Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Embracing changes

I've been playing around in photoshop to come up with a new banner. I replaced the old one, but am not totally sold on this new one. Photoshop is so cool, but I am such a novice at it! I've been inspired to really make this blog my own and so I am going to be experimenting with new post ideas, new blog looks, maybe some audio/visual stuff?, and whatever else this journey towards authenticity involves! So lots of tweaking to come to make the blog more "me". So I'm going to be "under construction" for the next couple of weeks! (Maybe a lifetime...seems like it might take that long to really grasp what is "me"...) Stay tuned!

What is "under construction" in your life?


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

hART play in Pink and Gray

Sometimes I think I have the most resistance to the things I feel the most passionate about. When I finally have the time to do them, I do everything but the things I LOVE. I am so excited to be pursuing my art-making and yet I still wake up, sit down with my paints and feel like nothing is going to come out. Lately, I've been avoiding my yoga practice. So, I decided to take the matter to the mat. I moved into my yoga practice this morning with the question: "what does it take to pursue your passions?"

The answer for me was that it takes a lot of heart and a lot of guts. Neither of which I was feeling. So I moved through it. I focused on moving my shoulders back to make room for my heart to shine through. I engaged my abdominals in slow (painful) crunches to engage my power center, to bring courage back into my gut.

After the yoga, my heart felt a little more open. I was filled with visions of pink and gray. Perhaps they are the colors of passion. I surrounded myself with them and went back to work.
A part of a piece emerged.
A heart.
Pursuing it's Passions.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Space for Yoga

This is a picture of my yoga space. I haven't been there for awhile though. My plan is to make an appointment with my yoga space over the weekend. I need to make more space for yoga.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blame it on the Tetons

Print of "Blame it on the Tetons" available here.

One more thing that we experimented with in Shaun McNiff's Art Therapy class was a process called "Imaginal Dialoging", which describes exactly what it is: a dialogue with an image. It was strange and awkward at first to do this, have a conversation with my picture, but after doing it a couple of times, I got more comfortable with it and found it an insightful self-inquiry tool. The following is a snippet of a "conversation" I had with an image that ended up being mountains. I did not have the intention to make "mountains" and so it felt significant to me that they appeared. Through the dialoging, I was able to get a better understanding of the painting. I am feeling a little bit vulnerable sharing this here, but I want my blog to be a place where I can be authentic, honest, and speak my truth. So here it is:

Me: Why am I still so mystified and drawn by these mountains? Why is it that they appear, even unintentionally? I wasn’t even trying to make mountains, much less ones that I recognized.

Painting: They have become a part of you. They inspired you. They made you feel whole. They represent something wild and curious in you that you both fear and revere.

Me: Yes I was always awed by their beauty and also humbled by their power. They made me feel small and also somehow made me feel closer to my own humanity, my own connection to the “something” bigger then me.

Painting: The Red, bright red. It’s thrilling and fierce and terrifying. The blues and purples are expansive, whole, they embrace you. They connect you to that “something bigger”.

Me: I feel trepidation about asking about the un-sharpied redish/brownish blot in the middle. I didn’t feel it needed the trace of black around it. Why? I am listening very closely to you and the word “heart” came up. Like a stab of heart, a splattering of heart. Like a splattering of my heart is still in the Tetons.

So that is what this piece is about? That seems too obvious. If I didn’t know that I didn’t mean to make a landscape of mountains with a splattering of paint that makes me think about my heart, I would think that I made this purposefully. Like to show how I miss living in the Tetons. But that wasn’t my intention. I was just plodding through my step-by-step process. And when I decided to cut out the mountains and plaster them onto a piece of masonite (in part so I can hang it in my bedroom diagonally from my huge Tetons poster), I went back through my journals from when I lived out there and pasted them to

hold the sky of the landscape.

From those journal words, I read about the gratitude and abundance I reminded myself to feel at that time. I realized that I fell in love with my life when I lived out there. I began to understand my dreams and became aware of where it was I wanted to go in life while I was living in the shadows of those mountains. So of course there is a splatter of my heart in that place.

Painting: yes. It was a reminder.

Me: Why am I in need of a reminder? What is the meaning of it’s reappearance in my life? (I am assuming it’s important for me to know?)

Painting: To remind you of how far you’ve come, of your journey to this present time and place. To remind you that you set things in motion back then that are coming into fruition now. That’s why you needed to cut out the mountains and paste them with your old journal entries. Because what did you find looking through them?

Me: my plans/dreams/ideas for a business, for working for myself and making art and teaching yoga. Scribbling of affirmations that I wrote down to try and get myself to have more gratitude for all I had and to have more trust that everything was going to work out.

Painting: And did it work out?

Me: I suppose so. But not in the way that I thought it would.

Painting: of course not. What would the fun be in that?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Art Therapy Studio Class Reflection: Part Two and Three

The following is the reflection that I wrote for the Art Therapy class I took two weeks ago. I said I would share them, so here the are!

Part Two:
The Second idea I am integrating from Shaun’s class is the idea of witnessing and holding spaces for others. One of my intentions for taking the class was to gain a perspective on teaching art from a place of support and encouragement of the creative process. What struck me most about this studio course was how well it did that. And I think the key factor to creating that kind of environment was the concept of witnessing. Most of the studio art classes, courses that I have taken over the years have been more skill based. I learned how to create shadow with the side of my pencil or the darker colors on my palette. I learned the compliments of orange and how to draw in perspective. When I taught high school drawing last year, I taught these skills and tried to emphasize that drawing, like riding a bike or learning to play an instrument, was a skill set that could be learned through practice and experimentation with materials. I sat firmly in my belief that each of us has creativity at our core, that as each of us has the capacity to breath, we all also have the capacity to be creative. And I still believe this. But as we discussed this week, often people feel fear, vulnerability and resistance to art-making. So I thought about the question, “how do you create a studio environment then, that feels safe, that is sensitive to the fragility of the creative spirit?” I think that we created it during our studio class last week. 

This studio class at Lesley for me was loving, nurturing, and supportive. We took turns witnessing each other make art in a way that was both intimate and exhilarating. I felt seen and empowered to also safely and respectfully hold space for someone else. There was feedback, but not critique. The feedback seemed to me to be given in a carefully thought out, sensitive and validating (rather then intimidating) kind of way. I felt really “seen” and “heard” and “held”. More like the way I feel in a yoga class, then in an art class.  Because of this sense of security and nurture, I felt creatively free to explore and experiment. It felt like a creative explosion. It was bursting and brimming out of me. I was full of ideas and energy for the next project. Like I could just make art forever and ever without stopping. And I kept thinking to myself…YES! This is the kind of experience I want to create for my future students: a safe space for creative discovery, for artistic liberation. I have not always found this in studio classes I’ve been in the past (with a few exceptions), this sense of non-judgmental embrace of me as an artist, as a creative being. And it felt so GOOD! The sense of permission for the artwork to be as it was, whether I (or others) perceived it to be good or bad was such an expansive experience. I kept thinking, that I have always intuitively known that this is how art-making should be. Experiencing the art work in the way that we did felt so healing. It satiated my craving to express and be heard, validated, held and seen…really seen. It helped me feel like my life, stories, histories, memories, dreams, images, fears, struggles, and emotions (and all the other things that get splashed out in my artwork) MATTER. It gave me the sense that they are real and important. Giving the art work permission to just be as it was, (in the way that we did through the witnessing, performance and dialogue) was creative liberation for me.

Part Three:
I thought to myself at one point that I wished I could come to Boston every day to share art space with all of the lovely ladies in this class. There was such an incredible energy working with others. I learned so much and experimented in new ways that I might not have at home. And that was pretty cool. I kept thinking about how much I enjoyed the group experience, how much I enjoyed being part of the group and feeding off it and watching to see how others fed from it too. The question came up about how do we keep this going in our own lives at home, once we leave the group. I was thinking that too. How do I keep this experience going, this experience of being incredibly uplifted by group experiences, by shared experiences and the energy that it gives me and my work? I always leave these sort of things on the high of the experience and with this unrealistic image of myself continuing on in the same way, riding out the high for weeks to come. And then I fall. 

I am experiencing the fall this week, the week after the coming together of minds, of ideas, of creativity. I am feeling the loss more greatly then I anticipated. I  can’t seem to well up quite as much of the creative energy I had last week in my own quiet, studio space. I feel lonely and reclusive. I always deal with this sense of loss after the yoga workshops that I do too. I go and feel supported and embraced by a group, feel a part of something bigger. And then I go home and wonder how I might recreate that experience of being part of community in my own home environment. I can never do it. I remember Shaun talking about this and waving his hand in the motion of a rollar coaster, it’s just like that. Ups and Downs. And after a big up, there is inevitably a down. And so despite the overflow of creative energy I experienced last week, I am down and under the wave this week. But I am also ready to come up for air. So I will go back to my art table and make art. Sit with my images. Sit with my struggles and my struggle to not struggle. I will sit with the knowing that there are many people out there living and breathing into their own creativity and I’ll be comforted by that knowing. I will sit with my brushes, my paints and the images that flow out of them and know that I am not ever, really alone, know that I have been seen, heard, and held and will be again.  


Thursday, January 14, 2010


just watched the 11 o'clock heart and prayers go out to all those in Haiti and to all their friends and loved ones.....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Art Therapy Studio Class Reflection: Part One

I promised to write about my experience in the Art therapy class that I took up at Lesley University last week, but every time I sat down to write about the experience, I found myself unable to completely articulate the experience. I am still integrating it I suppose. But I have written a three part reflection for the class and thought I might share that here, one part at a time. So here it is!

Part One
 I think there were three main ideas that I took away from this class, three things that are still churning around in my mind. So I broke the three ideas down into three parts.
The first was this idea about "embracing struggle". Our professor, Shaun McNiff, told us again and again that struggle was good and could be used as fuel for our work. I have to admit that, at first, I struggled with the idea of struggle. My struggle with “struggle” came from my seemingly contradictive resolve that I make art for the joy of it (not for the struggle of it). I make art because it feels good, because it feeds me. Not to say that I don't sometimes struggle with it, or get frustrated or defeated by it...because I do sometimes. But for the most part, I want the experience of art making for myself to be joyful, playful, fun and uplifting.
I struggle in so many ways in my life and want to come to art not to struggle more, but as a refuge. I don’t want to struggle in my art making. I keep making art, keep coming back to it, not because it causes me struggle (not to say that there is’nt discomfort, because  there certainly is sometimes), but I don’t want to let it drag me down. I want to let go of the struggle when I sit down to create. I try to go into it with the intention to be uplifted and affirmed, not to be dragged down by the struggle of it. This is not to deny struggle’s place in our lives, or ignore it when it appears. I fully recognize that we need this shadow part of ourselves in order to get back into the light (maybe this is the point that Shaun was making about struggle). But what I am saying is that I don’t want to dwell in it or stew in it, especially when I am making art. I have the most fun making art when I intentionally Let Go of the struggle. When I have conflicts in my mind, or am feeling down, I want to feel better…that’s natural, right? I recognize the shadowy places and the presence of darkness. I recognize that we need both the dark and light, and love how Deepak Chopra puts it: “if you do not see your shadow, you must not be standing in the light”. So I recognize, I acknowledge it when it exists within me, but ultimately, I want to feel good. Don’t we all? Art making, when I approach it with the intention of having more joy, more fun and celebration becomes joyful, fun and celebratory. When I approach it as a struggle (in other words, when I can’t let go of the outcome of what I am doing), then I suffer and struggle more. And my question is: why do that? And it’s a question I am still playing with (especially since I still do cling to outcomes and approach things from a struggling place). However contradictorily, I feel it is important to empower myself and others to find the joy, the celebration, the goodness in art-making and essentially in life. Not by ignoring the shadow, but by standing fully in the light.
So for now…I will do my best to hold this contradicting contrast. 


Thursday, January 7, 2010

I have no images

Strange to title my post this way...because my week has been BRIM FULL of images that I am bursting at the edges to share. This art therapy class that I am taking has inspired an over flow of work. It is an amazing experience to work in a studio with other artists. Making art while others are making art is like doing yoga with others in a class. It has a totally different energy then when making art or doing yoga by myself. I am inspired and energized and I want to bottle it up and take it home with me!
  You can see it in the faces of all the images we are making. Over the course of the week our images have become more fascinating, deeper and all seem to be feeding off of each other. As a class we are addressing themes of struggle, of witnessing one another, of art-making as performance, and so much more. It is my hope to spend time integrating these themes more when I get home and over the next few weeks.
And when I reunite with my camera cord, I will share some of the colorful brewing that has filled my creative cup this week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

uncomfortable at the edges

Today I started the art therapy studio class that I am taking this week and
 I got off to a rattled start.
We were stuck in traffic for over an hour at the Massachusetts border.
I was perplexed as to why there were so many cars with just one person in them, all going in the same direction.
I was just disgruntled because I had to pee like crazy and there was no way to get off the highway.
We followed the GPS and it led us astray.
I arrived to my first day of class 20 minutes late.
My husband drove away and five hours later, I realized I'd left my debit card and drivers license in the car.
I forgot my camera cord and my phone charger.

I got off to a rattled start.

in class, I painted. All day long. The colors, the paper, my brushes became my reliable friends. I danced with images and even if I wasn't fully there,
I am here now
getting more comfortable
with my uncomfortable edges.


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