Category Archives: blog post

Snow that melts when it hits the road

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The blue, the green, the endless steps of a human life.

I have been fortunate enough to have been reintroduced to my roots lately.

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All those footprints in snow, melted ages ago.

I see the deep, harrowing loneliness and isolation of my childhood and teenage years.

I remember how I would have given all of my reflective capabilities, all of my depth for just a few moments of belonging, of being able to immerse myself in a drunken appreciation of the rowdiness I saw all around me. Instead I saw it all, as through a glass wall, the observations, sensations and emotions around me swirling into my brain. There was a clear eyed, calm voiced witness inside of me that commented on everything, including my own actions and motivations.

This experience of being, through no conscious choice of my own, shut out from the pack, outside of something that everyone else could partake in, left to my own overwhelming sensations and interior landscape, gave rise to this deep yearning to find authentic connection. To somehow explore what I saw, express it, see if I could find someone else who recognized what I was sensing.

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Pines, my best friends since childhood.

As I took a longer walk back from my children’s school this morning, I took time to stay with each footprint in the snow, a drop of water swaying this way and that on a pine branch, the particular scent of bared asphalt and snow that melts when it hits the road.

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Do you know this kind of snow? The kind with the wet slushy last crunch? Spring is on its way.

I see my isolation differently now.

The eyes of self-compassion see myself as an adolescent in a new way. I was practising my future life in a way, those difficult years. Something inside of me knew that my life, my heart path, lay elsewhere. No matter how I tried, I could not fit into that which was not of my soul. Something inside of me was stronger than my will and I just could not squeeze myself hard enough to fit into the tiny space that was offered to me.

Have you ever felt it? That no matter how you try, you just cannot make yourself convincingly fit into the roles offered to you?

My sense of being on the sidelines fills me with this deep silence, a spaciousness that can contain and give birth to new universes. This otherness in me makes it possible to stand the distance between myself and the world. It is also from this gap that connection is born; the active, compassionate, loving reaching out to you, there, on the other side of silence.

The deeper I paint myself into this exploration of self-love and self-compassion, the slower and more silent I become. It doesn’t feel like a punishment, anymore. It feels like coming home.

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Who knows what will grow out of this dirt, come spring?

So I wanted to write a bit,

today,

just a wordy wave,

to you out there,

where ever you are and

wish you a day of self-compassion with all that you live with, today.

Self-love skill #2 – Inside Out

 

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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.

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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.

How are you loving yourself today?

Self-love Skill #2; NO.

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Self-love skill number two. Saying no appropriately.

Man, how I struggle with this one. There’s saying it, of course. Hard at times, almost impossible at others.

But before you can say no, you have to be able to feel into what you really really want. Yes or no. You have to be able to say, I’ll come back to you, I’ll think about it for a while.

You need to accept, appreciate and allow your preferences.

Then, you may need to calmly say no thank you. Sometimes forcefully.

So, the practice continues. 🙂

Oh, and what do self-love skills have to do with creativity? My current experience is that the more I make art, the more productive I am, the more time I need for empty space time, bupkis days, taking care of my needs. It’s all part of the whole of creative work. Although the final act of creation may be fast and expressive, what makes that possible is sometimes a lot of time spent incubating, ruminating and in general just containing different kinds of tension.

This means I need to carve out that time by saying no. A lot. Trust the process, trust the need for this time, trust myself.

Sometimes saying no to the outside world is saying yes to your own art, whatever its expression.

What can you say no to today, as a way of practising self-love?

Implemented Self-Love, One Illustration at a Time

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Look at yourself in the mirror with a loving gaze.

Back from Scotland and my adventures into the mystery of loving self.  Things keep getting more hectic here on our planet, more turbulent. I felt an updated skill set in caring for myself would be appropriate. I’m glad I did.

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Edinburgh was a beautiful place where it was easy to breathe deeply. I came back with lots of inner space and a collection of non-verbal, not yet painted experiences.

I’ve always thought loving ourselves is a pretty abstract concept. Easy to think and talk about, harder to practice. A quick google search seems to indicate it isn’t an easy concept generally speaking.

It seems to me, loving ourselves is something to be practised, day by day. This way it does increase, helping us to keep center in this ever-changing world of ours.

So while I’m painting my huge paintings around this theme, here in my studio, I thought I would ask my inner crew to give me something more tangible, that can be shared now.

I asked my friends: What is implemented self-love? Here’s the first illustration, T. and Fant style.

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What is implemented self-love for you, today?

The Big Empty

 

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Antti, readying the camera.

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.

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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.

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The first batch of dream notes, set out on the canvas.

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.

A little further along, all the dream notes are attached.
A little further along, all the dream notes are attached now.

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.

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The finished DreamMaker painting, the painting of which we filmed today with Kirsi-Teresa (in the picture on the left), Antti and myself.

“Your job isn’t to do your job. Your job is to decide what to do next.”
Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

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.

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Sending you courage, the strength of wry humor and general wackyness where ever you are in your every day dreamer’s life today. <3

Update about Living the Dream and a Giveaway

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.

Hanging out in the core, in the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger.
Hanging out in the core, in the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger.

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.

Big Dreams, by Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.
Big Dreams, by Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.

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 mariedtiger@hotmail.com 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.

 

 

Start Again

100x130 cm work in progress.
100×130 cm work in progress.

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.

In progress...
In progress…

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.

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I found a place in the studio where I can press my canvases into shape.

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I finally found use for this ruler.

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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.

Part of Something Beautiful, 100x130cm, acrylic on canvas, 2015.
Part of Something Beautiful, 100x130cm, acrylic on canvas, 2015.

The painting is a tribute to the soul nourishing music of Alexi Murdoch.

Wishing you a great week. <3

About Fear

This week has been about fear for me.

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.

Hello Fear.

Hello Fear. Mixed media on canvas, 60x80cm, by Marie D. Tiger, 2015.
Hello Fear. Mixed media on canvas, 60x80cm, by Marie D. Tiger, 2015.

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.

Work in progress.
Work in progress.

And paint for my life.

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Tule syliin. Step Into My Arms. 140x100cm, mixed media on canvas by Marie D. Tiger.

What are you afraid of? What would help you stay relaxed and alert in the midst of feeling your fear?

 

 

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]?

 

 

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.