Creative Process-ing

Art journal page in progress

Art journal page in progress

It's been a long while since I've posted and I've been super busy. I have four new large pieces in the works, I'm finishing up a color theory class and a photoshop class and I'm right in the middle of teaching an art journaling class, which I am loving! I have one piece a local show and several pieces in another. {Yay!} And in my "spare" time, I've been learning how to design surface patterns. Lots of creative activity on top of regular Life, which fuels me and feeds my soul enough to handle the "everyday" challenges.  

I've been thinking lately about what I would do without my creative activity. Probably go crazy! Or at the very least be a bit grouchy and unhappy. Over the past several months, I've had a few weeks that were taken up with other activities that needed my attention, some were family things. After about three days of not painting, I found myself feeling restless, a little irritable, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I started to become unfocused and unorganized. A little scatter brained. If a week goes by, I start feeling angry and resentful. Ugh. It's a terrible feeling and state to be in! Painting is like water to me, three days without it and I'm dying. I must paint. Whether I paint well or not is not really the issue. I would like to paint well, which I hope will come with practice. But whether I paint well or paint badly, I. must. paint. 

Isn't that strange? I have no explanation. I only know what I feel like if I avoid or cannot paint for several days and what a relief I feel after I do paint. I spent years trying to "find my way" after realizing in my 20's that I had been living someone else's life, someone else's dream, someone who was no longer in my life. I was rather shocked to discover that I didn't even have a dream for myself! I resolved that my 30's would be different, though I had not a clue as to how to go about changing things. I only knew I wanted to be at home--in my place, in my relationships and in my work, my work. Little by little, I started paying attention to what I wanted and what I didn't want; what made me feel joyful and what made me feel sad or angry. Slowly, I began to make different choices whether they made sense or not. Once I reached 40, I had started to make art on a more regular basis and had begun pursuing an artistic life.  I suspected that I'd found my path although I had trouble calling myself an "artist" and still struggled with my self-esteem. I had no idea how I would know when I'd found my home, but I knew it must be there. The first time I heard the phrase "follow your bliss", I was in a yoga class and wondered what the heck "bliss" was! It certainly couldn't be the surfac-y happy feeling that is so fleeting. So what exactly was it and how do you "follow" it? Had I ever really felt "blissful"? I didn't think so. What was "bliss" to me? It must be a bit personal for everyone, right? What did I want? To be surrounded by beauty and to create, came my answer. So, I decided to practice seeing beauty all around me, do the next right thing, follow my strong impulses and focus on my work (art making). It was a rich, deeply moving, uncomfortable, heart opening, mind altering, life changing experience which lasted two years before it became "real". As a result, there were a lot of changes, some uncomfortable and some welcome. I now know that I am on MY path and have every intention of following it wherever it leads. I'm working very hard, harder than ever in my life, and I'm happy. I feel that I've finally found my Home. I learned that the decisions come first, then action in practice and the feelings follow later. Had I not made a commitment to see things through whether or not I experienced any kind of feeling, I may have quit, thinking that home was an illusion, non-existent, a fantasy. 

What I love about teaching art journaling is that it makes art accessible for everyone, and I get to have the honor of supporting someone through their process. The creative process doesn't have to be the deep, earth moving process that I had, sometimes is just an outlet for stress or creative release or simply playtime. But no matter what kind of process one has, it is sacred to witness. Because art is a reflection of the inner life of an individual, a personal expression which no one else can truly replicate. Your marks are your marks made with your hand. Because no one else has your hand, and no one uses their hand quite like you do, no one else can truly make your marks. They might look similar, but they are not the same. This concept shows up glaringly so in art journaling. No two people's art journals are the same...ever. Isn't that incredible?!? Blows me away. I can teach one technique to ten students and see ten different results. And that amazes me! And what amazes me more is that often I see things in others' work that I would never have thought of! I love that! Art is therefore, truly collaborative, wholly individual and utterly mysterious. 

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