Earlier this week I got the kids off to school daycare, made myself some tea, was ready to start the day or work and decided I was going to sketch some peonies I purchased over the weekend. The peonies hadn't bloomed like I hoped they would so I figured I would capture the tight buds before they started to wrinkle and discolor.
I moved the flowers to my kitchen table, aka favorite place to paint even though I have a studio in the backyard, moved the menagerie of animals that had gathered on the table top as my littles ate breakfast, found a decent pencil and sat down.
I tore down two small pieces of water color paper, laid my pencil on one and started to sketch. I'll be honest, I sat down to draw some sweet peony studies that I would find some joy in as I studied the flowers and I knew would sell at one of my summer shows, the pot boiler paintings...
I'm not sure what happened next but somehow instead of flowers I ended up a few minutes later with two faces staring up at me off of the pages. Don't get me wrong, I know I drew them, I just don't know why... Somehow though I recognized them as perhaps my muses, my guides.
I immediately texted my friend and confidante Robin Hallett a message along the lines of WTF!!! I feel overwhelmed and her reply was are you overwhelmed or opened up?
I realized when I saw these muses, and probably at least a million other times that I wasn't ready to admit, that often when I paint I'm just a channel for creative energy and the art is really a gift. A gift coming through me, not necessarily from me. My thoughts immediately were, first and foremost WTF!(I have a long history of being agnostic with a bent towards disbelief), second, who am I to think this way, third, duh, of course that's what's happening... (I don't always speak so nicely to myself...)
The overwhelm came in the fear that if I really am a channel, if we all are in some way, what if something comes that I, we, don't want to receive?
The opening up came in the realization that I can still take responsibility for the role I play in this process to some degree, and that's pretty awesome if you ask me. Tapping in to source (That now incidentally I have no doubt exists, more on that another time...)
For years I painted nothing but pot boiler painting. Pretty flowers to match floral couches and fill big walls in new homes. They didn't start out as pot boilers. They started out as a middle school art student playing around and loving color and shapes and flowers fit the bill. I loved doing it for a long time. Then it became so rote, so mechanical, that somehow that connection to the muse was lost. I painted for the market that I knew existed.
Then for a few years I painted lots of everything (but flowers) and I showed them to nobody. My instructors at the League saw them, my husband did, outside mentors on occasion but nobody else. This was great, it allowed me freedom(from my own self imposed pressures) to experiment.
Now, I'm open. I'm painting what feels good to me as it feels good to me. I'm doing a fair amount of work with my daughter. I'm weaving baskets and trying some stitching and hand lettering and this and that. Sometimes my artistic voice feels a little like Sybil with it's many variations. But I'm staying the course. I'm listening, I'm seeing what shows up and I'm kind of scared and I'm kind of loving it.
and when I don't know what to do or where to go when it's time to create, I make a Story Circle. It allows me to connect to self and the creative expression comes. Sometimes controlled in the circle/mandala format, sometimes in many different forms. This is a practice I stumbled upon about 2 years ago and started sharing with others a year after that. There is another class starting June 21st, so if you're interested in connecting to self, to source. If you want to play with creative expression. Check it out, join us...