Monthly Archives: June 2014

Language with a Twist

Art is a language. We find a medium we love and explore it every chance we get. We take classes, buy magazines (bought two yesterday), and follow notable artists both past and present. We marvel at the work posted on social media sites, visit museums, and dream about making art. Art is as important as oxygen because it’s life affirming!

I find myself having a thought and then going on an adventure to see where it takes me. Yesterday I was listening to the Broadway channel on Sirius XM radio. There was an interview with a British actress and I started to think about accents. I remember everyone in high school practicing their best British accents as we all prepared for our My Fair Lady auditions. It wasn’t only about proper spoken British, but cockney as well.

Let’s take a journey. Let’s think about how we can translate an accent to our art. It’s pretty easy if you think about it and it can bring huge rewards not to mention a lot of fun. It just means that you take your medium and change things up a bit. If you’re a jazz singer perhaps you try your hand at singing gospel or opera. If you’re an oil painter perhaps you explore watercolor. I’m a textile artist and I not only create textile art, but I knit using another form of fiber, an accent so to speak. If you’re a short story writer try your hand at poetry.

Trying on an accent keeps the integrity of your voice but gives it a fresh face. It allows you to play without being boxed in and opens you to new possibilities. Creating with an accent may give you the clues you need to unlock your healing potential. The stronger your voice the greater your healing.

What accent will you try today? Who knows, you may even find a new playground for your creative talents!

Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

 

Advertisements

You Are An Artist…Don’t Deny It!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes someone an artist. There are lots of definitions and although some make a living creating art; that doesn’t diminish the artist persona in all of us. I came to this understanding while on vacation with my family.

My family just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic. It’s a beautiful island with amazing beaches and I spent time in the water. At one point after my family left the water I hung out and bounced with the waves, then it happened. My feet starting moving and my hands started moving and I was dancing in the water. There was no music, just the sounds of the water splashing and the kids playing on the shore. There was an internal beat I couldn’t resist.

In the dining areas of the resort,  it wasn’t unusual for the staff to sing with the music playing on the intercom. They were jovial with big smiles and grooving to the tunes. They were singing! The folks in the gift shop joined in for the chorus of the tunes playing in the retail establishment all happy and bouncing to the beat…they were singing.

How many times have you been in a meeting and you find yourself doodling on the paper in front of you? You may create elaborate designs all over the page. I have found this to be true while in school. All of my notebooks have doodles and scribbles throughout. Every time we pick up a pen, pencil, or marker and make a mark we’re artists.

We have innate need to express. When we express we feel better. Our ability to create relieves stress and provides us with the ability to get something out of our body and out to the world. The biggest point I want to make is that you have to stop negating your creativity. If you dance, you’re a dancer. If you sing, you’re a singer. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be on So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol. It does mean that your body, mind, and spirit are joining forces to express themselves through the avenue of art.

Don’t’ allow the committee in your head to negate your inner artist. We all have creative potential so let’s get out there and use it!!!!

Show Me…Teach Me…Involve Me

Do you like going to art galleries and museums? Do you like going to poetry slams, concerts, or dance performances? Fortunately there are art forms that capture our attention. The arts are as individual as us. We can tailor our artistic ventures to what captures our attention and our soul.

How do we come to our artistic endeavors? I’m a textile artist. When asked how I became a textile artist I have to look at my history. My father worked in the garment center his entire career. I was always exposed to design, color, and pattern. I was able to witness how designers could interpret the seasons with color and pattern. My mother spent her career in the world of furniture and design. I was given a front row seat to how design wasn’t only about color, but perspective, space planning, and looking at the bigger picture.

It didn’t dawn on me until years later I was destined to become a textile artist. It’s in the family history and possibly our DNA. So what else can influence my artistic choices? I can use my art to interpret other art mediums. I’ve created work in response to a story, a song, or a poem. I’ve taken the ideas of famous artists like Clyfford Still and interpreted abstract expressionism. The joy of art is the possibilities are endless. Interpretation is an art!

Do you notice the first section you hit when you enter a bookstore? There are three places I spend my time: biography, self-improvement, and art. These genres have the potential to play off one another and that I find exciting. It allows me to explore how creativity impacts life, personal and professional.

I am drawn to storytelling. I find meaning in creativity. I find the ability and the gift of creativity to heal my soul. When I engage others on the creative plain we speak a common language and it’s soulful. It’s gives me a glimpse into the secret lives of others and how art gives us the keys to the kingdom.

How can you become involved in creative endeavors? Where you are right now and whatever you’re doing is the place to start. I was involved in music during my high school years and wanted to be a music therapist. My life took many twists and turns and I went a more traditional route as a psychotherapist. Years later when I found my creative voice in textile arts it gave my therapeutic life new vim and vigor. It allowed me to explore with my clients how their life is surrounded by art and it’s calling them to come play.

Give your body, mind, and spirit the gift of creation. Read a poem by Maya Angelou or Mary Oliver and see what speaks to you. Listen to your favorite song and sing along. Watch a movie and then create a plot, whether or not you ever pursue it, just create it. Living in a place of creativity frees your spirit. It makes room for healing energy to enter your consciousness. Use this energy to continue on your journey to wholeness.

Art Supply Store…Pharmacy for the Soul

Do you have a favorite place to buy art supplies? Do you look forward to a catalog from your favorite online art store? Do you count the days until the next issue of your favorite art magazine appears on the bookstore shelves because you know you’ll see all the ads for supplies and classes? I know I definitely love spending time in an art supply store because it’s filled with possibility. It’s better than an adult playground; it’s a pharmacy for my soul.

The art supply store not only has the things I need, but has the things I want. It provides me with a world of opportunity and possibility. You may be wondering what’s my diagnosis if I need a pharmacy for the soul. The truth is it doesn’t matter what the diagnosis, the art supplies give me the tools I need to express myself. It doesn’t matter if my ailment is physical, emotional, or spiritual, I can treat whatever is giving me cause for concern.

Remember that pharmacies don’t only carry medication. They carry vitamins and other health improvement products. The same is true for the art store/pharmacy for the soul; it provides you with resources to spark the healing response in the body. It gives you the oomph you need to get up and go. It energizes you! It arouses your senses and is the springboard for every story you want or need to tell.

Creating art for healing is one of the few times that self-diagnosis may be acceptable. If you didn’t go to medical or pharmacy school, try to avoid self-diagnosis. However, if you’re in tune with your emotions or spiritual self, then you may have enough insight to know what ails you. These are the moments when finding just the right color of paint, markers, texture of paper or journal is the invitation for healing.

Although this may be true, art may not heal everything. If you feel you’re in need of support or guidance consider contacting a therapist, coach, or spiritual director to augment your artistic expression. Utilize everything available to you on your health and healing pilgrimage.

Color Me Well

I love color! I love exploring color, playing with color, and using color. I’m drawn to color in all my environments. Color has the power to invite us to play, punctuates parts of our story, and expresses our subconscious world. The wonderful thing about color is it can speak louder than words!

Last week I taught a color theory class to quilters. Learning about color theory gives our art more definition, creates work that is aesthetically pleasing, and gives hints about our likes and dislikes. Understanding color gives you the tools to express yourself more fully. When you understand color you understand the underpinnings of art. It’s the equivalent of a writer looking for just the right word when sharing their world.

Ever notice when you’re out in the world the colors establishments use? Restaurants use colors that stimulate your appetite. Spas use colors that calms and soothe. We all have colors that make us think, feel, and express. They can articulate our souls message.

When do you notice color? What is it about color that grips you? What do you do once color captures your vision, your mission, and your means of self-expression? I’m very sensitive to color and pattern. I see a tie, a dress, or a mural and I’m captivated by the power of color. It’s as if I have this file draw in my brain and color triggers a memory, a thought, or even a piece of art. What does art do for you?

Facing adversity such as a chronic or life-threatening illness can lead us with the need to release those thoughts holding us back on our health and healing journey. Color is one way that we can allow those thoughts to leave our body by transferring them to a canvas, a blank piece of paper, or by using fiber. Color can be the dangling carrot that keeps you moving in the direction of ultimate self-expression service as a catalyst for your immune system.

How will you use color today to heal your body, mind, and spirit? I’d love to see your color story!

Wow! Can I Do That?

I was watching So You Think You Can Dance; it’s the audition phase of the show. This is when the most talented and the most ridiculous people get up and perform for the judges hoping for a spot in the competition. Dancing is a beautiful art form and takes years of training and practice. That doesn’t mean you can’t dance; it just means you may not be a professional dancer. Dancing for enjoyment, pleasure and self-expression is divine.

One dancer approached the microphone with an accent. Turns out she was from the Czech Republic. When asked what style of dance she would be doing she responded, “popping”. The music began and she was off the races. She was polished, rhythmic, and beautiful to watch. She was thoroughly engaged in the process. She was in the zone.

The first words out of my mouth were, “I could never do that”. A little while later I stopped and caught what I had said. I had determined I couldn’t do something before I even attempted it. It’s amazing how the negative self-talk sneaks in under the radar and inhibits us. It may even prevent us from trying something we enjoy and are energetically drawn.

How many people look at a painting and wonder if they can paint? Have you been to the symphony and watched the musicians wondering if you could ever play the violin, the oboe, or the tuba? It’s these moments of wonder that we have to grab on to because they tell us our creative selves are looking to be birthed.

We may never have a painting in the Louvre or play at Carnegie Hall, but we can engage in art. We can use our creative energies to soothe our soul and that’s healing. We can invoke the creative muses providing the space for us to take out a pen and paper and write a poem or story. These energetic urges may even invite you to take lessons or classes giving you the opportunity to try expressing yourself through art.

Art is healing. It provides us with a beautiful way of telling our stories. I remember an episode of Friends where Monica was in the back of the room at a tap class. The teacher yells, “You’re doing it wrong” and Monica responds, “At least I’m doing it!” Those are words to live by when engaging in art. Take a chance. Encourage others to take a chance! Who knows what may emerge and what other creative pathways you may choose to explore!

Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Shepherding New Artists to Tell Their Story

Every life is a story. Our stories are ever evolving. Along with our ever-evolving lives, our creative endeavors evolve the more we learn and the more we do. As we engage in art you’ll probably run across those who are just beginning their creative quest. How can we as artists support people who are looking for a way to enter the realm of creative self-expression?

Dr. Maya Angelou said, “If you get…give, when you learn…teach”. Why should you, an artist, teach? You should teach because you know the joy of making art. You’ve personally experienced the freedom and release that accompanies making art. You’ve shown the world that your voice needs to be heard, and by teaching you can help us bring for their own stories.

I’m a textile artist and one of the challenges that quilters often have is with color. Unlike other mediums, those who use commercial fabrics, they buy their color instead of making their color. This leaves many novice textile enthusiasts fearful of choosing fabric inhibiting their creativity and limiting their enjoyment.

Last night I taught a color theory class at one of the local quilt shops. I love to teach because I thoroughly enjoy telling stories. I find it easier for people to hear your message when you tell amusing and personal stories. The other aspect of teaching is engaging the participants to join in with an activity. I know I learn best by doing, not just listening or watching.

The participants left with a new level of self-confidence with their ability to select colors. They were inspired enough to ask for a follow-up class to continue their own artistic journey. It feels like giving birth to the next generation of textile artists. As teachers we provide those entering the arena with hope and possibility that they can create works that are not only beautiful but also meaningful.

I hope you take the role of teacher, mentor, or catalyst seriously. We have an opportunity to shepherd those with the creative urge and talent to bring forth their worldview!

Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness and seeking education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Magic Happens When We Embody Our Creativity

We create art that has meaning to us. It reflects our experiences, our feelings, and our aspirations. Every time we create we tap into our power. We give the Universe and ourselves a gift, affirming life, honoring death, and overcoming challenges. What do you do to access your creativity? How do you honor the wealth of creative energy that lies within?

Dr. Maya Angelou, one of the most prominent artists of our time. Angelou did an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 1993. One of the questions that Oprah asked her was about her experience of writing the poem that would be delivered at President Clinton’s inauguration. Writing a poem of prominence would have sent me into a dance like a Whirling Dervish. It required that she go deep and explore her beliefs, values, and feelings about our country and all its citizens.

Oprah asked her about her process and whether she got to writing immediately after receiving the request by the President-Elect. She shared that until her ideas and thoughts got into the marrow of her bones, into her finger nails, and every cell of her body she couldn’t write this piece of art. Once that happened, she went to her writing place and worked on it whenever ideas came to her; entered her consciousness.

Our art is extensions of our consciousness. These are the times when our art heals. Embodying our thoughts, hopes, and aspirations allows us to engage in ultimate self-expression. It allows us to release those things that hinder us, and celebrates those things that heal us!

Where do you feel your creative impulses? How do you give voice to those hints, hunches, or impulses begging for release? When do you feel at peace? These are the moments when healing energies are sparked.

What I Did For Love

I’m on a journey to expand my artistic endeavors. It’s not that I’m looking to change mediums, but I am looking to expand ways of telling my story. I’m looking for methods and techniques that will give me the tools to create more layered works of textile art.

This past weekend I took a Japanese calligraphy class. I’ve always been intrigued by Asian culture. I find the Asian culture graceful, delicate (that I’m not), and elegant. The idea of taking a calligraphy class is focused on writing. It’s a way to connote meaning. When most think of calligraphy they think of the writing they see on a wedding invitation. I wanted something more symbolic and since Japanese is not my native tongue; it made sense that I would be drawn to Japanese calligraphy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The class started and the teacher puts up on the board the first character we were going to learn. There is an angle in the brush stroke that I found difficult. Why did I find it difficult? Well as it turns out, Japanese calligraphy was not created with a left-handed person in mind. It didn’t matter how I twisted and turned I wasn’t getting the correct angle.

The teacher asked me a question that I hadn’t expected. She said, “Do you think you could hold the brush in your right hand?” I really am not ambidextrous. I had a moment of anxiety, and then decided what have I got to lose? The rest of the class I used my right hand to learn the brush strokes.

Why did I do this? I did it for love. I did it because if I’m going to learn something new I want to give myself every advantage to succeed. It’s not as if I was engaging in neurosurgery. I was learning calligraphy. It was awkward. I was asking my right hand to engage in activities I never thought possible. I was actually creating the correct angles in the brush strokes with my right hand.

Venture out. Do something that may be a bit uncomfortable. Engage in a process that stretches you because that’s the healing part of art. Give yourself every opportunity to engage in ultimate self-expression. Just remember, you’re doing it for love.

Facing adversity in your life?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Fun, Enjoyment, and Appreciation When Creating Art

Creating art is a passion. It tells a story, our story. When we tell our story we infuse our spirit into the work. It reeks of our essence. It gives others a sneak peak into your soul. But does how you feel while creating the work impact how the person seeing the work experience it?

If you’re having fun and enjoying the creation process, does that translate to the person viewing the work? Can those who experience our work know how we were feeling? Is our work so transparent that others know what was going on when the work was created?

I was thinking about this during a Japanese calligraphy class I took this past weekend. It was a small class, just four people. One of the participants was very chatty to the point of annoyance. I just let it roll of my back and zoned in on my own work, but the woman next to me was deeply annoyed by this participants over exuberance. Did this irritation show up in her brush strokes? It was apparent that she wasn’t experiencing a lot of joy during the class. It became even more evident when she left before the class was finished.

What comes off the page, out of the canvas, through the instrument when you are creating? Is it okay if you’re audience senses the vibrations emanating from the piece and incorporate that into their experience of the work? This is different than creating a work of art to represent a physical, emotional, or spiritual state; it’s the subconscious process peaking through that may be a mystery to you.

If you were to take a step back after creating a work of art, aside from the “meaning” of the piece, what else do you sense? Are you able to identify a brush stroke, a change in language, denser stitching as a result of how you were feeling in the moment? How do you feel about the level of vulnerability?

Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com for education, support, and inspiration!