For Those That Travel the Creative Path

I came across this lovely prose by Charlotte Eriksson as I perused the Goodreads website today. There is no title and is probably an excerpt from an essay. It is so appropriate for any one who is traveling the creative path…..

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“… so this is for us.
This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love
and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know
because the beauty is in the act of doing it.
Not what it can lead to.
This is for the times I lose myself while writing, singing, playing
and no one is around and they will never know
but I will forever remember
and that shines brighter than any praise or fame or glory I will ever have,
and this is for you who write or play or read or sing
by yourself with the light off and door closed
when the world is asleep and the stars are aligned
and maybe no one will ever hear it
or read your words
or know your thoughts
but it doesn’t make it less glorious.
It makes it ethereal. Mysterious.
Infinite.
For it belongs to you and whatever God or spirit you believe in
and only you can decide how much it meant
and means
and will forever mean
and other people will experience it too
through you.
Through your spirit. Through the way you talk.
Through the way you walk and love and laugh and care
and I never meant to write this long
but what I want to say is:
Don’t try to present your art by making other people read or hear or see or touch it; make them feel it. Wear your art like your heart on your sleeve and keep it alive by making people feel a little better. Feel a little lighter. Create art in order for yourself to become yourself
and let your very existence be your song, your poem, your story.
Let your very identity be your book.
Let the way people say your name sound like the sweetest melody.

So go create. Take photographs in the wood, run alone in the rain and sing your heart out high up on a mountain
where no one will ever hear
and your very existence will be the most hypnotising scar.
Make your life be your art
and you will never be forgotten.”

― Charlotte Eriksson

The Power of Play, the Power of Clay

IMG_0003My last show is done for the year and perhaps indefinitely.  I am relieved to return to my ceramics studio without the stress of deadlines.  It’s playtime!

There is so much value in play.  I’m talking about for children as well as adults.  Taking time to play in an art form gives that other part of our brain a rest that worries and analyzes so our spirits can be released.  Unfortunately, our culture undervalues play in favor of productivity. As our schools have stripped theeducation-1814187_1920 arts from their curriculums in favor of core subjects, the population is becoming culturally illiterate, more plugged in, and more isolated.

hand-845269_1920Clay is one medium that immediately can turn adults into kids again and turn kids into kids again.  It’s tactile, versatile, and gives immediate satisfaction. If you need more play in your life, consider taking a ceramics class.  Enjoy the satisfaction of playing in mud again.  I wish everyone had access to clay. The world would be a better place.

Hands in Clay

When my hands touch clay

I lose myself

Deep in the soft, smooth sensation of mud

Sliding between my fingers

 

When my hands touch clay

I am a child at play

With infinite possibilities

 

When my hands touch clay

I become the earth

 

When my hands touch clay

I am Navaho, Pueblo, African, Asian, Aborigine

And of the ancient ones

Sharing the spirit of creation

Hidden in the clay

Waiting to be born

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Passion vs Profit

There are many ways to structure a creative life.  I admire those that can make a living IMG_0395from their pen or brush.  For me, anytime I have attached profit to my creative endeavors, the business of it all can suck the very joy out of the process. In my experience, it takes at least as much effort to market and sell my work than making it.  Now in my 60s and retired from teaching for over 2 years I am asking myself “How do I really want to be spending my remaining precious time on this Earth?

This dialogue has cropped up again in the wake of my first holidayDSC00500IMG_0397 show of the season.  Yes, I walked away with a few hundred dollars in my pocket but was it all worth it? I could have made that money easily with some substitute teaching (which I don’t mind) and been far less exhausted.  By the time I crunch my time in my studio, schlep my stuff to the venue, sit and sell (hoping for good attendance), make my booth fee, schlep home and unpack, ask myself “Where is the joy in all this?”

IMG_0501Thinking about profit sabotages both my spontaneity and my passion, like a relationship gone stale. I have one more show and then that will be it.  My Etsy shop will remain up.  It will generate a few sales and act as a portfolio of sorts.  After the first of the year, I will be selling my big kiln as there will be no need for it.  If someone wants to buy my work, great, otherwise I will enjoy donating it to others and make just for the joy of making.

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Thinking “Inside a Box”

cell-1496385_1920Gas molecules will fly all over the place unless held in a container.  That’s what I’m like .  Unless I am contained in a structure, I am all over the map.  As a result, I can feel inefficient and anxious. Ironically it appears that in order for me to “think outside the box”, I need to be in one

For most, they have a structure imposed by a job, school, and/or family responsibilities.  That used to be me but 2 years ago I retired from teaching and now it’s up to me to create my own structure.  In other words, I get to be my own parent.  Scary.chest-2648225_1920

I make several kinds of visual art, play music, sing in a choir, and write, plus take care of an aging farmhouse on rural property.  I’m doing a little of this and a little of that.  As a result, my work is all over the place with no real sense of focus & accomplishment. I am “showing up” but irregularly without a clear set of goals. So after bumbling around for a while in this new found frontier of freedom, I realize that in order to function effectively I need to create my own “box” for myself to save me from chaos.

IMG_1647Recently I sent for books on the subject. Currently, I am reading ,  Goal Setting for People Who Hate to Set  Goals.”   This small book by Keith Ellis is helping me prioritize & set measurable goals step by step.  Today I am going to sit down, write out my goals and create a visual flowchart to follow.  For me, unless I write things down and have a visual posted in a place where I see it consistently, all will be a wash.

Some successes thus far: I have started to get up an hour earlier.  That helps a lot.   I also for some months now have been following a modified version of the house cleaning and organization system on flylady.net.  My house is way more in order and clean than ever before by just following her simple systematic approach.   I function much better in a clean, orderly environment.

If you have any tricks to stay focused and organized, I would love to know!

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Just Show Up

wrecker-2061697_1920No matter what rut you’re in, creative or otherwise, the only way to escape is by momentum.  Whether it be a running start with or without an external assist (think tow truck) as in a class.  Here is a free tow truck- watch the Mel Robbins’ Ted Talk.  She is a good motivator.

IMG_1551After a bit of a dry spell this summer (literally and figuratively), I decided to take the sage wisdom of other creatives and just SHOW-UP.  Anything is better than being miserable. So I have been just showing up to my studio with no great inspiration, choosing to do whatever caught my fancy.  “Junk collage” started me off, then I joined an informal mosaic group on Monday mornings that a friend of mine started.  ThenIMG_1549 there is nothing like SIGNING UP.  I have a couple of holiday shows now I need to create for.  Deadlines are a great motivator.  I bought a new bag of clay and I’m ready to go.

IMG_1547Creative dry spells are no fun.  There is a certain desperation and despair about these times.  But just like being physically out of shape, the only way to get in creative shape is to start moving.  It’s uncomfortable at first and discouraging to begin again.  Creative muscles get sore too.   That means baby steps.  Show up 10 minutes a day if that’s all you have in you and work up to more.

I’m not making masterpieces here, but I am making, and making is when I’m happiest.

 

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A Time for Play

I’m in between right now.  That means I am in a lull between past projects and ones yet to be revealed.  This is a perfect opportunity for play which often leads to inspiration. One of my guilty pleasures is taking a selection of cast off junk and combining it into something artsy.  It’s akin to child’s play- no expectations, just fun.

I’ve been eyeing an round, rusty old grill on an equally rusty burn barrel at the back fence line of my property.  Last week I decided to see what I could do with it.

3 tone Plate2I was especially happy that I could incorporate the pieces of a favorite ceramic plate that I made years ago and then recently broke.  Also included are some old springs, washers, a silver bracelet, a hawk feather, jute, a scrap of copper & a couple of glass moonstones for eyes.  It’s now hanging on the outside of my studio. I call it ‘Grateful God.”

A BLESSING

May the light of your soul guide you

May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.

May you see in what you do, the beauty of your own soul.

May the sacredness of your work never weary you.

May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.

May you be present in what you do

May you never become lost in bland absences.

May the day never burden.

May dawn find you awake and alert,

Approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.

May evening find you gracious and fulfilled

May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected

May your soul calm console, and renew you.

John o’Donoghue

Anam Cara

 

Why I Write As a Visual Artist

d73458fbbe781b9b5b5e94dede7541f3-writing-help-on-writingI’ve kept a journal off and on since I was a junior in high school.  It was an assignment in my English class.  Long after the assignment was over, I kept on as I found it to be a way to clarify my thoughts and anchor myself quelling my teenage anxiety.

Away at college, I added to my journaling by writing letters to friends, often 3 to 4 double-sided pages.  I poured out my hopes and fears as a young adult on yellow lined legal pads. Never during that time did I consider my writing to have any type of creative value. My major was in the natural sciences and didn’t give language arts much if any thought.

Fast forward 40 odd years to my 60’s, now a retired middle school science teacher and a practicing artist, piles of journals stored in boxes in my attic.  Then, last fall I picked up a pencil and started reading & writing poetry every morning as an alternative to reading and listening to the news.  The 2016 election was driving me crazy.  Much to my surprise,035572205f481fafaa1112f666ff3c24 poetry started emanating from me.  Not only was the process satisfying creatively, it started becoming food for my visual artwork.  As time passed, my writing has continued to rescue me from the darkness of the world events. (I choose not to write about them either).

In January of this year, my blog followed the poetry.  Originally it was going to be a way to document my visual art processes, but it has turned into a platform to showcase my writing, photography as well as my artwork.  Again as with poetry, the satisfaction of writing a blog surprised me.

Julie Cameron of the Artist’s Way series suggests writing 3 full pages every morning.  She calls them “Morning Pages.”  Years back for a while I tried to do that.  Though I did receive plenty of insights, the 3 full pages exercise were just too prescriptive and forced to me and I began to avoid the process.

quotes-writing-william-h-gass-600x411Now I believe just write- daily in whatever form suits you.  For me sometimes that can be a few lines, an entire poem or just editing something I’ve written the day before. Anything to tame the squirrels running loose in my brain. It’s a creative act that can be achieved with the immediacy of pencil and paper. You don’t need paint, canvas, a studio, clay or kiln.  It’s a relatively quick process. Paint pictures with letters, words, and sentences.  When you aren’t inspired visually, find inspiration & clarity in your written expression. Free your psyche to give your visual art more direction than it’s ever had before.