Creating something from nothing, from an idea, from an inspiration is a miraculous journey. I'm realizing it all boils down to love. Do you love the idea enough to invest the energy and time to see it through?
This is no small decision because along the way you are likely to come up against doubt and worry, uncertainty and frustration. So when the going gets tough, how do we respond? How committed are you to trust that your idea is going to lead to a great place?
Trust. I find it is essential to the process because trust is that ethereal quality of going ahead with your plans even if you don't know, specifically, how you are going to sort it all out.
There are a few things that help me when I get into these spaces.
1) Journalling. I really find comfort it writing out my thoughts. It helps me declutter all the ideas that are circling around so that I can get back to the process of creating.
2) Crystals. I know this might sound a bit out there, but stick with me. From what I've read crystals, stones and gems were formed in the earth under certain conditions. Those conditions get locked into the rock and have a very unique energy because of it. Now if we pair the rock with what we are experiencing then there can be some easing of what we are feeling. This may all be a placebo effect, I don't really know, however, it works for me and that's all that matters. Let me give you an example. I've been carrying a Lepidolite around with me for a few days. Lepidolite is known to help calm frayed nerves and guess what? My nervous system feels less rattled. So if you are having a persistent feeling read up on crystals and see which one would support you.
3) Angel Cards. I have several card decks that I use on a regular basis. The way they work is that you shuffle the cards with a question in mind and when a card pops out or you sense it's time to stop shuffling, pick the card that calls to you. There is no wrong way to do it. The card will have an idea on it that may or may not resonate with you. Just read it and consider that it might have something to support you. I've found it eerily effective in getting me sorted out. The other day I was tied in knots about something and the card that jumped out for me was "Get over yourself." Funny. It was basically saying this idea you are stewing about isn't important. Let it go and get back to doing what you love. Very cool. I got right back to work and forgot about the thing I was worrying about.
4) Walking. This is an easy practice that will quickly shift your energy. A simple 10 minute walk will do you a world of good. If you are feeling stuck just head outside for a short walk. You will feel differently when you get back.
Creating is a privilege, to be free with our creative muse is an opportunity that not everyone has. Do whatever it takes to clear your energy so you can continue to create. As creatives we give an incredible gift to those who experience our art.
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Okay, I'm going to take you on a little ride through my artistic brain.
The other day I listened to Seth Godin's book Leap while I was painting. He quoted a book written by David Gibbins called Why comics work. In the sense of comic strips. Now when a comic strip is written key elements of the story are drawn out, not every element though. There are significant pieces of the story left out. What happens is you, the reader, fill in the story line. This is exactly why comic strips are effective in telling stories. The reader fills in the necessary information that has been omitted. As an example, the heroine is teetering on the cliff edge. The next frame shows the hero flying. The next frame sees the hero with the heroine on solid ground. You have just filled in the story that the hero saved the heroine from the cliff.
You with me so far? Next my creative brain went to extrapolating the idea to my painting process. I seem to be thinking about that a lot lately. Even reading a book about how artists work. Turns out we artistic types have a variety of different ways we work and not all are successful. I digress.
If the first comic strip square is the concept or idea for a new painting and the next comic strip square is the finished painting, what is the part in the middle that gets filled in?
What the image above shows you is the characteristics that I meander through. The left column shows you the qualities that are generated, things such as joy, artistry, bringing a vision to life. On the right hand side are the things I wade through, things such as doubt, uncertainty, frustration, boredom etc.
I said to my husband yesterday it feels sort of like the doldrums in boating terms. Where literally there is no wind. I meet those doldrums in the painting, almost every painting, where there seems to be no wind. I feel like I'm at a standstill.
I'm okay with all this because it's part of the story. What do you do while you are in the doldrums? Well you wait, you blow puffs of air into the sail to generate some movement, you entertain yourself, you grab a paddle and start propelling yourself by your will power.
In terms of painting, when I'm in the doldrums, I surf the net, have another cup of coffee, read a book, organize the order of my upcoming painting, all while circling the current painting.
The good thing is that I know the doldrums will end. At least I know that now. I didn't always know that. I used to get scared and questions my dedication, and wonder if I was up to this career. A whole lot of unnecessary drama.
Now that I can recognize that I'm actually in the doldrums, I can let up on the pressure and striving. Just know where I am on the map - on the journey through this painting, helps me relax into the process.
I love this idea of the comic strip because I get to write the story in between and I can write it anyway I like.
What do you do when you are in the doldrums of a project? Leave me a comment.
This morning as my son, my husband, and the neighbours got into their vehicles to drive off to their jobs, I had a moment of gratitude to the situations that make it possible for me not to commute.
My days are my own to design and create. As you can see from the image above, I attempt to organize my days by the tasks that need my attention.
A few times a year I lay out a new structure, a time table of sorts, that I hope will keep me on track and accomplishing the things that I want to get done.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Which brings up my question: What does it mean to be an artist? Is it really about the schedule? Or is it about witnessing your life through the sensitive eyes of someone in touch with how they meet each day?
Considering that my attempts at structure often need to revisited because they simply don't work well, or for very long.
I've been struggling to be in the 9-5 work day mindset that if I start at a regular time, do similar things, work for a certain duration, then I'll have the outcome of completing things.
If I were to stop my struggle, I suspect, I would actually accomplish much more and be happier for it. Isn't that why I chose this artistic life - to be able to set my own schedule?
How very difficult it is to extricate oneself from the rhythms of the world around us, when we choose to live by a different rhythm. A rhythm guided by self direction.
I'll be the first to tell you how obstinate, passive aggressive, grumpy, and opinionated I become when I'm forced to do something I am not motivated to do. I set aside my preference often and get the thing done, but I do not enjoy it, nor do those around me.
So how do we/I be a full time artist. How do we allow the rhythms of our artistic heart to guide us versus be pressured to do things like everyone else?
It's a great question and one I don't have an answer for, completely, just yet. However, this book Daily Rituals: How artists work may have some answers. I'll let you know what I find out.
As for today, I started painting at 5am in an effort to beat the heat wave that British Columbia is experiencing right now. My studio is south west facing and by 12:00 it's simply too hot to be in here painting.
I painted for 5 hours, had a shower, got dressed, went to the library to pick up the said book and went for a short walk along the ocean.
It's an amazing life that I live. I'm grateful for it. What I'm seeking is a way to be at peace with the freedoms that I have and not feel like I have to push myself to conform to the 9-5 system happening around me. This is a practice of awareness and grace. Giving myself the generosity of kindness and allowing my creative spirit to flourish within these freedoms.
I'll let you know how I make out.
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I heard the unmistakable crack and splinter of a tree breaking apart and bolted to the door to see what was going on.
This excavator is pulling this lovely grove of trees down, pictures in the background. While the whine of chainsaws sever these trees, the excavator moves them away.
I cried. This is progress. Destruction to make way for yet another monster house. In this case 4 houses where 1 used to stand.
I get it, these homes earn the builder hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps a million dollars.
But what about the wildlife that called this glade of trees home? What about the air quality that is improved because of these trees? What about the temperature that is moderated by the shade these trees give? What about the 20 years of growth, time that it took for these trees to grow to this magnificence?
As tears stream down my face, I say a prayer and honour all that these trees have given us.
My reaction is that I want to go out and buy new little trees to plant, to honour what is coming down today.
It's too hot right now to do that, to plant trees, but once it's cooler I will be planting some new trees.
My tender heart is bruised today watching and listening to this happening.