Creative Gifts: Respond to What’s Inside You

drumming manEnjoying Japanese food and a glass of Chardonnay last night with a friend, I listened as she told me about joining a local artist’s collective. She is renting studio space, outside of her home. My friend was so happy to be back in the nest of like-minded creative souls. I was so lucky to be able to rejoice with her.

She said, “I haven’t painted, I mean really painted in 20 years.” I nodded, “I understand.”

Her longing, that she turned into bliss, reminds me of a quote from Joy Harjo’s book Crazy Brave.

“If you do not answer the noise and urgency of your gifts, they will turn on you, or drag you down with their immense sadness at being abandoned.”

Creativity and wellness message: Start today by listening to your inner drum beat. Respond to the calling of your gifts.

Advertisements

Making Art Fun: Step 2 – Use What You Have on Hand

Door_4_a_TeePee_copyright_Adair_Wilson_HeitmannIf you stay in the art business long enough you start to see patterns. I’ve been an exhibiting professional artist for decades and I enjoy tracking the methods of my artistic madness. In my last blog about making art fun I wrote about keeping it simple. Today I’ll share Step 2: Use What You Have on Hand.

Several years ago I was asked by the gallery owner of Bell Gallery, one of my, then, premier exhibition spaces, to create a work of art for herself and her boyfriend. They made a tipi to travel with and camp in during the summer. They planned to stitch the gallery artists’ paintings to their nomadic abode. Having very little time to focus on the task I used what was on hand. In my studio I found what I considered to be a scrap, a test cloth of photo-sensitized fabric. I quickly glued and sewed it onto a square of un-primed canvas, and drew directional lines to blend the borders. I then stamped fun symbols and wrote a short spontaneous sentiment with rubber letter stamps encircling the central image. Voilà! A work of art that was not premeditated, not drafted out, not sweated over. A work of art that seized what was on hand and let that momentum build the creative expression.

Darryl Norem, the gallery owner and Guenther Riess loved the painting. They were so happy with it that it never made it onto the tipi. They rigged it on two standing poles that flanked the door opening to their temporary home every time they put it up. Their actions surprised me at the time, because I thought I just threw the mixed-media artwork together. I was honored that they put my art in a place of recognition, yet I couldn’t see the value of it as much as they did. Looking back on the piece years later I now see the spunk and liveliness of the canvas. I appreciate what they saw then, a work of art with creativity, heart and soul. Something that delights and intrigues the viewer. This was a lesson for me. What I thought was just a quick creation was actually something of far greater worth than I realized.

Fast forward to 2012 and 2013, when I had fun with art and participated in the world tour of artists’ sketchbooks called The Sketchbook Project. In both years I followed Step #2, had a ball and completed the projects on deadline. The pattern is that when pressed for time, what I create right out of the gate by using what’s at hand, without my ego getting in the way, makes the best art.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Cage your inner critic and use something on hand to ignite your creative spark.

How to Make Art Fun

2013_sketchbook_project_coverHappy Creative New Year everyone!

Well folks, I just finished my 2013 sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project. The deadline is 1/15/13 and I am way ahead of schedule. Art House Coop started this really cool project – “Together, thousands of creative people from around the world are forming a traveling library of artists’ books.” I participated last year and wrote about that experience in the Fairfield Writers Blog.

I love combining words and pictures. This year I used watercolor paintings juxtaposed with memoir in-the-moment-of-life writing. I had great fun making my book. Being a professional artist for so many decades has taught me a lot. Most importantly, enjoying myself is my barometer for making art. If it ain’t fun, I don’t do it. Listed below are hints for having fun with art (kind of like makin’ whoppee with life). Over the next several months I’ll write longer blogs about each one in more detail.

Adair’s List for Making Art Fun:
1. Keep it simple.
2. Use what you have on hand.
3. Don’t re-invent the wheel.
4. Lighten up.
5. Delete your inner critique (and delete again and again as needed).
6. Be playful.
7. Listen to your inner voice.
8. Allow for happy accidents.
9. Stop when done.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Ring in the new year with joyful artistic creations!

A Song of an Artist’s Soul

Yesterday I was talking with a neighbor when tears briefly welled up in my eyes. We were talking about art and design. I felt sad that I wasn’t spending enough time for my artist’s soul. I realized I’m longing to put pen to paper in textured, tactile ways. Daily, I’m writing and designing, but it’s all online. I’m not feeling the tug and pull of a wet paint brush. I miss the salty smell of red carmine and the sulphur overtones of vermillion.

Being a fine artist is all about the touch, smell, sight and sound of making art, not just the end product. It’s about getting messy and making happy mistakes. It’s about hearing the calligraphy nib on a hand-tooled wooden pen scratching toothed paper. Give me the sweet smell of amber in gum arabic and the sharp bite of black touche on a Bavarian limestone.

Drench me in the crisp scent of tautly stretched canvas. Let me run my fingers along the deckled edge of handmade paper. Lie me down with solid Sumi brushes and let me listen to bright white paper as it wicks up watery midnight-colored ink.

Creating this ode to the senses of art refreshes me. I’m now pleasantly anticipating my next artistic sojourn.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Sing the song of your own artist’s soul.

Starting Again

Hello everyone, I’m back to writing my creativity and wellness blog, after enjoying a break from it this summer. If you are a regular subscriber to this blog, welcome back! If you are reading it for the first time, I hope you find something you like and visit again. In once-a-weekish short essays I’ll share inspiring quotes, messages, and revelations geared to enrich your thinking and sometimes soothe your soul.

After having a busy summer, filled with deadline-oriented professional responsibilities and a truckload of personal ones, I’m getting my feet planted in this new season. I was reminded over the weekend how easy it is to slip back into old habits, ones that aren’t good for me. My vulnerability is going into an emotional place that I call the wounded victim. It’s that place in which I consider my glass half empty instead of half full. It’s an old familiar place of discomfort and I see that I have more work to do digging myself out of my own pit. Writing this blog entry actually helped me clarify my thoughts and in turn my spirit lifted.

If you find yourself in an old habit that doesn’t serve you, use the metaphor of going back to school as your guide. Start again changing your frame of mind or commit to applying paint brush to canvas, or hands to wet clay. Pick up your unfinished manuscript and start where you left off.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Just like an artist with a sketch pad full of empty pages, let yourself create a new sketch.

Drawn to the Sea

Yesterday was one of those out-of-kilter-days. Do you ever have them? I woke up with my list of personal and professional responsibilities all lined up, in a neat row, in my head. The only problem was that I couldn’t get my motor started. Yes, I was up very early, yes I was completing my appointed tasks but I felt like I was moving through molasses. My order! My list! Everything was out-of-order and my energy was draining. Finally I let it all go and went for a walk to the beach.

Inhaling salty cold air, and watching the play of light against dry, stark white snow and damp sandy shore, made me pause. I was in the right place at the right time. My lists could wait, what I needed was to have my soul replenished.

Interestingly enough when I returned from my revitalizing walk, I had an e-mail calling me into work for a meeting. That was perfect! That was why my day felt so off-balance, I unknowingly needed to allow space for the unexpected.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be drawn to where your soul needs to rest.

Clarity

Have you ever completed a project and felt a sense of perspective? Well, that happened to me a few minutes ago. I’ve just finished writing a workshop titled “Creativity and Well-being” that I’ll be giving at a social services community center next week. The program is all about my mission that creativity is handling life’s challenges from an enlightened perspective. The program inspires wellness by teaching that we can all experience balanced free-flowing energy on many levels–body, mind, emotions, and spirit. As I was creating the workshop I remembered when I recently experienced an illuminating view of clarity.

A few weeks ago, I was in the throes of a professional metamorphosis, with the same level of stress that, many of you may be feeling right now too. I gave myself permission to trust in the unknown and simply take a step in the right direction, not fully knowing where that step might lead me.  In an instant of pure trust, a union of my mind, body and spirit occurred, like a clear, glacier-fed stream in the Canadian Rockies. Clarity came to me quietly, without judgment and flowing freely. In that crystal transformation my soul had no agenda. Validation wasn’t necessary, pure essence was all there was.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be open to receive clarity. It can come to you softly, without fanfare or drama. It will simply exist and in the moment you will know you are walking in truth.