Monday, August 31, 2009

On the Road Again! part 2

This summer has flown by! I can't remember a busier summer-but they all seem that way these days! Do you think it true that the older you get the faster time goes by? I believe it. Time is such a precious commodity to me these days. No one ever has enough, no matter how we use it. What is that about? Are we really too busy, or do we just think all those other things are more important than nurturing our creative selves?

"On the Road Again " was supposed to be an adventure in nurturing my creative side. How? Well, I've been several places this last few months. Lakeside, Ohio; Chicago; Brown Co. Indiana; Sonoma/Napa Calif; San Francisco; Sausilito, Calif. And I will be leaving for Italy in a few short months. These were supposed to be painting opportunities as well as mini-vacations. (all were 3 days at most-but still!) I was so busy going, going, going, that I didn't have painting time! Ah, the best laid plans...
I have painted precious little at all this summer! And when I get home...I have too much to do to catch up from being gone to have studio time-Aarrrggghhh! If you can't tell, I am just a bit frustrated. But if I'm being honest, the real problem is not a lack of time. It is a lack of focus, a lack of structure and a lack of priorities. All of which I struggle with daily, let alone when something disrupts my routine-or lack thereof. I have never been very disciplined. (like writing this blog! I dont have time for this! But it is more for me than anyone else. "Chatty" is how my friend described one. Yes, but I tell you, this stuff is floating around in my head otherwise-this is therapy!)
But here is another nugget of truth. Being gone and in new places with new people gets my creative juices flowing! I have a million more paintings in my head than were there a few trips, photos and color notes before! I am really craving painting time now - since I can't fit it in right now! I have seen new things and experienced new places and people and am richer for it. And who can complain when they have done so much in such a short time-most of which was done within a few day's notice! That takes flexibility! I'm not very flexible either!
So, even though I don't have time to paint right now, I want to really bad! Maybe that's the lesson. Are you craving time to do what you love? Yes, we have to make the time. But sometimes I think it's good not to be able to do what we usually can. It makes us hungry! And I was doing other fun things as well as not so fun things that had to be done!
To everything there is a season... And the seasons change regardless!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Road Again! Part 1

I love a good road trip! It's my preferred method of travel most of the time. It may take longer sometimes, but when you factor in how long it takes to get oneself to the airport, in the hour and a half before a flight, and if (and you know it will be) it's delayed, or you can land on time, get a car and get to your destination...unless its across the world, I'll drive! But I digress...

How does a road trip have anything to do with creativity? I'm sure you can figure it out. But here are some things that you may not have thought of. If your like me, you crank up the tunes! And you sing at the top of your lungs. Your in another county or state, so no one is going to recognize the crazy woman rocking out behind the wheel! I think this behaviour is essential on many levels! I highly recommend it.

If the trip is long, you have time to revisit some artists you may not have listened to for a while. My taste in music is very eclectic. I seem to love everything but rap. (opera, not so much either) Country has special appeal to me on a road trip. "looong neck bottle, leeggo my hand!" and "I dug my keys into the side, of his pretty little souped-up, four wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats - took a louiville slugger to both headlights, slashed a hole in all four tires, maybe next time he'll think before he cheats!" , "where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away...and I'll be o.k." I mean, who can argue with that? And I cannot listen to Rascal Flats "my wish") without tears. Good a Capella Harmony makes me cry as well. Yes, music moves me.

But I was thinking about how much creativity goes into what we hear. The lyrics, the vocals, the instrumentation, and how we really don't think about what it takes to get it to the radio. We enjoy and appreciate, but not being involved in the process, we miss a lot. My musician friends get this. I can appreciate, but not fully. But they do it because it's their passion. And we listen because on some level it speaks to us. The musicians need to speak in that creative way, and we hear what they are saying!

So, my point? And not to be redundant here, but, EVERYONE has a creative voice of some kind. We may not all speak the same creative language, but we should visit other creative "states" along the way. It may lose something in translation, but we will be richer and broader for having taken the trip! Audit a journalism class, if you read the paper. Learn to cook french food if you like to eat it! If you get into it, you might understand and appreciate it better, even if its not your language. Or do what I did, think about it real hard...

So hit the road people -Visit a new "creative state" -Life is a journey!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Creativity as Therapy

Years ago I thought I wanted to become an Art Therapist. I love psychology and art so it seemed natural. After looking into the requirements, the timing was off. (so were the funds!)

But I kept the idea in the back of my mind.

One reason for the interest was because art has been very much "therapy" in my own life. I went back to my art during a very difficult period in my own life. It was something that was all my own, something that I did just for me. I experienced release, joy, success, (often enough to continue anyway!) and challenge. I found like minded people and others who challenged my own ideas about life and art. There is a great deal of avant guard thinking amongst artist! And I was learning something new, which always opens us up to a bigger world experience.

I now wonder if part of my difficulties at that time were due to a frustrated creative self trying to get out?! I know that was not the whole of my unhappiness, but I think it was certainly a component. That may be pooh-pooh to some, but I think there must be some part of your life that nurtures your inner self. You need to care for that part of you just as you care for those around you. I don't mean you should be selfish with it. There must be balance in life as well. But I find that those who have this piece/peace in their lives seem the most fulfilled.

One reason I chose to blog Art as Therapy is because my daughter just went to a conference for certification in "therapeutic art" for domestic violence. Not "art therapy", which she explained uses the therapist to interpret the art made by clients and to diagnose and direct further exploration. This she explained was "therapeutic art" where the client uses the art to express and explain their own experience through their art. She wants to implement a program to help the troubled women she works with. And art will be a tool they use to explore and hopefully heal from a violent past.

I am excited for her, and for these women, since I know first hand creativity can heal and bring clarity and peace. (I was not a victim of domestic violence and we realize this is not a replacement for psychotherapy!)

But I know that finding your inner creative self and voice is a powerful place to stand. From that place, the possibilities are endless. From that vantage point-a place of endless ideas, resources, and energy-anything is possible. From that place the future looks hopeful. Think about that for a while. Let it sink in. Creativity has no limits and knows no fears!

Open yourself to that. To the creativity in you. Live a creative life! Don't be afraid if someone doesn't understand or value what you do. I remember what a freeing feeling it is to not need their approval or understanding! It is only important that you do it. And what are their motives anyway? Do you need people in your life who disapprove of your inner self? That might tell you something right there!

So live a creative life this week in some way. I do this blog as a creative outlet. And I will be doing it in a larger way this week, which I'm sure will be the next blog, so stay tuned! But sometimes small is all we can handle or need. Share the journey with me!

Have a creative week!


Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm glad my battery died!

I teach a class called "Watercolor on the Run" every spring or summer. The purpose is to equip students to use their art to record their life, wherever it happens. Not a new concept-taking your art supplies with you to record vacation experiences with sketchbook paintings. But my spin is to always be ready. I have a purse kit, car kit, and a very extensive plein air set up. The latter I use most often these days since I've begun painting plein air with friends.
On our trip to visit my son in Chicago, I was snapping away with my camera thinking "wow that would make a great painting"! There is so much to see an do in Chicago and although we've seen and done most of it over the years already, we packed in the car and went to Lincoln Park Zoo for the day. While at the zoo, I was snapping photos of everything. And then the battery died...bummer.
So while everyone was in the reptile house-which holds little interest for me-I sat down and practiced a little of what I preach! I painted the Flamingo's. Now this was a challenge. First, Flamingo's stink! Second, have you ever tried to sketch a bunch of moving Flamingo's? This is why I use a camera. But it is also why you should be lucky enough to have the battery die! The camera lacks the feel of the place. Sometimes the camera changes the colors, or they just don't have the same impact they did in real time. (I'm talking your average reference photo taken with an SLR, not a good photo by someone who knows their stuff!) I doubt I would have taken the time to sit that long, what with the smell, and observe their movements which were very graceful. Emily and I discussed their color, a pale peachy pink to a very bright peachy pink, which she says comes from the shrimp they eat. And their noise. All of which I remember vividly, though I don't remember many other details from the outing. That is why painting on the spot is good practice! You become intimate with your surroundings and your subjects in a way the camera never can.

Then came the six hour drive home that turned to eight! Traffic out of the city was bad, not a surprise, but by the time I let Em drive I was spent. I am always made peaceful by the countryside vistas while driving. Again, no camera! And really, how many snapshots of barns and fields can you have? Out came the sketchbook. You have to get creative to paint moving flamingo's and a vanishing landscape! Again, I picked and chose things I saw as we went and invented a country landscape! I felt less tense when I was done.

Translation? Find a way to do what you love. Really experience the moment in "real time". Think of a way to record it. Write, paint, or scrapbook your experience. It only takes a few minutes, but your memories will be permanent. And if your like me, you could use the help in that department!

Let me know what you are doing to nourish your creative self. Am I just rambling or are you feeling the same? I hope you have a great week!