A Turtle?

Have you ever faced a large blank piece of paper and just started to paint or draw? I’m not talking about looking at an object, a photo or scenery and trying to duplicate it. Doing that is valuable and many of us did this in art school and continue to do it. I’m talking about something quite different.

As kids, we didn’t worry about what our crayon drawings looked like, we just did it. People think that creative decline begins in middle age. However, statistics show it happens after the age of five when kids enter school! Maybe you had a teacher who told you the sky had to be blue, a leaf green or the sun yellow. Maybe you made the sky pink instead and your teacher said it was the wrong color so you just never took those crayons out again. Kids don’t need to think of themselves as ‘artists’ first in order to create freely. In fact, it might be easier if you haven’t done much art in your life.

It’s a scary thought. The sheet of paper will be staring back at you, begging for you to first start and then to keep going. Fearing it won’t look good is totally understandable. I felt the same way.

In my adult life I had never tried this, but that’s what was facing me in 1986 when things changed. Although at the time I consciously didn’t see the power of this. At the time I was in California taking a painting workshop and I was clueless about what to paint, (even after thinking of myself as an artist for years). All that art school training paralyzed me. I was standing near an open door overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “Should I paint the scenery?” I wondered. With no manuscript or written article to follow as I had done as an illustrator, I felt lost, so I just started to scribble with different colors. The first mark was the most important because at least I made a mark! That one mark led to the next and the next. I was trying not to judge, but admittedly it was hard. But I persisted. It was like driving a car and having absolutely no idea where I was going. And a turtle appeared.


Can You Relate?

When you least expect it, your life can change in a blink. That’s what happened to me almost thirty-two years ago, and it changed me forever. Maybe you’ve been changed too by an event in your life. Maybe you didn’t tell anyone and kept it a secret. Maybe things on the outside looked the same to everyone else and at the same time maybe you were trying to keep it that way. But inside, you were completely different and the world became an upside down place. You suddenly had to re-arrange the way you thought about everything and everyone. Can you relate?

It isn’t easy to write this post. I’m a master procrastinator. I’m good at washing dishes, straightening up, going food shopping, cooking, taking walks, going to the gym, petting the cats, etc.. When it gets down to the really hard stuff, there is always something else to do.

I am certain that there are many of you that have been through a life-changing event. And hopefully we can share how we got through it in one piece and went on to experience life’s wonders as a whole person again. Because when your life is shattered, you need to figure out how to pick up those sharp pieces, put them together and move on. Whether a difficult illness, event or sudden loss, at one point we all had to make a decision about what to do with it and how to heal. Mine was to create art.

Hide & Seek

Hide & Seek

Baby Steps

For the past six months I’ve been on sabbatical from my teaching job, working on a project entitled Healing Art; A Visual Journey. It includes a web site, blog and workbook. The project documents thirty years of work dealing with navigating life’s challenges through the process of creating art.

I am also interested in hearing stories and seeing the images of others that are willing to share!

Detail:  Who Are You Really?

Detail: Who Are You Really?