol for "God" and the Reiki symbol for inside of the circles.

© Innerspirit/Diane M. McKnight
The Sporadic Way That My Creativity Flows
Day One: I started this painting at a friend's studio during a little "art date" that we had planned. I was inspired by some of the various shapes of metal pieces that she had down in her studio in a box. I used them as stencils and painted around them. It was "freeing" to be in someone else's studio and using their art supplies. We decided that night that drinking wine and painting just naturally flow together. I am having her over to my studio next time so she can experience the same feelings of freedom. I will work some more on this one later in the month I hope.

Day Two: I worked on completing two tattoo designs. I had already downloaded the two symbols I wanted to use. The one in the top circle is the Chinese Lettering for "GOD" and the one below is the Reiki symbol Cho Ku Ray "The Power Symbol", which also means "God and man coming together". I added the gradated circle behind the symbols in InkPad, an iPad app that is very similar to Adobe Illustrator. I really liked the way that they turned out, so I emailed them to my tattoo artist for a later appointment.

Day Three: I reviewed my website package pricing and the additions and features that have made to the site since I last had looked into using this company as my way to build my page. I also reviewed all the website samples again, since a lot of them were new and used the new features that are now available to members. They have made some very useful and exciting additions and I was excited that they have included some promotions such as three free months if you sign up for a year of monthly billing or one whole year FREE if you pay for a whole year in advance. I thought that I could not go wrong with that, so I plunged in and started the two week free trial. This allows you to start building your website and if you still like what is happening and how easy it is to work with, you just sign up and all of your work is kept and you have not lost anything. I am so excited to actually be STARTING this project!

© Innerspirit/Diane M. McKnight
© Innerspirit/Diane M. McKnight
Day Four: I revisited a project I started several months ago where I created a few variations on my iPad of designs from a photograph that I took of one of the flowers in my garden. I had still not been extremely happy with the variations that I did before, so I took them even further and I was happy with how these two turned out. I enjoyed playing with all the textures and colors in these apps. I will be going back into these with my colored pencil app on the iPad or iPhone and do some additions to them to pull out some of the shapes at a later date. Maybe even this month.

Day Five: I was back at my website deign. Unfortunately, I am not able to post this creative endeavor in progress, but I will be sure to let everyone know how it turns out and the website link will be posted on my fb page, my blog and I will also twitter it. Today I worked on adding my logo and some basic navigation tabs that I want to have on it. Such as workshops, private sessions, fine art, blog, books/resources, bio/about me, contact info, mailing list, purchases, etc. I mapped out the skeleton framework that I would like to start with and see if that works. I can change and customize my templates at any time if it doesn't work out.

© Innerspirit/Diane M. McKnight

© Innerspirit/Diane M. McKnight

© Innerspirit/Diane M. McKnight

Day Six: I created an abstract design in an iPad app that I really like, and then pulled it into Grungetastic iPad app and created the three design variations above that I really think are fun. I like the orange and blue design as it is, but I might pull the other two into another app and do some work with them just to see where it goes.

Wow, this was a very long blog post, but I was playing catch up. The work week starts tomorrow and I am going to try and get more done on the website, but I am also still working on trying to get my corrections and changes done for the IRB committee so that I can start collecting my data for my Thesis so I may be slow on the posting this week.

I would love to hear any comments or suggestions that people have about the array of things I am working on during the AEDM 2011. I am excited to continue on and see what others are doing in their blog posts.

Much Love and Blessings,


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Using Art Explorations To Relax My Anxiety

Feminine Mystique ©InnerSpirit

Creative Play With Technology
I have been playing for the past year and a half with the various art and painting apps that have come out for the iPhone. Every time something new comes out I have downloaded it and played to see which of the apps out there work the best, are the most versatile, and which ones can be combined by importing and exporting into each other to create further creative options, etc. I have been creating drawings and paintings on the iPhone for a while now, as I have been testing these new apps out. Up until now, I have posted most of these art explorations on my InnerSpirit facebook page in a photo album called "iPhone and iPad experiments" (see the link to the right of this post) if you would like to check out more of the artwork I am working on at this time. 

It has really been a lot of fun playing around with these apps and it has been therapeutic for me at the same time. Since I have not had a lot of time this past year, doing small projects such as these, have really helped me to feel creative without having to make a really long time commitment to a larger scale art project. I have also found that these new art apps have gotten me to explore and to play a bit more than normal and in the process, I think that I have gotten some pretty cool art out of the deal, along with helping to maintain my own sanity in a very trying time professionally and personally.

Untitled Work In-Progress ©Innerspirit
My Tax Refund Treat To Myself
I recently bought an iPad so that I could work with a little larger canvas (well, in reality, the canvas SIZE is not actually bigger since it is the same pixel dimensions in both the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2, but I don't have to enlarge it and reduce it as frequently in the iPad 2 as I do in the iPhone 4, so it FEELS larger). I also purchased the iPad 2 to explore using it for art therapy interventions with my hospice patients since I don't have a long visit time for setting up and tearing down of traditional media. I am in the process of getting together some initial interventions that will meet the goals of my patients using this medium, so it is a new adventure all the way around. 

I thought it might be interesting to post some of my iPad/iPhone work here on my blog and future updates on how things are going with my patients as I introduce some of these apps to them. I usually draw on the screen with my fingers, but I purchased a Pogo Sketch Stylus and two different Nomad Brushes (a long hair and short hair) to give my patients some personal preference options in addition to the fingerpainting option).

The first art piece on this page is titled "Feminine Mystique" and it was created on the iPad 2 in two different apps. I love the mystery of this female figure and it's apparent vulnerability . The second art piece is a "work in progress", so it is untitled currently. I imported a photo that I took on my iphone into one of the art apps and created and added some textures to it. I have recently moved this art into another app and I am currently adding some handrawn effects to it that I will post in another blog...stay tuned for more of this second one as it evolves.

Do you have any new art experiments you are working on? I would love to hear about them.

Much Love And Blessings,


Friday, April 22, 2011

High Tech Easter Egg Dying: No Colored Fingers!

Creative Fingerpainting
I was thinking today about coloring Easter eggs with my daughter in "Days Gone By". I was reminiscing a bit and thinking how I missed doing that, but in the course of my memories I also remembered the mess that those eggs caused. In our house, "the house of an artist", of course...the plain old solid colored eggs, or even two toned eggs "just did not fly"!  We ended up using our hands and fingers to dip and dye in many angles with overlapping stripes and then using our fingers to put dots on the eggs, etc. The sky was the limits to our creativity. We always ended up with "dyed fingers" in the process of creating such beautifully colored eggs!

An Easter Egg Fix Without The Mess
Wanting to foster my fixation with Easter eggs today, I went online to see if anyone else had posted any eggs that they had made with their family and in my google search I came upon a wonderful little electronic Easter Egg Maker. Oh Yes, I had found my "egg dealer" to get my "Egg Fix" and I submerged myself in this new endeavor! I set off playing with several variations and even sent a few off as little Easter cards to some family members and friends via the email option that the website gave. These little personalize eggs were put in a cute little basket and then sent out to the people you selected to share them with. What a cool idea!

I've included a few of my little egg creations that I made here, just to show off. I should be ALL SET if I ever become a grandma. These designs seem more refined than the ones that my daughter and I created, but it did allow me to have a little fun today and to go down memory lane. My daughter is 20 now, she is in college and she lives in Chicago. She has her own apartment now and when I talked to her last, her and her roommate were making Easter Eggs together. I hope she thought of me when she was doing them with her friend Amy, much like I thought of our sweet, cherished memories today when I was creating my eggs.

Did you do Easter Eggs with anyone this year? Do you have a great Easter Egg making memory that you are willing to share? I would love to hear of others that miss this process...AND if you aren't able to do the old fashioned "dying" way try this online version and let me know how it went for you.

Much Love and Blessings,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Season Is Unfolding And My Gifts Are Naked

It's the night before Christmas Eve and not a creature is stirring...not even a mouse...though I hope I don't have mice! My dog Cocoa is crashed soundly in his bed after suffering through a much needed bath, a combing and then his "special" treat for putting up with all that whole ordeal. My daughter, who just arrived home from driving in from her apartment in Chicago, rushed in, gave me a quick kiss and hug, changed her clothes and zoomed out the door to meet friends who were also home visiting their families for the holidays. Such is the empty nest life I guess. So here I sit...alone with my dog and cat, listening to Christmas carols and wrapping a few gifts. 

I started out fully engaged in this gift wrapping extravaganza until I decided that I needed some photos for this blog, being a "past life" graphic designer, I know these things are way more enticing if there are some photos to draw visual interest of the reader. That's when I got diverted!...and MUCH more interested in playing with my iphone camera — using some of the cool photo apps that I don't always get to play with as much as I would like to. Off I went, the artist in me at play...the next thing I knew an hour had gone by and no gifts were wrapped! I did get these photos from Hipstamatic that I liked the gritty edge filter and the film that I was playing with though. As you can see, I have candles burning to go with my Christmas music wrapping mode.

As I am contemplating the stack of naked gifts yet to be wrapped, I am reminded of the "upscale" client of my mother's that allowed me to spend 3 days at her house wrapping Christmas presents one year in high school for a pretty good income! Her whole living room was stacked high with extravagant gifts and I got paid well to wrap them and make them look gorgeous. They made my little grouping of gifts for my daughter and other family members dwarf in comparison to volume and expense. But, Christmas is not about the commercialism that our economy tries to dazzle us's about love, grace, and a miracle! 

As far as miracles go...I am hoping one comes my way and helps me get these gifts wrapped! I could use some help myself right about now. If you are crashing and burning yourself trying to get last minute shopping done and all the gifts wrapped in time, consider "downsizing Christmas"  and focusing on the love and intention behind each gift and not on the volume of the gifts. Take a minute to reflect on the true meaning of this season and don't let the "advertising group" convince you that you have to buy, buy, buy. Simplify your holiday season and lower your stress. Take it from an artist who was an art director for 25 years, it is all about creating "want" in the consumer, no matter how unneeded the item is! 

Have a safe, happy and blessed Christmas! If you do take time to ponder the real meaning of this holiday season or you decide to actually "downsize" it this year...I would be interested in hearing what your thoughts and/or actions were with this. I really am curious.

Blessings and Love,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Relaxing, Mindless Doodling: Day 27

Just Going With The Flow
Trying to get a little bit of Art Every Day Month done in between homework. This is my last full weekend that I have available for homework, otherwise it is just evenings this week after work and everything is due December 4th at noon, so I am just doodling a bit to possibly get some backgrounds that I can use later for some additional art pieces. (Click on any image to see a larger view)

This is what I got today, which is more than I had before I started, so yeh! Art Every Day Month is still allowing me to create more art than when I wasn't doing it, even with my homework demands. I know a lot of us are probably tired with all the holiday things going on right now, but it amazing what some of the the other artists are still creating. Click on the Art Every Day Month link above to see what they are doing. It seems that everyone is having a great time with this months fun and a lot of GREAT artwork is being produced!

Blessings and Much Love,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day: Day 25

Giving thanks... for my family and my cute little dog buddy, Cocoa! I did not have time this day to do anything too creative, but I did take a picture of my daughter and my dog cocoa. He was very tired after a long day of seeing all his human relatives and his "brother" from another litter that my mom adopted from the same breeder. I couldn't resist capturing this photo since Cocoa was looking so cute as he was trying to sleep in my daughters arms. I have a photo that includes my daughters face along with Cocoa, which I did not think was bad, but my daughter made a "face" when I showed it to her on my phone after shooting it and I know if she ever knew that I posted it anywhere on the internet she would "hate me", so I am being respectful...thus why she is cut off.
This is my contribution to Art Every Day Month, a cute dog photo, and my resting and enjoying family. This will enhance my creativity the rest of the week by taking some down time. Did everyone else have a great holiday? What did you do that was restful? 

See you soon, Much Love and Blessings,


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Standing Resolute And Waiting: Day 24

Breathing Deep And Holding My Ground
I started this art piece from another background that I created in Fluid Painter, working much like I did when I created the blob art on Day 22. The original image can be seen on my blog post from Day 8 (the second image in the post) if anyone is interested. I played with several layer effects on top of each other until finally this image seemed to speak to me and I knew it was complete. I will tell you what I saw in this in a moment. (Click on the image to see a larger more detailed view).

I know everyone sees different things in abstract work, which is probably why I have become so intrigued by it the last few years. I used to only do high realism when I created art. That was what I was taught in art school, and that was what I thought the majority of society thought good art was. Sure, there were abstract works in museums, rich collectors who bought them at high prices, and we studied all the great abstract artists in my art history courses in college, but somehow I still walked away from my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree feeling like good art was very representational and needed to look like the subject you were seeing, either directly before you, or in your minds eye. Most of my immediate family, friends, and other artists I knew at the time also seemed to validate that belief for me. It wasn't until a few years ago when I just started playing with art and trying to have fun all over again that I discovered how wonderful and freeing abstract work can be for the soul.

Moving The Soul To Connect With My True Self
I guess the connection that abstract work made with my soul is what got me hooked. I was not about selling my art at the time as much as about freeing my soul to run and play and feel safe to explore. That is what I found when I let myself go with this new way of creating. I still like to do a realistic drawing now and then just to keep my hand in and to hone my drawing skills, but that is for another purpose entirely. It still feeds my soul, but it feeds the part of it that dwells in regiment, control, safety and wanting to understanding another thing well enough be able to draw it meticulously. This is something that my artist soul also needs at times, but the FREEDOM to PLAY is what lights up my InnerSpirit and connects me with my spiritual realm.

In this image I saw a bold, solid megalith of a man or woman (reminding me of the androgynous megaliths that stand on Easter Island) forming itself out of the rolling waves at the right and becoming larger than life against the blue, vast, swirling sky. It stands resolutely and almost defiantly against the bold landscape with a large mushroom behind him/her on their left. The mushroom was a curious image for me to see and I saw it very distinctly, so I wondered if it had any significance for me. I did a little research into some of the symbolic meanings that have been attributed to mushrooms just for fun. 

In the Chinese culture, Shitake mushrooms have long been a symbol of longevity. I don't know if this mushroom is Shitake, but longevity would blend with the resolute and strong image of the megalith. (This photo was taken by Yamanaka Tamaki) When I searched for other mushroom symbolism, most of the resources for interpreting your dream symbols suggest that mushrooms signify unhealthy pleasures and unwise decisions in your waking life. The dream resources suggest that a mushroom shows up to warn you that things that come too quickly have a tendency to disappear just as quick and that you should learn to appreciate the things you have. Hmm...something to ponder here. 

I am not sure what it all means yet. I usually like to sit with some images for a few days and let them roll around in my mind and heart until the message comes through clearly. Just on the fly, I feel it has something definitely to do with being dedicated and standing by what I believe my case I feel that it might be telling me that I am stronger than I sometimes feel and that I can weather the storms, after all, the statues still stand on Easter Island and the megaliths at Stonehedge have stood the test of time and elements quite well (I have even seen these first hand, which if you ever travel there you must go...they are awesome). This message appears to be more of the message that I got from my conversation with my blind contour drawing on my Day 22 blog post. Hmm...someone is trying to tell me something and they are afraid that I might not be listening so the message appears to be getting louder and stronger. Maybe I better start paying attention or I am going to be having lots of megaliths in my art!

I better get back to my homework and stand resolute to get the last of it done so that I will have one more semester out of the way! Next semester I finish my final thesis/research course and all my actual classes will be done in April. I will then just be an internship away from completion of my Master of Arts in Art Therapy. That will be a celebration for sure! Maybe I will even travel to see a Megalith again just to say thank you in person!  

Do you have symbols that have been coming up for you lately in your artwork. Have you ever taken the time to think about what their meaning might be to you? Do you believe that art can speak metaphorically to you? Please share some of your symbolism and experiences you have had with this with me. I would love to hear about it. 

Blessings and Much Love,