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!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Swimming Upstream

I am still trying to catch up on my blog entries from this past week, the holiday time and my daughter coming home from college has set me back a bit. Today is actually the last day of Art Every Day Month Challenge, but I am still posting art that I have created in the days prior to today. What can you do? Eventually I will be caught up. I am practicing cutting myself some slack and just doing what I can do and trusting that it will be okay. I don't have to measure of to anyone else's progress chart but my own.

Playing With Ink and String
As I mentioned in my last post, I used the couple days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday to do some loose, fun artwork that would keep my stress level down and provide some relaxation into my life. I created this piece for AEDM Day#25. As you may remember, I was picking my daughter up from college in Chicago on the 24th, so that day was very long and the following day, I was pretty tired. I began this piece by using a technique that I learned from an art therapy mentor of mine that involves dipping cotton string into India ink and creating various abstract shapes and spatters onto the paper. By dragging, dropping, spinning and laying the ink drenched string onto my paper I created some very abstract black shapes without any preconceived notion of what the creation might become. This aspect is very much like the Scribble Drawing "Flowering Lady" post, they both allow the artist to work very intuitively, which is just lovely for relaxing and letting go of your "inner critics" inhibitions.

Gazing Into The Water
Once the India ink was completely dry, I tried to find a picture that wanted to emerge from the abstract shapes. I began to see a striped fish first and I started to add some pastel colors to it. As I worked, I found a seahorse and another little pink fish come out to greet me. I finished the piece by adding some green seaweed and some nice blue swirls in the water that surrounded my sea creatures. In the end, I felt really pleased with my creation. I was kind of surprised that I was lively enough to actually create anything after all the driving the day before. If you look closely, all three of the sea creatures do have pretty droopy, sleepy eyes...especially the little pink one at the bottom. Hmm...something always carries into our work from our personal experiences. I have gotten caught back up on my sleep now.

More Art Every Day Month pieces to come!

Blessings and Love,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Freeing The Flowering Woman From The Scribble

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up around the corner, I chose to use the days prior to the big day as a way to just have some fun and relax with my art. I created this fun scribble drawing for my Art Every Day Month Challenge Day #23. I was going to be leaving the following morning of the 24th to pick up my daughter for her college holiday break from DePaul University, in Chicago, and I knew that day would be a long and tiring one. The drive was about 3.5 hours one way and then we had to pack up her luggage for a five week holiday stay, and then we drove the 3.5 hours back to Grand Rapids, MI. It's not really too bad of a drive, I used to live in Chicago for 10 years and I don't mind traveling there, but it makes for a long day to go there and back. I planned that I would not be able to create art for Day #24 due to this traveling day.

Squiggling To Music
I chose to use my body a bit when I created the blue scribble that this picture was formed from. I have found with my clients and workshop participants that doing body movements prior to creating art pieces will often open up a nice creative flow for them and it worked for me this day too. I danced and frolicked around, probably looking a little silly that morning if anyone other than my dog and cat had been around, but they are used to my crazy antics so they just slept with one eye open just to make sure nothing got out of hand. I cranked the old iPod up to some favorite tune and went to work. I also like to close my eyes when I do the scribble so that I am not inclined to force an image or to prejudge what is going on with the strokes.

Color Choices Are Interesting To Contemplate
I also like to pay attention to the color that I choose to make my initial scribble with. I tell those that I do this technique with that they need to sit with the colors that are available and see what color calls out to them to be used that day. I usually get some odd looks from some of them, especially if they are not used to being so intuitive with their art materials. But they usually humor me in the end.

Blue was my color choice of the day. I usually have a sheet of various color meanings that my clients/workshop participants can look at when they are trying to see if the color they chose for their scribble has any inner meaning for them. Since color is very subjective, much like the art itself, I like to have a list of some of the more common associations that people have had with each color and then I tell the artist to read through the list and if something jumps out and "resonates" with them they might want to pay attention to that or they may just want to jot down their own thoughts that they might associate with their color choice. I treat this also as a very intuitive process. I usually reserve this color reflection until the rest of the drawing is completed, so I just tell them in the beginning to respond to the color that calls to them and then to create their scribble.

Some of the meanings of blue that resonated with me on this day were loyalty, security and rebirth. It was kind of interesting later when I reflected on this color choice, that I had chosen to add a flower to the hand of this woman. Rebirth and flowering into something new?

The Final Drawing Emerges
As I squinted at the scribble and looked for a hidden image, much like the watercolor technique I did a few posts back, I saw this woman quickly emerge and she instantly grabbed my attention. I loved her style and something about her attitude was very appealing and strong for me to draw that day. In the end I added the blue lines to the scribble to form a flower for her to hold. Maybe it was the size of her nose that suggested that additional element for me? I'm not sure, but either way, when I was done with the drawing and I reflected on it's presence, I felt that she was a strong messenger for me. She had a very distinct style about her and she was not afraid to show it, it was what made her unique and she seemed to love her life. Hmm...I thought to myself, maybe I need to let more of my style out and embrace my unique qualities and gifts. We all have something to bring to this world. We should not be afraid of who we really are.

Do you ever try and hide your uniqueness sometimes behind the ways that society tells you that you should act, look, behave, etc. Try and let the "inner you" shine more openly, and see if you feel brighter and lighter because of it. We can all benefit from the unique nuances of each and every person in this world of diversity that we live in.


Catching Up After The Holiday

I have gotten pretty behind on my Art Every Day Month Challenge with Thanksgiving falling during this month. I am going to be spending the rest of the weekend catching up on my blog and showing the various AEDM things that I have been working on. I apologize for the fact that I am not going to be posting all of my creative undertakings in chronological order. I am choosing to post the Mandala that I did today for my Circles Of Time Mandala Series (Day #28 of Art Every Day Month), and then I am going to go back and blog post some of the other art pieces that I have been working on for the last few days.

Relaxing Into The Creative Flow
This morning was a good morning to just relax with my coffee, some nice Joe Henderson: The State of the Tenor saxophone music playing, and taking advantage of the sun shining into my dining room (a rare event the last few weeks, since it has been dark, overcast, and sometimes raining the last few weeks here). It was a nice morning time to recuperate from the last few days. I just allowed myself to enjoy creating the flowing lines and the nice little design elements that began to form on this piece as it went along. In the end I wrote the following free association words around the Mandala. [ • Rain • Robins • Respite & Relaxation • Random • Relinquish • Rejuvenate • Replenish • Recharge • Responding • Rebirth • Respite • ]

The words seem fitting after a long, and eventful Thanksgiving Holiday. I had a great time with friends and I enjoyed a wonderfully decadent dinner, but I was very tired on Friday and I am just now starting to feel like I am coming back to life. I guess my Mandala message today was to spend time "rejuvenating my soul and my body", much like spring rain and robins rejuvenate the winter landscape...I will have to remember to treat myself well today.

Treat yourself to something that will rejuvenate you after your own holiday time. Take a bubble bath, get a massage or find someone who is willing to give you one for free, take a swim at your health club if you are a member, go to a museum/art gallery, take in a movie, or just treat yourself to a nap in the middle of the day. We owe it to ourselves to pamper our soul and body after a stressful, tiring, or just an eventful holiday with friends and family. You owe it to yourself...INDULGE! Feel free to share how you chose to spend this indulgence time with yourself, I would love to hear of what other things you are doing that I might like to treat myself to during the next holiday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Fun in Douglas, Michigan

I decided yesterday that my Art Every Day Month Challenge for Day #21 was going to be "feeding my soul" so that I would have some things tucked away in there for future creativity. I was fortunate that several of my friends suggested that the five of us take a run over to Douglas, which is a small town by Saugatuck, MI (where my favorite beach on Lake Michigan is located, if anyone is interested). The trip is only about 35 minutes from my house in Grand Rapids, MI so it is a quick getaway...and during the holidays, the little shops and galleries are really decorated quite nicely as you can see from the photos...with the exception of the "creepy window dressing man" as we called him, that you will find below. I had to take a photo of him AND the three clown heads art piece that was in a gallery that we went in. There was certainly "something for every taste and interest".

I had a wonderful time laughing with good friends and we had a fantastic dinner at The Wild Dog Grille shown above with the wreaths lining the windows. The name of the restaurant is not any indication of the elegant menu that it holds and all of the luscious wines that they offer to their patrons. My dinner was Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Marsales Sauce with walnuts and onion complimented by a lovely glass of Malbec wine. I was in heaven. Let the holidays begin.

I even had one of the fun shop keepers, who was really decked out for the season, offer to have his picture taken with me since we had been admiring his little elf hat with the bell. I'll let you figure out who is who. Overall, it was a fun filled night, full of laughter, good food, good wine, treats and champagne at the little shops and galleries, carolers and even a nice hazelnut cinnamon fat-free latte for me. Decadence at it's best.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Decay From The Inside Out

On Day #20 of the Art Every Day Challenge I found myself thinking a lot about about my friends and/or their friends and loved ones that have been either recently diagnosed with a serious, life threatening illness or who are suffering from chronic illnesses that they have been dealing with for a very long time. I found myself thinking about the cells in our bodies and how they are both very strong and very vulnerable at the same time. They are susceptible to so many things, nutrition, environmental threats, chemicals, stress, lack of exercise, limited hydration, the list goes on and on. It seems what frustrates me most are all the things that are not easily within our own control to change such as environmental issues and toxins in our foods etc.

I get really angry sometimes when I think about all the people that I care about that have illnesses that they cannot control and sometimes they can even feel like the illness wants to control them, or worse, kill them. Sometimes it actually does kill them. This iphone painting is about those feelings that I was dealing with today.

This piece is called "Killing From Within" and it is my visual representation of all of the internal wiring (or various body systems) that go "haywire" in the body when it's cells start to break down and a disease spreads. The disease grows and spreads outward and things break apart from within. The dark splotches are like rotting, spots of decay that is spreading into the body but might not normally be seen from the outside. Sometimes disease is seen externally and sometimes it isn't.

My prayers to all those who who suffer from disease. May God watch over you.

Blessings and Love,

Effort Can Still Fall Short Of The Vision

I have finally gotten around to posting my Art Every Day Month Challenge piece for Day #18 and #19. Can you feel my obvious rebellion to posting? Even though I spent a lot of actual time on this piece, I feel like it still looks unfinished and amateurish to me. Ah, "give it up" and say, you tried something and "you have what you have". Life will go on. As you have probably gathered by now, I am not extremely pleased with the final result, though I like the second cropped version a little better (see the narrower image below). Do you ever have one of those times where the image you see is much more interesting than the way the piece turns out in the end? I have to look at it as an experiment. I figure this is God's way of telling me to remember to be humble. I tried a few new things, namely colored pencil on rough watercolor paper...I can't say I am a fan of the effect, or at least my own execution of the technique. I have done this hidden imagery watercolor work before to produce a few pieces, but at that time, I went back into the original abstract watercolor pieces with more watercolor lines to define areas and then added some other mixed media stuff and those pieces seemed to work better for me. I might play with this one in Photoshop and see if I can do something else with never know.

A Process Of Exploring Imagination
The process that I followed to create this art did allow me to enjoy engaging the  imaginary, playful side of my personality and that is always good. They say this type of imagination work is good for keeping Dementia at bay, so Kudos for me...I'm not getting any younger! Here is the process that I did, in case anyone wants to try it. It is a really fun process and it always provides new ideas and visual shapes to challenge your imagination, much like dragging or dripping India ink to make shapes on the page and then finding the hidden image.

Here we go: 1) Wet a sheet of watercolor paper (I use a watercolor block of cold pressed paper so that I don't have to stretch the paper before starting, but you can do the stretching if you want to). Cold press or rough watercolor paper is preferred over the hot press papers due the fact that they are both rougher, and they allow the pigment to settle into the crevices and create really cool shapes when you complete Step 3. 2) Once the paper is thoroughly wet; pour, drip, or spatter watercolor paints of any color combination onto the wet surface. 3) While the paper is still wet, take a sheet of plastic food wrap (or more than one if you are working on a very large sheet of watercolor paper) and lay it over the paint. Once you have it on the surface, take your fingers and "scrunch" it up is some areas or push areas together so that the plastic wrap has lots of wrinkles and crevices for the paint to flow into. 4) Set the watercolor sheet, with the plastic still attached to it aside to dry thoroughly. 5) Once it is completely dry, slowly peel back the plastic to reveal some lovely abstract images that you can work with (you can see a sample below of how the watercolor sheet that I drew into looked after the plastic was removed–this is a portion that I cut off, but you can get the basic effect). The shapes are always different.

Once you have your abstract shapes, squint a bit at them a bit or spin the paper in each direction and look patiently until you find some imagery that is waiting to come alive for you. This is a lot like finding shapes in the clouds when you were a kid. If you aren't inspired with found imagery, these shapes are still fun to embellish as abstract art or they can be used as a background for another art piece.

Have fun and let me know if any of you try this fun technique. I would love to see posts or any art you do with this if you are willing to share. This process is usually quite relaxing, that is, IF you do not get too frustrated and overwork the piece trying to get something to I did.

Happy Painting,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Does Playing Do For The Soul?

I have been working over the past two days on my Art Every Day Month Challenge piece that is shown here. It is my offering for both Day #16 and #17. I drew in the big shapes with the colored markers on Day #16 and I managed to finish up the many details while I drank my coffee and sat in the sun that was streaming into my dining room this morning. It seemed deceivingly warm to me, but I was forced back into a midwestern Fall reality when I took my dog out and I realized that it was quite brisk and windy. Once I was back inside, I was pleased that I could feed two important needs at once, my creative "innerspirit" and my physical and emotional need for sunshine. More and more is being found out about the importance of adequate vitamin D in our bodies and the sun is a great source of that in a natural form. This time of year in Michigan it is a little too cold for me to enjoy being outside drawing for a couple of hours, so sitting inside at the table was a good way to still benefit from the warm sun.

A Planetary Mandala Drawing Emerges
I just allowed myself to play with the shapes and lines again today with this Mandala since it is also part of my Circles In Time Mandala series. I did try today to stretch the series a bit by doing a mixed media Mandala. After playing with the watercolor Mandala on Day #13, (see the previous post if you would like to see this image) I felt that I could take some artistic liberty and use whatever I wanted on this Mandala and it still would be part of the same series since it was the same size, I approached it the same way, and it was still being used for the prayer/meditation time that it was intended to create for me. I really became quite involved in the intricate line work in this piece and it ended up looking like something from outer space, maybe a really cool planet that is yet to be discovered with many circling moons or suns? I listened to several soothing, contemporary Christian music selections, while I created, and I thought a lot about how God manifests himself in my life. I began wondering why it is so hard to see God sometimes in my life, and other times it seems that he is so very close that I can actually almost touch him...I felt closer to my creative source when I was done, which I believe for me, is God.

Missing AEDM Days Creations?
Those of you that are following this blog might wonder, what happened to Day #14 and #15? Well, I have to admit, Day #14 did not consist of any art, but I was excited that I did manage to do a little artistic "playing" in the way of incorporating music into my Day #15. I have not played my guitar much over the last year, it seems this goes in cycles for me. Sometimes I play a lot, and other times I move away from it and into other things. I enjoyed playing and singing a few songs, but I soon regretted having let it go so long when my un-calloused finger tips started hurting after only a few short songs...this should be reason enough to not let this pleasure go so far between music sessions. Singing and strumming the old familiar songs was a soothing and relaxing way to feed my creative and artistic soul. I find that music in all forms can really move quickly into my heart and it makes me feel alive.

What types of things do you do to feed your artistic soul? Do you take the time to "eat" regularly from this "soul food"? It is easy for us to push time for ourselves down to the bottom of our "To Do" list, even society would tell you that art and artistic endeavors are "frivolous", especially if they do not make money. Don't buy into it, our soul needs the time and the honor of being "fed" and "cultivated", and in return, it will feed and cultivate us in many abundant ways.

Blessings and Love,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Swirling Colors and Lines Free Me

I am a little behind on postings for my Art Every Day Month Challenge. I was out of town and without my laptop for a few days so I did not have the ability to post. I was in what I will call a "forced techno escape". I had my iphone with me, but I was only checking email infrequently and the idea of trying to post a whole blog entry by typing on that little keyboard seemed a little "crazy" to me unless I was a problogger and I was actually getting paid to get something up for those days that I was pretending to be "techno free". In addition, since I was doing traditional media artwork, I still had to photograph it, upload it, adjust it in Photoshop (which in this case still is not the most pleasing photos. but you get the idea anyway), and then get it into the actual blog entry. All of this is much easier when I have my laptop back and I am home. This way I get to sip my coffee, listen to some nice Diana Krall (a lovely, sultry,  jazz singer—if you are not familiar with her work) while I am blogging.

Relaxing Into A Meditative State
The Mandala shown here (in various cropped views to highlight the details) was created for Day #13 of Art Every Day Month, but it is also part of my Circles In Time Mandala Series that I am working on. I have not used watercolor yet in the existing Mandalas that I have created for this series, even though a lot of my primary artwork is in watercolor. I originally started my Circles In Time series with colored Sharpie markers, in various sizes, with the idea that it would be a very portable art form and that it would force me to think less about each Mandala having to be a "finished" art piece, and it would also allow me to focus more on it's prayer/meditative properties as I worked. I often say a prayer before I start or during the creation process, other times, I may simply take several deep breathes while reciting a simple breath mantra before beginning the work to help "center" or "ground" myself prior to drawing my beginning circle. The Sharpie markers are fun to work with and they have freed me up to new possibilities, but on Day #13 I was moved to work with a more flowing media for this little Mandala for something different for my Art Every Day Month piece.

Allowing My Body To Feel The Flowing Peace
I initially followed the same process as I always do for this small Mandala (all Mandala's in this series start with the same size circle of 7.5"x7.5" in diameter) by saying a prayer before beginning. On this day my prayer was simply "Lord, allow me to move freely into this space and to be held softly in your creative source as I rest and I am replenished by you".

I dipped my brush into the sweet, wet watercolor and rolled it out onto my paper, concentrating on the tactile feel of the brush in my hand and the soothing flow of the colors as they flowed into each other and onto my paper. Oh, how glorious this process felt to me. I wanted to live forever in the swirling colors and puddles of spontaneous exuberance. If only we never had to return to the complications of life. At some point my small Mandala was filled with color and it seemed time to put the brushes down and allow the paint to dry. In reality, I do have to admit that I cheated a bit with the drying process since I was so excited to add some details to the piece. I am guilty of using the blowdryer to speed up the drying in some highly saturated areas. You won't tell anyone will you?

Pulling Out The Details
Once the piece was sufficiently dry to accept another media, I started playing with my colored pencils and I began to add details as they came freely from my creative source. I loved playing with the various lines and working with the soft texture of the pencils on the slightly rough paper. It was very relaxing and it allowed me to continue to rest my analytical mind (which is often raging far too fast for my own good). I did not really have any preconceived notion of what the details would suggest, but in the end, as I reflect upon the piece now, they seem to suggest a kind of organic quality. Parts of the piece appear to suggest to me a marine theme of some sort containing organisms such as starfish, jellyfish and various aquatic plant life.

What do you see when you look into the Mandala? We all have our own interpretation of what is created by other artist's abstract imagery. As I look deeper into the work, there also appears to be a lot of roots and new growth budding in this piece... is this about my own stretching and growing? Sometimes I think am being forced to stretch and grow too quickly in some ways and other times I feel frustrated that I am not growing and stretching enough in other areas of my you ever feel the push and pull of "growth and stretching" in areas of your life? How can you cultivate those areas that you would like to grow? You may also need to consider taking a break in areas that you may feel are moving too fast for you and in which you are having a hard time catching up. This racing often causes internal stress. It's okay to slow down a bit, we need to give ourselves permission to be where we need to be. Only you know where that is at any given moment in your life.

(This Mandala can be viewed in it's whole circle form on my InnerSpirit facebook page in the Circles In Time Mandala Series).

Much Love and Blessings,

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Self-Portrait Work-In-Progress

As my days are progressing on the Art Every Day Month, I was drawn back on Day 11 to a blind contour drawing that I did about 8 months ago for an art response to an Graduate Art Therapy class that I was taking. I have been wanting to do some more work with it since I felt that it really had captured a distinctive mood and feeling of that moment in time. So...I pulled it out, scanned it, and I am have been playing a bit with adding some washes of color in Photoshop. It is still unfinished, and I hope to finish it up later this weekend. I will unfortunately be without my laptop for a few days since I am taking it in to the Apple Store for some warranty work...bummer! BUT, I am looking at the positive side, it will give me a break from the techno of my life (which is good), and I will go back to the old fashioned art mediums and probably work on the weekend on the Fire and Gecko Mandala that I started and featured in a few blog posts ago.

I have to run now and shut down the computer, but I wanted to get something up to show that I was working and to let everyone know where I am and what I am doing.

Blessings and more to come!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Blessing of Fall's Timeless Serenity

After being out-of-town for the weekend, I have finally gotten back into the swing of things around my home and with regards to my art offerings for Art Every Day Month. I have been wanting to do something with the fall images that I took last week (see my previous post if you are interested to see the original image that I started with for this art piece). I have been doing a lot with Mandalas the last few months for some reason. Before about 6 months ago, I had used Mandalas quite a bit with some of my clients and in many healing art workshops that I have run over the years, for their centering and calming effects, but I had not really done that many of them for myself. Then suddenly, they just seemed to start evolving into my some of my art. Around that time period, I started a series of them for prayer meditation (see my Circles In Time Mandala Series on my InnerSpirit facebook page) which I am still working on at this present time. After I create a Mandala in this series, I allow myself to be open to "free association" words that arise in my mind as I look into the Mandala. I have written those words around the outside of this series and some of them have provided me with personal insights along the way. I have found Mandalas to be very healing for me and relaxing, especially on days when I am know that I have a lot of emotions flowing around in my heart.

Changing Seasons Can Bring Deep Moods

The Mandala above is called "Fall Wood & Leaf Mandala_Purple", and it was inspired both by the images from my last post and the gorgeous sunset that happened last night behind my house. I saw the sunset through my sliding glass window that looks out to my deck, while I was working on my laptop—just trying to catch back up with my life and feeling very drained from my weekend away. I grabbed my iphone and went outside to capture it before it was gone. It was so beautiful that it made me think of new possibilities and new hope that some of the feelings that were whirling around in my heart and the heart of those that I loved, could be made lighter by the beauty of the season and this brief glimpse of the breath of God's Palette in my own backyard.

Digital Mandala Play
After taking that sunset photo, I started playing with the original fall image that I put in my previous post by placing it in a circle. I was not really sure that I was going to create a Mandala with it, but it just seemed a calming shape to start with and a way to contain some of the emotions that I was still dealing with. It helped to keep me focused on my art and away I went long into the night. I wanted to add some variety and a bit of an abstract quality to the image, so I created some arbitrary stripes and let the areas where the stripes overlapped the image do some fun things with the various filters that are available in Photoshop. I like how it turned out. I rotated the same stripes to create a horizontal set of a different color and somehow these also helped to "center" and ground the piece on the canvas. As I continued to work, I found that I also began to feel more centered and grounded. It is funny how that therapeutic effect happens, I guess that is why I am so passionate about art therapy. It works, and I know it's power from an intimate perspective. In the end the piece seemed to whisper to me the I included them in the piece. I often find that if I listen closely my art it has a life of it's own, and it will speak to me!

I have included the first version that I did with the word "Timeless" in a green color, but I later did this version in purple and it seemed to resonate better with me. I have included the green version here for others to review. Which is your favorite and why? Do you get any particular feelings that are evoked when you look into either of these Mandalas? What are they? If you click on either image you can see a larger view of each one.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Colors and Textures of Fall

Yesterday was day #5 of Art Every Day Month and Leah suggested that I might want to use nature as a starting point for some artwork. Ideally, she suggested taking the opportunity to take a long leisurely stroll in the woods, but that was not an option for me yesterday. Not only are there no woods in close proximity to me, but in was cold, and I am a wimp when it comes to being cold. Outside looses it's luster for me around November in the Midwest. So, since I do have to go outside fairly frequently to let me cute little dog, Cocoa, out to relieve himself, I took my iphone with me and snapped a few shots of some things that caught my interest.

It Does Not Take Long For Art To Be Found
I did find some inspiration, even in just this small time that I allowed myself to focus on nature. I love the texture in these wood pieces, that were found in my yard. I get a lot of branches from several big oak trees that I have in my backyard that loose their limbs during the wonderful storm winds we have that go through here. The colored leaves brought back memories from my childhood of raking big piles of colorful leaves and jumping into them and saying "whoosh!" I wish I could cultivate that appreciation for the fun of leaves again, now...I only see piles that have to be mulched, and bagged for the season. Ah, the carefree times of our youth. I am going to be turning these little inspirations into some art in a few days. I will be taking a break from EADM today since I have an important interview that has to trump art right now and then I pack for an out-of-town trip for the weekend. I will pick EADM on Day#6 with some fun with the fall pictures. Happy Trails Everyone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mandalas and Good Music Go Together

So...It Has Begun
Day #3 of the Art Every Day Challenge has continued into Day #4, which is today. Over the past few days I have been multi-tasking—both spending time with a Mandala I am working on trying to finish and slowly uploading some of the CD's from my music collection that never seemed to make it into my 30 GB ipod the first time around. I think in the beginning I had no concept of how much music it would take to actually fill up a 30 GB capacity...which is a lot! I originally selected some of the tried and true CD's and artist's from my collection that I knew that I listened to frequently or that I just could not see living without. Some good ones found there way in there in that first round, but I was to discover there were still some sweet ones left to be savored.

Music Moves Me
Over the last two years, I have also downloaded a number of new albums and singles from itunes to add to my ipod collection, but I had never found my way back around to see if there were still any CD's that did not get put on my ipod during my original selection time. I am now reassessing what remaining music I have in my collection and listening, remembering and making selections of those that I might have forgotten and those that still held a special place or memory in my heart.  So, while I sipped some green tea...wishing it was wine, but refusing to open a bottle in the middle of the day with still so much to do, I did art and listened to CD's to begin the assessing process.

I am still working on the finishing touches of this Mandala which should hopefully round out later this evening after I go to the gym, but here are just a few snapshot details of it's progress from this mornings session. I have a lot of detail work to still add in, but, you can see some of what I am adding to the pastels in the gecko lizard area and the bursts of light rays. While I worked and listened, I came upon some gems of music that I had forgotten were in my collection and I found them to be new "must haves" on my ipod. Some of those included some obscure, but lovely ones such as: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Soundtrack The Eagles-Desperado, David Bowie-Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars John Coltrane-Blue Train, Four Bitchin' Babes-Beyond Bitchin',  George Benson & Earl Klugh-Collaboration, and even a couple of choice tracks from The Doors-Greatest Hits to get me thinking "way back". I was not old enough to enjoy the original Doors chart releases in the late 60's and early 70's but I came to love them in college. Ah, the memories.

Overall, a nice day...AND it was even productive! What a plus! If you had to pick one or two albums that really made an impact on you or that you remember sticking out from your past, what would those be? Don't be shy...we all have them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Creativity In All Forms

Day #2 of Art Every Day Month
I started an art project for day two very last night, at about 11:30 p.m., and even though I told myself that it could still count for day two, it really flowed mostly into day three, which is today—so I will post on that when it is done. As you can see from my last posting, I will be posting about each day's saga of this artistic journey on the following day. This gives me time to process what was done the day before and to have time to actually post something. So here we go.

After deciding that my starting of art on day 2 at 11:30 p.m. could still qualify toward my personal commitment to this month's challenge...since there are really no requirements that a whole piece of art is actually completed everyday, in the end, I chose not to use it. I remembered that I had started reading a new book The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life  by Twyla Tharp, earlier yesterday while I sipped my coffee and ate my oatmeal while I woke up. I lingered a little longer that morning allowing myself to consume more of the pages of this intriguing book while my cat and dog cuddled up close to me and my warm blanket on the couch.

So, this is my day #2 qualifying bit of art in my day. A good book, cuddling with my pets, and warm coffee all of which are creative stimulants and qualify in my mind as an AEDM accomplishment. What things stimulate your creative thinking and warm feelings these days?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fear Still Lives Within Me...and It Breathes Deeply Today

Create Art Everday, November 1
Today is the first day of the Art Every Day Challenge hosted by Leah Piken Kolidas that I have committed myself to undertake for my own creative growth. My luck would have it that the first day of art making would also be the day that I unexpectedly had to drive all the way to Chicago and back (about a 3 1/2 hour drive one way) to take my daughter back to college from a weekend visit home. My drive would have originally been slightly under 2 hours, one way to the Michigan City, Indiana, train depot. BUT, as we stood alone at the train station and wondered aloud why there were not more people traveling to Chicago on this Sunday night, we slowly began to read the digital sign above the depot that told us that there would be no scheduled train run that evening leaving from that depot due to some unexpected work being done on the tracks. The message told us that we could catch the train in Gary, Indiana (another half hour south). Needless to say, we could not get to Gary, Indiana by the time the next train left and we missed it by 5 minutes.

At this point, the next train was another hour and a half later and I was only 32 miles from my daughter got curbside service to her dorm at DePaul University in Lincoln Park. As I traveled home I remembered that it was November 1st and I had not done any art that day. I am embarrassed to say that a significant part of me breathed a sigh of relief and cautiously thought...oh, a good excuse to use, "I did not have the time". As I thought about that initial gut reaction, I realized that I was still very much afraid of what I was undertaking and if that was the case, I might be truer to myself to try to recognize the fear and to use the art to work with that fear. I remembered a book that I had read on fearing our own artwork (one of many I have plowed through over the years) and a quote came to mind.

"The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars. One of the basic and difficult lessons that every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential." David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

Is what I fear my own failure of my work? I have struggled with that repeatedly through the years and still it haunts me. This quote is right; cognitively I KNOW it is right. Every logical part of me: the art teacher; the social worker; the future art therapist; the student; all agree that it is right. Nevertheless, the artist in me is terrified of failure. I have personally experienced and have studied enough therapy to know that this fear is stroked by my little "inner critic" which is also sometimes formed or at least influenced greatly by my "inner child". Neither of which realizations seem to comfort me when I actually undertake the art process.

I Must Leap Before I Can Fall
I believe for the art process to be real and authentic it must be emotional and that is should be felt from deep within our being. This is where I think I get caught, I fear leaping into it. I fear that deep emotion can sometimes arise from this process. I know from past experience with art that if I can just get started...just put a toe over the edge and get it wet...I can allow myself the freedom to fall into it and in doing so, I feel free during the creative flowing of the art. It is only again after the process is completed, that the fears arise again. I decided that this time I was going to look at this as an art therapy project and let the fear doodle it's way out to be seen, acknowledged and comforted ritualistically by talking to it and recognizing it's concerns. Sometimes, I have found that letting the fear appear in visual form to me takes some of its power away.

A New Tool For Drawing
I created the painting above in "Brushes" which is an iphone painting application. I have seen some of the hype about the cover of the New Yorker Magazine being created from this and I was a little curious. I also visited the flicker group of artists who were playing with this new tool. The beauty of this choice of media for me was that it was a new application for me so I was providing myself with a bit a way out of "creating a great art". I told myself that I could just play and let my apprehensions play out in the doodling aspect of a new process with no pressure. As I looked at the work once it was created, some things came into my mind. The unconscious choice of drawing some sort of a fruit suggested to me a feeling of wholeness of being and a comfort by the fruit remaining intact. The idea of biting into the middle of this fruit seemed both reproachable and delectable at the same time. It also struck me how much the fruit looked like a heart...and a "purple" heart at that. Hmm...a purple heart of bravery? Oh how art can reveal, even when we are not looking for as much introspection.

Off to the races, or let the eating begin!
Onward I trudge into day two, which is well into itself as I write this post about day one. I hope to still get some art done...though I will need to rely heavily on this first sketch, and it's purple heart as I move forward in the month long challenge. Baring my heart, which often reflects my soul, as I explore this art making is a journey that I am on. I am going to try and just let things happen as they will and I will be trying to hold my judgments at bay with each endeavor. Fear can be both a strong motivator and a serious foe on this road to enlightenment.

What are the types of things that you fear? Do you often have difficulties or fears around your art or have you accepted a personal challenge that makes you a little uneasy? What types of ways do you try to overcome your fears? I would love to hear from some of you and maybe out of your feedback we could start a list of "Proven Ways to Move From Fear to Success"...hmm...maybe another blog in the works.