Blog

On Not Making the Strawberry Jam

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The temperatures are hot and the humidity snuck up out of nowhere. We are T-4 days until summer vacation. Where I live this means one thing and one thing alone, it is strawberry season.(ok that might be dramatic, there are other things too but strawberry season is a big damn deal as it should be.) Families arrived to the fields by the car load last weekend and filled flat after flat.

My online feeds are clogged with pics of bright red succulent berries, talk of cleaning and freezing the berries, then more pics with stacks and stacks of little jars of jam. Everyone it seems is trying to “capture” this fleeting period in a jar.  

It had me questioning if I should be making jam too. Mind you I never have, we don’t eat jelly in our house, and I have only ever canned once in my life. Still as I see the pictures and I hear the talk I can’t help but feel a slight panic rise in me as I wonder if I or worse yet my kids are missing out. If I should be donning my apron and firing up the big pot and getting to work on something that would surely be a tasty treat.

It had me questioning and then I stopped. If I decided to make the jam I would have to give up making something else; Paintings in my studio, embroidery on the couch, tree climbing memories with my children. It would prevent me from doing the work I am really here to do. The work that lights me up. The work that when I am lucky lights you up too.

So I’m not going to make the strawberry jam. I’ll drive down the hill and buy some from a farm stand that can make it far better than I ever could and spend that time making art instead.

How about you?

From Chaos to Calm Through Creative Expression

that's me holding the advance of my book right after it arrived last week:)

that's me holding the advance of my book right after it arrived last week:)

From chaos to calm through creative expression, yes really. This is not only possible it is my reality. Paintings as prayers, mark making as meditations. These simple acts allow me time to process and parse my experiences in the world around me and I believe can help others, yes you, do the same.

I didn’t realize this was the case until my creative practice started to fall to the wayside. A wonderful daughter followed by an amazing son in tandem with an online business outside of the artistic realm led to my energies focusing elsewhere. Slowly but surely it began to feel like life swirled around me. I felt increasingly lost and slightly disconnected. We moved across country to a new town with a brand new community and I began to feel like nobody knew the real me. I was not fully, or even partially expressed.

After a life of painting and artistry I lost myself. I got busy in the day to day, the here to there, the need to go, go, go. I forgot how to create, how to express. I forgot how to sit still. I forgot myself, but I knew I was still there and I craved to reconnect.

Through one experience then the next I found my way back to myself.  I stumbled upon sacred geometry. As I began to explore it calm began to return to what felt like the chaos in my body. One night I pulled out a compass, drew a circle and everything started to fall in to place. I literally began to reconnect to parts of myself, the creative, expressive soul inside in a way I never thought possible.

This was the space in which my Story Circles were initially created. It was here that the seeds for “Creating Personal Mandalas” were planted.

This combination of simple, sacred geometry (shapes and symbols, balance and symmetry that exists in nature and the universe at large), basic knowledge of the mandala (circular drawings), and my deep artistic background opened the gates to back myself in a profound way.

For the first time I consciously realized I could find healing through creative expression and connection with self, through a blend of geometry, drawing and visual story telling? I also realized anyone could regardless of their abilities. 

Fast forward 4 years. My creative practice has grown and shifted. My Story Circles remain an integral part of it and have taken various directions in numerous mediums. I developed my Story Circles class shortly after developing the personal practice and have taught it many times. I am now on the cusp of the release of my first book, “Creating Personal Mandalas: Story Circle Techniques in Watercolor and Mixed Media” sharing all that I have learned and guiding you on your own journey in creative expression and self connection.

As I sit and reflect I know that one truly can move from chaos to calm through creative expression and just want to say if you’re interested in exploring I’m happy to show you the way…

*I you’re interested in exploring there is a free chapter including 2 two step by step creative exercises from “Creating Personal Mandalas” available as a download here.
 

 

Permission to Share

Cassia Cogger Circle as True North

As you may know by now, I have a new book, Creating Personal Mandalas, Story Circle Techniques in Mixed Media and Watercolor, coming out this Spring (I'm pretty excited!!!). I have been working on it for a year and a half and in a little over a month it will be shipping out to the world! I have poured hours and days and love and tears in to this book and I am so excited to share it with anyone who is interested in receiving the gifts it has to offer.

It explores the circle as a vessel for creative expression, self connection, visual story telling and so much more. It is an art instructional but also a guide back to center for those willing to embark on the creative journey. It is permission and direction with step by step instructional for those wanting to creatively express but feeling like they might not know where to begin. For those that do it is a collection of prompts and inquiries to send you on your own creative way.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because I just received permission to share an entire chapter, including two step by step instructional exercises with you. I believe art is for anybody willing to engage and explore and this offering allows me to make the book, at least in part, available to anybody interested as well.

The chapter I will be sharing is titled "The Circle as True North" and shares some of my own personal experiences surrounding values as well as one mixed media and one watercolor instructional. The instructional guide you in exploring that which is important to you while simultaneously exploring creative expression and offers technical direction for those that crave it.

Please accept this gift by signing up and let me know how the exercises go for you. I would be so honored... 

 

Tricky Times

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It has felt like tricky times this week. There is so much I'm feeling but don't know how to verbally express. I have returned to my compass to return to my center and find myself re-engaging with creating story circles as a personal practice. Nothing like geometry, symmetry and symbolism to help show me the way.

I find myself with so many questions that often lead to more questions. I want to be informed before speaking up or out on things and as I act towards becoming informed I realize I really need to know even more. Painting helps me sort it all out.

Drawing connects me to the world in which I live. Drafting connects me to that which lives inside me. The circle provides a tidy container for this introspection and exploration to occur.
What do I really want? To say or to feel, to myself or to others? Sometimes I'm not clear and others I just don't know how to say it.

I drew a cluster of flowers above. One of my favorite forms of symbolism. Dating back to Victorian times is the language of flowers when specific floral arrangements were used to send coded messages to recipients, allowing the sender to express feelings which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society. Today I will rely upon my symbols while I search for my words. Gladiolas for strength, iris for faith, freesia for trust.

In creating this circle I've answered my question once again. This is what I really want. To share and to feel. For myself and for others. Strength. Faith. Trust.

I Paint My Mind Interview

Recently I sat down with Evan La Ruffa and did an interview with him for IPaintMyMind.org. My favorite Q and A is below. Check out his website for the rest of the interview and to see some other amazing artists.

You seem to connect your art with a certain mindfulness practice, which I totally relate to. What do you think that’s about?

I have personally experienced the way art brings me back to myself again and again. It allows me to tune in to my body through the tactile experiences of the materials I use, to my emotions as I spill them out on to the page, to my soul as I sit and pay attention to what it has to say as a muse to my creations. I have weathered some tough times both as a child and an adult and art has always been there for me, to calm, to soothe, to ground. Art making and viewing allows me to operate in a state of integration between human self and spirit self that isn’t always easy to achieve otherwise. It is a form of yoga for me in that it yokes me, connects me, to the world in which I live.