Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Artist's Way - Week Six

"Melting into Blue" 2010
Acrylic & Mixed Media on Wood, 15x30"

Eureka! I’m painting again! Six weeks into The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s 12-week course for “discovering and recovering your creative self,” and I’m painting! I developed a sketch and test boards for the commissioned piece I’m working on, made progress on my painting for the HOPE Ball auction, finished a painting titled, “Melting into Blue,” the first from a new series I started in November, and decided I’m going to submit a piece into the next juried art show at Mile Hi Church.

This productivity has come at a cost. To make time to paint around my full-time day job I slaked off writing my three daily pages (only writing three out seven mornings), I didn’t do the suggested exercises, and I didn’t even schedule a solo artist date with myself – my favorite aspect of The Artist’s Way. As I read chapter six on, “Recovering a Sense of Abundance,” it seems it is not financial abundance I struggle with, but rather the abundance of time, or my perception of a lack of time. Or worse, my fear that time might be running out.

Perhaps it is my pending biopsy this coming Tuesday that has shifted my perception and use of time. Whatever it is, this past week I had an insatiable hunger to tune out the world and just paint, so that’s what I did. As I count down the days until I take a test that will tell me if abnormal cells are, dare I say the word - cancer – I’ve spent my “free” time doing the one thing that brings me more joy than anything else in my life: painting.

Telling my parnter not take my picture while I paint.
Photo courtesy of Sean Richardson

When I wasn’t sequestered in my home office/art studio painting – or viewing a home screening of the documentary Who Does She Think She Is? at “Cinema Night”, a monthly event I co-host with artist Anita Larson and writer Janet Roots – I spent every waking moment (as well as every sleeping, napping, spooning moment) with my beloved. Instead of going out, both Friday and Saturday night we stayed in, made dinner together, and watched movies. And from the moment we woke up on Sunday morning until I sat down in the evening to write this blog, we spent every minute of the day together. Whether unloading and loading the dishwasher, folding laundry, grocery shopping, or preparing meals, we haven’t left each other’s side.

My favorite spot to sit in the kitchen
after juicing while dinner cooks.
Photo courtesy of Sean Richardson

It’s entirely possible the biopsy will come back benign and no further medical intervention need be taken. But it seems to me that my partner and I are both aware, even if we choose not to speak the words out loud, that these are precious moments we’re spending together. And we best not take them for granted.

Check in with me next week as I embark on chapter seven of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and “Recover a Sense of Connection.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Artist's Way - Week Five

Opening Reception of "The Love Show"
at CORE New Art Space

Week five following the 12-week course outlined in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way has been the most challenging week yet. Writing my three daily morning pages Tuesday hit such a raw nerve that I spent the rest of the day crying. I was beyond embarrassed as I tried to hold myself together at the office I work at as the tears continued to flow throughout the day. A “normal” person would have gone home sick, if they had bothered to go into work at all. But fearing both the pile of work on my desk, and the thought of being home alone with my emotions, I pushed through.

Stephanie McCandless (center) talking to art enthusiasts
in front of "Love," her chalk pastel drawing on
black paper at "The Love Show" at CORE New Art Space

I felt better by Tuesday night after watching Louise L. Hay’s movie You Can Heal Your Life as this week’s solo artist date. Unlike last week’s attempt, I didn’t fall asleep. But by Wednesday night the levy broke and my tears were replaced by a more dramatic unblocking of buried emotions. Having no other physical symptoms, I knew it wasn't the flu. But as I kneeled on the bathroom floor, praying for the nausea to pass and repeating the Al-Anon slogan, “Let go and let God,” I experienced a physical manifestation of unblocking my creative Spirit and detoxifying my body and mind from a lifetime of self-doubt.

Posing with artist Laurie Maves (right) at her solo
artist reception for "Be Our Valentine" at VAIN Salon

Throughout the week I questioned why I am putting myself through The Artist’s Way experience. Despite the emotional lows, and gut wrenching sobbing and purging, I am feeling inspiration stirring within. If I can get over this hump of emotional release, I am confident the creativity and paint will be flowing again soon.

Opening reception of "Be Our Valentine"
Laurie Maves' solo art show at VAIN Salon

In the meantime I found motivation to keep working through The Artist’s Way and inspiration to keep painting by hanging out with two of my favorite fellow Dener artists this weekend.  I attended Dana Cain’s “The Love Show” Friday night at CORE New Art Space where I took in the rest of the art with local artist Stephanie McCandless.  I posed for the camera Saturday night with painter Laurie Maves at her artist reception at VAIN Salon for her six week show, “Be Our Valentine.”

Check in with me next week as I report on reaching the half-way point of The Artist’s Way journey in week six and view a home screening of the independent film Who Does She Think She Is?

To learn about events organized by Dana Cain visit

“The Love Show” comes down February 28. Artists will pick up their work between 1-4 pm during the “Break Up Reception.” CORE New Art Space is located at 900 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, Colorado 80204. To learn about upcoming art shows visit

Be Stephanie McCandless’ friend on Facebook at

To see Laurie Maves’ art work, and book her for live painting gigs, visit

VAIN Salon is located at 1890 Pennsylvania St, Denver, CO 80203. For more information visit

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Artist's Way - Week Four

"A Good Cry" 2009
Acrylic & Mixed Media

During week four of following Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way I found myself resisting the morning pages. I only wrote four out of the seven days. On the days I did write my pages, it was struggle. It wasn’t until the week’s end, when I was overcome by a good cry, that I began to realize I need the morning pages to exercise my demons and keep my creativity flowing. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself when I read in chapter four on page 80 that, “extreme emotions of any kind – the very thing that morning pages are superb for processing – are the usual triggers for avoiding the pages themselves.”

Throughout the week I didn’t think I was avoiding the pages. But as I stayed up late each night putting the final touches on my essay, I Find Myself Painting, it wasn't difficult to resist sleeping in the next morning. It didn’t take much to justify how skipping my pages was in my best interest if I wanted to get to work on time and get my piece turned over to the publisher of the anthology, Speaking Your Truth: Inspiring Stories from Courageous Women, by the deadline.

I made a conscious choice this week to limit my socializing to catch up on rest and I refrained from attending First Friday Art Walk. Instead, I attempted to re-watch my DVD of Louise L. Hay’s movie, You Can Heal Your Life, for my solo artist date. But only minutes into the film I succumbed to a nap on the couch and didn’t wakeup until the credits were rolling. I don’t think this is what Julia had in mind for reconnecting to my creative Spirit, but I felt better getting some rest.

Despite my mediocre attempts to write my daily morning pages, and sleeping through my solo artist date this week, I was reassured that I am still making progress when I read on page 83, “Remember that the more you feel yourself to be terra incognita, the more certain you can be that the recovery process is working.” Well, I felt like I was having an out of body experience when I was interviewed this week by Maryann Swartz for her forthcoming book titled, Fifty Interviews: Artists. As she drew my story out of me with her questions I couldn’t help but feel like I was talking about someone else as I outlined the unfolding of my art and writing careers over the past year.

I continue to be offered more opportunities to show my paintings and share my writing. Even though these are things I want, and that I’ve been working toward, some days I feel it’s happening too fast or that I don’t deserve the rewards of my hard work. As I write this, I am further realizing the importance of writing three daily morning pages so that I can work through these feelings of self doubt and insecurity in order to get out of my own way and just let life, and the creative process, unfold.

I'll be honest, there are times I want to dropkick my copy of The Artist’s Way across the room, particularly when I get to the end of a chapter, read the suggested exercises, and think, “There is no way I can squeeze one more thing into my schedule.” But I persevere. With my avoidance, hiccups, and imperfections I continue on this 12-week journey.

Check back next week as I embark of chapter five of Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, prepare for my next board meeting at the Denver Art Society, check out The Love Show at Core, and attend Laurie Maves artist reception for her opening at Vain.

To learn more about the teachings of Louise L. Hay, and her movie You Can Heal Your Life, visit

For more information about the 50 Interviews series of books and Maryann Swartz, visit

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Artist's Way - Week Three

Image courtesy of Google Images

Week three into Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way and I feel like an emotional basket case! Thank heaven for morning pages so that I have an outlet to purge my pent up emotions that the weekly readings and exercises are surfacing. I’m starting to understand that to unblock my creativity I have to deal with my unresolved anger and resentments – but most of all – fear.

This week I began hosting the women’s writing group I am a member of at my apartment. We’ve been meeting every other Monday in a coffee shop in downtown Golden, but we were finding it difficult to complete our writing exercises and share our work amongst the chatter of other patrons and the hiss of latte’s being steamed. It was an honor to open up my home to a group of women I respect and admire. However, I was nervous about them entering my private sanctuary. It’s where I give birth to my ideas and where the paintings I am currently working on are in their “ugly duckling” stage. Thankfully I kicked fear to the curb, let the girls come over anyway, and gained confidence in letting them see a glimpse into my creative process.

Image courtesy of Motion Underground Dance Studio
Englewood, Colorado

Fear reared its ugly head again this week when I met with two prospective commission painting customers. I’m not sure what scares me more: negotiating the price and asking for a deposit or the thought that after all my hard work they won’t like the finished piece. Despite my fears the appointments went well.

The first was with a local dance studio. I’m excited about this project because of the size of the space that is going to allow me to paint big! I just haven’t quite flushed out my ideas for the series of 48 x 48 inch paintings. I’m sensing a solo artist date in my future in the form off a drop-in hip-hop dance class at the studio to inspire me.

My second appointment was with a woman I met at my artist reception in November. A painting she was interested in was purchased that night by someone else, prompting her to ask me to paint a commissioned piece. In contrast to my first appointment, when I entered her bedroom where she wants the painting to hang I was immediately inspired and began sketching. I shared my idea with her and an hour later I found myself on this week’s solo artist date at Michael’s spending her deposit to purchase the needed supplies.

Another fearful experience I had this week was asking friends, family, and fellow writers to proof read an essay I am writing. It is about the role painting has played in aiding me in overcoming my battles with depression. It’s going to be published in a book this summer titled Speaking Your Truth: Inspiring Stories by Courageous Women. I thought it would be scarier to share my deepest feelings and darkest experiences with people I don’t know very well. I was startled to discover that the harshest criticism came from the people who know me best. So I’m back to the editing process where I’m trying to write honestly about my experiences, while not hurting those that I love.

Image courtesy of Google Images

The scariest thing that happened to me this week was getting a wake-up call from my doctor. As a follow-up to a recent routine exam, they called to let me know that a test came back showing abnormalities. To be on the safe side they want to take a biopsy. I’m grateful I’m reading The Artist’s Way so that I can receive Julia Cameron’s gentle reminders to care for myself because without my health I wouldn’t be able to paint and write. With Julia as my guide I am listening to my body’s whispers that I need to slow down and choose my projects wisely so that I have time to care for myself before my body starts shouting at me because of something more serious.

I spent the weekend evaluating how I spend my time and focus my energy. As a result, I declined from participating in an art show this coming First Friday during Art Walk. I know I could finish the painting I was invited to show, but at the expense of getting little sleep this week. Since I currently have ten paintings hanging at the restaurant Larimer Hot House in Denver and I am starting one of the commissioned paintings I decided I have enough on my plate. I could allow myself to be fearful that if I stop saying yes to every opportunity that they’ll stop presenting themselves. But I have to trust that as long as I keep painting I will keep showing.

Check back next week as I “Recover a Sense of Integrity” as I work through chapter four of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, finish the final draft of my essay that’s getting published, and try to make time to paint.