“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about… say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.” ― Rumi
As far back as I can remember, I have had issues with making art of any kind.
“Stop scribbling! That’s not the ‘right’ way to color!” or “You need to color within the lines” were things that I remember hearing from about the age of four and beyond. I heard them from family members, teachers, clergy and more. Of course, it was not always about coloring, but also in the way that I seemed to do everything.
I do seem to remember, however, the painting books that I got at Christmastime from Santa. A dish of water and a paintbrush magically allowed the pages to turn into colorful masterpieces that were just the right color, except that I felt limited by what others wanted it to look like.
Going to School
I never went to kindergarten, but was put into first grade a month after I turned five-years-old. No, I never got finger paint.
First grade in 1960 meant children were to learn to follow directions. We had pages where the pictures were numbered and there was a legend to remind us what number was for each color. We were to finish it accordingly.
One such picture was of a little boy with building blocks. I colored his hair yellow, his face brown, one arm another color, the other arm, yet another. Few, if any, of the corresponding numbers had been colored in correctly on the page. I liked it, but it became clear to me that I was in trouble, when it was sent home to my mother with a note about her eldest daughter “not following the rules.”
Mom took tracing paper and made (what seems to me now) 50 copies of this little boy building with his A-B-C blocks, and another picture of a sailboat in the water that I had also not colored correctly. I have to say that I did not like “remedial coloring.”
Throughout my 12 years of schooling, art classes were always painful for me. “Draw a picture” on a blank sheet of paper made no sense to me. Dropping a blob of clay on the table in front of me produced the same reaction.
“Of what?” was always my response.
I needed some sort of guidance. I just did not seem to have the same artistic blood as that of others. Most teachers did not seem to understand how to teach to those who did not fit a mold of what “good girls and boys” were supposed to be.
I never remember my pictures finding their way to bulletin boards and refrigerators, nor did my fired clay work, looking like a very misshapen lemon, become a paperweight atop a desk or displayed for the guests to see. In fact, it made its way into the garbage bin with the rest of my things that held little value from an artistic perspective.
There is so much more to this story, but rather than write the novel now, I simply want to share that I am beginning to take this challenge on, not without some major emotional ties to this process.
Taking the Creativity Challenge
Several years ago, I started to take jewelry-making classes, but that was learning a technique and following an order for me. I can look at a piece and reproduce it. It is also why rosaries (though I am not Catholic) make sense to me. There is a pattern, there is technique, and I can make it well. It does not, however, offer much in the way of creativity.
I have also taken a couple of project classes in making small fused glass bowls at my friends’ glass studio. It was painfully difficult getting through it, as I am my own worst critic.
On October 5th, I took the plunge by taking a painting class, “Transformational Painting,” facilitated by Nadine Hamil, owner of Artful Dreamers Studio in Tacoma, Washington. I was with a group of approximately 10 other people. It was stressful for me, and I fought my own version of a panic attack, not always as successfully as I would have liked.
Nadine (and the others in the class) were all welcoming and supportive. I got through the process, which had the element of order that I can emulate, but without the “have-to” element that has been prescribed for me throughout my 59 years of life.
After the others left, Nadine (in her gentle way) asked me about what was going on with me during that process. I shared some vulnerable moments with her, without fear of ridicule or judgement.
She asked me, “Did you at least have some fun?”
My response, “Honestly, no. It was not fun. But I appreciate the process and I like the resulting painting.”
I am signed up for two more of her upcoming classes in November. I am excited but scared for the “Intuitive Painting” class mid-month, but I know that I have begun to breakthrough.
In my next blog entry, I will share the process with photographs, and share what my thoughts were every step along the way.
For now, I share with you the photograph of the up and coming artist, Coco, with her first painting. She (I) entitled it, “Hear Me Roar.”
“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
― Chuck Close
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To read about my journey through this project and see photos of the process that was used to transform the canvas, visit: “Transformational Painting: I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar”
***Author’s note: I would also like to thank my dear friend, Ronna Detrick, for introducing me to Nadine and her work. Ronna is also the one who deemed me “a lightning bolt of instigation.” I am truly blessed to have both Ronna and Nadine in my life.***
For more information on Ronna Detrick and the work she is doing in “transforming sacred women’s stories and inviting yours,” visit her website: http://www.ronnadetrick.com
For more information on Nadine Hamil and Artful Dreamer’s Studio, visit: http://www.artfuldreamers.com