Tag Archives: art

Crummy Birthday, Interesting Exploration into Boundaries

The process of creating transformative art; a backstory

IMG_3665
A work in progress (acrylic color and sand on canvas 160x160cm) about loving self and allowing myself to get lost and, well, something like that. Let’s see where we end up.

The big painting has been stuck for a week, almost. I have been gazing, staring, willing it to move. Even dabbing it gingerly with a brushful of transparent red iron oxide. All to no avail.

Until, as so often happens, when I start to focus on a new painting project, the deepening experiences start piling up. When I was in Scotland, re-experiencing Crimson Circle’s SES workshop, I wondered a bit that my mother and my relationship to her did not come up. Ah well.

This week on my birthday, my mother called me. I hadn’t talked to her in three months. At eight in the morning, she was drunk. I listened to her slurry, wobbly words, as always wondering at how the alcohol could completely deprive them of meaning for me, despite her telling me that I was a beloved, expected child. As she talked, I was revising my plan for the day. Usually, when I am in touch with my mother these days, deep emotions may start arising and spread outside my control.

2015_046havemyheartThat day I was supposed to lead a core art workshop in drawing. These workshops are intense and require my deep presence as well as all my abilities. I was already in Rastila, waiting for my core art students, scent of coffee in the air. The open art studio was starting in an hour and the first student would arrive any minute.

I suggested to my mother that we meet, but she said she was injured some way and could not move. Alarmed I asked if she needed help and became even more alarmed when my proud mother said yes. Again, thoughts racing, planning, moving the components of the day this way and that, I asked if she needed help acutely and if I was to come to her. When she laughed resentfully and said no, I asked if I could call after work and said I’m here for her. Grating some more piercing laughter, I heard in her voice, this was not good. I ended the call as swiftly as I could.

Diving into the challenge

“Well, happy birthday to me.” I thought bitterly right after the call.

No need to do anything but breathe. Drawing made with markers, 16x25cm.
No need to do anything but breathe. Drawing made with markers, 16x25cm.

Then I noticed the oozing touch of self-pity and asked myself what I needed. Eating a bit, drinking something hot, doing some deep breathing, I did what I do well; I carefully compartmentalized the little girl inside of myself and the art teacher part of myself in different boxes. While I knew from experience that I would later pay the price of this, at that moment keeping my promises and taking responsibility for all different roles and parts of my life seemed to be of utmost importance.

What you aren't aware of, hides in your shadow. 24x16cm, created with markers.
What you aren’t aware of, hides in your shadow. 24x16cm, created with markers.

Although I felt sad and worried during the day, momentarily distracted, always bringing myself back to the present, the core art workshop was gentle, flowing and even fun at times. Once again I was amazed at the power of art, self-made or enjoyed, to transform anything. What I was less aware of, was the automatic mode I was in – I can carry anything, I can pay this bill, I can afford this, I will carry this [for you] because I can.

During my breaks I was in touch with the Engineer and with my dad, so I could get the necessary information and organize the rescue mission of the evening. After work, I and the Engineer went to my mom’s with two bags of groceries to see what kind of situation she had. In the car, I could feel emotion swirl around in my body. Old, familiar poison. My mind was full of thoughts I recognized. I told the Engineer that voicing those thoughts would only increase the emotion and drama I was aware of inside of me. I felt helpless. When we came to my mother’s apartment building I was relieved to see the building door was open, because I couldn’t get a hold of her on the phone. We rang and rang the doorbell. She didn’t open the door. Her neighbours said she hadn’t been home for days. She still didn’t answer her phone. We left the non-perishables behind the door and got into the car.

Whose box, indeed. 24x16cm, created with markers.
Whose box, indeed. 24x16cm, created with markers.

In the car, my body started trembling. I asked the Engineer if we could stop at a drive through, so I could have a sugary drink and something to eat. That would bring some balance and stability into the moment. The kids were waiting at home for night time stories and the rituals of going to bed. I cherished each bite of the hamburger, sitting beside my husband, each ketchup filled bite. The junk food fit my inside state.

Emotional radiation

The next morning when I woke up, I had a text message on my phone: “Thank you for the food. Very kind. Give me your account number and I will reimburse you. I am not available tomorrow, I am at a retreat. Hug.

This is when I snapped.

The visible effects of emotional radiation started. I felt my shoulder blade area shut down completely, as if someone had stitched iron wire throughout my skin and muscles. The thoughts of self-hatred started gushing forth in a never ending stream. Anxiety made it hard to breathe fully. Deep currents of self-doubt ran through my mind, doubting everything from my skills, to my life choices, to my right to exist. Tears started flowing at unpredictable intervals. I staid in bed, lifting any part of my body felt like an insurmountable task.

Feelings are good. Watercolor in thought book 24 × 17 cm.
Feelings are good. Watercolor in thought book 24 × 17 cm.

While I rationally knew that this was an automatic reaction to the interaction with my mother, based on deep patterns unresolved, it was hard to keep on breathing, keep on functioning. In these situations I would love to be able to be calm, collected, instantly healing myself in some deep mystical or instant way. Instead, in the midst of the considerable inner pain, concepts of self-love feel abstract and unreachable. So I attempted to just be aware of what was happening inside of me, not trying to change anything, concentrating on breathing, letting the painful emotions move through me like weather and tried my best to not hold on to any of the venom that was flowing through me.

2015_246_giraffekeepingemotionsamove

When the Engineer came home at five p.m. I went to sleep and slept through the night.

What was different this time?

For someone who has never lived with an alcoholic, this reaction may seem way overblown. For me, it’s automatic. Through the years, my needs have had to wait and the needs of my mother have come first. Still, one day a year, on my birthday, there is the expectation that it is my day, something for me. Instead, I spent the whole of my birthday, trying to help my drunk mother, calling forth the emotional reality that was my norm for so long.

Discerning between self-pity and self-compassion has been a challenge for me. Yesterday, someone said: “I wish you would always feel appreciated and loved.”

Marker drawing, 24x16cm.
Marker drawing, 24x16cm.

That moment I realized, the only person who can give me that kind of stability is me. Today, after another twelve hours of sleep, I think the biggest difference between self-compassion and self-pity, for me, are boundaries. After experiencing her twenty years of full blown alcoholism, I have still longed so much for a nugget of love from the mother I once knew, that although I have put my children’s needs before her needs, I have always put myself aside.

I have never said: It is more important that I love me and care for me than that I please my mother and father. Not for my children, for my family, for my relationships. For me. Just for myself.

The practicality of loving self

In conclusion, I am here, sitting with the part of myself who resists the thought of drawing boundaries. Life is clearly showing me the need to do so. To say a clear yes and no to how I choose to be treated. The little girl part of me is saying: “But I want myself to love my mother, the way I used to love her. But I want us all to be friends. I want love to be the norm. I want to be gentle, kind and smiling. I am afraid of what will happen if I am not.”

And I ask in return: “Who am I to think I know what other people need? Who am I to say that the minuscule connection I have to my mother is wrong? Who am I to judge how other people create their lives, to criticize what they choose? The only thing that IS my responsibility is choosing whether I want to participate, to choose how I am willing to be treated. And THAT is done by learning what my boundaries are and then expressing them.”

Self-pity is allowing myself to be badly treated, and complaining, heaping on blame and suffering afterwards. Self-compassion is saying: This is not okay.

From life to painting to life again

What I’m learning, already, from this painting project is that loving myself actively doesn’t make life easier, exactly. It doesn’t decrease my sensitivity, or remove the pain from a difficult experience. What it does is increase my sense of being alive, of having a right to simply experience what I do, as I do. With support and love, whatever comes next. When I allow myself to get lost, in my life, inside myself, I find areas and solutions that I haven’t found before.

IMG_3692
Found where I live, today.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Let Art Be Your Butterfly

 

Let art be your butterfly. Water color, 29.7 x 21.0 cm, by Marie D. Tiger. 2014.
Let art be your butterfly. Water color, 29.7 x 21.0 cm, by Marie D. Tiger. 2014.

A long time ago, I read that when we are in touch with who we really are, with our essential self, we fly like a butterfly through our beliefs, over our obstacles, through any inner or outer barrier.

Today my suggestion to us is to let art be our butterfly.

Life Art

So when the world is going crazy, make art.
When you are going crazy, make art.
When the mind is dying, make art.
When those in power fall down, make art.
When the intensity is getting the better of you, scream.
and. make. art.
When stuff is falling from the sky,
radiation is polluting the water,
the earth is quaking,
make art.

Making art moves energy. Making art flows intensity.
Making art brings relief, helps us breathe.
So the next time anxiety grips you, sorrow moves you, terror paralyzes
you, joy wakes you, exuberance makes you bounce – make art;
your way.

Your life, your art, life art.

By Marie D. Tiger

The water color in this post is available to buy as cards here, as unframed and framed prints here and as the original here.

 

 

 

 

Permission to See and Express

imaginationandrationality2011
“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

2014_hotspot

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.

2014__203_feardoubtresistancepleasewaithere
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.

2014__204_vulnerabilitymeanslettingyourselffeeleverything
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.

2014__205_allowrejectiontobeadrivingforce
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?

 

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.

To Create or Indulge in Drama

This morning I woke up at 6:05 am, thinking it was seven o’clock. I was in a lousy mood, with tons of inner pressure building. I cleaned up the whole kitchen, very dramatically and with an air of martyrhood, I’m afraid.

When I walked to my early morning meeting with my new friend Lorella, there were swans all over the newspapers, flying in the sky and blinking at me from a stuffed animal in a shop window. This has been happening for two weeks.

Talking over coffee with my artist friend, a painting flashed before my eyes. The Swan. Suddenly my foul mood, the drama, the overeating of pasta and craving for sweets all made sense. Another painting is on the way.

I was actually hoping to write this blog from Zürich, on my way to Burgdorf to listen to a concert, where my friend is directing the choir. Instead, I was painting all day, layer by layer revealing the essence of Swan that wants to born right now and no later.

My favorite symbolism page said this about swan symbology: “The concept of partnership is further expressed on a divine level in Hinduism, wherein the swan graces vibrant traditions as the Hamsa bird. In the Saundarya Lahari (translated: “Waves of Beauty,” it’s a text filled with beautiful mantras from the Hindu perspective) two swans (Ham and Sa) pair together, swimming around in the divine mind “living on honey from the blooming lotus of knowledge.” Isn’t that a lovely concept?”

I made my first video about the painting process, I hope you enjoy it. Have a lovely lovely weekend.

What kind of signs do you typically get when a new creative project is emerging?

 

What a Week!

2013_wee9dream1

 

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams. Nineteen years ago I had a dream that I could live a life of art and share it with my soulmate. I wanted work where I could dance, paint, draw, write, sing, work with people and be as free as possible. For an eighteen year old, the dream was raw and real. Completely unrealistic and unattainable, according to official reality.

 

2013_week9dream2

 

On Thursday I started a series of Dream Workshops at Made by Helsinki, where we entered into Play Space in order to look for The Dream of the moment, let it arrive and enter in its own pace. After the workshop I took inventory of my life right now, the amount of art I’m able to make, coach, teach, participate in. The freedom and space that everyday life enables right now.

 

2013_week9dream3
The new people and kindred spirits that life brings my way all the time, are a blessing.

All dreams are outrageous in some way, that is why they fire us up on such a deep level. But this is also why they can bring such change to our lives, form our reality in a way that makes value fulfilment, practising idealism and aliveness a fact.

 

2013_week9kk

On Friday, I participated in Kulturkarnevalen 2013 with my lovely collegues from Sluta Panta and met a bunch of inspired, creative, deep thinking young people.

Sitting in the dark, giggling our way back from Lovisa with our lovely team, I felt grateful for all the richness of life. To be able to work in so many heartfelt, meaningful and creative projects, to be able to work with super people and make art every which way, is a dream come true.

So today, although I’ve been drawing minimally, I just wanted to share the power of dreams and long term choices, made every day in the midst of the flurry of every day things – they do carry us and lead to a life worth living.

A warm hug to all dreamers out there. <3