Warp Speed Creativity

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 8 2016

I have compressed my creative process into a month-long, fully-completed-drawing-a-day challenge. No, challenge is not the word, although this is challenging in every way. No, the word is assignment, because I expect and know I will complete each daily drawing.

‘Make it so!’ I say to myself each morning, Captain Cat Fink on the bridge of her studio sighting the creative horizon. Warp 10. (Yes, Star Trek fan, total creative fun.)

I’m drawing at warp speed. There is something that begins to happen when I work with this intensity and compression.

Instead of feeling more emotional stress, I feel less. I am moving at such speed that I pass through these emotions into full creation mind much sooner than usual. I know I have experienced this quickening before, but I had forgotten. Such pleasure to reacquaint myself with this phenomenon.

Part of this change is knowing I want this drawing complete by the end of the day. I have no time to be a drama queen. No wasting my time and energy on emotional upset. My time and energy and emotions are here to be used for drawing, not for whining about drawing.

There is more to this. I have set an intention.  I am focused on this alone–be here in the gallery’s studio in my creative process and nowhere else. The intention sets a boundary for me, even though my drawing itself has no boundaries. It tells me where to put my attention and energy and emotions, all on the sheet of paper in front of me. It makes the choice of what to do with all my creative energy very very easy. Draw.

Part of this change is daily movement through my complete creative process. Trust shows up, based on the tangible proof of the drawing I completed yesterday. My mind says, I did this yesterday, I can do it again today. And I do.

I am reminded here I do better as a daily creator than a stop-and-start creator.

Could I sustain this warp speed creativity for longer than this month?

Possibly not. I have a life outside of my studio that feeds my creative life, and it is lacking some attention right now. This intense activity would eventually drain my creative well, as I am pouring creative energy out onto the page faster than I am replenishing it. I know that my long term creative process requires periods of rest and quiet, letting inspiration arrive and develop a richness that eventually says create me now. Seeds in the ground awaiting the right season to move above the surface and be seen. My warp speed creativity, while fun and crazily productive, lacks true balance.

That said, I am realizing that a month of warp speed creativity, set amidst my more sedate daily creativity, is a very good thing. I am thinking I want this as a new creative habit.

Warp 10. Carry on, Captain.

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The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!   https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/

Everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Creating

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 7 2016 (games)

There are eight new drawings on the gallery walls as of this past Saturday.  Big drawings. Thirty inches high and twenty-two inches wide each.  My favourite size.

I don’t do well with small drawings.  I love seeing other people’s small drawings or paintings or sculptures or prints.  They are lovely, perfect jewels.  I covet them.

I know, however, that small does not work for me.  When I try to work small, I end up feeling frustrated.  I can’t get enough of my idea onto that small piece of paper.  My marks and colours feel cramped, like I had to bend and break them so they fit.

I was this way all through art school.  When the assignment called for small format, I would do many, then butt them together so they could be big.  Small felt like whispering to me.  I was thirty-eight years old.  I had waited twenty years to go to art school and become Artist.  There was no way I was going to whisper.  And I didn’t.  My colours and marks and ideas yelled ‘I am here. Notice me.’

Mostly what happened is that I noticed myself.  Noticed what I loved and did not love in my artwork and creating.  Noticed who I was and was not as Cat the Artist.  Noticed how what was not authentically me fell away and was left behind for someone else to play with.

I learned I liked to create sideways.  I would look an art assignment in the face.  But then I’d begin turning it around and upside down and inside out.  I would find an interesting side door into the work, and that’s where I would begin.  My own point of view.  My sideways creation.

I still create this way.  It is how I see the world.

This past week and a half, I have discovered I am another kind of creator as well.  I am an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink creator.  I am using everything in the body of work I am creating this month.  The Joy Diary is pulling things out of me I did not know I could do.  I have discovered a way of marrying word and image that works for me.  I have discovered how to mix chaos and order.  I am matching up opposites and I like what is happening. This is double FUN, this chaotic order, this ordered chaos!

I am realizing here is the reason I have always loved comic books and graphic novels, have always loved Dr. Seuss books.  They tell stories on several levels and in several ways, all at once.  They are imagination and creation gone wild, pushed to the point of delight for both the creator and the reader.  They are sideways creations that allow in everything and the kitchen sink.

I am so glad I am a sideways-creating, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Artist and Writer.  This, absolutely and perfectly, gives me joy.

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The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!   https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/

 

 

 

 

Authentically Me

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 5 2016 (see)

I have been on a theme in my life.  Uncovering my authentic self.  This has been going on since, at age 37, I quit my government job and became an art student.

The question is why wasn’t I my true self, and why did I have to go find me?

I have been peeling away the masks and costumes and finally, I think (I hope), I have come to the childhood experience that moved me away from who I was and into what others expected me to be.

I know that my childhood experiences created sets of beliefs about myself, and those beliefs created habits and patterns of behaviour that sometimes served me and sometimes harmed me.  This one did both.

I am the oldest child in my family.  You who are the oldest, you know what I am about to say.  At 3 years old my identity was changed, from just ‘Cathy’ to ‘The Big Sister’.  How I understood this was not my parents’ fault or intention.  It was simply that, at 3, things were one way or another.  There was nothing in between.  I had been ‘Cathy’.  Now I wasn’t.

Here is what I understood, the beliefs that I created.  I could not longer be just me.  I could no longer be intent and focused on what interested me alone, so deeply focused that the outside world disappeared.  I could no longer play.  I had to be responsible.  I had to keep my sister safe.  To keep her safe, I had to choose what my sister needed over what I needed and wanted.  I had to have a wide awareness that included more than what I wanted to do for myself.  I had to give away a piece of everything I received, including giving away myself.  Nothing was mine alone.

When I read this last paragraph, my mind judges and says I am complaining and being selfish.

Yes I am.  It is my self I lost, and my self I am reclaiming.  Through these drawings, I am claiming what gives me joy.  Reconnecting me to my heart.  Reconnecting to what is important to me.  Being Cat.  Artist.  Writer.  An individual, authentically me.  Loving my self.  And when I love my self, it is easy to love others.

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The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!   https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/

 

Messy Creative Process

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 4 2016 (music)

I’m on a break today after three days of drawing.  Sort of a break, because while I am doing laundry and other such household chores,  I am thinking about my creative process.

I had this idea, when I was an art student, that eventually creating art would be easy.  Once I was a well-experience master artist, there would be none of those messy emotional stages of anxiety, fear, and outright panic during my drawing process.

Yes, you who are are constant creators, go ahead and laugh.  I’m laughing right along with you.

That naive art-student-me had lots of hope.  Hope carried me through the hard scary emotions of creating.  I refused to let myself be blocked because I knew making art would get easier the more art I made.  Also, I am stubborn.

I was right, sort of.  Art making did get easier, the more art I made.  Even though the anxiety-fear-panic has not disappeared, as a stage in my creative process these emotions have become smaller, shorter, less intense.  I have become used to them.  I can keep creating right through them because I know they don’t last.

Anxiety-fear-panic have become signposts for me.  They are indicators of how important this drawing or piece of writing is to me, and how important being an actively-working artist and writer are is me.  They tell me how non-negotiable it is for me to create from my authentic heart.  No shortcuts.  No faking it.  What shows up in my creation has to be the real thing and nothing less.  Something I am proud of creating and sharing.  Something that speaks to my heart, and connects with the hearts of others.

To reach that kind of authentic creating, I am willing to move through the messy, hard stages of my creative process.  I will be moving through messy and hard again tomorrow, and coming out the other side with a new drawing.  I would not want to be doing anything else.  I was made for this.

_________________________

The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!   https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/

 

Artist AND Writer

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 3 2016 (stars)

(This post written the morning of November 4th.)  My beautiful blog, I have been putting you to the side this past month, all in the service of art rather than writing.

I am artist and writer in equal measure.  The past two years, writing has been all.  Now, my drawing is centre stage for all of November, and this makes me very happy.

I have missed my art-making.  This is not to say I don’t love my writing.  I am in love with both, switching back and forth depending on the inspiration that comes and the projects that grow.

My drawings for ‘The Joy Diary’, my solo art show, have writing in them.  I get to play, moving between my two loves, marrying them in ways that push me to further inspiration beyond the drawing I am creating.  Seeing on the paper before me how my mind connects ideas and information, the leaps it takes, surprising and delighting me.  Learning how I balance image with word, each playing off the other and suggesting something more than 1 plus 1 equals 2.  More like 2 squared or 2 cubed.

Drawing feeds my writing.  Writing feeds my drawing.  There are some feelings and knowings that I can only express through images, and others that need words to bring them alive.  I am blessed to be Artist and Writer, and to be in love with both.

The drawing heading today’s post is brand new, created yesterday in the Station House Gallery studio.  ‘What Gives Me Joy Nov. 3 2016 (stars)’.  Inspired by a birthday tea with another artist-writer-friend.  (Thank you Lynn!)  Drawing number one, with seventeen more to follow throughout November.  I am heading over to the gallery thirty minutes from now, to begin drawing number two.

Thank you thank you thank you that I get to be Artist AND Writer.

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The Joy Diary is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!   https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/

 

 

The View From the Cheap Seats

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Cat’s Instructions for a Creative Life

I am reading Neil Gaiman’s book The View From the Cheap Seats, a collection of his nonfiction writing.  Magazine pieces, book introductions, speeches, musings, more.  I am being inspired, delighted, learning, and made curious.

The making-me-curious bit is fun.  I have a Curiosity List going as I read this book.  Writers, books, comics, artists, articles, web stuff.  All new to me, and I have to check them out, now that Neil has made me curious.  I am nearly two-thirds of the way through his book, and my list is getting long.  This is a good thing.

One of the things I love about those of us working in the arts is how so many of us share what we are discovering, what is delighting us, what we are learning and doing.  Neil’s book is delighting me, not only because of his writing, but because of his sharing who and what inspires him.  Sharing one of the paths through his universe.

Thank you, Neil.

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In this post, and other thoughts:

Neil Gaiman, book The View From the Cheap Seats, 2016, WM Morrow.  http://www.neilgaiman.com/

The image at the top of this post is what I have been creating the last two days.  It is going onto a postcard I’ll be handing out at my interactive art show ‘The Joy Diary’ in November.  (I was going to add the link here for the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, BC, but according to Google just now, their site may be hacked.  Yes, the weird and wonderful world of the internet.)

The Continuing Story of My Second Draft

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‘Jack Built My House’ by Bryan Fink

I’ve posted several times about doing the second draft of my book.  This is the latest installment in the eighteen-month story of my efforts.

One word describes things at the moment.  Confused.

I’m adding others.  Messy.  I am okay with messy.  Messy happens in all my creating at some point.  It gives me possibilities.  Having been a neat and tidy child, as an adult I enjoy messy.  Also, I know how to go from messy to focused, a useful talent.

Another word.  Procrastinating.  Somehow, and I have said this before, other jobs and delights keep taking precedence over my second draft.  Strange how that happens.

Yesterday I am telling one of my fellow artist-writer friends about this.  We come to the conclusion I need to clear a chunk of time for only the draft.  Yes.  I do this.  Now marked off in my diary is February through May.  My friend will meet with me throughout this time to help me keep accountable to myself in getting the draft done.  Cool.

A third word.  Blind.  This draft feels like I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle without the picture from the box top to tell me how things should look.

I tell this to another artist-writer friend.  She talks about finding the arc of the story, a kind of outline.  Oh.

I know about outlines.  I tried one out at the start and it drove me crazy.  I learned I am a writer who feels her way through the story.  As Nanowrimo fans say, I’m a pantser, not a plotter.

I am very visual in my thinking.  My friend says ‘arc of the story’.  In response, I see the image of an arc drawn on a big sheet of paper, with me writing sticky notes all along it.  This makes sense.  A way of creating an outline that works for me.  Here is my picture of how things will look when I am done.  Yay!  The picture will likely shift as I go.  That’s okay.  I still have a picture to play with.

Continue reading “The Continuing Story of My Second Draft”