Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Soul-o Artist Date

A key component to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is going on artist dates. Julia says, “You will do this every week for the duration of the course.” She recommends that you set aside 2 hours each week and be, “committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.” She describes artist dates as excursions or play dates that you, “preplan and defend against all interloopers.” And they’re solo – you don’t take anyone with you except your inner artist child. Julia says, “You are likely to find yourself avoiding your artist dates. Recognize this resistance as a fear of intimacy – self-intimacy.”  

While I may have been avoiding the type of solo artist dates Julia Cameron recommends, I have been having dates with my inner child, my soul. For the first time in my life I am finally being present with myself and my emotions. I have been steeped in self-intimacy… self in-to-me-see. 

Marcella (age 3) with her Father on the Oregon Coast
A few months ago I learned that my father is no longer living, but I didn’t know when or how he died. Recently a long-lost family member confirmed that 9 years ago my father lost his battle with lung cancer that spread to his brain. Since learning the details of my his death I have been overwhelmed with grief, anger, and regret.  

My parents separated when I was 4 years old. Over the years my father and I corresponded a few times through letters. But for the most part, he was not in my life. My step-father is the man who raised me. My last correspondence with my father was 15 years ago – 6 years before he died.  

In an effort to be strong and move forward with my life after my parent’s separation, I wore a mask. I pretended to be okay when really I was deeply hurting. I have spent nearly all my life numbing, stuffing, and when all else failed, distracting myself from the emotional pain of feeling abandoned as a child and the resulting, false, belief that I was unlovable. Like a recovering addict, who used to drink or drug to numb their pain, I can’t out-run it anymore. I have to be with my pain if I’m going to heal. 

These days it takes almost all my energy just go to work, much less go on a solo artist date. But this past weekend I had a date with my soul. It was a weekend of self-nurturing. In between bouts of crying, I wrote my pages and allowed myself to rest.  

When my husband went out with friends Saturday night, I stayed in. I re-watched Katy Perry’s documentary, Part of Me. I feel like I can relate to Katy in that her upbringing, being raised by Pentecostal Christian Ministers, shaped her, but it does not define her. She lives her life, and manages her career, on her terms. I love that about her! And that she writes awesome song lyrics. 

Through learning of my father’s death, I am having a rebirth. I am realizing that I am the person I am today because of who my father was, or wasn’t. His absence inspired me to pursue a journey of self-discovery. I have always been wondering and searching for the truth of who I am and the meaning of the life I live. In his small way, he played a large role in influencing the choices I made that led me to being a spiritual seeker and onto an artistic path.  

I’m still hurting. My father died. But I’m grateful that through my soul-o artist date, I have found gratitude that my father was the man he was, so that I could become the woman I am, living The Artist’s Way. 

Until my next post, I leave you with a portion of the lyrics from Katy Perry’s song Part of Me: 

This is the part of me
 That you're never gonna ever take away from me, no
…you let me down
 But that was then and this is now,
…Now look at me I'm sparkling
 A firework, a dancing flame
 You won't ever put me out again
 I'm glowin' oh whoa
…But you're not gonna break my soul, this is the part of me
 That you're never gonna ever take away from me, no.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Power of the Pages

Working in the studio on "Through Veils of Illusion"
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, says that to recover as an artist we must be willing to be a bad artist. She encourages us to approach our art as play. But how do I allow myself to play when there are bills to pay?

I have the same day job I did 3 years ago – the last time I did The Artist’s Way and was a guest blogger for the book’s publisher, Tarcher/Penguin. But I’ve since gone down to 4-days to focus more on my art. With the reduction in hours came a reduction in steady income so I feel pressure to be successful. When I approached my art as a hobby, I didn’t care if I didn’t get accepted into a show or went months between sales. But now that I’m making a living honoring the creative call, I need Julia’s advice on removing creative blocks more than ever.

The morning pages are helping. However, I don’t call them morning pages. I just call them pages because I tend to write during my lunch break. On my days off, I often write earlier in the day. But since I’m a night owl, and I like to work in the studio into the wee hours, it’s often a struggle for me to get out of bed early enough just to get to work on time.

The last time I did The Artist’s Way I cheated on my pages. Julia recommends writing freehand, allowing a stream-of-consciousness to flow out onto your pages, James Joyce style. I thought I could write my 3 pages faster, to get the task over with, if I typed my pages. But I would find myself editing as I typed, disrupting the flow.

This time around I may not be writing my pages in the morning. But I am writing them – freehand – in a spiral bound notebook with a pen. I’ll be honest though, I hate the process. My hand cramps up. My neck starts to hurt. But it works!

For example, I have visions of combining my love for painting with my love for dancing as performance art. The idea exhilarates me, but the thought of following through absolutely terrifies me. Recently I was expressing the fear of this idea in my pages and then I wrote, “Baby steps. Keep painting. Take dance lessons. It will evolve naturally on its own.”

What?! Who wrote that? Certainly not me!

I was writing about my struggle with my creative fears, but then this encouraging voice of wisdom channeled through me, telling me exactly what I needed to hear in that moment . And that’s when I got it, the power of the pages. When we release our thoughts and emotions onto the page, we open ourselves to receive guidance from our higher, creative, self.

"Through Veils of Illusion"
Since starting to write pages again I finished a new 36 x 36” abstract painting titled, “Through Veils of Illusion.” The experience creating that piece was unlike any I’d ever had while painting before. It too felt channeled. I’d lose myself in the paint, having no sense of time. When I would step back I couldn’t believe that what was on the canvas came from me. It’s better – looser and freer – than anything else I’ve painted. I believe this evolution occurred in my work because the pages allow me to dump the junk in my head so that I can be completely present to the creative flow when I sit in front of the canvas. So, yeah pages!

Maybe between now and my next post I’ll have an epiphany around weekly artist dates. I have yet to find the time to schedule one. Julia says that resisting our artist dates is our fear of self-intimacy. Hmmm… I’ll explore that concept next time as I continue to live The Artist’s Way.

“Through Veils of Illusion,” can be seen in Art at the Armory now through Thursday, March 7 at the Armory at Brighton Cultural Center, located at 300 Strong St, Brighton, CO 80601. Show is open to the general public to view during business hours Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. A reception for the selected artists from will be held on Saturday, January 26 from 5 to 9 pm. Refreshments will be served as you mingle with the artists and enjoy the sounds of Mezzo Mestiz, an acoustic trio from Boulder. Reception is free and open to the public!