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My Art Therapy Journey

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The last day of “vacation” is tomorrow.

And so the question remains, only much brighter than before…”How does one escape?”

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I get a little scared by acceptance.  It is, of course, something I always want.  I want it like the challenge that it is.  I love challenge.  But…a challenge is still a challenge! : )   At least I have been feeling ready for it!

So, where does this leave me now that I am beginning to accept myself as I am?  Me… this person who sometimes (even still!)  is too scared to let out a whole sentence without dodging my eyes  when face-to-face.  (Coincidentally, I think the “eye-dodge” happens a lot less when I’m talking with anyone about anything related to art?  Art creates an open door where inhibitions and shame can find a way out of the room…like a nasty fly maybe that has found there is no longer anything good to feed on?  But who knows, I came to this during proof-reading so I’ll have to think on this some more.)

I guess it leaves me working (and a person with a job these days is considered pretty well off)  and aware of some of the most minute aspects of interaction and living.  Maybe this sensitivity is part of what draws me to nature and the “little things” that fill up  so much of the working world.

So why am I writing about this here?

Because it’s part of my journey (a pretty big part, I guess,) and because sharing with, in and through this blog has become a big-enough part of my life that I think of it often…daily.  Many times a day.   I’m a person that hasn’t had access to my true voice for the majority of my life.    I cry at every choir performance my teenage daughter participates in because I cannot imagine a more beautiful thing than to create through the exchange of real breath.  And to hear and see my daughter’s voice leaves me with nothing but hopeful, happy tears for her and the next generation.

This reminds me of how, from the time my daughter was a preschooler, we would bolt out songs together when we were driving together in the car.  It was our happy place.

Ah, happy places.

How do our happy places slip away?

There are new “happy places.” Life changes, people transition and/or transform.  Things happen.  But sometimes, and I’ll only say this quietly, a sad place fills the void where once a happy place lived….and sang.

***

I started out writing this today not having any idea what I was talking about here…or why.  But I’ve been away from my blog for a while.  Not in my heart or life, of course,  but in showing  my words.

I usually like to be inspired by an image before I sit down to write a post…but today things (so far) have been different.  I have so many images that I have made and collected over the last couple of weeks.  So many things could have started me off.  But today I decided to just accept that I needed and wanted to write.  And I didn’t have to have a plan or a goal.  I came just wanting to say what was going to be said.  Do you ever feel like something is just -there- and you’re not in control of it?  Like, truly, all that it needs is acceptance for it to show itself to the rest of the world (or you)?

I guess I maybe feel this is the heart of art.   Acceptance.  (But also trust and faith with a fair dose of willingness. )

I realized as I was writing about my daughter and our happy place that I do actually have an image to share and put with this post.

It’s my latest painting…the one I alluded to the last time I wrote.  It’s still not finished….but I’m not finished either and I’m still here!  So I figure it’s ok to share…this is about the journey.

And a bit about the intuitive painting process: In the last month I finished up my first ever painting e-course with Flora Bowley (called “Bloom True,” no less ) who is not only an amazing artist but a very real, beautiful and inspiring woman.  I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to take her course as she shines an extremely bright light.  It was so effortless (but still personally emotionally challenging at times…re: self-acceptance) to learn about her process and begin to carry with me some of the priceless tools she shared.  (And she’s offering her e-course again, so if you’re interested in growing yourself (blooming?) I cannot recommend her class enough.)

Base layers, playing with color and mark making

Building up more layers...I was having a blast doing "graffiti" without the pressure of breaking any enforceable laws

Having a blast doing “graffiti” without the pressure of breaking any enforceable laws

up close "graffiti"

Graffiti face

Inspired by my deer encounter a couple of posts ago!

close-up

very contorted hind legs

staying with it

hm, is that a flower? lol

A gentle and rather kind art critic in the studio

adding and subtracting, the only math I can do!

Another shot for Sammy…he always accepts me and my paintings 😉

change

new addition

darkness comes

more darkness

This is the last photo I have of this particular painting in process…I have worked some more on it and it is still transforming.  I am not sure where it will end up, but I am working on accepting it regardless of whatever happens.  I feel like I have learned so much through this one painting and have experienced several ups and downs with it.  But it has been a different process from the process with my “flower painting” I shared a few weeks ago!

I’m hesitant to say too much about the content and emotional aspects of this painting since it’s not completed yet.  Maybe when it is done.  For now I’m on this journey facing the challenges as they come!  And really, quite loving it when I stand back and look around me!

….And speaking of looking around me (which always leads me to looking within) is what I will be doing over the next week while I am on a long over-due (and somewhat impromptu)  nature vacation!  I anticipate a lot of iPhoneography going on, which reminds me!  I need to run and find a car charger for my phone and it’s nearly 5pm!  I’ll be watching the sun rise as I near the sky tomorrow morning bright and early so I better get a jump on it if I don’t want my anticipation to fall fast and hard!

I have to scoot, but I will return…so much more to share!

Thanks for listening (and watching!)  (and accepting! yikes!) 🙂

Edit:

I know it’s late, and I know it’s silly of me to think I will actually be in bed sleeping before it’s time to wake up again for a day of travel with my husband and 13 month old daughter….

BUT…

I did go get that car charger for my iPhone and the funniest thing happened when I returned.  There in my yard laid (and she really was laying down!) a doe…along with at least two of her babies.  She got up quickly, but I’m a pretty quick draw when it comes to snapping a photo so I grabbed my phone and went for it…I couldn’t wait to share this.

Even with Instagram crashing on me (twice!) I got these shots to share….

Funny how life is…how acceptance is…and how things (and in this case, some deer) sometimes appear at just the right time.

For what it’s worth this is the first time I’ve seen this doe with her babies here.  And these are the first fawns I have seen for myself all year…

 

doe and her fawns in our yard tonight 🙂

 

mom and babies in our yard tonight after coming home from errands (after writing this post)

 

 

So, I’m off for now! Vacation will be here before I know it!  (As relaxing as travelling with a 13-month old can be anyway!)

I’d like to bring you along.   I’m going to be on the lookout for a lot of light…and I’m open to what the “open road” will have to share with me.  I’m hoping for sunshine, but I never know what this journey has in store for me.  At the very least it’s always an adventure.

So maybe I’ll make this like a mini documentary within the living documentary of this blog as it is.  Maybe I’ll be a photo journalist on the sly…or maybe not so sly!  Who knows, maybe I’ll meet a new friend…or a wild bear…I’ll ask to pose with for a photo.  I’m deathly terrified of bears and the place where I’ll be is known for having them!  I’m going to let it be a surprise for now where I report from next….

But until then…sweet dreams!

 

Off for the Main Trail…

 

 

+ high-res version

I have already written this post several times in my head tonight, so forgive me if it doesn’t seem fresh.  If it helps at all I still don’t really know what I’m going to say.  I often feel that way, and not just here or when I’m writing.  It’s just me being typical me.  And being me, typically, gets me in trouble sometimes.

I’m hoping this isn’t one of those times though.  I’m never actually wanting to get myself into trouble.  (Usually.)

I’m surprised I’m seeming so chipper because I’ve actually been feeling more on the blue side.  I apologize if what I’m offering here is all really a defense mechanism against feeling sad.

Despite (or because of) feeling a lot of feelings lately, I have been super busy.

And just the other night realized I’ve completed several projects that I’ve talked about here and haven’t had a chance to share the results.  I guess that might say something about my focus.  My favorite part of any project is the process of it.  I’m always happy to complete something and actually getting something done is one of my strongest motivations, but I’m more of an experiencer.    It’s the “problem solver” part of me.  For instance, if I’m building something and it collapses under the weight of the drill I’m excited for the challenge it presents.  Even if  the “F” bomb does slip out first…we don’t have to actually tell that part, right? ha.

Anyway…Since I’m playing catch-up here I’m going to post a couple of  2 for 1 pics….

1st sewing project EVER!

My first sewing project EVER! (Because the gym bag that mean home ec teacher forced me to make in 7th grade doesn’t count.)

I finally finished my sweet stuffed cat with a likeness to me!  I posted about her several weeks ago when she was still turned every which way and outside-in.

She survived her insides coming out!

My sewing teacher did help me get her where she needed to be though.  She said she was good at getting that done because she had birthed big babies.  By the time I was ready to stuff the poor girl there wasn’t a lot of breathing room at the opening.

You might notice she’s a friendly, sociable cat, and not too afraid to enjoy life too.  She is perpetually waving her hand in the air “like she just don’t care,” because I made her that way. (Which means I had to detach and affix her arm in the finishing stages due to an error and her character comes from overcoming that obstacle.)

So here she is…and she’s sitting on top of the rolling storage cart I completed last week!

What do you think?

2 for 1: cat and storage cart creation

So this brings me to the storage cart creation!

My storage cart also gets its character due to some less-than-perfect conditions in its lifetime!  Imagine that.

Originally, there was no staggering planned.  (That’s what they all say, right.) And I didn’t have a single beer the whole time I was making this thing.

But as the actual building proceeded it was clear that my measurements weren’t exactly exact.  So I improvised!  Hence, the staggered stacking of the layered shelving units.

In the end I think the cart looks reminiscent of a beehive box and that makes me pretty happy.  Although, I think beehive boxes are a little more square….

I thought I’d include a few more views of my storage cart so you can look at it to make one of your own if you want  (and stagger the boxes purposefully.)  Or message me and I’ll make one for you and for the low price of $1,000 shipping and handling I’m make one for you and ship it, imperfectly finished and all, straight to your door.  (This thing is no lightweight and can hold its own…and should last a million years.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In further developments I also finished my “flower painting.” I put it in quotations because it also turned into something a little different from anticipated.

 

I said in my last post that I would post pictures of it and I am all about the follow-thru, so here it is.

Not all it was to become…When the flower painting was still a flower

 

I figured I would start where we left off….

The following photos show the process from this point to its end/beginning…

 

white

 

adding purple

 

etching “love me” (request)

etchings…”dear flower” (sound familiar?) and “VOICE”

 

etching “listen”

 

etching “I

 

white covering the stigma (center) of the flower

 

Painting marks on the canvas as an expression of “listening” …simply looking and responding with attention and care, not knowing the details (the whys, the what fors, or what’s this going to get me?)

 

In hindsight, I think this might have been where I could have stopped…maybe…maybe my next word should be “trust” and “listen even more”

 

adding in (and covering over) black…and pink

 

turning the canvas, adding blue and orange

 

 

 

working on bird

 

final bird close-up

 

 

In the end I am not too sure if I exactly love my “flower painting.”

BUT…what I love about the process of my flower painting is that I didn’t stop.  I didn’t give up on it.  And I learned a lot through working on it.  I do feel that where I chose to stop is a better spot than where I started from and through all the layers and all the restarts and false finishes I stayed with it.

 

I GREW from it….

and my stem is reaching just a tad bit higher toward the light for it.

 

It did wear me out too, though.  And I’m a bit wore out now!  And I’ve told my therapist I’m working on getting to sleep at a half-way decent hour. (and it’s 1:33am now…actually early for me! 😉   Supposedly sleep helps people function better, but whatever.  What do neuroscientist know!? ha 😉

I guess this leaves me little time for reflections and commentary on the flower painting process, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to it.  I’m sure I’ll be talking more about the stuff that comes up for me while I’m painting  as I post more of my paintings though, so why attempt to tire myself of it now, anyway…

I was actually planning on working on a rather large developing painting tonight (with a certain exciting image from last weeks photos in it,) but that’s out too now, I’m realizing…

Doctor’s orders say I must sleep to dream…so this is it for now.

 

 

There is actually even more going on and more updates to fill you in on, so the plan is to be back before another week passes me by!

 

More paintings, more photos, more life and more light to come! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+ high-res version

I am working on “filling the well.”

Maybe I’m not a flower person, but I am very confident in my being as a nature person.  I can’t really even separate nature from art in my little world.  Both seem to make my world a lot bigger (and brighter.)

Nature and art are probably two places and things that can bring out the wholeness in me.  We get along reliably well.

Whether I’m in the middle of nature’s fury or in the stormy midst of creating awkward art…I love it anyway.

It’s been too hot here though, with a baby, to get outside much…and I’ve been on an exercise + heat combo restriction since having my freak hematoma surgery a couple of weeks ago anyway.  But finally, last night enough was enough and I packed up the jogger stroller and got to clipping along as the sun began to rest its weary head.  Then, this morning I high-tailed it out the door as early as possible to miss the mid-day scorch.

I always have my iPhone with me, more to take some photos these days than for safety…which is a nice change of focus.  Not that I’m not always watchful and aware, but I’m more aware of my surroundings with the focus of finding beauty in the adventure rather than staying on the lookout to slay hidden monsters in the woods.

(And if there’s any bad guys reading this who thinks they can hide in the woods and get me now, I’ll still kick your ass…I’ll just have a play-by-play photo sequence to show the cops now.)

But back to filling the well….That’s what I have been up to.

I’ve also been up to painting…so I have an update on my “flower painting” I was asking for a divorce from in my last post. …..We’ve reconciled.

Our relationship is transforming.

If you’re interested in my flower painting reality-show I plan to post pics of the changes sometime this week. Not to give it away, but I think it’s a happy ending/beginning.

**

 

For now I’ll share what  is going into my well from my inspiration hikes…maybe some of these images will show up in future paintings and art…?  Stay tuned! 🙂

 

And now…to make sense of my title…

We  (me and my toddler (who isn’t toddling yet (any day now, she’s 13 months today!) daughter) hit the trail earlier than usual and came along some pretty wonderful trail magic right off the bat.  We weren’t even 3 minutes in when we literally walked right up on a sweet doe having breakfast.  I stayed my distance  at first, but it became clear she was quite secure in herself as she slowly meandered down the path with her little hooves clopping on the asphalt in front of me, ha!  It was magical and a bit disturbing all at once!  I didn’t push my luck because I wasn’t sure if she was so confident she would charge toward us , but she wasn’t foaming at the mouth like Cujo and didn’t have any babies with her or anything so I took a calculated risk and kept my place  for the photo-op.

 

look closely, she’s right in the middle of the paved trail getting ready to enter into the wooded section 🙂

 

 

 

she’s on the left hand side of the trail now, just in the grass…

 

 

 

 

I know it’s possible I might be the only one so excited about shooting a deer.  But I have experienced  various animals  entering into my path in different and sometimes bizarre ways across my life.  It seems like when I am in a period of growth, change, transition or upheaval they  appear in many ways, usually in succession.   Considering I’ve had my fair share of these tumultuous times in my life, the appearance of these animal messengers (as I tend to see them as) has formed a sort of pattern I’ve taken note of.    For what it’s worth, deer have shown up before in this fantastical way in my life, but never in a way that allowed me to “shoot”.

I’m not sure if there’s any relation to the actual size of the animal correlating to the size of power of the message…It seems to not matter what the animal actually is as much as the animal appears and reappears in a serious of happenings and in a way that is sure to capture my attention….and different animals seem to send a different heads-up.

Unfortunately, as I write this it’s 3:00 am and I’m probably not in a great place to explain my thoughts about this in depth, but I can’t really post about the deer without at least some mention so that when this comes up again this concept has already been  introduced.   I have some stories to tell! 🙂

 

**

As I took photos I was looking for instances of repetition, rhythm, texture, form and anything else that generally caught my eye for any reason, consciously or subconsciously.  I wanted to fill the frame with information to inform my other modes of arting (painting, future metalsmithing, ceramics, etc.) and not necessarily with the goal of creating an artistic photo.   But some of them actually turned out being a sort of  therapeutic emotional expression for me in themselves which I never complain about!

 

May the well be filled!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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