Category Archives: art

Just Start

The truth is, I’ve come to notice that most days I arrive at the studio in a bad mood.

Back when I took my first steps, Dreaming Big, this would have been anathema to me. I thought dreams, realized, meant everything was perfect. These days, I believe more in an embrace everything and be alive kind of combo.

There always seems to be a good reason for the ornery thoughts and a rubble of legitimate obstacles why creation will not be possible in the now. It was only today, starting out, that I realized the reasons really do not matter. Nor do the emotions roiling around inside of me. When I make my crickety, reluctant and bitch-all-the-way transition into Play Space, the variety of inside content becomes pure phenomena, movement, the stuff of creation.

A place to start.

No need to wait for inspiration. No need to classify, analyze or understand what is happening inside.

Just start.

Anywhere.

Progress pictures of acrylic on canvas "Crumbling Perfection" 80x60cm, 2015.
Progress pictures of acrylic on canvas “Crumbling Perfection” 80x60cm, 2015.

Then something starts happening.

Where are you starting out your creation today? What inner phenomena can you dance with [whether it’s comfy or not]?

 

 

Testing: How Big Is My Capacity for Joy?

Last Fall I enrolled in Hiro Boga’s Become Your Own Business Advisor online workshop. It is a very sneaky, deeply transformative way to learn about your inner landscape concerning business. I got through one third of the material, first time around.

When I write sneaky, I mean it goes straight to the core. A few months after the workshop I find myself in a classic state of practical ecstasy and every day I am tested; How much joy can I stand today?

The situation is as follows. For at least one year I can paint daily, making painting my number one priority during weekdays,  when the children are in school and sometimes longer, when the Engineer picks them up from school. Of course this loveliness is then sprinkled with wonderful encounters with coaching clients and art students.

And while this only means that I have meaningful work to go to every day and the rest of my business model is still in shambles, I am truly, madly, deeply in love with existence.

I went to the pharmacy today, after the Engineer told me that is where you can purchase isopropyl alcohol, which for instance lovely Samantha Dasilva explains how to use. The pharmacist looked suspiciously at my paint-stained clothes, and [too] happy face [unusual in wintertime Finland] and asked what I was going to use it for. After a while her eyes started to glaze over and I realized she believed me and just wanted me to stop spouting details about painting.

This ecstasy, eagerness and deep hunger for life is not new for me. I have felt it since I was a child and several times after that, always linking it to art making. It baffles me that I have spent some 38 years, fighting and sabotaging this dream in different ways, only obvious to me now, and that even now, with all that is possible, I sometimes hear myself say:

“Maybe I should be realistic.”

And worse, I feel the trepidation, the hesitancy creep into my veins and turn my blood slow, fill my limbs with leaden tiredness…

 

And then I look at this.

Work in progress, Celebrating Myself Home, Acrylic 2015, 100x150cm, by Marie D. Tiger.
Work in progress, Celebrating Myself Home, Acrylic 2015, 100x150cm, by Marie D. Tiger.

And feel my insides flow with warmth, bouncy energy and an inner “YES!” in response.

I know, deep deep down inside all that is true and real in me, that this Makes. Sense.

 

So, I for one,

propose the deepest compassion and gentleness

with all urges to hide, to self-sabotage, to resist

at the same time

as I recommend warrior courage

in facing what is within and looking at it clearly.

Or whatever else that works.

Life is short.

Dreams are juicy.

Go for it.

 

Because expanding our capacity of joy, of happiness, of diving deep into meaningful

action (whatever it is for you) is so worth it.

 

Sending you the inspiration of cascading cadmium lemon yellow, deepest permanent red violet and a million shades of cadmium orange mixed with white. <3

What Happened after I Committed to Art?

 

I hope this year will be filled with unexpected blessings, illuminating insights and lots of beautiful ordinary moments for you. <3

In the midst of the kid’s holidays I wanted to come tell you about the amazing developments that have taken place, after making room for Empty Space and then making  the decision to commit to art.

Traditionally the three weeks around Christmas and New Year have for me been times of intense introspection, pierced with birth family drama and old patterns jumping up. Often I have felt helpless before my own life, before what I have created in my reality. While it has lead me to further delve into my inner landscape and into what it is that I would like to create in my life, it has been intense.

This year, it’s been vivid. But in a completely different way.

Choosing to throw caution and doubt in the wind, has opened up inner doors to art, rapid fire. I found James Elkins’ book, What Painting Is. He is an art historian multipotentialite, who understands art making on a visceral level. When he talks about painting being “life’s blood: a substance so utterly entrancing, infuriating, and ravishingly beautiful that it makes it worthwhile to go back into the studio every morning, year after year, for an entire lifetime.” he is describing the room that my soul dwells in.

Every day. Since I made the Decision to just make art. Has been so filled with life, crystal clear moments, enjoyment that words feel trite as I try to describe it. When I prod, jab, scratch, gouge and slash the canvas with my brush, my blood cells sing, my muscles flow with endorphins and I feel like I am at the center of my universe, doing exactly what I was made for.

Now, there is a new ingredient here. See, one thing that kept me from pursuing art, for real, was that I suspected I wasn’t very good. For a long time I thought it was just my perfectionism, but now I realise it was the wish to do better, to have the skill to express what is growing out of me. What I appreciate most is that now I’m open to learning that. The mixing of grays, a balanced palette, a liveliness of brushstrokes, a moving feeling body painting its unseen onto the canvas. A new gear is on and the books, people and ideas I need are flowing into my life. It is as if a dam has broken. As if art was waiting outside of the door, just waiting to bust in.

I’m happy. The ecstasy that so used to freak out my parents is back, the passion that makes me feel like an embodied song of Pavarotti inside is here again. And it has a place to go. My studio is just the right fit for all of this that can be so difficult to cram into everyday life; the bliss, the excruciating sensitivity to stimuli, the intensity that can ignite fire, the ocean of feeling.

This is short, but I wanted to tell you.

In the case that someone who has an impossible, irrational, crazy dream is reading this. What’s good about dreams is that they are really tenacious and when you dare to choose them, just that choice changes everything.

 

The Uncomfortable Truth

Yes. Acrylic on canvas, 48cm in diameter, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.
Yes. Acrylic on canvas, 48cm in diameter, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.

Today someone asked me to make a decision.

Yes or no? No more wavering, talking, thinking, discussing. Yes or no.

Ah. Uncomfortable!The pressure of it. What do I really want?

The discomfort helped me cut through my crap and see what it was that I was afraid of.

But the real issue was buried and waiting much deeper.

It is only after a whole day’s artwork that I realize what it is that I have been doing all these years. I can feel it deep down in my bones, the movement between action and doubt, deciding and wavering, swaying between yes and no, over and over again. The movement between taking action and right away sabotaging myself. Back and forth.

Not wanting to let go. Not daring to make a decision.

I have been waiting for something. Wishy washy, doing a little art here, a little art there, at times a lot of art. Committing to doing it in a way. Then going back and doubting myself. This way and that. Longing for confirmation. Am I? Am I not?

Waiting for someone to come and say:

“You are good enough. Go for it.”

And when that has happened, saving it like a nugget of gold in my heart. Then going on to the familiar habit of procrastinating, avoiding, doing something in spurts, making elaborate excuses.

Lamenting about day jobs and about how vulnerable the core is. Hiring coaches, doing inner work, joining selling networks. Always looking for the next solution, the next Holy Grail. Getting more and more bored and frustrated with always ending up in the same place. [Yes I am an artist. Not a lamp. I can make art.]

This brings to mind a girl, dancing with a guy, always looking over his shoulder at the rest of them. Is there someone better out there? Asking for approval. Second guessing. Herself, him, everything.

How ridiculous does it have to get?

How many more rooms filled with paintings, drawings, sculptures, how much more money saved up, how many more guarantees before I make a choice? Before I say yes or no.

Why is this important? Commitment?

Because until we commit, the back door is always open. It’s okay to wimp out. It’s okay to move between falling in love and backing away far enough to be able to start all over. The relationship stays stuck in the first phase, never maturing to what it can be.

It’s like climbing the same mountain over and over again. Never getting quite back down to the ground, never reaching the top and the view. Talk about frustrating.

And I can’t wait to see what happens next. So.

Yes.

Is there something in your life that is waiting for you to commit to it, waiting for your unwavering YES right now?

The Big Squeeze

A windfall

More and more, I am becoming a fan of our shared humanity. The unpredictability of it all. The shadows behind every facade of perfection. The embarrassing truth.

In the beginning of August 2014, I was the recipient of a windfall. An opportunity to make art for a year. This was the first time since art school in 2003, that I have had a chance like this, to delve into art making with some real time. In my own art space, to boot.

Expectations soared, of course. After all, isn’t it the epitome of happiness, to be able to make art, almost full time? (I can hear the universe giggling in the background, while writing this.)

The work of an artist

What I had conveniently forgotten, of course, is the true work of an artist. To feel everything, experience all nuances of what is happening, to knock on inner doors or knock them down and drink deeply of the cup of life. Then, make art about it.

The Big Squeeze, water color 21x29,5cm, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.
The Big Squeeze, water color 21×29,5cm, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.

So, instead of feeling happy, suitably grateful, productive and inspired, I found myself resistant, edgy and defensive much more of the time than I thought proper.

All of my ideals of making art, all of the uplifted expectations of the artist’s life crashed head on with the raw loneliness of the studio, the reality of putting paint on canvas in a suffering world. To make art, instead of having a “real job”. There is a reason why we avoid empty space and big reaches of time. It all opens up the door to the question: Why am I here? Does anything I do matter? At all?

I asked myself repeatedly: If I feel like this while making art, what’s the point?

Vision rubbing against reality

What I’m coming to realize – excruciatingly slowly, again and again – is that there is no “there”. No perfection, no people who always succeed, no teachers who always walk their talk, no impeccable work communities, nothing finished. It makes me gag with disappointment, because the mixture of light and dark is so heady, hard to comprehend. But there is some relief, as well. Nothing has gone wrong. I can stay in this discomfort, aware of the temptation to seek solid ground and just hang out with the raw and tender moment.

It is the only place I can arrive at, is this moment. This is where my vision rubs against the reality of what is happening in me and around me. The big squeeze.

Work in progress, Celebrating Myself Home, 100x150cm, mixed media on canvas, 2014, by Marie D. Tiger.
Work in progress, Celebrating Myself Home, 100x150cm, mixed media on canvas, 2014, by Marie D. Tiger.

Onward.

Where do your ideals rub against the reality of what is happening in your everyday life?

 

Cherish the Awkward

Embrace the Awkward, 24x16cm markers in thought book, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.
Embrace the Awkward, 24x16cm markers in thought book, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.

Yesterday I was taking a walk. I was stopped in my tracks by this adolescent swan. Humongous feet, wobbly, oddly colored with grey, brown and off-white. So awkward and tied up in uncomfortable knots. Yet all swan.

This has been a year where many of my heroes have fallen from their pedestals with a crash. Saying one thing, doing another. And I have been grappling with that. The humanity of us all. That we have nothing else to resort to, but doing our best.

So I am coming to accept, that in order to keep the magic alive, I have to learn how to not only tolerate the awkward in me and others, but embrace it, seek it, cherish it.

Why?

Because it opens up a point of connection. Because it shatters the tyranny of perfection. Because it means that we are all, irrespective of our roles and status, still learning & practicing.

In which areas of your life could you explore freeing yourself to just be awkward?

 

Different Modes of Creative Action

It has been quiet here on the blog. This is largely because I have been experimenting with the Empty Space and it is turning into Open Space, moment by moment.

So what does this mean?

Work in progress, mixed media on canvas, 80x100cm. 2014. By Marie D. Tiger.
Work in progress, mixed media on canvas, 80x100cm. 2014. By Marie D. Tiger.

Early this Fall, I had the rare opportunity to start concentrating on my bigger acrylic paintings. This work leads away from the verbal, for me. Where drawing and writing are areas of creativity that thrive on insight, the dance of imagination and rational thinking, painting is different.

So my days have been spent in slow contemplation, feeling into the deep rhythms of my life, the issues in our world, meetings with clients and groups of students. Inbetween that I come to my studio and time stands still.

Then colors, images, rhythms, melodies, feeling tones and sensations start moving through my body, until I have an impulse toward a particular tube of preussian, or a brush, or maybe dancing a little. The paintings unfold themselves out of me in a similar fashion as my children did. Words have very little to do with this. They come much later.

Sometimes this is hard to accept. I would like to draw, send out creative insights, write and connect. But everything I know about creativity tells me to surrender to this unusual time in my life and see what happens.

What kind of different modes of creating are you aware of in you life?

 

November Glow

 

November Light, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 90cm, 2014.
November Light, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 90cm, 2014.

I have been enjoying lots of empty space lately. It seems the ideas I like the most, come from simple being and breathing. Last week November Light, this week, who knows?

2014___emptycanvas

Sending you lots and lots of deep breaths and faith in the process, whatever it looks like for you. Remember, you only need to listen to the impulse and allow it. Again and again and again. Don’t forget to breathe. <3

Monday Musings about Freedom, Inner Demons and Expressing Who We Are

2014____24_escapeland

I have been hanging out with my demons lately. I drew the above drawing a week ago. We had a long discussion with the Engineer about the purpose of the Escape Bubble [watching TV incessantly, internet shopping ad infinitum, drinking too much beer, playing patience hour after hour, frantic exercising, the list is long).

Why does it exist? What brings it on? Is it to be resisted, controlled or is it merely a signal of something?

Is it an escape from uncomfortable feelings?

2014__25_yourdemonsareaninsidejob

Yes! I did it!

A jump to a new level of freedom tends to flush out all of the Usual Suspects; Shame, Guilt, Perfectionism, Fear, Doubt, Self-loathing, Anxiety, Addictiveness.

I am currently completely free from any kind of day job, only working on projects that involve art, creativity and imagination, only taking on work I love and also having more time to paint than ever. More than I had in art school.

Yikes!

Freedom is scary, because it snaps all ties to the old identity. There are no justifications for existence left. There are no “musts, shoulds or have to’s” to create a safe, predictable misery. Something outside of me, to force me to act, to do something, to get going.

There is just me.

2014____119shitloadofshame

And my  shame.

Shame seems to accompany any quest to become visible, any heroic venture to create something from our core. It is an insidious feeling, because it is so darned visceral and uncomfortable. Can you feel the cringe inside? I sure can, just writing about shame, here.

Succeeding can trigger shame

For many many of us creative dreamers, failure is not the most shame-inducing phenomenon. Succeeding is. Reaching another layer of freedom, another level of being who we are in this world, expressing something heartfelt. This can trigger the urge to escape or to do something rational, leave the hand made small life and join the corporate machine.

2014_226_itissafetoencounterallofme

That is why the demons inside are so important. When they are cradled, listened to, ever so gently moved and accepted, they carry with them whispers from our core. Messages from what wants to be born. Old ties to be released so an empty space can be opened for the new to come in.

It is safe to express who you are

But that is what I like about creating. The question “Why do I have these demons?” becomes less important than “What can I create [with these demons, from the encounter with them, through facing these feelings I’m feeling, just as they are in this moment]?” Instead of sitting back, curling into myself frozen and scared, I have the option to explore, experiment, feel into. This is when everything starts moving.

2014____227_proudlyrockingtheboatofshame

The thing about them pesky demons is, when we stop running away from them and just sit down, surrender to what is – let go of who we think we should be, what we think we should be feeling – the content of our inner worlds opens up and makes sense.

That is the promise of creating. Nothing can go wrong. It is okay to explore, build, take apart, build again, make mistakes, learn, experience, feel, move, fail, flounder, get lost, listen to impulses, escape and find ourselves again.

2014___145weirdiswhatimostlove

So from my heart to yours; your eccentricities, flaws, shadows and your brilliance, excellence and light, together are what make you who you are. Weird. Is what I most love about you. <3

 

Sunday Studio

elephant
Work in progress, acrylic 100×73 cm.

I’ve been in the world a whole lot, last week. Today I’ve been in my studio, just tidying up, looking through work, pottering around, preparing a new week. And I wanted to say hi.