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?
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
By the way, the Engineer is so much more ruthless and so much better at standing this whining. But I’m doing my empath homework and getting better at it. Because, fast-forward about forty-five minutes and the living room is filled with laughter, instructions, crashing, running feet.
The sweetest music in the world. Born from the fertile soil of technology deprivation, boredom and the choice to create something new.
For about eight years, every work day in my life, every moment on my own, has been framed by the needs of my children and family.
This summer the boundaries of this framework are wider than every before. While the beaches are filling up with roasting people, our parallel insight stages of our creative processes have given rise to a new rhythm. One day with the kids, one day at the studio, one day with the whole family. Rinse and repeat.
And I am so grateful for the unyielding restrictions that have surrounded me until now. All this space is pretty terrifying. The need to fill it up with distractions is palpable.
Until I remember,
I don’t need to do anything.
It’s okay to walk from tea cup to tea kettle.
Listen to silence. Wiggle my toes. Eat a pistachio nut.
Feel my skin.
The impulse that leads me to the next step in the body of work before me always comes. The emptiness is like cold water that I dive into, head first and the initial shock jars me to my bones. No matter.
Sometimes I think such a big part of creativity is the ability to stomach tension.
There is the tension that starts building an hour before it is time to get the kids from school and the meter is running out on work time. There is the pressure of making room for imagination, art and creation, while money is needed, the bills are piling up and responsibility is weighing down on the shoulders. There is the balance between the ideal vision and the messiness, imperfection and humanity of the reality that is born out of the vision.
When you don’t take the sometimes considerable force of this raw energy personally, you can learn to let it all slosh around in your body, keeping the energy moving, letting it all mix together in divine chaos. Then you pour it all into what you are creating.
What could help you keep the tension and energy moving today?
The Loving Offer. Did you know you can buy my work?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I used to be so afraid of rejection, that I rejected myself first and left all artwork unfinished. Being rejected felt like being dipped in boiling water. My creating came in random spurts and frustrated explosions. But I never held myself accountable. Then I picked myself and started creating something every day.
Having done this for some time now, I am starting to realize that facing rejection is a part of the professional artist’s skill set. Rejection is a given. At the same time it is a sign that you’re out there, creating, learning, shipping your work, connecting. You are getting somewhere, diving deeper into your potentials.
Rejection doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is bad. Your art just may not be a good fit for the one you are offering it to.
You are howling to find your pack.
It will find you.
Your pack mates will recognize your art and gravitate toward you, one by one.
Until then, instead of swallowing the glass shards of rejection coming your way, you may want to try noticing what happens inside of you when your art is rejected [or criticised, torn to shreds, ignored etc] by someone. Be aware of your body, your thoughts, your emotions. Share your experience with someone who is able to listen with compassion. Then, move yourself gently, whether it is through yoga, singing, dancing, walking, running, painting or something completely different.
After that, make more art. The best antidote to rejection is to continue with your art work. That’ll teach them! 😀 Happy creating. <3
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?
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.
And you’re going to be okay. <3 Art has room for everything.
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.
Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
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.
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.
Feeling bloated, uninterested in anything, non-directionally confused and irritable? It may just be that you are incubating one creative baby or another. There is a strange sense of being an automaton in these times, being so drawn inward that everything becomes tinted by vagueness. And of course, there is nothing to show for it. No tangible results to report to others, nothing visible to outline for inquiring minds.
Ah well. The joys of being creative.
Insight, when it decides to arrive, will make it all worthwhile, I promise. In the meantime, take lots of showers, long walks and if there’s room, I definitely recommend some cloud watching.
What increases your trust in yourself, while an idea is being born?