(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.
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/
I have a solo art show happening, and I am inviting to you come and create along with me. For real. See the end of this post for the when-and-where details.
Drawing, writing, folding origami animals, composing music, planning next year’s garden. Whatever gives you joy, come and play.
What gives me joy? I ask myself this question every day.
My upcoming show The Joy Diary is about joy, creativity, and sharing. It’s about inviting people into the studio. Showing the work behind the work. (I stole that line from Austin Kleon, awesome creator that he is.) I’m sharing creativity and process—what happened before that drawing was hung on the gallery wall, what made it become what it is. Sharing the path my creations take, mess and masterpiece alike.
My favourite advice on creating art (and life) comes from Canadian artist Norman Yates. ‘’Disorder opens a space.’’ Last year I asked myself, ‘’What if I bring some of Norman’s disorder into the gallery? What happens if the gallery becomes a place of sharing creative process, including the messes?’’ We all expect the art gallery to be a place of completed creation. The artwork is polished, the product of a year-long (or more) artist’s process. Our experience is passive.
I am making The Joy Diary interactive.
Imagine opening day, walking into a gallery show that begins at the beginning of creating the art. One drawing, dated today, and blank sheets of paper on the walls. Anticipation. The gallery expanding into artist studio.
I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Just past halfway through. I love this book. A conversation about creativity and creating and living a creative life. There are parts of this book I wish I had written. I didn’t because they did not come to me. I am glad they came to Elizabeth, and glad she has shared them.
Elizabeth says let yourself live a creative life. She gives you permission, if you need it, on page 90. What she is really saying—you do not need anyone’s permission. Just create a life for yourself out of what you love.
How do you make a creative life?
You let inspiration and ideas in.
And where do ideas and inspiration come from?
Elizabeth’s ideas visit and stay if she is ready and available. Inspiration, looking for a partner who is ready to play. If she isn’t ready or available, inspiration moves on to someone else. So, not really her ideas. Rather, ideas and inspiration moving in the air around her, around all of us, all the time.
Natalie Goldberg says the same thing in a different way. Inspiration and capability as the water table below the surface of the earth. It’s always there and we tap into it through our effort and action.
Julia Cameron talks of dropping down the well when she is engaged in listening through writing. Moving below normal consciousness into the stream of ideas that live below the surface and flow through all of us. Alternatively, Julia describes inspiration and ideas as radio waves, always being broadcast on all frequencies.
This is where my ideas come from. Inspiration Radio. I can tune in any time. It is always broadcasting. 24/7, as my son describes it.
I love this. Ideas and inspiration are always available to all of us. Always flowing, always moving around and beneath us.
How do we connect with this flow?
Elizabeth’s words: ready and available.
Natalie’s words: effort and action.
Julia’s words: engaged in listening through writing.
Action. We connect through our action. I am writing and drawing, and my action is an invitation to inspiration to connect with me. I am open, ready, available, tapped in, listening. I am saying, come and play with me.
I am not waiting for inspiration to show up first, and then acting on it. I am acting first, and this opens a space for the ideas to come in.
There is something else going on as well.
When I am writing and drawing, I am fully present. I’m not in my mind, thinking over yesterday or planning tomorrow. I am right here, right now, with the words and lines and colours. With the feel of the pen and the pastel in my hand, and the sound they make as I move them across the paper. I am in my senses and my body, and in my heart too, because I am doing what I love.
I am sure that love is an equal part of this. I’d much rather spend time with someone who loves me, and I will bet that Ideas and Inspiration feel the same way.
There is another piece, before the action and the listening and the loving.
Give yourself big permission. Elizabeth says we don’t need anyone else’s permission to create. Absolutely totally true. We don’t. But most of us need to give ourselves permission.
Give ourselves big permission to play. To waste time and materials. To make ugly art and bad writing and sing out of tune. Give ourselves big permission to hear the crazy idea and the huge inspiration, and big permission to say this is mine and I know we can create this. And then do it.
Ideas and inspiration are always here for us. Learning how to connect with them, partner them, play together and create something from what looks like nothing–this is the magic. And we are all magicians. A creative life is ours for the making.
Say it out loud and with love.
I am a creator. I am a magician.
Inspiration is listening, and she knows an invitation when she hears one.
In this post, books full of inspiration and ideas (and don’t just read about creativity, do creativity—it’s actually a verb, not a noun.):
I have a new word in my heart’s vocabulary. Grace.
New to me, yet this is an old word. I’ve heard people talk about the ‘grace of God’. There, but for the grace of God, go I. The song Amazing Grace tells of being taught by grace, and saved by grace.
In this world, I see grace being beauty, being tenderness and mercy, being forgiveness and reprieve and absolution. Grace as a gift, given unexpectedly and lovingly, that relieves, rescues, saves.
I think grace is connection, a gift in the same way love is a gift. Always here with me. Always available and speaking to me. Always holding me in its embrace. I need only open my heart, and become grounded and present.
Grace is another word for love, another word for Source, for God.
I see the grace given in my life. Love. Connection. Forgiveness. Beauty. Gratitude.
Grace is what writes with me, these words on this page. Whispers in my ear, write this, then this, and this. Grace opens my heart to my life, all of it. Opens my senses to what is around me in this moment. Says to me, use everything. All is inspiration, when I am open to grace and vulnerable to life.
Letting myself become vulnerable.
The dictionary defines vulnerable as being available to injury. In other words, I am being advised to stay closed off. Closed is safe. Vulnerable is being in danger.
Surely vulnerable can simply mean open.
When I am vulnerable to all in my life, I learn and understand. I feel and do what could be difficult and painful, but I hold it and myself in love. And then grace holds me, and I find my way through. Nothing to force or fight, nothing to push against in anger or fear, nothing to close away from.
I think the dictionary writers got it wrong. Vulnerable is not being available to injury. Vulnerable is being available to grace and love. It is standing deep in my life, open-hearted and accepting all I experience.
Available to my life. Using everything. An open heart. This is grace. Given, and accepted.
Lynda Barry – Books ‘What It Is’, ‘Syllabus’, ‘One Hundred Demons’, ‘Picture This’. The creative process through image and word combined. I love the questions she asks.
I’ve become a Lynda Barry fan. I read her books slowly. There is a lot going on and I want to catch all of it. I love how her mind moves around the creative process, asking it questions, testing out answers. Her books invite me to play in the thousand thousand possibilities of creating. I am a kid again when I dive into one of her books. How cool is that!
I read her books with my sketchbook beside me. I always come away with ideas for my own work, and questions about my writing and drawing process. I know from experience to write down what comes to me, so that I have it to hand tomorrow, or next month, or next year when I need it.
Lynda’s books give permission by example, to play and create, each in our own particular way. Did she intend that? I don’t know, but this is the effect her books have on me–FREEDOM! I am already playing and creating in my own way, and she invites me to explore farther and deeper, see what else I can make with my heart and head and hands.
The book I am reading right now is ‘Syllabus: Notes From An Accidental Professor’. This book is dense with image and word, pages from the classes she teaches, drawing and writing from her students. So much to take in and learn here, to experiment with.