The First Time I Started Art School

'Coyote's Apples'
Coyote’s Apples

Picture me.

Here I am. Just barely eighteen. It’s Wednesday in the first week of September. I am walking into my first university art class. A first year Bachelor of Fine Arts student. Totally scared, and determined not to show it.

I know two things. I know I want to be an Artist. I know when I draw, time and the world go away. There is pencil, paper, my hand moving, marks on the paper, breath moving in and out of my body, and nothing else.

What I know is not enough to carry me. At the end of the year I transfer to Business Administration.

Here is what I did not know the first time I started Art School.

No one names me. I name myself. I claim Artist for me.

My professors don’t know everything.  But if I am lucky, they are generous and share their experience in creating art.

I am not an empty vessel waiting to be filled. I have knowledge, experience, passion, inspiration, belief, heart, hands, and head.

I know what feels right to me, and what is right for me.

There are as many creative processes and paths as there are creators. What is right and true for me may not be right and true for another.

I create from my heart, from passion and love rather than fear (although fear is information I can use).

My feelings are information and sign posts. Use them.

Use everything, whatever shows up. My entire life is inspiration for creation, if I choose to see it that way.

I have choice. Everything is a choice. Not choosing is a choice. Stuck is a choice. Accepting, or not, anyone’s view of my art is a choice.

Picture me.

Here I am. Thirty-eight years old. It’s Wednesday in the first week of September. I am walking into Art School for the second time. Nervous, and it doesn’t matter who sees it. I know who I am. I know what I don’t know, and what I do know. I know what I need and want. I am Artist. Let the learning begin.

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In this post:

What I believe: The list of what I needed to know and didn’t, touches everyone, whether we are Artists or not. The learning never stops. The wanting to know never stops. And we are all Creators.

 

What Happens When I Don’t Write My Morning Pages

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‘When I Took It All Apart, There Was Nothing Left’

Here’s what happens when I don’t write morning pages for three and one-half months.

I get bitchy. Make that all caps. BITCHY.

I also get stuck. There’s a log jam of Mount Everest proportions inside my writing-drawing-artist-self.

It’s very uncomfortable.

Actually, it effing hurts.

I have a build-up of creative need. A need to connect with what I am feeling and thinking. A need to connect with my creative energy. Make stuff. Write. Draw. A need to connect with other creators.

I am fulfilling all of these needs exactly right now. First I write morning pages. Yay! And about bloody time too. And now I am writing this post.

Yesterday I decided I’d had enough of paying attention to every room in our new home except my studio. Enough of setting up all other spaces except the one space that is vital to me.

Vital only to me.  Note the ‘only’. I set up all the family-used spaces first. I do what is expected of me. I don’t do what I need for myself alone. I push me to last.

I am such a good girl.

I am sick of being such a good girl.

This morning I get angry enough to send my husband and son retreating (running) to the workshop and the downstairs suite. They get the hint. No more Mrs. Good Girl.

Amazing what not writing morning pages does to me. Here is the list.

Not writing morning pages throws me off balance. Instead of moving between my need to create and the needs of living a life shared with others, I attend only to others’ needs. I lose sight of, and feel for, what I need.

Not writing morning pages, I lose the truth of myself. I am an artist, a writer, a creator, and it is necessary I do this every day.

Not writing morning pages, my family forgets my daily movement into my creativity. They forget the habit of saying, “She’s creating. Don’t interrupt her. Leave her alone.”

Not writing morning pages, I stop standing my ground and claiming the time and space I need to write and draw and create. Not only physical time and space. Mental, emotional, and spiritual time and space as well.

Not writing morning pages for three and one-half months requires the dynamite of anger to clear the way and get everything flowing again.

Really, it is much easier to claim my space, write the morning pages, and make my stuff every day. No log jam. No need to shove and struggle until I finally blow up. No need to hurt myself (or others).

Apparently, I have to remind myself of what happens when I don’t write my morning pages.

Do yourself a kindness.

Write your pages.

__________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Julie Cameron’s morning pages, from The Artist’s Way, Tarcher-Putman, 1992, pages 9 -18.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

Morning pages do so many things for me and my creativity.

Morning pages move me past my internal critic.  https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/03/31/writing-past-the-internal-critic/critic

They are the secret agent who clears the way and connects my mind and heart, readying me to draw and write.  https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/04/30/morning-pages-to-write-or-not-to-write/

Here is the irony.  Last week I wrote about creating daily, then promptly did not do that for the next week.

I am serious when I say do yourself and kindness and write your pages.

Essential To My Joy

Cat's Magic - finishJune 22nd. I’m sitting in the dining room of my new home. Windows on three sides open to the ocean of trees around us. I can see the hills and mountains across the Salish Sea, shades of blue and purple, snow on the tops of some. Clear sky and late June sun. Perfectly perfect.

I have the fan running. Noon and the air is hot already. It was officially summer this week.

Again I am writing at the camp table I mentioned in my last post. This is the last days of using camping equipment in the house. The movers are coming Saturday with the furniture, boxes and bags that were packed away in storage for the past four weeks.

Here is what I have relearned since the previous post, exactly because I was not doing it.

There are things essential to my joy.

A table and chair and quiet space with a view. Paper. Pens preferably in colours more interesting than black or navy blue. Music, soft smooth jazz, sax or piano. Coffee (iced and cream) or tea (iced please, and a lemon slice) or cold clear water in a mug.

Add to these a good book to read, a crossword puzzle book, a soft blanket for nesting and resting, and time for myself alone.

Here is my creation space. It doesn’t take much.  It’s easy to build.

This is the heart of me.

Here is a truth. Not building this space and using it daily causes me pain. I cannot ignore my need to create, my need to play in the heart of me every day. Here in this space I can breathe. I can rest. Imagine. Daydream. Write. Draw. Create. I am myself here.

I go ragged and angry when I ignore my creative self. I pay the cost, and so do those around me. I become impatient, blind, deaf. Everything is in my way, including me.

Of course everything is in my way. Of course I am blind and deaf. I’ve not opened the path to my creative heart. I am not open to life.

Drawing or writing every day, I am open. Thirty minutes given to myself. That’s all it takes. I do this, and I become patient with my life.

I do this essential thing, and I become kind to the rest of my day and the people in it (including me). The ragged anger is gone. My breath is easy in my body. I am easy in my body.

I learned this in art school, and I relearn it constantly. If I give to myself what is essential to my joy, I have space for everything else.

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On a similar note:

One of my graduating-year professors, Lisa Baldiserra, gave our class a piece of perfect advice. Make art every day, even if it’s only for five minutes. I have both used and ignored her words. This post is about using them.  Lisa is writer and artist and Senior Curator at the Contemporary Calgary gallery in Calgary, BC. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your wisdom and experience! http://www.gallerieswest.ca/blogs-and-buzz/contemporary-calgary-announces-lisa-baldissera-senior-curato/  http://www.contemporarycalgary.com/

I finished this post today, June 27th, the result of taking my own advice and building a creation space. I am sitting at my dining room table in a dining room chair. Yes, I have furniture again! My new studio is half full of boxes and bags. My writing desk, artwork table, and easel sit in pieces against the wall. It will come together, now that I am making space for myself again.

 

Packing and Unpacking

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3 Crows a Letter, 4 Crows a Boy

I am writing this post in the midst of controlled chaos.  Namely, I am packing.  Everything.

Last time I wrote I had just decluttered and sold my home.  I did not have a new home to go to yet.  Now I do.  I also have a moving date, so I am packing with a purpose.  The perfect thing about having already decluttered?  No decisions to make about what to keep and what to let go.  No decisions complicated by memories or by dreams yet to be fulfilled.  That bit is already done.  Yay!

I have a new home with my perfect, amazing, big-with-awesome-light studio.  This is the studio I have been imagining since I began art school.  Twenty-one years of imagining have created me this wondrous place.  There is room for my writing desk and reference books.  Room for my art table and easel and supply shelves.  For my library.  An area with sink and tiled floor for mucky projects.  Storage space.

I saw a studio like this, owned by a master artist, a few years into my art practice.  Always I have remembered it.  Now I have one like it.

A blessing.  A gift of abundance.

I am dancing inside.

I’ve heard tales of artists and writers who freeze up when they finally have the creation space of their dreams.  Like somehow the expectations of results have been upped beyond what they can easily deal with, and it scares them into silence.

I’m mentioning this because when I first walked into this space I said out loud, “Too big.”  It scared me, this huge lovely space made for creating.  This perfect space that could be mine, and I was rejecting it.  This space I had imagined, and I was turning my back on it.

But something interesting happened as I turned my back.  I caught myself in the middle of no.  I felt the abundance being offered me here in this light-filled space.  I stopped, and I began to laugh.  I began to feel joy.  I began to dance with the possibilities of creating image and word right here.  Right here.

In that moment, something unpacked itself and I saw it clearly.  Old beliefs limiting my worth, my abilities, what I do and don’t deserve, what I can offer through my creativity, how big or small I should be.  For the first time, these old beliefs stood fully in the light, and I discovered they are not mine any more.

Oh, I know their ghosts may still show up once in a while, as I create in my new studio.  That’s okay.  They no longer have the same power over me.  When I see my beliefs clearly, I know what to do with them and how to handle the feelings they carry.  I have choice.  They won’t stay long, and I’ll wave goodbye as they leave.

Then I’ll go right back to creating.

_____________________________

A note re unpacking limiting beliefs:

Jennifer McLean teaches a gentle and effective method of releasing old beliefs, emotions, experiences, and trauma.  Spontaneous Transformation Technique (STT) is an easy and quick process to learn and to use.  I know, from personal experience, how beautifully it works in clearing creativity blocks and glitches that slow us down and limit our creative lives.  As a Certified Level 2 Spontaneous Transformation Technique Practitioner, I use STT’s powerful process in my creativity workshops and coaching.  This link will take you to Jennifer’s information page.  http://go.spontaneoustransformation.com/powerhealing

 

Clearing Out, Letting Go, Creating New

3.'Laid to Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (south)'--Cat Fink
‘Laid to Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (south)’

I’m back.

I have a home of thirty years cleared out and sold, all in the space of the last four weeks.

Whew and wow.

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a few years.  And suddenly it is now.  Let’s quit talking and do it.  And we have.  Done.

I feel lighter.  Excited and exhausted both.  There is a new horizon out there.  Can’t quite see it yet, but I can feel it.  It feels like home.

After thirteen years of seasonal moving between two places that didn’t truly feel like home, I am approaching something that does.  How strange that I don’t know what it looks like or exactly where it is, yet the feeling is clear and certain.  I feel my feet on the ground.  I feel the path in front of me.

Some small part of me is trying to not trust this, saying ‘scary’.  The biggest part of me is saying ‘This feels right, feels good.  I trust this.’

Trust.  A blessing gained from growing into my creative self, trusting the artist-me who knows who she is and what she wants.  I am now all artist-me.  Not only creating image and word.  Creating my life.

I remember doing Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way tasks of clearing out and making room.  I’m not sure she meant a whole house, but then again, she might have.  I’m laughing, thinking how I’ve taken task number eight in week six to the extreme.

The task says, “Clearing: Any new changes in your home environment?  Make some.”

Make some changes?  Have I ever!

______________________________

In this post:

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, 2002 Edition, Tarcher/Putnam.  http://juliacameronlive.com/  The clearing tasks are on pages 90 and 114.  Julia connects clearing out to creativity on pages 83, 197, and 198.  “You’re either losing your mind—or gaining your soul.  Life is meant to be an artist date.  That’s why we were created.’’  Page 198.

I’d say the quote from my last post applies even more so.

“My barn having burned down

I can now see the moon.”

Poet-samurai Mizuta Masahide

 

Change and Change Again

Cat Fink 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 21 2016 (nature)'
What Gives Me Joy Nov. 21 2016 (nature)

I am in the midst of choosing, organizing, and packing this week.  I’m making my seasonal move southwards three months early.  Leaving tomorrow.

I am a nester, not a traveller.  Yet, for the past thirteen years I have lived a transient life.  Depending on the time of year, I am in one of two places.  I keep studios at both.  Most of my drawing and writing is done in my northern studio where life is quieter.  In my southern studio I plan, gallery hop, visit, share inspiration with artist-writer friends.  Filling my creative well to the brim and overflowing.

Somehow, despite these two places, I do not feel at home.  It is the knowledge of another move to come in a few months that prevents me from feeling settled and grounded, even though both places are familiar to me.

I am talking about change.

Not all of this back-and-forth life is my choice, but much is.  I find and create and cherish the good.  I have beloved friends in each place, artists and writers and creators all.  They are a blessing.

Change and change again.  This was turning in my mind yesterday as I washed clothes, wrote lists, packed my studio, packed my life.  I picked up my sketchbook and opened to a 17th century haiku, carefully copied down three years ago.

The haiku speaks of change, unanticipated and perhaps not welcome.  It speaks of finding the blessing, something to cherish.  It speaks to how I feel each time I choose, organize, pack up my transient life.

“My barn having burned down

I can now see the moon.”

Samurai and Poet Mizuta Masahide, 1657 – 1723

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In this post:

I’ve found three translations of Masahides’ poem.  This is my favourite.

 

 

I Am A Contrary

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 23 2016 (connection)

Tomorrow is the US Presidential Inauguration.  I am having a hard time believing that Donald Trump is becoming the US President, that he was voted in.  And yet, it is so.  What concerns me most?  The divisive way he sees and talks gives others permission to do the same, to pit group against group, to use anger and hatred as the path to what they desire.

I say to this–I Am A Contrary!

I am a contrary.  Much of the society and material world I live in tries to tell me all is divided, labelled, specified, separate.  It tries to say I am separate from you, from the water I drink, from Raven chuckling in the fir outside my window, from the ground I walk on, from the smooth grey stone I hold in my hand.

Not so.  I see, I know, I feel all life, this world, everything as one whole being, one energy, constantly connected, breathing one breath, all flow.

I am a contrary.  The material world tries to teach me to see only polarities, black and white, either-or.

But I see pattern, illumination, both-and.  I see richness and range.  As a child growing up and as an adult living in an either-or world, I remain knowing I am the stars, the sky, the earth water wind, the grey stone, Raven, the fir tree.  I am you.  I am and we are, both-and.

I am glad I am a contrary.  Because of this, I know all is one.  I get to see the one whole beauty underneath all of the pieces of this divided material world.  I get to see the beauty and the heart living within each person I meet.

I get to see the hearts each of us carries.  I don’t just mean the unique shining heart each of us is.  I mean every one of us is covered with hearts, all sizes and every colour, one pinned onto us by each person who loves us.  We move through life covered, carried, loved, connected by all these hearts.

Continue reading “I Am A Contrary”

Thursday’s Rant – Just Let Me Create!

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 10 2016 (flowers)

It is blazing sun outside my studio window today.  The thermometer says -10 Celsius.  Even with the brilliant sunlight, I do not go out without doing up my coat all the way to my chin, and adding hat and mittens and snow boots.

Contrast and preparation.  Like the weather, that’s what is happening in my studio today.

Here is the contrast.  I want to be playing with my book draft, but there are other needs today.  What I call ‘administration’.  I am frustrated.  I want to be doing one thing, and need to be doing another.  Ugh.  Contrast.

And here is the preparation.  I have to do the administration in order to smooth the path for my writing and drawing to get out into the world to be shared.

The preparation part of my creative life is the time and effort spent on meetings, questions and answers, contracts, proposals, emails and phone calls.  I try to like this part but, honestly, today I don’t.  Even though these things are a necessary part of the path, I’d rather be writing or drawing.  Today the administration feels like it is in my way and it’s pissing me off.

I have tried to readjust my attitude.  My adjustment dial appears to be momentarily stuck.

I know this would be easier if I wasn’t so growly today.

How do I solve this?

I write my morning pages, asking myself this question.  I don’t get an answer.  Rats.  Now I’m writing my blog post, asking again, hoping for a solution and a settling of my pissed-off-ness.  Nope, not yet.

Continue reading “Thursday’s Rant – Just Let Me Create!”