Monday, May 11, 2015

Nooks and Crannies

I've been learning a lot from Mark Zwahl at Close in Coaching. Check out Mark's blog with lots of helpful posts every week. This post below is a reprint from my ClothGirl blog from April 16, 2012. It holds a lot of meaning to me just now.

I've been finding little places where I want to hang on to art, there always seems to be a mirror there. Those "hanging on" places, I see them and then say, "Yep there it is, how interesting, now Let go." Giving up control, its ok, you can get it back later if you really need. Giving up sacred cows, its ok, they are a dime a dozen, you can always get another one. (insert laughter) I have been going through, "Life, Paint, Passion," bit by bit, a little every couple days, and I love what Stewart says about control. When you are painting and not trying to control, there is more energy, you feel connected, you feel on fire, you can afford to risk taking a leap. And in the end, it leads you to a bigger space, in art... in life too... The more I think I've gotten good at letting go, the more I find the little nooks and crannies. Oh, there's another one, and oh, there it goes again. We can choose to see control for the trickster it is. We can choose what we're willing to keep and carry around, and what we don't have to hold. Vitality is the reward for letting go of control; a bigger space, a room of one's own. And besides, the parts of the painting where I wasn't trying to control, they hold more delight.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Process Drawing

I avoid this meeting place, to not have to feel the trepidation, the sense that I can’t do it well enough. When I attempt something creative and it doesn’t turn out like I want, it’s not that gratifying and starts to create a resistance. Like when too much electricity goes through a too small wire, heat builds up where the electricity can’t pass through.

The next morning when I have some quiet time, I get out my sketch book. I love trees. I love their structures, the character of each species and the way they vary.

I love the shapes of leaves, and the veins that show the growth patterns. The veins are really important when you draw leaves, they inform the whole shape and help show the 3D-ness of them.

So, I’m journaling in my sketch book and I ask myself to draw just a small part of the redbud tree beside my porch. I am intrigued with just that one place where the low branch meets the trunk. I find that day, that working small and focusing on what intrigues me most feels good. (focusing more on the observing than the actual drawing.)

As I do this, I am falling in love with the morning sun on the trunk of the tree and the way the clouds cause the light to change, the sound of the wind in the new leaves. The sound that I had missed so much this winter.

My requirement is that I make the attempt, feel what comes up, spend time observing visually, and keep coming back to the playfulness of it.

Probably all this is in the Artist’s Way and I had just forgotten it, or is it in the Drawing on the Right Side of your Brain? Certainly much of it is coming from the study group with Sarah Oblinger. It feels like the kind of thing I just had to experience, will experience over and over, in order to get it from the inside. It seems to be the only way to call up the commitment to do it, to match the will with the desire.

As I’m journaling this in my sketch book, I keep asking myself to come back to the tree trunk. Just look at the place that is attracting my eye, soaking up the feeling and letting the pencil do as it will.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Push & the Pull

My friend, Lori, was visiting and showed me her sketch book she had been using as she traveled around the country. I saw how her sketches related to the art work she was making. She had jotted notes in and amongst the sketches. It was great to see her expression of the places and feelings she experienced along the way.

In addition to getting an inner look into her experiences, it opened up the little space in me again that had been wanting to engage in a more direct visual expression.

I have a script in my head that tells me there are certain conditions have to met for me to be able to draw, the right time, the right subject, the right lighting. That it's about doing it the right way. So, what if I could find a place in me where sketching is play? Where I could approach it with pure abandon? No judgments or requirements. No expectations.

That night I dreamt of paintings, many of them. I saw a painting of a figure from the back with wild colors forming the shadows and outlines. When I got up I water-colored the image over a collage I had done from an old “how to” art book with a figure in it. With life being busy, it had been easy to ignore the impulse to create. It felt important to do something right away with the dream image.

And having done it, I could hear my little inner voice saying “draw some more” And yet there was still that resistance. Ah ha…here we are at the essence of the struggle, what I had been avoiding. The push and the pull together in the same moment, so uncomfortable.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Path to the Quiet Corner

I just found a path through a beautiful place near my house that I had never been to. I feel like I'm in New England there, not the prairie. There are four bridges, a flowing stream, arching woodlands. There were a lot of willows and some copper and plum color iris growing wild in a clearing.

I had been reading a little zen book called "Find a Quiet Corner". It talked about tripping over our quiet corners because we get caught up in the busy-ness of doing. I don't know if that inspired me to stop today at a sign I had seen many times but ignored, but the words came back to me as I walked the path.

Poison Ivy lined much of the way. It has such beautiful leaves and I have always thought of it as a warning, a boundary marker between human culture and the wildness that exists beyond. Asking are you prepared to take a risk?

It made me think of the sticky places that find us when we are feeling drained or out of sorts, not enough mental energy to create; they are like the poison ivy, itchy and marking the defenses around our inner wild places.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Perfection is not the point

I think the idea of stillness and acting from the moment is the main thing that the art group I belong to has been coming back to. Whenever we feel lost, or low energy, or panicked, don't feel like making art, just coming back to the present moment, the breath, just sit and let it come in and see what is calling. Maybe it is nothing. Just time to rest. Or maybe it is something you weren't expecting.
For our culture, it seems to be one of the hardest things. When I am in that struggling place, I can only do it some times, for a very short time, but Sarah says that's great, that's the point, not perfection. What I have noticed is that stillness and sitting comes naturally for me when I can be outside. And spring is on the way, yeah! I saw buds on trees today.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

digital dodad's

This week's art play was with Photoshop. Art is not only in the processes and techniques, but it's also present in the choices we make. What to leave out, what to leave in. It seems like it can become a chore if we let it. Or a struggle. Remember to let it be play, first and foremost. Stay with the enjoyment, the place that calls you. Don't live in the judgement or indecision. Come back to the place that called you in.

Have you used any photo editing software to make art? What kinds of things did you try?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Sunday morning. Sitting, just sitting, not doing. Sunday sitting. Not planning what needs doing either, but waiting for the urge to act. Surprise, not what I had thought.