Create When No One is Looking

(c) Adair Heitmann

One of my favorite authors, the Kentucky born Barbara Kingsolver says:

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

Creativity and Wellness message for today: Just do it! Write, create, paint, dance, just do it!

Finally, Someone Who Understands! Thank you Misha

Mikhail-BaryshnikovNo longer will I feel guilty when I don’t want to talk with someone while I’m creating art in a community artists’ studio.

No longer will I feel ashamed that I don’t know Suzy Q, Barbi X., or John Z. when asked, “Why don’t you know them, they go there all the time?”

No longer will I apologize for getting snippy to my family when they interrupt me while I’m trying to choose which monoprint to submit to an exhibit, while reviewing art prints at our kitchen table.

Now I can proudly proclaim, “Don’t you know art is a very slow and fragile process? Dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov told me so!”

While exercising this morning I heard on NPR about Baryshnikov’s Art Center in NYC, marking its 10th anniversary. Hearing Baryshnikov simply state the obvious changed my day, my week, and my world. He says that art is a fragile process and artists need privacy and space to create. I know that! Thinking back to when I had a separate studio space I remember those as the glory artist days. But I wanted more in life and co-created a multi-faceted, multi-use home and life. Yes, I adore our teenage son, but can’t a girl dream about “space, and light, and privacy?” That is just what Baryshnikov created for artists in New York City, an environment in which artists of all kinds can go and create to their heart’s content. Well done Misha!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Even if your kitchen table is filled with college tour brochures, applications, and forms, keep your vision of space, light, and privacy on the horizon.

With Art in Mind . . .

14230036541q9cv“Fine art is that
in which
the hand,
the head,
and the heart
go together.”
-John Ruskin

From Wikipedia:
John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political economy. His writing styles and literary forms were equally varied.

The Power of Words

art-colorI recently visited The Nest in Bridgeport, CT. The Nest is an artist’s studio co-op housed in a weather-beaten, flat-topped, but freshly painted old warehouse, complete with a red door. Luckily a friend who has a second floor studio invited me and my artwork to participate in a group-rate photo shoot of my images.

Among other things, like taking a personal day from work to have an art day, I loved being immersed in color talk and hearing art jargon and nomenclature. It’s my first language! When I overheard the photographer say, “I’m seeing slight cyan issues,” I smiled to myself. Ahhhhhhh, I exhaled.  She isn’t talking about “issues” like anxiety, she was talking about color saturation to digitally match an artist’s fiber art. Sitting there,  I was in heaven just listening.

I grinned when I heard, “Every digital camera has its own color issues.” No, we aren’t talking about stereotyping. I was full and satisfied when I overheard, “It just needed magenta added back into the blues.” No, not a jazz song, not feeling depressed, color, color, color.

This orgy for my ears brought to mind a list of pure pigment names I read while ordering paints online last summer. I was delighted by how familiar they sounded on my tongue and looked to my eyes. Reminiscing about them instantly peeled off decades and I was right back in art school, young, powerful, and creative.

Hansa Yellow
Diatylide Yellow
Pyrrolle Orange
Perylen Vermillion (oh, how this one makes me shudder with joy)
Quinacridone Violet
Ultramarine Blue (brings me right back to the first art term I ever learned)
Phthalo Blue
Burnt Sienna (I can see the rich red-brown as I type)
Raw Umber
Van Dyke Brown
Jet Black
Carbon Black
Lamp Black (yes, we artists have many shades of black)

Words, simple words, they return me to my first life as a young artist. Positive memories spring up from my formative days, offering strength and excitement.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Revisit the language of your art and see where the journey takes you.

Creative Ideas: Inquire Within

Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall

I first discovered the painter, European modernist  Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985) when I was a wide-eyed, feisty young art student at Syracuse University. Chagall was a multi-faceted artist working in paint and stained glass, producing windows for the cathedrals of Rheims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. Chagall also created large-scale paintings, including part of the ceiling of the Paris Opéra. I also am a multi-faceted artist. His work showed me it was okay to explore in many different mediums.

In college, it was a printmaking professor, a substitute teacher for one day, who introduced me to Chagall’s paintings. Instead of instructing us on the techniques of intaglio or etching, my teacher told us to keep a dream journal – a log of our nighttime dreams. When asked why, she answered, “Marc Chagall used his dreams for subject matter.” I’ve been writing down my dreams ever since. Not only have I written them down, they’ve integrated themselves into my art, and I’ve relied on their wisdom to guide my waking life.

Years later, as a still feisty, veteran artist, I know art and dreams are cut from a similar fabric. They both involve surrender, trust, and insight.

“Art seems to me to be a state of soul more than anything else.”
-Marc Chagall

Creativity and wellness message for today: Find your own intersection of art and dreams.

The Truth About Nighttime Dreams

IMG_1367I’ve been following the wisdom of my nighttime dreams for decades. Guidance from that knowledge has been like a tiller in my hand, helping me steer the sailboat of my life.

Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist, Marsha Norman says:

“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

So true!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Write down what was in your dream last night. Don’t edit, just write it down. Then be open to how that one act might help you set the course of your day (or your life.)

You’ve Finished Your Novel, What Now?

AjahnChahYour project, artwork, memoir, essay, is done. The beginning, middle, and end of your creative process complete. What’s next?

How often have you jumped into the next project immediately? Or started developing your writing platform for publicity before your computer has even cooled down? I admit, I’m guilty.

What helps me focus on the transition time is something I’ve learned as a long-time practitioner of the art of meditation. I’ve learned to exhale, stop, and be present in the moment. Completing a project, especially one that has taken me a long time to finish, has its own sense of fulfillment and timing. Many inventive projects are fraught with unsettling feelings accompanied by ups and downs of exhilaration, despair, and ecstasy.

This morning I’m reminded of the following quote by a Thai meditation teacher.

Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
What you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Resist nothing.
– Ajahn Chah

Creativity and wellness message for today: Embrace who, what, and where you are, right now.