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Happy New Year!
Reflecting back on this past year, I realize it has been a very full year indeed, both creatively and emotionally. It seems many people have been moving through things at great depth, as we are all being carried down a swift moving river, sometimes not feeling like we have much control over where we are going or how we are going to get there. Every once in awhile, we manage to find a slow moving pool, and paddle there for awhile catching our breath, before the next current sweeps us off again into the rich, full, and, at times, overwhelming current of life.
This brings to mind something I learned while teaching my last session and working with the book, I will not Die an Unlived Life, by Dawna Markova. In one chapter she says,
“When a “way closes” and one stage of our lives is complete, we are at a intersection, a threshold. Because we are all such creative beings in essence….we approach the unknown, stories first….then (we) either spin it into gold or dung by the stories we choose to attach to it…..”rut stories”….numb us and confirm that we always are who we always have been….”River Stores”… (are)energizing, carrying us toward the possibility of purpose.”
This idea of a “Rut Story” or a “River Story” has stuck with me as I can find myself caught in my own web of Rut Stories and it never feels very good. They are sticky stories and tend to glue any tiny negative thing to them and even attract more if given the tiniest bit of opening, expanding the story into a deeper Rut. It takes a lot of effort to drag out of that rut once you fall into it.
The River Story, feels so very different. It is open to possibilities, airy and it has a flow to it. It can be deep too, but in a different sort of a way, a mysterious way. Often things are unclear, but they are not. We may not really know or be able to describe it, but we know it deep in our bones; it is an old story, yet new. Yes, there may always be the dichotomies.
We feel like we are on the right path, in our flow, when we are in our River Stories. Doors open. And, then, there is the struggle, the challenges, how we will face these rapids and undercurrents that will be there to ask us, to remind of us Who We Really Are. “Which story will you cling to, the River Story or the Rut Story?”
A bird comes to mind. A bird can take flight and fly great distances when needed, and it KNOWS the way. No one needs to give it a map. It is ancient history mapped into the bird’s system; the bird follows its instincts to take it where it needs to go. There are no questions, no other ways. It stops on a tree every once in awhile and looks about, gets PERSPECTIVE. It nests at the appropriate time, sitting on its eggs, protecting them, guarding them, from others. Then when hatched, she feeds the wee ones, nurtures them, until it is time to kick them out of the nest. Until they need to find their own homes. It is a story that is connected to the Great Creator, the Universe, The Muse. There is so much we can learn from Nature and from the Old River Stories.
And, of course, these River Stories have challenges that must be overcome, dilemmas and dragons to be faced. The birds, have enemies too. There are always those. It is how we face them, from what place inside ourselves that we navigate those challenges. It is in the River Stories we connect to our Authentic Self, we Remember who we are, who we came here to be. And we just know. We don’t need a map, it is all there inside of us, just like in the bird.
So, how does this connect to Creativity, you ask? Well, in the creative process, we can easily get stuck in our River Stories or our Rut Stories about our art and our own process. This was clear to me this Fall as I prepared for two shows. Reflecting back, it has been a learning lesson where the River and Rut stories were weaving through; where I was connecting to my Authentic Self, and then not. How about you? Do recognize your own River and Rut stories? Are you able to stay connected to your River Stories? What tools do you use to do so?
In this next session, we will focus on remembering our Authentic Self. Finding and deeply connecting to that place within ourselves in the painting process, all the while being guided by our Muse. The Muse is always there, available to us, when we choose to listen. We all know The Way, sometimes we just forget. Come and support each other through this process. I am looking very much forward to meeting you in this place!
Hello and Happy Fall!
Thank you all for your patience! It has been a crazy but good Summer!
I love Fall although I will miss the warm Summer days. Fall always feels like my New Year…way more than Jan does. It feels like is time to look at where I am going. Am I on the path that feels right for me? Am I being true to my authentic self? Am I really listening to what I need for my own inner center and creative self?
This Summer was particularly busy for us. From the beginning of Aug until the beginning of Sept we have had non-stop visitors. Don’t get me wrong, I loved visiting with everyone and going to the river, beaches, wineries and all the other activities we did. I do have to say, though, I find it hard to keep my own center when everyone is about. I tend to lose myself in what everyone else is doing and follow along. How about you? How do you keep your internal center and compass when there are lots of distractions? So what did I learn from all of this?
Art and writing helps me to stay clear and grounded in myself. And, I have to admit, I did not get out to my studio or find my journal very much when everyone was here. I did take my 4 yr old niece out there to paint and play and that was fun! The part of the creative process that I find challenging while others are here is I like to be mostly in a quiet space, usually by myself to create, or in an environment with like-minded people. What kind of environment do you find supportive to your creative practice?
I always think I should just get out my sketchbook and draw, but I am shy about this, (yes, still) and so do not. However, my sister, Kendra, gave me this great book for my birthday this Summer, called Let’s Make Some Great Art by Marion Deuchars. We put it on the living room table and have been “playing” in it with visitors.
My favorite thing that happened with this book was with my Mom (Mom, hope you are OK with me telling this story?!). She visited here after my sister and I showed her the book and encouraged her to draw in it. She promptly told me she couldn’t draw ( you know I have heard this before). I said you don’t have to, just doodle. I opened up to a page with a few random triangles all attached and you were to continue the drawing. I found us a pen and pencil and I started drawing weird triangles and encouraged her to do so too. So next thing I know there she is making triangles too. However, she kept saying that mine were more interesting than hers (a value judgment) and I told her, not so…just different (remember our art is as different and unique as we each are). I explained how doodling is good for your brain. She then informed me she doodles all the time on when she is on the phone. Awesome (I hope you all doodle too?!) I told her to just take her pencil for a walk and see where it goes. So she kept at it. I left her drawing while I went to make dinner. Shortly after, I hear her call to me, “Look what I made! It turned it into a man made of triangles!” She was so pleased with herself and so was I for her continuing drawing, and overcoming those voices.
I love this little story because it can be applied to the bigger story of our lives. How, if we Just Keep Walking (just Keep on Creating), taking the Next Right Step (or in my Mom’s case, taking her pencil for a walk), and not giving in to those Voices of Judgement (yeah, they will be there, trying to undermine what you are doing), look where we can end up!! We can find ourselves in a place that is surprising and brings us pleasure. Moral of the story: Keep on Creating or Walking in your Life (despite the Voices) and Stretch Yourself Outside of Your Comfort Zone. I wonder where that might lead you this New Year?
So perhaps the other part of this story for me is learning to Allow Art to Happen Unexpectedly, even with people I don’t normally create with and that too can be fun and another way to keep the creative juices flowing.
If I had to pick one of my favorite experiences this Summer it would have to be this: Dancing. Yes, folks dancing can be creative too, especially with friends and family in your living room or hotel room! This story begins with my friend, Laurie, visiting. My hubby was away and one evening she and I started putting on music that transported us back to the old days. I kept turning the volume up. Next thing I know we are moving the coffee table out of the living room and dancing around singing and writhing to the music, dancing through the hall. Great way to let loose!
Then, there was the visit with my sister and her family. My husband has a huge record collection, so last year each of us picked from the collection 2-3 of our favorite records and sat and listened. This year, we did that except it ended up with Kendra and I getting up and dancing…we even had our own little band-- Kendra on air guitar and me on air drum (and a little guitar), with a lot of laughing and videos being taken by the husbands!!! We eventually got the hubbys up dancing too! And, did I mention I love dancing with my hubby?
Next dancing escapade happened in a hotel room when we were all away with my Mom. This time Mom joined. The funniest thing was Kendra, Mom and I dancing to “Kung Fu Fighting”!! Mom won the prize for her cute rendition complete with her own special clucking sounds, although Kendra kicked me and I fell over (laughing so hard)! I am not sure if I will still be in the family for telling these stories but aren’t families supposed to forgive you and don’t worry I am NOT posting videos. The thing you all may not know (I cannot believe I am telling you this) is I used to be a disco dancer in a former life. So, of course, my family fondly refers to me as the “Dancing Queen”. There are more stories that go with that life but I will not bore you with them here! Although, I did meet my husband in Ballroom Dancing class at UBC….
MORAL OF THE STORY: When you can’t paint, Dance! Or better yet (and we have been known to do this in the studio classes) DANCE AND PAINT at the same time!! Try it, I think you will like it…
Keep on Creating!
I am here to herald in the Summer. Let’s begin with some of our Favorite Things….I am hoping that we may paint in the warmth and sun that we are all yearning for. Yes, I love the greens and the lush rain forest in which we live in, but about now, I am craving a bit of warmth. How about you?
This is the time of year I like to fling open the studio doors, pull my working tables and easels outside and work “plein air”. There is something about having the grass beneath my feet when I am working. It gives me that connection to the earth and solidness underneath me. Not to mention being able to breathe in fresh air and all the scents from the garden. I love the scent of honeysuckle, peony and mock orange that wafts through the air right now. I think that is one of my Favorite Things about early Summer...or any season actually---I love the scents.
In a few weeks, I will have the opportunity to paint at MusicFest again this year. There, I get to combine two more of My Favorite Things (remind you of something?) listening to music AND creating outside…only this is extra special because it is live music. If you are one of the lucky ones who have a ticket (I hear they have sold out already), come and find me. I will probably be dancing and holding three paint brushes in one hand while I create… and loving it the whole time. So what are some of your Favorite Things?
Of course, creating art is a very Favorite activity of mine. Putting my art out there to the world has not always been easy for me. I have noticed the more I do it, there is less Resistance. However, submitting to the Sooke Fine Art show brought me face to face with that nasty Dragon of Resistance. I was about to bail and not bother finishing my application, when I asked my lovely husband what he thought. Without missing a beat, he looked at me and responded, “RESISTANCE”. As Steven Pressfield says, in his book Do the Work, “You need balls of steel to ship”. I love that line…no pussy footing around at this point. So I finished up the submission and pressed “send”. Once you do that, you really have to let it go!
I was grateful (and a bit nervous) to discover that I was accepted into the Sooke Fine Art show with a mixed media piece from the Red Dress Series. This one will be hard to part with as I really love it-- "Taking Flight" . And, just so you know, two other pieces were not accepted. Why am I telling you this? So you know the Moral of the Story: it is a jury. The jury is different every year. A jury is subjective—which means they pick what THEY like. I have always hated the jury thing just on principle. So if you did not get accepted, and I know a very fine artist friend of mine who was not accepted one year (yes, you know who you are), keep on trying. She is the one that told me, “don’t get put off if they don’t accept you THIS year. There is always next year.” Because she has been accepted other years (this year included) and she does not give up. Rejection is part of the game (ask Steven Pressfield, or you might try reading one of his books). Rejection is NOT one of my Favorite Things. As my dear hubby just pointed out to me, I was Rejected and Accepted. (Thanks Dan). Things to Remember: there is always Another Art Show.
So enough rambling--If any of you are in Victoria from July 26- Aug 5, I hope you will visit the show as there are a number of very fine Comox Valley artists that were accepted and I am honoured to be in the company of-Sandra Lamb, Loretta Busch, Martha Jablonski-Jones, Corre Alice, Henrie Beaudoin, Bev Byerley, and Guillermo Mier—just to name a few I recognize. I hope I haven’t left anyone out! There are also many other artists participating from Vancouver Island and surrounding BC Coastal Islands.
“Reflections: Perspectives on Water” will be another upcoming art show I am participating in with the Westcoast Artist Collective, also with some very creative artists-Kira Neumann, Jennifer Weber, Helen Utsal, Lori Kenney, Martha Jablonski-Jones and Nicole Warrington. This will be at Art Alchemy, in Courtenay, July 26-Aug 22. I will send out an email with more info about that soon!
Definitely on my list of Favorite Things is having you all create here in the Art Room. So, if you are interested in painting in July, drop me a line. The classes fill very quickly so let me know sooner than later.
Keep on Creating!
I hope this email finds you all healthy and in good spirits. I have certainly found the coming of Spring and the return of light a welcome addition.
This year (2013) has found me traveling back and forth to Vancouver to care for my Mom. I have been down three times since January. Most recently, she was admitted to hospital and ended up with surgery for a ruptured appendix and resulting bowel obstruction. She was gravely ill and is still recovering in hospital after being there for over two weeks. However, she has had a miraculous comeback--which we are all grateful for.
Being in the hospital was an experience...seeing all those who do not have family members to visit them and those that are fortunate enough to be surrounded by love. I was struck by the courage of all the patients to endure so many invasions of their privacy. There is a loss of dignity and control over even bodily functions when one is very ill. How can we empower those that are ill to still feel human and feel like they have some sense of control over their lives? The nurses work so hard and do their best to treat everyone with care, as do the residents and doctors and yet they are overloaded and overworked. We expect so much of them to figure everything out and really it is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. They are only human too. As I took Mom to CT and X-ray and sat with her day after day in various rooms, I watched in awe of the will people have to live and endure being poked, prodded, and injected and the patience of the medical staff. Life is certainly not to be taken for granted.
At almost the same time, my daughter was going through a transformation of sorts as she bravely and courageously came forward and spoke out about some of her own personal issues. It has been a long journey for her and she is my hero, overcoming so much in her young life. She inspires me continually to face up to whatever challenge is next. Interestingly enough, part of her journey has involved an amazing boxing program called "Shape Your Life" in Toronto that changed her life (http://www.torontonewsgirls.com/tng_main/index.php). Part of that program involved a creative aspect and the participants painted out some of their experience. If you are interested here is the link to the article that was written about it in the Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/life/2013/04/25/think_outside_the_ring_taking_off_the_gloves_picking_up_the_paintbrush.html
Creativity is healing in whatever way we may practice it. It heals us on such a deep level. It is another language with which to express ourselves and to tap into the deeper knowing of our bodies which are so wise. Over the years of teaching, I have seen the transformational qualities of the creative process. Painting assists us to sort out our lives.
One does not need to know how to paint a perfect picture, or paint at all, one just needs to be open and willing to trust the process and step inside the blob of paint at the end of the brush and allow things to unfold onto the paper. Truth be told, it is a mystery to me how this happens, but it does. The body is wise and will give us answers if we are open to seeing and open to allowing their expression. We may not understand it all at once or even in one painting, but if we trust and have patience, the process will guide us gently in our lives. This is one of the reasons I love to teach. I feel honored and blessed to be part of this painting journey.
The other part to any healthy life is to move our bodies. Walk, dance, run, bike (or in my daughter's case, box) -- whatever movement feels good for you. It seems the research is pointing to the most important thing we can do to move trauma or stress out of our bodies is to MOVE.
In caring for my Mom, I found this to be very helpful. I would walk to and from the hospital, sometimes going for longer walks on the way home, even though I was exhausted, just because I needed to move. As I walked, everything would begin to fall away, literally off my shoulders. As my Mom began to be able to get out of bed and walk, I also saw a change in her and a shift in her attitude as she gained strength.
In my painting classes and my own creative practice, I like to have participants stand, not sit. I put on music that "opens" and I encourage people to move their bodies, even dance as they paint. It moves things out onto the paper and out of our bodies that are holding so much. It is a release. So go and move your body, even if you have to drag yourself outside or to the studio or, with this nice weather, bring the studio outside....you will be glad you did--of that I am certain.
Below you will find the new schedule for June. I am looking forward to doing some “Spring Cleaning” and preparing ourselves for a Summer of blossoming inside and out! There are some spots in the morning and evening classes if you are interested, but please do not leave it too long to let me know as the last session filled very quickly!
Take care and keep on creating in whatever way moves you! Feel free to forward this along to anyone you think might be interested.
And, as always, my artwork is available for purchase. Feel free to contact me if you would like to see anything in "the real" or if you have any questions. Or come for a studio visit!
Dear Creative Ones,
Today the sun has agreed to bless us with her rays. Such a treat for these long grey days of Winter. As I sit here on my computer, I have had to close the curtain as it is too bright! Who would have guessed?!
I have been working hard to put together a new session for our Thursday classes of 2013. In the past, some of you have asked, “How do you come up with your ideas for the classes?” It might begin with an idea out of the blue, or an idea one of you have suggested to me, or some book I am drawn to that is grist for the mill. It is a process that goes through many stages, and I find I cannot rush it. It often takes time to gestate. I have come to trust this process but there are always points where my Resistance rises up and brings me to a complete halt. Always, at some point, my Resistance tries to kybosh whatever idea(s) I have come up with and undermines my efforts. These days, I find I am easily overwhelmed by too much information and my Resistance seems to know this weakness in my system. So it goes for that spot. It has me researching everywhere, reading, getting sidetracked, spending hours on the internet, taking me off my game. I start to 2nd guess things, I begin to add other things and complicate it, and end up wondering what I am doing.
Then, there is The Little Voice (and I mean Little, if I did not pay attention, I would not hear it at all) and she says “keep it simple, Lisa”. So I go back to the basic idea and begin fleshing it out. As Albert Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
You ask, “Why am I telling you this?” Well, I guess because I have realized that the process I go through to plan and what we will learn in the next session connects to all this. I have been reading Steven Pressfield’s work on and off over the last year. He writes clearly, and cuts through the crap. Pressfield is a writer but his information relates to any creative endeavor, dream or life purpose, even exercise, meditation, etc. I imagine if I was to meet him he would be hard as a nut; he does not appear to be the type that puts up with fools, or the fool within. That is exactly why he is so prolific. He gets the work done! I count 11 books published to his name (at this date). As well, he writes online: http://www.stevenpressfield.com/books/
Pressfield says “DO THE WORK” (and, BTW, that is the name of one of his books). That is NOT what I have been doing. Don’t get me wrong, I have been doing work, ALOT of work, but this Fall I have not gotten to my own personal creative art work. I have allowed myself to be distracted by Christmas, family obligations, exercise, cooking, teaching (which is my work too—so that is complicated for me), the new book Sandra Lamb and I have been working on, “The Light Within”….you get the idea. All good things. And I do love teaching—it is my art as well. It feels like one of the things I have been placed here to do. It brings me much heartfelt joy and a lot of my creative thinking goes into planning and teaching the classes. But I use it to distract me from doing my OTHER creative art work.
Fess up time: I signed up to do the Sketchbook Project in Nov. and I have not completed it, and I cannot foresee that I will. Now, granted it arrived just before Christmas and we were going away, so I did not have enough TIME (1st excuse). I did take it with me to Vancouver, with great intentions and I did do a little bit in it, but NOT ENOUGH…. ahh, that “not (good) enough” thing (2nd excuse). I was BUSY (3rd and most used excuse). Actually NOT ENOUGH TIME and BUSY could go as one excuse, couldn’t they? And the next few weeks will mean more of this as I am going to HELP family (ohh, red flag, HELPING is my BIGGEST excuse). My Mom and sister are both having major surgery-my Mom, a knee replacement, and my sister a C-section for her 2nd baby. I am happy to go and Help; helping is what I do best. Here comes Lisa riding up on her Helping Horse (oh, maybe it is really a Dragon?). Heaven forbid if anything gets in the Dragon’s way, let alone her ART! The Dragon of Resistance takes many forms and this is one place where it is fiercest in my life. What is it guarding? Could that be….fear? SHHH, don’t tell, even I am fearful!
So now you have a little understanding into the mind of a creative one. And I would imagine even you too have a Dragon or two to face. And that is just what we will do this session. We will face the Dragon of Resistance in its many forms and see it for what it is, use it to direct us where we need to go. Once we discover what that Dragon is trying to take us away from, it gets easy…well, maybe not easy, but easier to move in the direction of our True North. . We will work on this together, each Thursday for 11 wks. I am pretty sure this is a lifelong process, but we will dig in, dig deep, and forge forward together. If you choose to sign on for this Painting Endeavor (we will paint our way through it), please let me know ASAP. There are limited seats, some which are already filled.
We are not starting until Valentine’s Day, Feb 14th—which seems fitting to me. A day to commit to yourself, show yourself how much you love you. I hope to see you, slaying dragons with your paintbrush. In the meantime, I am off to help my family….I think I will bring my sketchbook, just in case I can sidetrack that Dragon along the way.
On the field of the Self stand a knight and a dragon.
You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon.
Sending you all Paintbrush Swords to
Slay your Dragons of Resistance with Great Swaths of Colour!
The Goddess of Colour