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My Art Therapy Journey

Posts tagged process

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This is a project I’ve been working on almost all semester.  I think it’s been through the kiln 5 times for different processes.  It’s experienced some experiments and some hardship.  The lid  has been cracked (and fixed) once (fell off my project shelf)  and it’s had a bit too heavy an application of copper oxide for my liking.  The egg no longer looks like it goes with it’s “nest” and the thing is starting to look overdone.  I’m not happy with it now, so I’m thinking of just throwing as many things as possible at it to see if I can miraculously bring it back to life.  I don’t know what else to do with it at this point.  It’s one of those projects that starts out with a lot of promise, but in the end is a big disappointment.   I kind of want to throw it at a wall.  It’s a “learning” piece, but I didn’t want it to be a learning piece.   I wanted it to do what I wanted it to do, and it’s not doing what I want it to.  I’m frustrated with it and starting to be embarrassed by it.  But I will keep throwing things at it until I just can’t take it anymore and throw it, itself.

There are only a handful of weeks left for this semester until all of our “wet work” has to be completed and the kiln is going at full tilt to get everyone’s projects fired for grades.  I have other projects I’m working on currently, and at least one project I’m pretty happy with that is complete with another cool one in the wings.  Then there’s the wheel thrown stuff that is somehow miraculously working out.   But this is the one I’m showcasing because it’s the one that’s been the most emotional, so far.  The most “unsuccessful.”   The most troubling.

This is the one that feels so totally out of control, and the one that at some points I have tried to control the most.  Because I’m looking for an outcome.  Because I had a finished picture in mind somewhere along the way.  And I am not happy because this is not it.  I have quit feeling enjoyment while I am working on it.  Will I be able to reclaim my joy with it?  Can it be redeemed?  Can it  survive?  Can it become good again?

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This evening I came to a crossroads.  I was at Old Navy trying to use up a coupon set to expire today.  The intersection between me and me was in the changing room.

I will try to explain:

The summer stuff is on clearance, so I decided to try on some $5 shorts to preemptively save some money and beat the rush for next summer.  (Or maybe I decided to try them on as a plea to the weather for it to stay warm a lot longer than September usually allows around here. )

Anyway, I was standing there.  Having tried on the shorts and seeing that they fit me, the debate began.  The “What now!?” debate. Should I buy them?

I’m always much more relieved when things actually don’t fit so I don’t have to go through the list of scenarios that might arise if I do buy something vs. if I don’t buy something.  I walk tall out of the changing room because I’ve escaped (or won?) the battle once again.  But not tonight.

Tonight started up the “Will I regret this later?” thing.  The “What’s the return policy?” thing and the “Can I  justify this purchase to my husband?” thing. ( There are these questions among others….I’m the person occupying a changing room concerningly motionless for at least 30 minutes, lost in debate, before facing the world again.)

So, shortly before closing tonight at an Old Navy store in Midwest USA it dawned on me…the acceptance between me and me.  The understanding is this: I have no idea what size I will be by next summer, and more importantly than even that… I have no idea who I will BE by next summer.

I stood there looking at these shorts…shorts that I would wear today.  I looked at my hair…the color, style, length so suburbanish.  I looked at my body…a body that’s begged to be covered in far more tattoos.  I looked inside me…changing.  But changing into what…into WHO?!

I was standing there in the changing room actually changing before my eyes!

I realized my need to live and be present in the moment, and maybe it’s something that I’m acquiring now that won’t change about me later.  Maybe it’s the beginning of becoming who I am…who I am meant to be!

My size has changed in the last quarter of a year so that a lot of my clothes don’t fit me anymore.  I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt sort of girl, but now that I’m faced with needing to pick a few things up I’m finding myself drawn to wanting a more definitive style.  A style that says…”This is ME.”  Recognizable.   One with personality.

And I’ve thought, “Wow, this would be a lot easier if I knew who I was.”  I could go into a store and know what to look for.  I would know my style and go right to it.  I could streamline things and do a way less psychotic seeming mix and match.    Then I think about being 32 and still figuring out this stage most teenagers are in.  I think about being the mother of a teenager myself, now, and I get really freaked out about the state I’m in.

I’m 32 going on 13!

(My teenage daughter is 14.  She’s already ahead of me.)

 

So…I didn’t buy the shorts tonight.  It’s only the beginning of Fall.  Winter is still to come and next summer is a long way off.  (Anyway, didn’t I write a post a while back about my irritation about the 2013 calendars being for sale already?)  I said, “Nice knowing ya,” and gave them back to the woman putting away  clothing people had tried on that didn’t fit…

Sometimes things fit and you’re not sure if you want them to fit…in a life way.

Sometimes you get to choose what you’re going to wear like you get to chose who to be.

I’m in a state of evaluating and making decisions.

The cool thing about this  life is that, at least to some degree, it can be changed. It’s an evolving creation.  A malleable gift.

It feels like this process of finding myself is a gift that got inadvertently pushed under the Christmas tree skirt only to be discovered once the festivities have passed. I feel like I am unwrapping (and being unwrapped) and shaping (and being shaped) all at the same time.  And some kid (me), after thinking she was forgotten and left-out, is finding the experience of life redeemed.

I know this song is about other things, but now it keeps popping in my head now…

 

 

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! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is my first sort of art doll.  She started out as a Santos Cage Doll, and I guess she still is, if I had to “classify” her.  I’m not really sure about what the proper terms are for different types of dolls.  I just know I really enjoyed working on/with her.  I have Jennifer Rizzo to thank for the inspiration and tutorial on getting started with doll making and meeting this chicha.  I really admire all the amazing women artists I am finding and meeting (without actually meeting?) on the web!  Thank you for being a part of my journey and being a part in opening up my world!

I feel like I have a companionship with this “doll” who is now more like a friend-like part of me.  I look forward to more art doll friendships in my future.

This girl/woman/doll is saying “Yes” because that’s what she wanted to say! : )  Really, she chose what she wanted to say, not me!  Of course, in the space of working with her I thought I came up with some really great things she could say like, “Begin” or “Can” or “Muse” or “On The Path”, but instead she chose to dialogue with me and answer those propositions with “YES”.  And also, I’m pretty sure she’s saying “Yes” to something higher order I am, perhaps, not in on so much yet.   So thank you!  Thank you for being my Yes Woman!  I shall need you forever by my side.

***

Aesthetic elements are secondary to my purposes when it comes to the creations that appear in my self-directed art therapy undertakings, but I still want to challenge my aesthetic growth.  I’m debating on finding a hair solution for this doll. I am considering leaving her with only the “painted on” hair, but a part of me wants to experiment with maybe some twine hair/wig.  Or maybe a hat or headpiece she might want to wear.  But honestly, earlier today I found this little plastic ballerina figurine and  for some reason the ballerina was really screaming out to me that she wanted to find her dancing home/stage on Yes Girl’s head!

So, Yes Girl is still a work in progress  (much like me!) and I’m not completely satisfied or feeling completion yet with the bottom part of this doll either.  Also, there has been a steep learning curve on this doll, so there are several aspects I want to contemplate and play around with on future art doll projects.  I have a lot of logistics to figure out with doll making and assemblage and such…loving the problem solving aspect a ton!

All said, I know that Yes Girl will help get me through the emotional and practical process of things to come and the long haul of healing!

Of course!  How can she not help.   She’s my answer to everything, right?!  ; )

PS.  I thought I was going to be able to use my new-to-me Dremel today on the YES sign, but resorted to some self-powered tin snips…maybe tomorrow!