On being in the middle and colliding

31 December 2015 I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions, but I'll take the down time that a long holiday weekend gives and reflect like a champ. 2015 has been full of revelations, new spaces and a couple of heartbreaks. Combined it all makes for a life that is deep and wide. Journals continue to be sturdy containers for soul work and creative practice. I continue to collect moment by exquisite moment with gratitude and abandon. #collectcollectreflect #beinyourlife #thepagesknow

31 December 2015 I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I’ll take the down time that a long holiday weekend gives and reflect like a champ. 2015 has been full of revelations, new spaces and a couple of heartbreaks. Combined it all makes for a life that is deep and wide. Journals continue to be sturdy containers for soul work and creative practice. I continue to collect moment by exquisite moment with gratitude and abandon. #collectcollectreflect #beinyourlife #thepagesknow

 

In medias res, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica: ( Latin: “in the midst of things”) the practice of beginning an epic or other narrative by plunging into a crucial situation that is part of a related chain of events; the situation is an extension of previous events and will be developed in later action.

January brings the literary term, in medias res, to mind.  Social media and blogs are filled with new beginnings and making resolutions and I’m in the big fat middle of the big fat middle.  For me, Autumn is ab ovo (“from the egg”).  For me, the beginning has crisp air and falling leaves.  That said, I do gather my journals from the year and spend at least a day moving through the pages and taking a view from 30,000 feet to see what the year held. As I was collecting 2015 journals, I had to go searching for January.  I literally found it in the middle of a journal.

 

I recently had a kitchen-coffee-conversation with Brilliant #2  and he made this statement:

“I didn’t make any resolutions for 2016 except to keep doing what I discovered I’m supposed to be doing back in 2015, which is the same as 2014, only I’m down the path a little further.”

I love that.

 

I continue to keep journals and make images and put my work out in the world.  I’ll keep juicing the wisdom and beauty out of every experience.  Especially the uncomfortable and messy as I believe that they have the richest treasure.

Reflecting on my creative process, I resonate with this quote:

“I’m interested in the moment when two objects collide and generate a third. The third object is where the interesting work is.”  Bruce Mau

I continue to practice and teach the process of using journals as vessels to collect all the things.  Leaves and quotes and graphite sketches will find space together and I will arrange them until they extravagantly collide.

3 January 2016 In looking for themes in my last few journals, I found quite a bit of #graphiteandgrey. Am going with it. #listening #90dayproject #thepagesknow

3 January 2016 In looking for themes in my last few journals, I found quite a bit of #graphiteandgrey. Am going with it. #listening #90dayproject #thepagesknow

May 2016 bring a better more skilled version of me creating collisions, finding themes and connecting dots as I make art and walk in the world.  May the words and images found here point people toward Love and Grace for self and others.

Be in your life,

Betsy

p.s.  Brilliant #2

[Joshua Garmon] writes and shares music HERE 
By |2016-10-19T14:20:30-04:00January 4th, 2016|Uncategorized|2 Comments

on Dragons

left handed dragon

Dragons.  In the West, something to conquer and in the East, a sign of good fortune.  Dragons first appeared in my art back in October in a painting from a retreat in Sedona, AZ.  The image resonated and I chose the word DRAGON to be a theme for this year.   {Before I even knew that 2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon…}

Dragon Girl

Since then, dragons have shown up on the corners of morning pages and in my journals and paintings.  Even on coffee mugs.

Page Dragons

Coffee Dragon

Sometimes they’re pointing to something that I need to face and sometimes they’re simply a reminder that I’m empowered and live in good fortune.

I encountered one of my something-to-face dragons this past weekend while painting in Athens, Georgia with my Fearless sisters-in-paint.  A handful of us met last year when we painted together in Sedona, AZ, but others were gathering in “real life” for the first time.  I still don’t have words for what it is to be in the same room with like-minded creatives to paint.   It is like oxygen for my soul to come together with people who validate my practice by simply being themselves.  Who increase the trust in the room and thus expand art and expression just by sharing the same space.

“Just bring a little money for tips!”  {One last message from Jennifer as we were wrapping up details for the weekend.   I confess it made me wonder – since there’s a strip club across the street. 😉 }  In reality, we had reflexology treatments, yummy homemade food {Jennifer’s chicken salad is to die for!  Welcome to the South ladies.} Plus, gift bags filled with hand-rolled chocolates and fun artsy stuff.   Oh, the surprises!  The weekend was full of deep conversation, moments of healing and surprises.  Several surprises.  Lots of surprises.  Our hostess, Jennifer Schildknecht of Over the Moon Creative Possibilities, not only opened her studio and hosted this mini reunion, she tucked what my mother-in-law calls “happies” all over the place.  One “happy” was 2 to 3 hours of  figure drawing w a live model.  {Jennifer’s studio provides figure drawing classes for local artists and art students.}

Yikes!  Drawing is one of my dragons.

Embellishment Dragon

My drawing skills always feel Not-Quite-Enough.  I know the raw talent is there, but the skill remains under fed and neglected.  So, when one of our surprises was figure drawing – for hours – I’m not gonna lie; I panicked a little.  When it comes to drawing, especially from life, I struggle.  I know what I WANT my drawing to look like.  {Michaelangelo or DaVinci’s studies would be the standard.}  And that’s NOT what my drawings look like.  The truth is a 25 year gap since I did this last + a little panic was a bad combination.  I wasn’t getting the results I wanted.  The little misses and the inability of my hand and eye to cooperate to capture the magic that I see in every shadow, line and detail left me frustrated.

And frozen.

I stood there.

Charcoal in hand, trying to calm down.

Trying to start.

Wrestling with perfection.

Seeking to open my hand.

Despite the panic, I’ve learned enough over the years to just start moving when I’m frozen.  I don’t have to understand, I just have to move.

So, I moved.  I pushed and pulled.  Drawing all the way from my shoulder.  {The lesson from Sedona}  I put aside the timid movements from tight fingers and opened up.  I began to listen.  To hear and pay attention to my INSIDE VOICE.  At one point I made eye contact with Hali.

“I’m having a little art school angst.”

“Yeah, me too.  Time to change this up.”

And so it SHIFTED.

We moved.  We invited paint to the party.  We turned on music.  We moved to the floor.  We even turned drawings upside down.

At the end of the day, my drawings were average, but with encouragement from my sisters in paint, the shift to intuition was beyond powerful.

The next day, with bags packed and coffee poured, we settled in for a last few hours of quiet and paint.  I decided to tape up a study and and a blank page and face the dragons.  Before I chose a color or picked up a brush, I asked the drawing:

figure studies

What is Your Message?

and then I painted.

mountain woman

I don’t fully understand yet, but the mountains and the snake, the gold and the red, the full moon, the circles and the pouring drips were like my Inside Voice climbing out onto the page and making Declarations about what’s coming.

oh, Dragons.  Challenge + Good Fortune.  Welcome to my life.

Journal Dragon

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00April 5th, 2012|Art is Life is Art|18 Comments

Art is Life is Art: On secrets and journal victories

One of my biggest “wrestles” in art journaling has been What To Write. I have spent a lot of time sorting and classifying my thoughts before ever making the first handwriting stroke.  I spent years collecting quotes and taking notes from other people’s writing and talks, all the time busily making beautiful pages that were void of my own true thoughts and feelings.

Decorating pages was the first phase of my art journaling, but the next {and to me more powerful} stage was getting authentic with my content.  To do this, I had to deal with some old messages and judgments – the deeply embedded belief systems that controlled my story for years.  It was second nature to filter and modify my emotions BEFORE approaching the pages.  {especially if the pages were beautiful and the content not so much…}

There are many reasons that we keep secrets.  A friend of mine is fond of saying:  “We’re only as sick as the secrets that we keep.”  It is easy to believe that our secrets will betray us, expose us and ultimately consume us.  My art journal has shown me that I have options.

page detail:  be careful with my secrets

These days, I’m much more candid in my pages than in my early years of heavy editing and my later years of avoidance.  These days, I just write what I think and feel.  Where I am.  What I’m doing. What I’m thinking.  UNFILTERED. These days, I know the power in a folded page; I know that I can glue in an envelope and collect uncomfortable things for later.  Being honest in my pages, keeps me here, in my life.  My energy goes to art instead of dancing the Containing-Pain-and-Fear Dance.  The surprise for me has been in the demystification.  It’s amazing how writing something down causes movement.  I can:

*  capture.

*  release.

*  paint over.

*  pursue further.

* write clearly

* write messily {or in disappearing ink}

*  tuck away.

Writing it down doesn’t mean I’m sharing.  Writing it down means I’m facing the secret; looking it square in the eye.  It means that I am in charge.  I have choices.  The secrets don’t have to win

Feel the victory.  Write a secret in your journal. Fold the page and let it go.

A nest of private thoughts

By |2016-10-19T14:20:39-04:00August 25th, 2010|Art is Life is Art, Journals|10 Comments