Category Archives: T. and Fant

Permission to See and Express

“Not safe to express – the ogre”, by Marie D. Tiger 2006-2011.

Ogres are born when our gifts are sent into shadow

These days, I believe each ogre, demon and gremlin, no matter how intolerable, have an ecological place inside of us. There is a reason they exist. They can be expressed, known and, with time, accepted – even embraced.

When I was little, I was very clear sighted and a born empath. The problem was, there were lots of secrets around that were not very safe to see and they were definitely not to be expressed. All those things were put into shadow, one by one. By the time I was an adult, the ogre telling me that seeing and expressing were forbidden had grown very strong and loaded with destructive monologue. Scary to look at, intolerable to listen to and very uncomfortable to live with.

Art makes inner wisdom visible

The blessing of art is that nothing is too big or horrendous for it. So I spent years, painting, dancing, writing, singing and sculpting my ogres and befriending them, while I started understanding my history and letting go of things that didn’t belong to me to begin with.

What turned my ogre into a gremlin – much more manageable and cranky rather than terrifying – was allowing myself to become present. When I realized that my truth was the only one that could help my art come out into the world, things started changing.

I went to the canvas or paper, as I go into my coaching practice – empty, open and allowing. Impulse by impulse, breath by breath, step by step, the work was born. What came through was what came through. My technical prowess, or often lack of it, was a non-issue in the act of creating. I allowed the artwork itself to be my teacher.

It was as if someone had turned on the tap. My imagination was flooded with ideas for paintings, stories, animal cartoons. When I allowed myself to be where I was, no more, no less, I could suddenly produce.

Getting to know the gremlin, ogre, monster, whatever

So these days, when a gremlin turns up, or even an ogre, I get curious. I ask:

Who are you?

Where do you come from?

What color are you?

How fast do you move?

Do you have a sound?

Where do you live?

What do you eat?

How big are you?

When I have this new aquaintance there on the page, I can talk to it, interact with it and understand it better.

You imagine – I draw

There is a lot of drawing going on here, behind the scenes. The offer still stands, I will draw your gremlin, ogre or whatever it is that is awakened. Or, better yet, if you want to draw/paint/sculpt/write your own and share it with me, I welcome it. No strings attached.

(I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I love the space where two imaginations meet . <3)

No matter where you are and no matter how the champions and gremlins of your creativity make themselves know to you, they can be made into art.

What color is YOUR gremlin?




Every Day You Create Your Art Is a Victory


Filling forms awakens fears of rejection

I sat down in the hot spot today, feeling grumpy and aware of how much my throat is hurting. Artistic rejection has been on my mind a few days now, because I’m applying for a variety of grants and form filling awakens my fears, doubts and resistance like nothing else.

Recognizing my need for extra support, I’ve asked for the help of a few great friends, sent a text message to my mentor and drawn an imaginary waiting room  outside of my studio area for all of my gremlings.

Fear, Doubt and Resistance, please wait outside. By Marie D. Tiger, in the thought book 2014.

Handling rejection is a professional skill for artists of all kinds

As I’m just beginning to realize that handling rejection is an artistic skill, much the same as drawing or knowing how acrylic color works, I thought I would draw a bit on this.

Synchronistically, Brené Brown posted about this interview with Harriet Lerner. Lerner’s great book about women and anger, The Dance of Anger, was rejected for five years by publishers. And she typed the manuscripts on a typewriter. Imagine for a moment, the tenacity required not to give up.

Here is an excerpt of the interview:

Caprino: Some people seem to let rejection roll off their back. How do they do that?

Lerner: If you're an authentic , open-hearted person you won't be immune to the feelings of shame, inadequacy, depression, anxiety and anger that rejection can evoke. Rejection is a fast route back to childhood shame.  It's not just that you went to a party and no one made an effort to talk to you. It's that you feel you're essentially boring and undesirable, and so it is and so it will always be.  It takes a huge amount of maturity, and self-worth to not take rejection quite so personally, and understand that rejection often says more about the person who does the rejecting, than it does about you. I have yet to meet a person who enjoys being rejected.  Of course, I have not met everybody.

Caprino: Any advice about lessening the pain of rejection?

Lerner: When we acknowledge that rejection isn't an indictment of our being, but an experience we must all face again and again if we put ourselves out there, rejection becomes easier to bear.  You can also succeed by failing, meaning go out there and accumulate rejections whether it's asking someone for a date, making sales calls, trying to get an article published or approaching new people at a party.  The only way to avoid rejection is to sit mute in a corner and take no risks.

Create a safe space for your vulnerability

Making art [no matter what your medium of expression is] always involves the risk of being vulnerable. Expressing inner wisdom, for no other reason than that it wants to be born is a tremulous process.

What helps me is to make my studio space safe, sacred, quiet, with lots of room to listen, feel and create.

Vulnerability, in the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger, 2014.

Shipping your work as a way to gain momentum

Then there is the shipping part. That is where handling rejection comes in. That is where I aim to ship often and with a routine that helps me focus. This is where, with time, I hope rejection can become a driving force to clarifying my niche, always being able to describe it better and better.

The electric eels of rejection. In the thought book by Marie D. Tiger, 2014.

So, four ideas that can help build the skill needed to handle rejection:

1. Make your art space safe.

2. Celebrate each minute, hour and day you have spent making art. <3 Every step forward is worth acknowledgment.

3. When you do things that awaken your fear of rejection, ask for help and support.

4. Ship, publish and share your work often. The feedback (and possible rejection) can often give you further clarity on who your niche is.

What steps taken on your art path can you celebrate today?


Start With Art

In the studio.
In the studio.


This morning, sitting down at work, distractions were all around. I was hungry, still thinking about my breakfast date with the Engineer, pondering my e-mails, feeling tempted to find someone to take care of, fast.

Another way to put this is:

I was wimping out.

Sitting down with my art is the scariest thing I know and I resist it. It’s also the most wonder-fabulous-enjoyable-joyous-exuberant way of living that I have experienced. Somehow it is much much easier to hold the space for others – students, coaching clients, loved ones.

Do you recognize this from your own art making?

First place

Our art, whatever it is, deserves first place in our life. It deserves our fresh thoughts, our breathing space, our first focus.

I can promise that after you have given your very own art fifteen minutes, three hours or even just five minutes of listening, everything else falls into place.

Do you want to make art? In the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger.
Do you want to make art? In the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger.

And you’re going to be okay.  <3 Art has room for everything.


Your Questions are Essential When Making Art

Dandelion in snow.
Dandelion in snow.

I was out on a walk the other day, when it started snowing. The snow was formed like medium sized [for snow] cubes and the ground was quickly covered. The dandelions were laughing and giggling, in the midst of all the white, not sorry for themselves at all. Which led me to thinking.

Seth Godin defines art like this:
  1. Art is made by a human being.
  2. Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
  3. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

I love this definition of art because it includes everything. I know artists who coach, do computer programming, create philosophy, make music, build watches… The list is endless.

Lean into the questions

When you make art, questions matter more than answers do. There is a skill to be comfortably befuddled, embedded in the Unknown, launched into discovery. When you learn to love your questions, you’re taking the first steps into innovation and creating the all new – whatever your medium.

You will make mistakes. And you will learn from them. You will get stuck. And the triumph of solving the puzzle, exploring the question, knowing something from the inside out cannot be compared to anything else.

Dance with your questions. Exuberantly drawn in the thought book of 2014, by Marie D. Tiger.
Dance with your questions. Exuberantly drawn in the thought book of 2014, by Marie D. Tiger.

Learning from the dandelion

Like the flowers covered in snow, you won’t be scared into paralysis by the uncertainty involved in creating your art, because every experience gives rise to new questions. How does it feel to be covered in snow? How does the white of snow, compared to the green of grass, change the color saturation and nuance of the dandelion? What happens when the snow melts? Are there sounds, tastes, sensual experiences involved?

Every experience is a phenomenon that can be used in asking questions and in creating more art. Nothing is good or bad, before we judge it in our thoughts.

Let your art lead you

Being led by art, making your art no matter what, is a visceral experience. The gift you give to your people and your world keeps expanding. Every impulse you follow, every step you take, expands your awareness of what it is that you are making visible in this world.

We need you art. What can you create today?


Flowers and brushes.
Flowers and brushes.

Exuberant Play Together

Let your exuberance show! By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.
Let your exuberance show! By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.
Everyone around me is different. I'm home. By Marie D. Tiger.
Everyone around me is different. I’m home. By Marie D. Tiger.



Towing Away the Fear

By Marie D. Tiger
By Marie D. Tiger

Art making as a reminder of creatorhood

The other day, I was feeling afraid when I sat down at the drawing table. Worry about the future, diffuse memories and old inner stories were filling up my head.

I drew some of the  words & T. and Fant in my thought book. Choosing the colors, lovingly filling the image with nuances, I was suddenly flooded with compassion toward my small friends. They looked so scared, hunched up under all of that mental crap.  I felt my heart open wide.

Did I really want to scare myself, frighten the animal friends in my imagination? A rush of decisive artistic fury overtook my body. I grabbed my marker and quickly drew the net around those pesky words. My friend the squirrel jumped on the page with his airplane, volunteering to tow away the mental manure.

In the midst of drawing, I remembered my power.

Which tune are you listening to in your mind today? 









Allow Allow Allow. In the thought book 2014, by Marie D. Tiger.
Allow Allow Allow. In the thought book 2014, by Marie D. Tiger.

I’m about halfway there, in my project of illustrating 365 different moments in a creative process and the inner phenomena involved. This spring has been an adventure. The first set of creativity cards has awoken lots of interest, comments, iteration ideas. It moves me, to hear how people work with the images, what ideas, insights, discussions they give rise to. How we can all connect in the principles of creativity that are similar despite our individual differences.

Right now I’m writing a small booklet to go with the cards, which I hope to be able to translate to Finnish and Swedish as well.

What helps you live in the Unknown? In the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger.
What helps you live in the Unknown? In the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger.

This is my fourth year of living completely hand in hand with the Unknown, meaning living on art and art life coaching (and my tenth year as a business owner just started). Throughout the years the direction has been to lean more and more on art making, imagination and creativity.

When you fall down, keep on rolling. By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.
When you fall down, keep on rolling. By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.

The adventure of it all keeps surprising me. How it really feels to be portrayed in an interview, in a newsletter, or see myself on TV. How it affects creating.

How much faith it takes to keep on going when money is tight. What kind of effort it takes to have self-compassion, instead of contempt and self-recriminations when another hopeful offer or co-operation goes down the drain.

I can handle it. By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.
I can handle it. By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.

But then I remember, it’s not about me. It’s about the work, about my wonderful clients, about mapping creativity in fun ways and making it easier to support each other. It’s about being truly alive, daring to do what is really important.

I’m sitting here today, on Easter Saturday, writing. I feel grateful. The Engineer is in the grocery store, coming back any minute and the kids are with their grand parents. There is room to just be, shoulder to shoulder.




Do More or Go Play?

Do more or go play?
Do more or go play?


Sometimes it’s good to rest, even from the urge to make your dreams come true.

When we allow ourselves the freedom to not know anything, the things we really value in life start whispering to us again.

The ability to touch someone’s heart with notes, sounds, brush strokes or words. The power to remind people that magic is real and available in each moment. Reassurance that everything will turn out all right.

In a life where everything needs to be useful, tangible, possible to measure and analyze, sometimes it’s good to just play.

You are loved. Your abilities are needed. You are enough, just as you are.

What If It’s Not Emptiness, But Openness?

Never getting out, in the thought book by Marie D. Tiger.
Never getting out, in the thought book by Marie D. Tiger.


Is there ever a scarier phase of the creative process, when everything starts feeling empty?The self-trust required to continue with what you have chosen may feel like complete folly.

I’ve been working with groups of clients lately where the yearning for creative expression, whatever the desired manifestation, runs strong. The voice inside, that which wants to express, come out,  is strong and real. But it is still in the early stages of its development and would need much nurturing to grow strong enough to lean on. Fear of the Unknown – what happens then if the creative dream is taken care of, grown strong – is humongous.

[Re-]Connect with your creativity cards.
[Re-]Connect with your creativity cards.
Emptiness, the sense that nothing inspires, allures, feels like anything anymore is often the first sign of a yearning grown strong enough to force change. Actually, it is not emptiness at all. The vacuous feeling is openness.

It is the space required for a budding leaf to burst open. It is the deep breath before the thrust of a baby landing in the hands of the midwife. It is the sky that allows the sun to shine, birds to fly and moon to appear.

Something  inside of you is opening so wide, that its boundaries are blurred and there is nothing left to define or hang on to.

What do you need, to allow staying open in this moment?


Words Words Words

Words words words, drawn and painted with watercolor in the thought book 2014.
Words, drawn and painted with watercolor in the thought book 2014.


Sometimes there are none.


I’m all run out of words.


Give me skin to skin. Give me paint on fingers. Give me bare sweaty feet against wooden planks. Give me bodies undulating to music.


I want to look into your eyes and see YOU.


Words. Those I can live without.