Saturday, March 30, 2013

289/365: Giving and Receiving

 Today I created:

"Giving & Receiving" 5"x7" mixed media on canvas: acrylic & scrap paper
copyright Mila Bowman 2013
found text in flowers reads: "she smiled...and I"

I have been receiving notes of kindness and gratitude in response to what I'm doing here. They are trickling in from friends and family, and  some from perfect strangers.
It is evidence of the ripples! I am so touched to know that my words and art inspire. 

"We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same."

~ Marianne Williamson

We are meant to find a way to live our most joyful lives, despite all obstacles. It takes courage to create, be it art or a meaningful life. Stepping into our courage and sharing our truth inspires others to be brave with their creations.
"Giving & Receiving" 5"x7" shadow box on back side of canvas;
acrylic, scrap paper, lace, found jar, hemp, twig & book paper flowers;
note reads "Thank you"

We must learn to share our gifts and to receive gifts in return. Your words of  appreciation and encouragement are gifts to me. They light my path. What other hidden treasures do you have inside that are ready to bloom?

Let your light shine. Let your blossoms open to the sun. It is your gift to the world.

Friday, March 29, 2013

288/365: Reverse Canvas Shadow Box

Today I created:

art backwards...

I have an idea for a piece of art that's going to do some double duty. Here's a peek at phase one of the project: decorating the shadow box frame.

I used a 5"x7" framed canvas, but any dimensions will work depending on the size of your project. I used acrylic to paint the canvas all the way to the back of the frame, and then painted the wooden frame itself in a contrasting color. I decoupaged some scrap paper in the background of the frame and glued some lace to cover the uneven edges where the canvas met the wood.

My shadow box is ready for filling and further adorning (to be revealed shortly). This is a unique spin on DIY canvas art. The shadow box can display a smaller work of art, some 3-D collectibles, assemblage art or a scrapbook style photo arrangement. It can be propped up to stand on a shelf or hung by attaching a ribbon. It could also be used as a fancy little table top tray.

The possibilities are endless for this simple craft project! You just need to reframe your thinking ;)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

287/365: Birds of a Feather

Today I extended

I think the En{COURAGE} Creative Meetup crew is getting restless. I am, anyway. It's been far too long since our last art play date. The solitude was good for me these last few winter months, but I'm ready to rejoin the flock. Creative company rejuvenates me just as well as the balmy weather and sunshine. 

So my lovely fellow organizers and I are dusting off the mixed media supplies and extending a warm invitation just in time to welcome spring. I'm looking forward to growing our tribe of brave creators, to teaching and to learning, to inspiring and being inspired once more.  

Birds of a creative feather will flock together.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

286/365: A Thesaurus is Not a Dinosaur

Today I assembled:

a list of synonyms...

I've been helping one of my young writing students understand the power of word choice in getting his message across.  Now he eagerly reaches for the thesaurus (despite it not being a cool prehistoric reptile like he once thought). While it may seem nearly as extinct as the dinosaurs, with all the accessible Internet sources these days, a thesaurus is still a handy tool for young writers who are building their repertoire of words.
"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning."  ~Mark Twain
I know what you really mean, Mr. Twain, but I happen to be a a big fan of lighting bugs, so I appreciate this quote for different reasons. Sometimes we want a word to strike our readers deep down to their core. Other times we need the perfect word to inspire a sweet bit of child-like magic and mystery. Each version brings with it its own power.

It occurred to me that I've been using the phrase "Today I made..." just about every day since the start of my 365 project. Not only can it get boring, but after thinking about the alternatives, I realize there are so many more empowering verbs I could be applying, both in my writing and in my awareness of how special it is to be a maker. It's the difference between the almost right word and the right word. All our creations deserve to be clearly expressed.

So I pulled out my trusty thesaurus and made a list of synonyms for "make" that best describe what I do as a creator, both in my art and my day-to-day living.

to make:

accomplish, actualize, assemble, author, brew, bring into being, compose, conceive, concoct, create, design, devise, discover, dream up, express, fashion, form, generate, give life to, hatch, initiate, invent, manifest, originate, produce, realize, shape, synthesize...

Not surprisingly, my favorite words all have to do with making things tangible or creating something that didn't exist before my hands, heart and mind had their own way with it.

We are all makers, you see. The trick is to find just the right way to express ourselves.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

285/365: She Was Ready to Spread Her Wings

Today I made:

a symbolic gift...

It's finished and the birthday girl loved it!

I'm very proud of this piece, both with the end result and the creative process that I allowed myself to get lost in. After last night's effort to muster up the energy to begin, my muse must have been proud of me too. She stayed through my morning coffee and well into lunchtime today.

I owe it all to haphazard inspiration. Without much of a plan last night, I began collaging down pages from an old book to provide an interesting background layer under the paint. The perfect snippets of text popped out at me (as they always seem to do.) With thoughts of "sun" and feathers," and my friend's fondness for birds the ideas began coming together.

This brave, creative friend of mine is always encouraging me to take leaps and reach for my dreams. At this point in her life, I see she has her sights set on new horizons, and I know she is preparing to take flight. We must leave our comfortable nests and spread our wings to reach new heights.

"She Was Ready to Spread Her Wings" copyright Mila Bowman, March 2013
mixed media on 12"x12" canvas: acrylic, charcoal, bird woodcut, vintage book pages, scrap paper
close-up of found text: "When the sun will warm me on my journey."
The darling little birdie is a woodcut I found at Michael's craft store.
close-up of found text: "magnificent"... "in their best feathers"

Monday, March 25, 2013

284/365: Shifting Energy

collage in progress, clockwise from top left:
the first layer/ messy texture/ collecting elements/ adding shape & color
Today I created:


After a long day of teaching, running errands, cooking dinner and doing housework, all I wanted to do was lay belly up on the couch like my dog. Instead I decided to follow my own advice for a change.

This morning, my first graders came to reading group with the Monday morning sleepies. We solved the problem with some tried and true brain "waker-uppers": a drink of water, a few deep breaths, and a little Energizing Brain Break. They were alert little readers in no time.

Late this evening, by the time all that fun business of life was taken care of, I was zapped of energy, but determined to begin a friend's birthday collage. It was too late to have caffeine, so I decided I would take five minutes to apply my little brain wake-up tricks, go into my art space and see if that changed my energy. If not, I would send myself to bed at a decent time and try again tomorrow.

What do you know?! It worked and it was so simple! Not only was I able to peel myself off the couch with the low stakes deal, but once I was at my art table, my hands got busy, my mind focused in and my muse stopped by for a visit. I played for a couple hours without even realizing how much time had gone by, and I got a good start on the project.

I'm very proud of myself! I must, I must remember this next time I'm about to melt into the couch. I don't know if it will work every time, but it's worth a try on tired evenings. All it took was a little bit of movement to create some energy and break out of my inertia. If I can't think myself into productivity, I will move myself into it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

283/365: Knowing Just What to Say


the air was perfumed by orange blossoms

and sweetened still

by your words:

"You've been on this path back to yourself the whole time."

Thank you for that.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

282/365: Taking Lessons from the Flowers

as far as the eye can see...
Today, the pup and I did a little trespassing. 

It was a crime of passion.

The hills of the marsh reserve near the bay were an explosion of yellow, as far as the eye could see. We had to get in for a closer look.

I learned my lesson-
three lessons to be exact. 

Who would have thought we could learn lessons on the creative life from flowers?

#1: To stay inspired, take in heaping doses of sunshine and blue sky.
#2: Surround yourself with friends who will stand by you,
especially when you're feeling wilted.
#3: Sometimes you have to stick your neck out for your creativity.

Friday, March 22, 2013

281/365: Create Joy on Your Path

fallen buds at my feet...just couldn't help myself.
Today I made:
a love note in the flowers...

See love in this moment
Wherever you stand
Create joy on your path
With whatever you have
Delight in the 
Findings of life
Be sweet to yourself
And find ways to be glad

Thursday, March 21, 2013

280/365: Get Low With the Flowers

It's Spring!
Get low with the flowers.
Feel the Earth breathing
under your belly.
Bare witness to all things that grow.

springtime self portrait

Today I dug up these oldies, but goodies:

Some photos and a poem I created  this time last year are a good reminder of how to get Spring under my skin. (Just where I want it.)

Don't be afraid to roll in the dirt to get a fresh perspective.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

279/365: Artist at the Vernal Equinox

Today I made:
the switch out of hibernation mode...

Today there are exactly twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night. Hello vernal equinox!

I yawned and stretched and stepped out of my cave for a long walk. I found these brilliant orange flowers. (How lovely are they next to the blue curb?!) It may not seem like a big deal, but for me, being drawn to a random color combination is like my muse whispering in my ear, "Inspiration is coming!" Not to mention, orange has always been my symbolic color for energy, so I think it was a sign from the flowers :)

The great outdoors, fresh air, warm sun, soft breezes- they all bring a heightened awareness and energy. Nature is one of my greatest inspirations, and the spring season means I'll be spending more time in nature.

I know, I know! I can't really complain because San Diego "winter" is kind of a joke, but I'm particularly sensitive when it comes to seasonal changes. In the winter months I always seem to slow down and lay low. So does my motivation and creative output. This Winter, I spent a good deal of time eating and reading, searching for cozy holes to bury my head, and stockpiling creative ideas. I learned to be gentle with myself and realized that my creative ebbs and flows may very well coincide with the seasons.

Let there be Spring! Let there be flow!
Today I switch out of hibernation mode. I turn my face towards the sun

and I bloom.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

278/365: Draft Mode

Today I made:

time to catch up...

I've left a few posts from the last couple weeks in "draft" mode on my blog. Started on the fly with my Blogger app on my phone during busy days, they were in varying stages of completion. They were the "sloppy copies" (as we call them in elementary school) of my observations and thoughts from the days. I meant to go back sooner to fill in the gaps, but new days brought new projects. Finally, I have a quiet morning to myself, a sunny spot on my cozy couch and the urge to write!

It's a tricky thing to share your personal journal with the world.  My live-in-the-moment artist self would love nothing more than to share my raw stream of consciousness writing as evidence of my daily creative. But my articulate writer self won't allow that. She wants to take each post through the writing process (hello revision and editing!) to publication so that it's readable and not a jumble of incomprehensible thoughts. (I suspect that perfectionist writer self is in cahoots with my inner critic.) At times I'm able to distract her long enough with word play to hit the "publish" button before she gets too involved.

I wonder if there is a difference in my writing voice between the two. If anyone is out there, hello? hello? (insert cricket sound here), I'd love to know if you're ever able to identify my more spontaneous creative writings. It's funny how I feel the need to present myself a certain way as an artist. If it's not obvious yet, I really don't have it all together. What juicy, messy wonders could come out of me if I was less inhibited? What if I left myself in draft mode more often? I'd probably be able to keep up with my daily creative posts better, for one.

Anyhow, I've revisited and rescued these writings from limbo today. I had to share once I realized there was a clear progression of turbulent learning moments that led me to where I am now, less than a month later. Well I'll be damned! This log of my journey is serving it's purpose, for me anyway. So if you're following along, happy four-in-one Tuesday! :)

Go With the Flow, March 4th musings
Asking the Right Questions, March 7th scribblings
Where Courage Comes From, March 8th meaning making

Monday, March 18, 2013

277/365: Finding My Center Through Art

Today I made:
a note to self, so I don't forget...

It's been a constant struggle lately to find calm and focus in my days, so that I can concentrate on my art and the things I want to create. Browsing through my photos tonight, I had an epiphany. What if I've been going about it backwards? Instead of waiting for a peaceful time (and state of mind) to pick up my creative work, what if I allow art to be my calm in the chaos? After all, art always leads me back to myself, my truth and what lies at the center of my heart.

Connecting with my creative source brings the highest level of focus that I've ever known. Perhaps the insights I've been searching for outside of myself will come through me when I'm in the act of making art.

I have a sense of deja vu, as if I've had this fleeting thought before and forgotten it in the hustle and bustle. What a thing to forget! The vibrant center of this daisy was the reminder I needed.

It is in creating that I find my most vibrant center.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

276/365: Feeling Lucky?

Today I made:

a patchwork collage with the color of the day...

The photo above is of shamrocks I spotted at the shop.  My first child-like instinct was to search the bunch for lucky four-leaf clovers. Instead I went home and moved some green paint around.

I understand it is rare for artists to find success by being "discovered." Making it as an artist isn't about luck. Brave creators make their own luck by defining their dreams and taking action to make them happen. Today, for me, that action was simply to play with a collage technique and grow my repertoire of skills. The creative life is hard work (and play). While I do believe that Universal magic helps us out along the way, it is up to us to get the wheels spinning.

I had to pinch myself several times before having this realization.

So, sorry four-leaf clovers and pots of gold. I'd rather spend my time searching for meaning and magic deep in my own work.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 15, 2013

274/365: Novelty

brand. spankin'. new.
Today I made:

a creative purchase...

In search of the right brush to finish the outline of my recent painting, I took a trip to the art supply store. It occurred to me that I've never actually purchased paint brushes before. The ones I own are either gifts or those pilfered from my husband's stash from his old painting days.

There was a daunting selection to choose from. Besides the different styles and sizes, there were also student grade, artist "level 2" and professional. I ended up going with the artist grade because the rest were out of stock in the sizes I needed. Apparently the pros cleaned them out. I also picked up a new pack of palette knives that I'm excited to experiment with.

It's amazing how a few new toys reinvigorate me after days away from my easel. I'll have to remember that. My muse appreciates novelty.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

273/365: In Good Company

Today we made:


We enjoyed another evening of good food and great company. Our friend is still visiting and conversation about creative endeavors filled the room. The three of us each practice different art forms: my husband has his woodworking, playing and composing music, John busies himself with acting, stand-up comedy and writing for the screen, and I practice my visual art, poetry and journaling. Our creations are different, but as creators, we all agree on a few things:

Inspiration often comes from a higher source outside of ourselves that we can learn to tap into. 

Sharing one's creative gifts with the world is a critical part of developing one's voice as an artist.

It's most important to do what you love.  

I so appreciate time spent with creative, like-minded people. I feel validated.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

272/365: I Know What You're Thinking

Today we invented:

a game...

A few weeks ago, my husband and I painted one of our dining room walls with chalkboard paint. It was an excuse to add (yet another) color to our walls, and to have more opportunities to doodle and write on the fly. I'm surprised that it's taken a while to work up the nerve to draw on the wall. Visitors have done so more than we have.

An friend of ours is visiting from L.A. tonight. He and my husband are old friends from acting school. They both share a love for Harley Davidson motorcycles and making people laugh. My cheeks hurt from spending the evening with the two of them and hearing their stories.

Our friend was telling us about a party game he played recently that included a large set of cards with random funny (and potentially offensive and inappropriate) questions and answers. I did a little research and I think this  is the game he was referring too. In the spirit of the evening, I had the idea to adapt the game to work with our chalkboard wall. We made good use of the two speech bubbles I had originally scrawled on the the wall shortly after the paint had dried. My husband claims naming rights to the game, "I Know What You're Thinking." The rules are simple: we take turns filling in one speech bubble in response to the other. Line crossing is encouraged. Game play opens to any and all visitors to the house and continues indefinitely.

Tonight, the game began with the second bubble stating, "...and that's why I stopped my swimming lessons." That left us wiiiiide open. That's my husband detailing how he got something or other (ahem) "stuck in the pool filter again." As you can imagine, the sole purpose is to use shock value to make each other laugh. We are well passed the point of offending each other and the history we have provides quite the bank of memorable one-liners and inside jokes.

Let the hilarity begin.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

271/365: Quantifiers of Time

Today I made:

time to ponder time...

I rarely am able to accomplish everything I set out to do in a day.
I always feel pulled in too many directions.
I often find myself faced with the same obstacles of time, again and again.
never give myself enough credit for my successes.
usually turn to journaling as a creative act in my spare moments.
I sometimes get glimpses of what it's going to take to make this creative life work for me.

Grrr...I'm frustrated! I'm sitting in my car between tutoring stops making good use of this Blogger app. The creative juices are flowing and I would love nothing more than to spend time in my art space, but other commitments (that silly little thing called a day job and the work I bring home with me) are keeping me away from my brushes and paints. Inspiration and motivation are here, but time is not. Between all the things I have to do and all the things I want to do, there doesn't seem to be enough time to go around. It's a constant battle to squeeze in precious creative time with the hope that inspiration and energy happen to visit in those same spare moments. That is one of the hardest parts of leading a productive creative life.

How do I maintain my momentum and motivation to make art when when my attention is consumed by other things for most of the week? 

How do I harness inspiration so I can call upon it at will when I'm blessed with time to create?

These are my questions NOW.

Monday, March 11, 2013

270/365 Overcoming Blocks

Today I made:

progress on a painting...

Yes, this is the sketch-turned-painting from the other day that I purposely began on a large pad of drawing paper with inexpensive craft paints in an effort to let it feel less precious. The hope was that I wouldn't become attached and stifled by the end result and the need to for it to be "just right." This is where I so often get stuck and lose momentum (and joy) while painting.

Well, perfection aside, I am growing more fond of this one with every block of color that I paint. This makes me step back and think, and start to envision what the end result could look like. This is the danger zone because now I'm not just painting for the sake of painting. I'm painting to achieve a certain outcome. I've invested enough time and energy that I'd like to be pleased with the result. Where did I get it into my head that every piece of art I attempt has to turn out well?! Silly me. I suspect that's the main reason for my blocks.

Tonight I stopped myself from continuing with my work after much deliberation. After searching through my tools for just the right brush to mimic the long, thin lines of the original sketch, I decided to wait until I had the right brush for the job. I think the outline will make this image come to life and I don't want to rush through it just to call it done. (I'm learning that from my husband's experiences in his wood shop.) I'm also battling with whether to leave it as a simple painting or to layer it up by mixing in some other media. The question, "Is it finished?" will be popping up soon. I suppose I'll just follow my urge as it gets closer to completion.

So, a slight hiccup in progress, but I do have to give myself a pat on the back for actually showing up and doing the work. It has been a while. Even though I've come up on the same old block mid-process, the sly trick of beginning with less precious materials did get me off to a strong start, rather fearlessly I might add.

I will learn to outsmart my inner critic yet!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

269/365: Daylight Savings

Today I made:

photos of the day...

The sun drew us out to play on the bay today. I made my routine photo stop to capture the scenes, while my husband admired the local flora and fauna, i.e., beach bunnies.

We reveled in the extra hour of daylight and the delicious warmth of the sun. I chased down brightly colored sail boats.

I'm growing a fondness for shadow art.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

268/365: Room to Grow

painting in progress, 18"x24" on paper
Today I made:

sweeping strokes...

I stopped by the office supply store this afternoon to pick up some things for school, and found myself in the art supply aisle where they had a poster-sized pad of drawing paper. I envisioned myself sprawled out on the living room floor sketching my heart away. The thought of this made me so happy that I bought this oversized sketchbook and made my vision come true.

I started with a line drawing. (There's that girl again!) The large space freed me up to make big sweeping strokes and exaggerated gestures. My hand had room to play. It was so much fun and I'm one step closer to making really big art!

original sketch

I liked the drawing on it's own, but I decided to see what else it could evolve into. Using less precious materials (paper instead of a canvas, and cheap craft paints instead of the pricier artist's grade acrylics) allowed me to play and experiment without expectations. I wasn't too attached to the piece. I decided that if I ruined it, I could just sketch another. The paper buckled under the wet paint and the pigments didn't cover well with the first coat, but I quite like it so far.

This might be a practice for a canvas piece, and as often as this little lady is showing up in my art, I think she may need her own series.

I'm very happy with my purchase of the jumbo drawing pad. It gives my doodles room to grOW.

Friday, March 8, 2013

267/365: Where Courage Comes From

Today I made:
meaning with kids...

Today, in a guided reading group with second graders, we were talking about a character who  felt "discouraged" and "disheartened" when faced with a great challenge. We all connected with the young man, sharing times in our lives when we lacked hope and confidence, when our courage was shaken. 

"I know how he's feeling. He should keep trying. It will get easier. That's what happened to me," explained a little girl, speaking from experience. 

"He shouldn't give up!" the kids agreed. 
"He should purpose-sphere!" a little boy added.

"Persevere," I smiled and corrected gently. "Yes! What a big idea! Where do you think the courage to persevere comes from?" 

After a long silence (oh how I wish I could peak into their little minds to see how they work these things out), one little girl spoke up. 
"You have to find it inside you. Courage comes from the inside." 

Ah yes, leave it to eight year-olds to tell it how it is. And here I was searching for my courage in books and under pretty colored rocks. I suppose if I'm patient and keep at it, my courage to keep on keepin' on will grow. 

This quote, by John Quincy Adams, is very fitting for today: "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."

Courage, patience, perseverance- these are the themes of my life right now, and the stuff of children's books, of myths and fables. My students, those wise little souls, understand common themes across stories, and they're teaching me that these themes run through all our lives, on and off the canvas. 

We are the creative heroes of our own lives.
We must find the courage to "purpose-sphere."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

266/365: Asking the Right Questions

I got nothin'!
Today I made:

time to ponder the questions...

When it comes to growing a creative practice, there always seem to be more questions than answers.

How do I make more time for creative play?

How do I use the time I have wisely?

What should I be putting my focus on?

How do I stay committed to my creative goals when I'm being pulled in so many different directions? 

Can I really juggle it all?

The most frustrating part is (and was and I'm honestly nervous that it will always be), as soon as I uncover an answer or overcome an obstacle, I get distracted by another part of my life and lose sight of my understanding. It disappears as spontaneously as it arrives. I guess it's a good thing I'm documenting my learning here.

I don't have very many solutions, but I feel I'm getting better at asking the right questions. The answers don't guarantee permanent understanding and they don't always get us where we want to go. It is the questions that keep us going! If we ask ourselves the right questions, we focus our minds on the right work along the path.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

265/365: This Above All

A carving on the sea cliffs in Ocean Beach brings a timely reminder.

Today I made
{it} to another milestone!

There are 100 days left until my 365 Days of Creative project comes full circle. 100 days left!!  My husband is tucked in for the night and I'm having a little wine and journal time to celebrate. It seems like so much less on this side of the number.

I'm trying to be patient and not let the passing of time rush my evolution as an artist, but I'm feeling the need to find my voice and my niche now, more than ever.
There are so many talented and creative people putting their gifts out into the world. How do I stay true to myself and make authentic, original art? How do I find exactly the work I am meant to be doing?

I'm happy to say I see my creative life stretching far past this special year, so I have more than 100 days left to answer these questions. (What a relief!) I know I need to continue to speak my truth and to express myself the best I can in whatever medium calls to me. The path to discovering your purpose is just the beginning of the beginning. And all along the path we must strive to make sense of the notion...

"This above all: to thine own self be true." ~Shakespeare

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

264/365: You Are Here

 Today I made:

"Give Bloom" altered book pages;
mixed media: acrylic gesso, water soluble oil pastel, ink, original photo, scrap paper, found text

"Give Bloom" by Mila Bowman 2013
detail of found text in altered book

Monday, March 4, 2013

263/365: Go With the Flow

Today I made:
a "needs" list...

Knowing what you need and being able to attain it are two different things, but the awareness is proving somewhat helpful today.

These are the things I need to be my most productive in my art space:
- long uninterrupted blocks of time
- quiet and solitude
- a rested body and an inspired mind

I swear, some days these feel like the wild demands of a rock star in a green room. I obviously can not sit around waiting for all these factors to fall perfectly into place before I'm ready to perform. I'm ever so slowly finding ways to grow my creative life through visual art, but it's a good thing I have other creative outlets.

These are the things I need to be most productive with my writing:
- something to write on
- something to write with


With writing, I've learned to be productive in spurts. I can drop everything and write. When inspiration strikes, I scribble down ideas anywhere and everywhere. I'm even getting better at blocking out distractions. I think my connection with my writing muse must be stronger. (We're on a first name, high-five basis.)

I hope I can work my way up to creating spontaneous visual art the way I'm able to spill forth my thoughts in writing, but until that time comes, I need to stop beating myself up for not painting more. Maybe it's part of the creative ebb and flow. Right now the writing is flowing. I should just go with the flow.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

262/365: Answers In Dreams

Today I made:

sense of things in a dream...

In my dream early this morning, I am sitting alone in my living room admiring the clean, peaceful state of things, feeling satisfied that all is in place. Then I begin to get an anxious feeling, like I've forgotten to do something. I go to my bedroom art space and there I find myself...the four-year old version of me, that is. She is sitting in a chair at my art table, bare feet dangling far from the floor. She looks up at me and smiles and begins to speak in my own adult voice, in fluent English. (English was my second language. I only spoke Polish at the age of four). My dream self is not very startled by this, as if I expected her to be there.

"Where have you been?" she asks. "Why have you stayed away so long?"

I try to reply and my voice catches in my throat, sounding high and child-like, "I've been here. I'm here every day."

"But when will you come back to play?" she asks and her eyes turn to my art table, which I notice for the first time is laid out with paints and brushes and a bare canvas.

I feel a pang of guilt and remorse, like I've let her down, and I try to explain in the same strained voice. "I've been working through some things. It's hard to fit in creative time and stay inspired when there are so many other things to do. I'm dealing with my inner critic and trying to move past some blocks. I'm sorry. I'm trying to hurry, but it takes time. You don't understand what it's like."

She continues, in my voice, with words wise beyond her years, "What do you mean? All these things are part of your journey. You can't avoid them. They are not slowing you down for nothing. You have to live the struggles. You have to experience them and find ways to overcome them, so you can teach the process to others. Don't you understand? This is the way it has to be. Learn it so you can teach it.

Instantly, it all makes sense, as if I've known it all along (because, deep down,  I have). I start crying because I know she is right and I am relieved to hear her say that all these things I'm feeling are normal and natural and right.

She jumps off the chair, walks over to me, takes my hand and kisses it. Then she proceeds to climb into the bed and under the covers for a nap. I turn to leave the room and close the door behind me. At the same moment, in real life, my husband opens the bedroom door and I wake up. I have real tears streaming down my cheek. It all feels so true and so close.

I lay there in the dark for a while. I am both overwhelmed with emotion and at peace with the state of things. Thanks to my inner child, and the answers she brings me in dreams, I have more clarity on my direction and a stronger understanding of my place on the path. I know I'm headed in the right direction and I need to be patient. Everything on this journey is valuable. I need to live every part of the process fully so I can teach from experience, so I can have authentic answers. Because deep down I know...

I want to be an artist and I want to be a teacher of the creative process. 

I fall back asleep and don't remember my dreams after that, but this dream I can never forget.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

261/365: Planting Seeds

Today I made:

space in my mind to contemplate the possibilities...

My talented camera-wielding friend, Rachel Bellinsky, had a photography show and book release party tonight, and I was there to help her celebrate. The event took place at 3RD SPACE, a creative club for local artists. Rachel's photographs are featured in the book, San Diego Unseen: An Urban Portrait. Her stunning work lined the walls, gallery style. It was magical to witness her images in person. I am inspired by her creative eye, the imaginative treatment of her subjects, the delicate and almost ethereal feel to her work.

See some of her photography here and here.

I'm so in awe of Rachel's creative output and her courage to put her work out there. Prints for sale, art shows and books- she is making it all happen. I am proud of my friend for paving her own path by doing what she loves to do.

This evening's event and the smile on my friend's face have planted a seed for me. I can't help but envision future art shows of my own and am contemplating new ways to share my art with the world.
It also helped me to appreciate the time and energy it takes for artists to find their voice and to carve out a space that is all their own.

Congratulations, Rachel!

Friday, March 1, 2013

260/365: Dr. Seuss, A Creative Hero

Today I made:

Cats in the Hats...

When attempting to make more time for creativity, it is important to acknowledge what we are already doing throughout our days that is creative. Are you creative at work?

Luckily my work lends itself to creativity- the act of teaching, curriculum design, lesson planning- I am lucky to have a job that allows me to be inventive. On busy days like the ones I've been having lately, my day job has been helping me meet my daily creative quota. Once in a while, I get to step into a classroom as a visiting teacher and make actual art with the students. Those are some of my favorite days.

It's Read Across America Day, and at school we celebrated the beloved Dr. Seuss by dressing up as The Cat in the Hat. I helped little hands glue red and white stripes, folded brims on tall hats, tied red ribbons and painted little black noses and whiskers. I read words by the man who's creative genius produced simple, yet profound and delightfully funny text that induces belly laughs in first graders and grown ups alike.

Dr. Seuss is one of my creative heroes. He brings out my inner child and makes me believe that, someday, I too can write and illustrate books that make kids smile. Here's to the artist and author who inspires so many!

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."
~Theodor Seuss Geisel