The adventure of self-love continues. Yesterday, after coming home from meeting my work counsellor and seeing an artist friend, I updated this illustration. I don’t think the problem with loving ourselves is the self-care, as much as what happens within, when we do care for ourselves and our boundaries.
Setting boundaries is scary. We only ever see the surface of the people who set their boundaries for us. But when we do it, lots of stuff happens inside.
For me, saying no is often accompanied with a sensation of nausea, guilt, endlessly questioning whether I did the right thing and if I hurt the other.
As for the acrylic part of the project, here is the big, first acrylic painting in the Getting Lost in Landscapes of Self-Love on the right. On the left is its little sister, called “Loving Self”, from my last show.
Now, I’m going to tidy up my studio, to make room for clients and more painting. Thanks for following this winding path, as I find my way, impulse by impulse, into this new project.
Today I have spent all day, filming a video about the making of core art. It has been the perfect thing to do in the midst of an incubation period.
The art show is closed now, unsold paintings are back at the studio and the future lies ahead, unknown. I think this was the show I loved most, of all of those I’ve had.
I used to think an art show is about exhibiting what I’ve painted and that has never felt natural, comfortable or even worthwhile for me. So this time, I wanted to do something differently. I wanted to connect, I wanted to share.
“out that expending emotional labor, working without a map, and driving in the dark involve confronting fear and living with the pain of vulnerability. The artist comes to a détente with these emotions and, instead of fighting with them, dances with them. The linchpin connects as a result of the indispensable nature of her contribution. The artist, on the other hand, connects because that’s what art is. The artist touches part of what it means to be truly human and does that work again and again.” ― Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
I started by asking my crowd what they wanted to see at the show, how they would like to participate in an art exhibit and I also asked the culture center what they would like to see. This made all the difference.
Forty people left their dreams on little colored paper notes in the dream incubator I had in the show. I felt honored, when I glued them onto my canvas in my studio. The power of those dreams, of people creating their everyday lives was palpable.
Countless people left messages, sent pictures of themselves, sent notes about how what they had created after the show. Clients who bought paintings shared their important memories or reasons for buying a particular painting.
Suddenly the time spent connecting felt real and the art I had created became part of the bigger context of people dreaming their reality everywhere. This is what I want to do next time as well, more connecting, more sharing, more of all of us being humans together.
“It’s what we wrestle with every single day. The intersection of comfort, danger, and safety. The balancing act between vulnerability and shame. The opportunity (or the risk) to do art. The willingness to take responsibility for caring enough to make a difference and to have a point of view.” ― Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
So now I’m here, in the Big Empty that comes after a big project ends. I’m ghessoing huge canvases, cleaning my tools, tidying my studio, going to Scotland for a workshop, making a film about core art, writing more again, watching movies and generally floating around in empty space, letting the New come in.
The longer I do this, run my company, make my art, dive deeper into core art both myself and with my art students, the more I’m convinced that we can’t jump from here [my everyday life, my freedoms and restrictions], all the way there [to my ideals, fabulous success, great technical prowess]. We need to follow the impulse, take the next tiny step, create the minuscule potential that is available to us now. That is when the adventure opens up. All [wry grin] we need to do, is to learn to live with the Unknown.
Sending you courage, the strength of wry humor and general wackyness where ever you are in your every day dreamer’s life today. <3
Next Wednesday, the 5th of August, I open my art show, Dream Maker, Heartbreaker at Culturecenter Grand Piispankatu 28, Porvoo, Finland. Welcome to enjoy Dreams and good company between six and eight pm.
Even if you can’t make it, I thought it might be fun to have a virtual art show here, at the blog. I know many of you don’t live in Finland.
Making art, for me, is impossible if I don’t love myself consciously. Without love, I don’t ever get to the studio door, but instead I allow distractions and the needs of others to keep me away.
In order to make art, I must be able to be all of me. Every little last piece of my humanity is with me in the studio, which is why the studio door sometimes feels monstrous. Facing myself, all of me, again and again.
You can make art or you can be perfect
Seth Godin wrote about this and I agree. The more I create, the more I crumble my expectations of perfection in myself, life and other people. Instead, I enjoy the ever growing creative energy that I can channel and trust my impulses and intuition to guide me.
Living my dreams, practicing self-love, being married, having children, working with other practicin idealists – none of it is all unicorns and rainbows. I would like it to be. Still. But I am learning to dance in this gap between the ideal and reality, letting it all move through me.
Coming to the studio after a fight with the Engineer, getting two wriggly, unwilling, tired kids to school and finding out a workshop has been cancelled. I sit down in front of the canvas, relax my body, open up to my imagination and I just breathe.
Approximately six hours later I wade through whatever weather there is, go get the children, cook, pack Taekwondo training gear and go train with my firstborn. Taekwondo keeps me both humble and in touch with my power. Centered in the midst of exploding force and knowing when to use it.
They Will Ask: Who Do You Think You Are?
In any life there comes the time when someone asks this of you. Who do you think you are – to dream, to paint, to write, to shine? I think this is a kind of harvest time [despite the potential hurtfulness of the discussion]. Getting this question from the doubts inside or from people around you means that you are starting to have an impact.
That is at least what I told myself, when this happened. After having a good cry.
It’s Worth It
A long time ago I read a book called Creating a Life Worth Living. This has always seemed like a worthy investment of my time. Life is so cumbersome, intense and scary, at times, it might as well be worth all the trouble. My fears keep whispering to me, it would be easier to live in quiet desperation, easier to “be normal”, just shut down, not feel it all, not engage it all.
Then again. Each time I say hello to my fear and dare anyway, a new door opens up, a new potential awakens, something new becomes possible.
Part of Something Beautiful
I used to hope I would find a community of people where it would be wonderful to work, where ideals would spring into everyday life and love would abound. This year especially, I have learned that we are all doing our best, even when we fall short. Maybe especially when we fall short. There is no perfection to be found.
Not in me. Not in you. And that is okay.
Compassion, taking care of emotions inside, instead of moving them into the relationship through drama. This leads to forgiveness. Seeing that things are what they are. Seeing people for who they are, instead of shooting out expectations like a sprinkler. Some lessons learned this year.
Just Start Somewhere
If I’ve learned anything while painting fulltime, it is that starting is the most important thing. It gets the creative juices going, opens up potentials, teaches you things. Just start. The rest will take care of itself.
Befriending the Shadow
When you can’t beat it, learn to love it.
And Then Sometimes Everything Goes Topsy Turvy….
If you’ve been reading this blog you know that my Dad has used to be my greatest opponent. I had to literally go through him to get to my first art school. As we talked through the years, I realized that he just sees me so differently from who I am. He sees some parallel-reality Marie, an elegant, reed thin woman, who wears navy, always blends in and loves cocktail parties. He had the perfect life planned out for this first born.
Instead he got me.
So, this spring I thought I had waited long enough and I asked him: “Are you at all proud of me Dad?” He is. Despite my flaming red hair, despite my aversion to cocktail parties, Burberry scarves and navy clothes.
It’s been quite a year. It seems the further I dive into living my dreams, the more I feel – of everything. The challenges become greater, the demands on trust grow. Wouldn’t change it, though.
I hope you’ve enjoyed what you see, thank you for watching and reading. I salute you, Dreamer.
It’s been quiet on this blog on this side of the year. I’m mostly on vacation,
but today I have been writing an article for Minä Olen magazine and since I found a way to get my scanner to work, I thought I would come and muse in the blog for a bit.
I was sorting through all the illustrations for 365 Days of Creativity (remember those guys?)
and found many scetches, a bunch of undocumented finished ones and raw ideas.
I now have 231 documented and finished illustrations of different creative days, mostly with my inner animals, but some with my alter ego red head stick girl.
The whole thing of course started when I got tired of sitting on my ass and wishing I would create and inspired by Seth Godin started drawing or painting something small each day [and no matter how imperfect], posting it here on the blog. The drawings kept getting better and I learned to listen more to both my inner animals and my impulses. My imagination seemed to speak animal. Until the beginning of year 2015, when form suddenly fell away and it was just myself and the colors left.
From my current vantage point it seems that I have most literally created myself visible. Through drawing and the inner work that being an entrepeneur gives rise to, I have slowly solved the conflicts between my inner artist, my coaching practice and my company Crealife. Instead of being a big mash up of everything, there are now clear distinctions between these.
This blog, that I started when I needed an outlet where to share my art, has slowly become a hobby, as my Finnish core art business, Crealife, has taken over. The painting process of my latest body of work Dream Maker, HeartBreaker has been a mostly wordless one, suitable more for documentation in the journal than short, intersting blog posts. Instagram has been a good way to share that process with my lovely audience. <3
So I’m pottering around the blog today, wanted to say HI and also that I am opening up inner doors so I can write in this blog again, adventure around in my beloved English language and perhaps send out a smidgeon of playful inspiration to summerwarmed imaginations around the globe. <3
A warm thank you to everyone who took part in the Giveaway. It was a delight to meet so many of you in an e-mail. The five lucky winners have either received their packages or have a nice surprise coming in the mail in a few days. 🙂
Today it’s canvas making day in the studio again. It is unspectacular work.
Work that my mind scorns and scoffs at.
But as I listen to Dan Burke’s music and work, pausing at times to smooth the canvas, feel the gritty fibers under my hand, I think of the customer who will buy this painting and I’m filled with love. I’ve come across so many hastily made store bought canvases lately that twitch, turn, bend and are wonky this way and that. Another outer authority slipping away, the thought that store bought canvases are better made than my handmade ones.
A similar theme is opening up in Taekwondo practice. The repetitive basic moves that we practice over and over again, are blossoming into surprisingly firm kicks, swift turns and an agility I haven’t been used to in my body.
I’m thinking, what if I approached all everyday phenomena in my life, especially routines with this fresh attitude? What if I were an attuned, humble and awake beginner, filling the dishwasher? Taking the kids to school? Gathering the materials to my book keeper? If I were to appreciate the moment, my moment, enough to really be aware of what I’m doing and that I can choose the quality of the moment?
So, I’m back to tightening, stapling and turning – knowing that the painting born on this canvas will be quality, through and through. When I paint, I feel as if I’m channeling the feeling tone of my being onto the canvas and my deepest hope is that my paintings may be there in a small way as a support to you, while you work toward your dreams.
What are the foundations of your life, what are the basics you are practising?
Today I wanted to write an update, about life in the studio. Since my decision to take the leap and prioritize artmaking, in late December, life has been an intense adventure. Living from my core, there is no anesthetizing, protective layer between myself, my dream and life anymore.
This has required extraordinary care in drawing boundaries to protect both my studio time, the tenderness of opening up widely to make art each day and also my leap of faith from the fears and doubts of well-meaning people around me.
Working in the studio has taught me new things about my chosen work. It is physical, involving building, swearing, sweating, wrestling with canvas, being coated in grime and color, working ahead always in trial and error. Translating emotion and energy into color on canvas is fascinating, at times painful as the feelings wash through me as a force of nature and it also involves a lot of interaction. Smearing acrylic color on canvas is a lot like communicating, each individual action produces a change in the whole system – often surprising changes. And no undo buttons – only the keep going one.
The biggest unfolding, perhaps, has been the sheer amount of love, both in my own artmaking and in the workshops where I teach the making of core art. I am learning that painting can also be a practice of self-love. Accepting and even more allowing the creation to be what it is, being able to encounter what I create; how it looks, what it feels like, what it says is a potent experience that some days leaves me and those I teach gasping.
My biggest joy is that for the first time, in the ten years that I have been an entrepeneur and business owner, everything is flowing. You, my beautiful darling customers, have been in touch, come to my studio and bought my paintings. I am deeply honored and moved, to be allowed to sell you these paintings, painted from my core to yours.
Since I was thirteen years old, I have felt this wordless urgency, to expand, to find myself, to be myself fully so I can participate in the world. Now I feel I am at the center of my reality, able to be of true service, just being who I am. I want to thank you, all, deeply, for following this adventure and for being who you are.
As a thank you, I am having a celebration for my blog readers. If you want to take part, please send your postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org before the 31st of March, please write Celebration in the subject line. Your addresses will not be used for any other purpose than sending this giveaway, if you’re the lucky winner. 🙂 I will draw five winners of all who participate and send the winners an artful surprise from my print inventory.
So, an exuberant Hello There, from my studio to where ever you are. You are seen, you are loved, you are part of something beautiful, just by being you.
P.S. If you want to follow my day to day musings and work in progress, you can do it on Instagram.
I was painting the other day, the first canvas that I’ve stretched and primed in a long time. When I lifted it up, it was warped. My heart sank. But I let it lie flat, knowing that canvases live a bit. When I returned to the studio, the next day, the canvas stayed flat when I lifted it. Yay!
A couple of days ago, I noticed the canvas is wonky, leaning to one side. Again, I let it simmer for a few days.
But today, I took a deep breath and started to deconstruct the canvas, removing the staples and loosening the canvas.
You know, I would so prefer being perfect.
But if there is one thing I’m learning, these days, it is how to be a beginner. Just start again, implement what you’ve learned, keep on doing. In a way, I think we are all beginners, because each moment in life is all new, never before encountered.
So I’ll settle for being able to stand behind my work. This canvas had taught me so much today.
I found a place in the studio where I can press my canvases into shape.
I finally found use for this ruler.
I did so much deep breathing while tightening and stapling this challenging baby back into place. While I worked I thought about all those days, changing diapers. Stretching canvas is also a labor of love and ultimately, not at all about me.
It is about honoring my painting, my handiwork and the client who is going to buy this painting.
Monday, in Taekwondo training, my considerate instructor said it was time to test me for the yellow belt. The others had done the test before Christmas, when I was lying in bed with fever.
All my inner walls slammed up. I wanted to flat out refuse. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away.
Instead I disconnected my brain and just waited for the test to start. I wish I could tell you that I aced it. Did not. I was pretty bad. But I did it. Tomorrow I get my belt.
What I learned during the lesson was that when I’m afraid, I tense my shoulders into a knot. I try to push myself into succeeding. It doesn’t work that way. Instead I prevent my body from doing what it knows how to do.
I went walking and running on ice yesterday. My intention was to explore how fear moves in my body. Just spend some time with it, experiment. I found a nice spot, a dirt road covered by bumpy, wet and slippery ice. Yellow sneakers, trembly knees, strong breaths out. Despite my mind’s screeching, fantasies of a broken nose and panic, my body knew what to do.
Relaxed, yet alert, my body, supported by my conscious breath, walked pretty normally. My feet kept slipping and sliding and correcting the balance with the appropriate movements. My shoulders kept trembling and numbing with the force of fear running like electricity through my muscles. But it was just sensation. An experience.
My taekwondo instructors keep telling me that the fear is normal, the bumbling around is something everyone does and the answers are inside.
I take their words to heart and bring them with me into the studio. Here I throw everything into the inner fire.
And paint for my life.
What are you afraid of? What would help you stay relaxed and alert in the midst of feeling your fear?
This is a question you will be asked sooner or later.
Insinuatingly, between the lines or smack in the face openly.
Who. DO. You think. You ARE?
Remember to breathe.
Do you remember this picture?
When you listen to your impulses – all of them, not just the ones that are in your inner default operating mode – each impulse opens up a set of new potentials. Your intuition acts as the captain, choosing the most optimal set of impulses. This means that for each followed impulse, creation by creation, your life becomes something new. Tailor made for you, courtesy of your core.
That is why we can trust the Unknown, in the flow of our impulses. It makes everything possible. No matter how scary it feels at times.
So. If your life recently had a huge or even the tiniest Boooom!
And you’re wondering what to say to the people who ask you who you think you are, to dare so greatly and act so irresponsibly/crazily/weirdly/whatever?
You don’t really need to say anything.
Just get back to the paper, to the canvas, into the coaching room, to your children, into the kitchen, in front of the microphone or in front of the piano. You know.
I got to laugh ironically at my own pep talk blog post several times yesterday. Nothing went in flow, but I got to know my colors very well. Let’s just say Bismuth Vanadate Yellow and I aren’t going to be friends soon.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I am finding my painting mojo again, step by step as my overloaded senses are getting their much needed dose of silence, solitude and quiet concentration. I am noticing that I do not need to be in a good mood to paint, the colors unfold, the impulses appear, the work happens quite independently.
I may have the worst day at the studio, but it isn’t personal. When I allow myself full range of emotion, nothing bad happens. If anything, it allows me to connect more fully with play space, experimentation – the flow, the screech, the obstinacy of color and its movement in rhythm or opposition with the canvas.
Is this embracing my shadow?
Whatever it is, I refuse to slize myself or my work into the narrow confines of good and bad anymore. I choose to listen, to create, to be present with whatever is here.
Are there phenomena in your work today that you could listen to and be present with, without expectations or agenda?