The process creates the meaning.

process creates the meaningMy paintings often reflect the internal debate I’m experiencing looking for the harmony between structure and freedom.

I had the opportunity to travel for a week a few summers ago on the Northern route of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, often called The Way. We averaged 24km a day, it was steep, muddy, it rained, our backpacks were way too heavy, our knees and ankles were swollen and there were times when all I could do was count my next steps.

The journey didn’t really make much sense. We could have hopped on a bus, train or plane to get to our destination. It took tremendous discipline at times to get on the trail at 7:00am, especially when it was raining and we were sore from the day before.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely. I hope to walk the entire journey – approximately 40 days.

It was beautiful.

The structure, the discipline allowed us to feel free. It allowed us to escape from our everyday lives, we forget the day and the date, we were free to really and truly slow down, unplug and feel the sweet simplicity of taking it one step at a time.

We quickly formed friendships with other peregrinos (pilgrims) from all over the world; young and old, speaking different languages and living lives so different from our own.

It was meaningful and real.

How did this experience influence my art?

I’m seeking some quiet space, some structure on the canvas – allowing me to tap into and express with spontaneity and freedom – letting the journey, the process create the meaning.

The alternative is chaos.

“Without discipline, there’s no life at all.”

Katharine Hepburn

 

Well that’s a bit of a killjoy isn’t it?  Or is it?

We had a beautiful long extended summer here on the West Coast.

Divine.

However, by the 2nd week of September I was struggling.

Routine was calling me to return to order and productivity.  Fall is a roll up my sleeves time of the year for me, especially knowing that holiday festivities are actually not that far ahead.

I’m preparing for The Sunshine Coast Art Crawl and my paintings reflect the internal dialogue I’m having about structure and freedom. How much structure is enough, when does it feel constricting and when does it actually support me and all that I love to do?

I’ve been paying attention to how much routine I need, I’ve been playing with what I think my boundaries are; exploring tools like time blocking, realistic to do lists, daily rituals like my meditation practice & a cup of tea and a silly reminder to floss my teeth (I know).

I’m making peace with my inner time-keeper and realizing that because of her, I get my stuff done, and truly enjoy the sweetness of free time. I make sure she isn’t so out of control as to not let me revel in the beauty of spontaneity and I demand that she books me some space for nothingness. It is an ebb and flow – at times she can be a real bitch but in a good friend kind of way.

When it comes to my art, I’m seeking some quiet space, some structure on the canvas to let my message unfurl, shine and be as expressive as I possibly can muster.

The alternative is chaos.

Your thoughts? Your tools? Please share.

 

“Creative muscles”

Do you feel like something is missing?  I do, or I did.

Beauty is being fully alive!I take pretty good care of myself, I’m a yogi and I’ve learned that to deal with stress I need to move my body, eat good things, get some sleep, and plan for a little down time.  January always reminds me that self-discipline is essential.  I look forward to the renewal of my regime after all the holiday ruckus and overload (which I also think is essential).  I’m back to a regular practice, eat my oatmeal and hemp hearts, and back off on the indulgences.  However, for years I felt like I was striving for something that no amount of exercise or green veggies could satisfy.  Like there was a part of me still lacking.  I figured it out.It took some time to embrace the idea because of GUILT.   It is self-indulgent, could be seen as a waste of time, not very “productive” and brought (brings) me a whole bunch of joy.

Creativity.

It is relevant in January to talk about flexing or stretching muscles.  I’m not sure who coined the phrase “flexing your creative muscles,” but they were on to something. Strengthening, lengthening, becoming aware of, moving, exercising all that creative energy that each and every one of us possess is essential and it takes some discipline.  We need (underscore) an outlet for it.  It needs to come to the surface, for me and I bet for you.

It is key to my happiness therefore key to my health.

If the prospect of being happier and healthier doesn’t win you over, here is some of my research; creativity in your business, workplace, and relationships is the most essential resource you have leading to greater productivity and a better ability to solve problems.

Art- making (and you can define that in so many way) lights our fires, gets the juices flowing, gives us energy, makes us do the happy dance, propels us forward, and moves us out of our comfort zones.

Alright, enough already, you might be saying, “I don’t draw.”

Art-making comes in many shapes and forms.   Seth Godin wrote a whole book about it, “The Icarus Deception.”

“Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map – these are works of art and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.”  Seth Godin

 

Doing something new is proven to spark creativity.

I am so sold, so passionate about how fundamentally important it is for human beings to play, to create, and to make stuff for no other reasons than to connect with others and fuel our own happiness – when I think about it, in my late night, deeply philosophical moods, it is what makes us human.

We have a gift – go out and play!  And then move out of your comfort zone and share it, it inspires us all.

Namaste.
Marlene

 

A little bit more . ..

Words  “You are what you practice most.” Richard Carlson

Read “The Icarus Deception” Seth Godin

TED  Doodlers, Unite – Sunni Brown

Music   Norweigan Recycling – “Miracles” a mashup

IMG_0955

BIG picture POV

I used to paint in a small room.  I would sit on an apple box, often up close to the canvas.  The most distance I would have between canvas and me was about 6′ if I leaned back on the counter behind me.
I loved my space.  It was mine. It was messy, warm and my husband installed great speakers so that I could fill the room with sound and sing along sometimes.I never had to clean it up.  I just would walk away, shut the door.  I could get lost in there.Me, the paint and the canvas.

However, sometimes I’d be too close.  There were times when I needed to stand back a little. Take a look from a different view or angle.  I paint in oil so moving wet pieces out into the rest of the house is not an option.

I’d take a photo.   It was an instant snapshot of my work.  As soon as I’d see the image on the small lcd screen, I’d see it differently.  It was simplified.  I could see the lights, the darks and the big shapes, the overall if you will.

underpainting
adding colour
underpainting
adding colour
My life is like this.  My lists of to do’s, commitments, busyness are all good, meaningful, rewarding, and often fun.  BUT, I can overwork it, get stuck in just one area, get tight, and forget about the whole.How to take a snapshot of my life?My Strategies – meditation, planning, day dreaming (yup), tapping into how I’m actually feeling (crazy, I know), spending the time to make timelines, going outside, trying something completely new, getting on my mat –

Then I can get back down into the process, open the door to my messy space and relax in the moment to moment, in the creation….

AND the most effective tool I’ve got, using GRATITUDE as my wide angle lens.

I know paint in a large studio and still take photos of my work – I swear that gratitude creates a big picture pov on life and is responsible for the bigger studio space and the opportunities to continue to share my passions.

Namaste
Marlene

“It’s all just an underpainting until it is done.”  Marlene Lowden