I am a ‘nester’. I like to create spaces around me that feel like me, that speak to my essence.
Last night, I entered my new studio space and began to play.
It felt right. Good. Peaceful.
This morning, I pulled my Artist’s Way Creativity Card and for the second time in a week, pulled, Self-Expression.
And the same phrase at the end of it made my cringe. The card reads:
“Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression. We become original because we become something specific: an origin from which work flows.”
It’s the ‘from which work flows’ that causes me confusion.
Art-making is fun, my mind whispers, and I can’t tell whether it’s my higher good or the nasty little critter who likes to trip me up. I know it’s him when I hear, “If it’s not fun, don’t do it.”
Sometimes, art-making isn’t all fun. It’s sweat and tears and fears and trials and errors too.
Like last night.
I wanted to create a seascape.
Forgetting that the plastic sheet beneath me often finds its colours running into my work, I set to work to create a serene, tranquil scene of ocean meeting sea.
Except, purple and fuschia ran onto the page. Purple and fuschia are hard to hide when working with ocean blues and sky. The painting morphed into a mountain scene by a lake. Slightly abstract. Slightly surrealistic.
I decided to experiment.
I reached for the black marker and began outlining some of the spaces. ‘Some’ led to most and the end result became much more grounded and lively.
Play. Work. Fun.
And still, the critter wants me to escape ‘the work’ and stick with the fun.
My higher good flows in with its quiet graceful ways and asks, “If you don’t consider your art and creativity work, what is it?”
My thinking mind immediately leaps to an answer. “It’s nothing.”
And that’s when I realize the truth. That mountain scene with its many colours and bold outlines is like my brain. There are many compartments, all of them connected, all of them flowing together with each area having a specific and original way of being part of me. There are specific, functioning areas within my brain that comprise its whole. Where I put my attention, where I spend my energy is important.
I can allow myself to be hijacked to the amygdala, the place of fear and primitive responses, or I can consciously raise myself up to my frontal cortex, the higher functioning center of proactive and creative self-expression and executive directionality.
I painted last night. I painted in my new space, savouring the joy of light streaming in through the french doors and Yo-Yo Ma’s cello playing in the background.
I painted and found myself in that place of clarity where I know, who I am is a creative expression of my unique essence. In my self-expression, definitions of ‘work’ that made it hard for me to let go of my ‘work’ identity flow away, and I become immersed in the joyful work of letting my creativity flow free.
Play. Work. Fun.
It’s a beautiful balance of joy and laughter, creativity and curiousity flowing freely as my fear of my self-expression runs wild with the truth that who I am is an original.
Who you are is original too.
Express yourself. Set yourself free to be. Savour your self-expression and dive in to Play. Work. Fun. Make it part of everything you do.