Tag Archives: artist

On being an artist

22 Sep

Today is a lovely day to be in the studio. Some days are hard- nothing is flowing, questions of color and form are asked but not answered. Self-doubt and fear are easy companions. But not today. Today is dark out, rain and damp, but bright and joyful in spirit inside. I always light candles and burn incense when I work, and Pandora (radio) today; Brunch Café. George Ezra singing ‘Budapest’.

I met with a fellow artist this past week, and we lamented the crazy, alone, truly struggling with our work days and celebrated the bright sunny everything-is-working days. Both glad that we do not get depressed easily. Nice to know we are not alone in our work or in our practice.

It is nice to know that I belong to the sacred sisterhood and brotherhood of artists, writers, poets; The Creatives- that are leaving their beds, headed to their desks and easels, facing a day of creativity. Bringing something into the world, something new, something as yet unnamed. Bringing to life this image/idea they feel, rarely seeing it fully formed. Relying on talent, perseverance, trust and plain hard work. We do this for the love and necessity of bringing forth something new. Not for a boss, or a guaranteed paycheck, or status – but simply for the need to express whatever it is as it moves within us.

Not the hard work of the corporate world, or the hard work of day laborers, but the hard work of birthing. No mastermind group, strategic planning team or other such midwives sit waiting with me in these quiet hours. It’s me and my process. It unfolds with me, and often in spite of me. Decades of just showing up, have formed themselves into a practice, a discipline of sitting and just doing the work in front of me.

Don’t misunderstand, I am certainly not alone in this birthing. Besides the much sought after and unreliable Muse, I have my Crazymakers, who attend the bringing forth of my creative child. Boredom, self-doubt, irritation, excitement, interruption, anger, financial worry, incredible joy, intense pleasure, pride – often fall over each other in the sheer hope of getting my attention. The Discipline of Showing Up has had the benefit of informing these clowns that I am the master of my attention – all these feelings still show up, but they kind of sit quietly off to the side of me as I work and discuss things amongst themselves. Their bickering and murmuring is nicely covered up by Brunch Cafe today.

I’m not whining. I wouldn’t choose any other way of life, although I denied myself the right of being an artist for many years, for many truly stupid but hard to overcome limitations. Our society doesn’t approve much of artists. We are barely tolerated when we live out of our studios or cars, venerated when we are ‘successful’ and worthy of being seen. Kids are still discouraged from being an ‘artist’. I get it. But maybe the ‘Civilians’ as one of my friends calls her non-artist friends, are the ones who don’t get it. Maybe they don’t get the inner pressure that builds, the ideas that form, the visions that just don’t go away, demanding expression. They don’t get the years spent refining this internal and external dialogue that happens between you -and whatever that ‘other’ is. They don’t understand the crack high of an idea that comes out, thru you, that you as the proud parent get to see walk out into the big wide world with a life of its own bringing joy or understanding to a hurting world.

Of course these feelings aren’t just limited to artists. Entrepreneurs feel this, as does anyone that creates first and foremost for the love of the acts of pure creation and expression.  Yes, if you’re good and persistent and ready for it, the money will come. And the fame. But these are ego territory and can quickly cause the Muse to fly and the Crazymakers to flee.

The Artist’s Dance is to keep the Muse and the humility provided by the Crazymakers alive and well. Not the loudest voices in your head certainly, but they do provide a mastermind of sorts. The Muse provides inspiration and profound guidance, while the Crazies keep me grounded and well in touch with my humanity; the suffering and the joys of others. Balance. I try my best to be the master of my mind, making decisions based on all the guidance and terror dished up by the voices. (ok, no, I do not actually hear voices, that would freak me out.)

You know what I mean. I give this feeling a chance to be expressed and instead of going crazy from the irrationality of it, I stay with it and trust that the most basic act of all humanity, creativity, will take care of itself. I just give it space and time to be. So I sit alone, and yet profoundly not alone today, connected to all artists past and present, doing what we have always done- struggling to manifest the reality we see into shape and form. A noble calling. You have to be awfully brave to be an artist in this world today. Truly being in this world but not of it. Be true to yourself today. Let something move you. You are in good company. You can’t see us when we are struggling in the studio, but we are here. We got your back.

For my latest work- see my Tumblr

or my Instagram

Suicide.

23 Feb

What do you do when a child of 14 ends her life?

What do you do as your daughter, in tears wonders and wished that she could have, might, have done something, anything, if only…if only she would have known, if they had been better friends…or what about the other kids at school, the kids that are well, different, she says kids are really mean to them. She tells me about a boy that was called horrible names that day at school.  ‘Mom?  Kids were teasing him- I could have stuck up for him…mom… I didn’t. Why didn’t I?’

My heart breaks, my heart aches for this girl that I didn’t know, breaks for her parents, for her family… they have nothing today but pain and unfathomable loss…my rage at the kids who bullied her because she was ‘different’. Really? Aren’t we all striving to be individuals? To make our mark by being different? Unique? Isn’t that a big message from our culture?

And yet, I have compassion for the pain, the suffering that these ‘bullies’ have- the no-inside, the lack of sacred space, of any kind of belief that life is precious, sacred. That they themselves are acting out of terrible pain. As my daughter points out- ‘we have all these anti-bullying talks and pep rallies. But they don’t work…’  She looks back over her brief 17 years and cites examples that she feels regret about, people that she could have been far nicer to, people she could have advocated for. I’m proud of her. I think this might be a choice point for her. For her life.

The one thing this other girl hasn’t got.

Life.

I’m angry, sad, confused.

I want to agree with my daughter, that this could have, should have been avoidable. When you think of people that die for their beliefs, I don’t typically think of 14 year old girls. But I can imagine some of those beliefs: I’m different. I don’t fit in. It isn’t worth it. Did she think any of these thoughts? I don’t know for sure.

But I am ashamed that this can, and does happen. In her obituary it states that she was a student, artist, singer, and master of the ukulele. Sounds like someone I would have liked to have known.

I have another website- The Journey. Art for Healing. www.journeyartforhealing.com It sits unattended. My husband asked me a couple weeks ago what I was doing with it. He wanted to post some picture of my art class’ artwork at Le Petit Marche where I staged a gallery display –opening and all for my class, a group of 7 – 11 year old budding artists. We had a huge turn out on opening night- much to the amazement and delight of these kids. These kids come to my house after school on Thursdays and we do art. This is the sign that is still up on the wall for that art display.

art class description.indd

 I do not want to fall into the knee-jerk reaction of “I have to DO something’. But I am already here. And I think I see a way to help. But I’d like to add practicality to my initial gut reaction.

I want to form a group. An Art for Healing group. At the high school level, where these kids need an advocate, a mentor, someone to encourage them in their uniqueness and someone to just be a friend.

As an artist, I believe that I can reach this group of kids who feel different, outside. I get them. I know what that feels like. I already teach, already had the intention of this business, Art for Healing, and now have an opportunity. Two years ago, I intentionally decided to not set up The Journey: Art for Healing as a nonprofit. But it is registered as a business.

 Where your talents and the need of the world intersect…there is your vocation.

-Aristotle

So here I am. I’d really appreciate your comments/ideas/thoughts. I honestly don’t know what this could look like, or how it will practically come about. All I know is that there is a need here. And I am here.

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