Category Archives: Art and creativity

Lessons from the studio

5 x 7″
Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
2019 Louies Gallagher

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I am in an art show May 10 & May 11.

There’s a lot to get done.

I haven’t been in this show for a couple of years. Work, busy, no time to prepare kept me from entering. As a commitment to my ‘rejuvenation’ vis á vis retirment, I decided to participate this year.

I’ve been getting ready.

Most of the work I’ll be showing will be my alocohol inks. I don’t have my studio well enough set up yet to work on large canvases and I’ve been loving working with the aochol inks so much I’ve just kept creating.

Yesterday, along with sealing my finished work with Kamar, I played with a new toy — an air brush — and even though I still don’t quite have the hang of it, I think I’m in love!

Working with alcohol inks is all about letting flow what will flow, where it will flow. It’s about layering on, taking off, trusting that whtaever happens will be okay. Sometimes, the end result doesn’t cut it. Most times, with enough play and a whole lot of alcohol, magic happens.

Three important life lessons working with alcohol inks have taught me are:

  1. You don’t need to be in control.
    • Alcohol Inks are free flowing. Sure, you can use various media such as Friska to create specific images, but the joy and pure delight (for me) comes when you simply let go and let it flow. Letting go of wanting the inks to go one way, of wanting them to blend to create a certain ‘look’ is something that you need to give up (unless you really want to drive yourself mad!). Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care about the outcome, it just means that along the way, you take pure delight in the experience of being in the moment, are willing to risk experimenting and are flexible enough to go where the ink flows.
    • Like life, trying to be 100% in control of everyone and everything creates frustration, anxiety and disappointment. Svouring the moment, keeping an open mind, creating space for magic is vital to the experience.
  2.  The journey isn’t in knowing ‘how’, it’s in trusting you will discover the way as you go.
    • Predicting what happens when you apply ink and then layer on alcohol and more colour, use a hairdryer or airbrush or any other method of moving the ink around is part of the process, but it’s not all of the process — you gotta be willing to follow the flow. Sure, you can master the airbrush and create images that resumble a flower or leaf or tree, but working with the airbrush means staying loose enough you give the ink room to flow as it will — because seriously, you can’t ‘make’ it flow exactly where you want it to or how you want it.
    • Starting with an ‘idea’ of what you want to achieve is important — but as you move through the process, being flexible enough to adapt, and being open to new ideas as they arise is vital to creating a life that is joyful and fulfilling.
  3. Everyone has their own unique Point of View. Honour the differences.
    • Some of my paintings bring me great joy. Some, I think are okay – and then someone else sees the same painting I deem ‘blah’ and says, “Oh wow! That’s my favourite!”  and I have to smile. We all see the same thing through our own unique perspectives.
    • My sister always finds animal faces in my paintings. I don’t see them. Doesn’t mean they’re not there, it just means we are both looking at the same thing through  different eyes and points of view. She looks for faces, I tend to ‘feel’ the colours and mood of a painting. Neither is wrong. Both bring value to our lives and to our conversation (believe me, I have spent a lot of time trying to see what my sister sees and seldom do — which is what makes life so rich. We each have our own POV and can celebrate the differences by honouring where we each come from, creating space for sharing of our opinions, views, ideas.  — and just like layering on ink to create a whole new look and feel, creating space for someone else’s POV into your conversation creates a whole new landscape of texture/depth to work with!

I spent the weekend getting ready for my artshow in May.  It was a labour of love and delight that colour my world in vibrant, beautiful hues of possibility.

 

 

Rēˌjo͞ovəˈnāSH(ə)n is vital

Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
11 x 14″
2019 Louise Gallagher

My dear friend Iwona writes to remind me, retirement is a misnomer. The real word to describe this expansive and expanding space in my life is ‘rejuvenation’.

I like it. The Wild Woman Within likes it too. Especially as it’s spelt in its phoentics Rēˌjo͞ovəˈnāSH(ə)n  —  In brief, to make someone or something more vital.

Iwona’s reminder was timely. I was taking myself way too seriously. Telling myself this ‘job’ I do during the day is Über important and all that jazz. In my estimation of its importance I was letting the frustrations and weight of leadership eat away at my peace of mind.

I have been blessed. For the past almost 15 years, I have been engaged in work that fulfills on my need to feel like I make a difference in the world. It’s work that is vital and yes, important. But it is not the all of my being present and purpose-driven in this world. Beyond creating better for those experiencing homelessness and poverty, is my soul-inspired intention to ‘create a world where all people are free to dance in the light of grace, joy and love.’

A few weeks ago, my eldest daughter wrote a powerful poem to her maternal ancestors. My mother’s mothers.

In it she wrote,

There is no record of my great-great-grandmothers.
.
But like gold threads winding their way through silk
their secrets are embroidered below the surface of my skin.
Molecular chains dancing around each other.
Woven into the fabric of my being.
.
They call out to me
in the tongues of their mothers.
I can hear them in the stillness of mourning.
.
“They took our names.
Our pasts.
Our clothes.
Our bodies.
But they could not take everything
.
We cannot be erased so easily.”

She was writing of “those Dravidian girls” of India who form our maternal bloodline. Those young, teenage girls of darkened skin and darker eyes, who long ago were given to white men to serve as slaves, as consorts, and in some cases, wives.

They were seldom accepted, those Dravidian girls who became wives to men whose skin was paler than theirs. Over the decades, with time and thinning out of DNA strands, many of their descendants’ skin took on the paler hues of their paternal ancestors. With time, they became more acceptable, more desireable. More white.

I remember my cousins in Paris often bemoaning the fact their skin was so much darker than mine. That I was ‘the lucky one’. No one mistook me for some foreign chick looking to meet some fair-haired boy to gain acceptance into ‘normal society’.

I remember my brother being stripped searched at an airport because he appeared to the customs officials as a Middle Eastern man at a time when terrorism was just taking flight and a jetliner had been blown up in an African desert and men of Middle Eastern looks were deemed suspicious.

And I remember wondering why we spend so much time defining people by the colour of their skin. Why we couldn’t just see into everyone’s eyes and recognize their human magnificence, their beauty, their soulful essence?

It is those Dravidian girls who form my consciousness today. Those memories of conversations with my cousins where we compared skin colour and envied another’s fairness because it made the world feel more fair, more easy.

We live in a world of colour. Of hues and tones and vibrancy. A world of contradictions. A world of ineffable sadness and horrific happenings that we, the humans of this world, enact on one another in the name of our right to have it all because our god is greater or our skin colour is deemed better than another’s by some inexplicable measuring stick driven into the sands of time.

We live in a world of beauty. A world of possibilities that defy the imagination. Of beauty that rises with every sun and sets upon moonlit nights that take the breath away.

We live in a world of colour.

I want to create Rēˌjo͞ovəˈnāSH(ə)n In my world where every colour is vital, where every colour is celebrated and needed to create this magnificent, stunningly beautiful tapestry of life where we do not compare our skintones nor our assets. We only compare the beauty and vitality we experience every day.

The Wild Woman Within is stirring. I am heeding her call and the call of my ancestors who could not be easily erased. I am painting my world in the many colours of the rainbow. I am entering Rēˌjo͞ovəˈnāSH(ə)n and becoming more vital in all my ways and all the colours I paint my world.

 

 

Play. Work. Fun.

My beautiful workspace

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.

“There are no boundaries” Alcohol ink on Yupo Paper. 11 x 14″ – 2019 Louise Gallagher

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.”

“In the Garden of my Mind”. Alcohol ink on Yupo Paper. 9 x 12″ — 2019 Louise Gallagher

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.

Namaste.

Wide open spaces of possibility and other vistas

Alcohol Ink on Yupo 11 x 14″ 2019 Louise Gallagher

I played yesterday. I set aside my list of ‘todo’s’ and immersed myself in the pure joy of spreading colour and texture upon a canvas. Well, Yupo paper to be exact.

Yupo paper is a synthetic sheet of plastic that alcohol inks do not soak into but instead, float on the surface until they dry. It’s what gives them such vibrancy and unpredictability. That, and their chemical make-up.

My chemical make-up has been struggling with the fears, tears, frustrations, angst of imminent retirement. I smile as I read back on what I just wrote. This having an end date without a ‘destination’ is rather daunting! And while I am excited, thrilled, filled with anticipation and joy, this transition time also has its ennui.

Who am I without my title? Who am I without a place to be every day?  People expecting me to turn up, have answers, make decisions, make things happen?

And while I know the answer is “I am all of me and then some”, there is still this place of angst to navigate and cross-over.

It is a threshold. It is part of living because life is filled with thresholds.  Some easier to cross than others. Some harder.

In a workshop I recently took with the incredible Kelly Lee Bennett , she encouraged each of us to create a list of 100 Aspirations.

At lunch last weekend with my beautiful friend Kerry Parsons, she encourged me to leave off determining the ‘how’ of my aspirations until after I’ve spent the summer enjoying life, savouring downtime and alone time and time to play with my grandson and my creativity. “Can you give yourself space to just be present without having to set any goals?” she asked me.

Goals are the ‘how’ of my aspirations. They are the concrete, measurable steps I need to take to create reality to the things to which I aspire.

Aspirations are my ‘why’, my heart-driven, emotional sometimes whimsical thoughts of what I’d love to create in my world if…. my life were ideal, my world perfect. I was living my dreams.

Goals are factual. Aspirations are an expression of my inner self, my feelings and emotions.

Since moving into this home a year ago, I have been planning on having our builder come back to build out my studio space downstairs. One of the deterents has been C.C. and my conversatoins on where to put the studio versus where to put his ‘den’. You know that man cave where he watches sports, drinks beer and throws peanut shells on the floor — okay the throwing peanut shell bit is not true but it paints a true picture of what the space is for.

I need light.

He needs…. whatever light he feels like turning on.

Hence, the debate has been studio in the front end of the downstairs walkout leading to the river or, in the farside where there are no windows.

Not having the studio builtout has resulted in my using the kitchen island as my makeshift studio. It’s 14 feet long so there’s lots of room to paint and cook, but, I do put everything back at the end of every painting session simply becuase I don’t like the mess.

It’s also meant I haven’t had much space to work with anything other than the inks.

Yesterday, I jettison  my ‘to do list’ in favour of creating a space in the walk-out side of the downstairs for me to paint. (You know, the ‘to hell with waiting to make the decision, I’ll just take matters into my own hands’ kind of move that gets one thing done immediately — and leaves the rest of what needs to be decided until later.)

I am grateful. Relieved. Happy.

Something in my heart went click, like the tumblers in a safe’s combination falling into place.

I have a space, a place. To create in. To dream in. To aspire in.

I have an artist’s space.

It is filled with light. Beauty. Possibility.

I threw away my ‘to do’ list yesterday. I played with inks and then, decided to get busy creating for myself a space where I can come home to the canvas, to my art journal pages to find myself at ease, inspired by the sheer joy of letting my creative expressoins flow freely.

Hello retirement!  Or, as Thelma Box, founder of Choices Seminars calls it, ‘Refirement’.  I am all fired up about the wide open terrain before me as I step lightly into the undefined, unmapped possibilities of my life.

Namaste.

My heart eases…

11 x 14″ Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper 2019 Louise Gallagher
I painted last night. Pulled out my alcohol inks and Yupo Paper and immersed myself in the pure joy of creating for the sake of creating.

Beaumont slept on the floor beside me. My beloved lay on the couch pretending to read when actually he too was sleeping.

Music played in the background and I was oblivious to the lyrics falling gently into the rhythm of sounds

flowing effortless

I created

and fell

Heart first into abandonment of letting go of how to’s and must do’s.

Yes. This is where my creative essence finds itself free to express itself fearlessly in love with the art of creating.

 

It can be so easy to forget the power of creating. The joy of letting go of what I think needs to get done, or must.

In the art of creating, I let go of thinking to give way to feeling my way through to the other side of bliss.

In the art of creating, I forget to judge myself, to find myself lacking or not enough.

In the art of creating, I am whole. I am beloved. I am free.

I painted last night.

I remember.

Me.

_________________________________________________________

My Heart Eases

©2019 Louise Gallagher
___________
My heart eases gently
into that place
where I find myself
once again
savouring the flavourful essence
of my creative expression
flowing joyfully
onto the page
where I flow effortlessly into ease.
Ahhh… this is what I forgot.
My essence is not found
in to do lists and meetings held
it is not fulfilled in reports written
and emails sent
it is filled to the brim
of joyful expression
here
on the page
of my creative essence
where I flow effortlessly into ease
_______________________________

He Walks Alone (a story prompted story)

There is a moon filled sun and a man.

There is a day that became a forever night and a man alone.

There is a city. Silent in the darkness of the moon darkened sun.

There is a man who walks alone. Always.

Once there was life.

It is gone. Void. Expired.

The moon came and stole the light. And all life was forgotten.

Except for the man. He walks alone. By himself. Always.

Not frightened. Not scared. Just alone. Like a memory that cannot die, he is trapped in the darkness.

No one asks him what he is doing in the darkened day of the city. There is no one there to ask.

He is not curious this man walking alone.

He has no thoughts to make his mind wonder.

Once, there had been curiosity. Wonder. A city filled with people building, creating, doing.

And then, the moon came and covered up the sun. Like a needle skipping over a vinyl record track, again and again, day became perpetual night, a twilight of darkness creeping ever further and further afield.

And all thought of the light vanished. All memory of day disappeared as his life became a forgotten song he no longer sings.

Once the man wondered what lay beyond the darkened light of day.

Once he thought about exploring beyond the city limits.

No more.

With the vanishing of the light, his thoughts grew still. Silent.

Now, he wanders the empty avenues and streets where no blade of grass creeps up between the pavement cracks. Where no tree pushes up through the concrete. Where no cars pass on the once busy road and no people walk on sidewalks once filled with passersby going about their day.

Day is gone. Night has come.

All that grew has died beneath the darkened sun. All that was living has turned to dust, disappeared behind doors closed against the darkness creeping ever further and further into the corridors and hallways of the buildings no longer lit by sun’s warm gaze. Now, only concrete towers remain, the asphalt, the silent avenues, the empty spaces once filled with bustling life are still.

And the man walks alone.

No thoughts interrupt his passage. No ideas form within his mind.

Like the moon erasing day, his mind has escaped to some other place, that other place from long ago, when he was once a doer, a builder, husband, father, brother, son. A person known to others.

And now, he walks alone. Unseen. Unheard. Unknown.

He does not remember that other time. He does not know what he has lost.

He walks alone. His path lit by the ghostly light of a sun no longer strong enough to shine light on the city upon which it once cast its golden hues. The city that once never slept.

He walks alone.

Forgotten. Never sleeping there is no need of awakening. He exists to walk the city alone. Sole witness of the moon’s daring take-over of the sun.

Sleep is a long forgotten pleasure. Awakening a forgotten dream.

He walks alone. Always.

___________________________________________________________________________

I have always enjoyed writing to prompts. It’s fun to see how others interpret the same prompt. How one image can stir different thoughts, feelings, emotions. This is the first story-prompt writing I’ve done in a long, long time. It feels like… coming home.

This prompt is from:  Myths of the Mirror. the prompt is Passover.  The photo is from:  natanvance on Pixabay

Powerful Changes: Becoming my creative expression

Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
Louise Gallagher
5 x 7″

The card is named, “Powerful Changes”.

I feel my body’s visceral response to the words. ‘Change? What change?’ my critter mind wails. “Enough already with the changes! Haven’t I done enough? ”

I want to know the changes, as if in the knowing, I can vet them, or at least measure them against my barometer of what is acceptable change. And what is not.

“When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
As we open our creative channel to the Creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.”

I am like the river flowing to the sea, my course defined by two parallel shores guiding me, channeling me.

My creative essence is not be channeled.

When I open my creative channel to the Creator, I drift quietly away from the need to be safely channeled by the shores of my being who I think I am in this world and the life I lead. Open to my creative channel, I release my expectations that my course is predictable, known, somehow able to be directed and determined by me.

In the absence of needing to direct or be held in by the bounds of what I deem the shores and boundaries of my life, I am free to explore where ever my creativity leads me.

I am free to be my creative essence. Open to powerful changes whether they enter gently or roar in like an arctic wind.

I want to control change. To harness it to my directions.

I cannot harness the wind. I cannot change the weather.

I surrender my need to control and give into my creative essence and its deep desire to be known simply as it is.

In that knowing, I am not bound by the shores of who I am. In that powerful change of how I see myself and my creativity, I am free to become all I am when I let go of being my creative expression and become the expression of my creative essence running wild and free.

Namaste.

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Free-fall writing from today’s The Artist’s Way Card by Julia Cameron —  Powerful Changes

Without thinking about it, as I wrote, my word for 2019 became clearer. “Surrender”  That is a powerful change from my thinking that I needed to consciously focus on my word for the year.