Category Archives: Art and creativity

Dancing with the muse

The finished front cover – “Grow only love in the garden of your heart.”

You know when you do something and think, “Well that turned out better than I expected!”?

That was my day yesterday.

The original notebook.

In preparation for the workshop I’m leading on Art Journalling at  Kensington Art Supply, November 19th, I am testing different ways of creating an art journal. Yesterday, I took an inexpensive scribbler and transformed it into the beginnings of an art journal.

The process includes gluing and taping together with masking tape every 3 pages so that they are stronger, masking taping the spines and creating a more sturdy cover. I’ll also gesso (a medium designed to strengthen the page’s ability to accept paint without soaking it up) all the 3-page layouts I’ve taped together as well as the cover so that we can begin to create and journal without spending time waiting for the paint to dry!

My process yesterday was all about painting the cover as I’d spent the evening before taping the pages together and affixing the heavier paper to make the cover.

Let’s just say, I’m pleased with the outcome – which is quite different than what my original ‘vision’ for the cover had been – and that’s the joy of art journaling. There’s really no destination other than where the muse, and your willingness to be open and present to the process, takes you.

Now my goal is to have several pages of the journal completed by the workshop so that I can use them as examples, and to have journals ready for the participants to begin painting. Each participant will be provided with a journal that is ready to paint — that means the cover and the first 3 page layouts.

For the workshop I will also have a journal example where rather than painting the cover, I’ll have glued paper to create the design. I’ll use papers I’ve already printed/painted and affix them to the cover – at least that’s my ‘vision’. We’ll see what happens when the muse and the creative process meet up on the cover page!

Art journalling is about the freedom to flow and be present to the moment. It’s about living the questions, not the answers or things you tell yourself you know.

Questions like, ‘I wonder what is calling within me to be expressed?’

What is the most brave thing I can do right now?

What am I not saying?

What if I give up thinking I know and allow myself the freedom to be present? 

Or, ‘I wonder what will happen if…?’

If I spread some teal over this pink paint and then use a stencil and babywipes to rub out some of the paint?

If I cover this area in gesso and let the images beneath peek out?

If I stop trying to make the page ‘look like something’ and just let it become what it is yearning to express?

Art journaling is all about expression, not perfection.

It’s about experience the freedom to create all over the page, not creating in a box.

And it’s about being present in the moment, letting what is appear without fearing what will happen if you just let go.

The muse and I danced together yesterday. I am grateful for every step of the dance we created together.

Namaste.

Sleeping Beauty Wake Up

“Sleeping Beauty:”  1899 – Henry Meynell Rheam
[Public Domain]
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henry_Meynell_Rheam_-_Sleeping_Beauty.jpg
I am sound asleep when my beloved’s alarm clock rings.

What? 7:50? How can that be?  I set my alarm for 7am! Why didn’t it go off?

Oh. Right. I put it for 7PM not am.

I scurry out of bed, throw on some clothes, take Beaumont for a quick walk (productive but, for him, not very satisfying), load him into the back of my SUV and drive to the Vets.

He leaps out of the vehicle. Prances into the Vets offices, greets the cat sitting on a chair by the door with a big tail wag and an attempt to lick which was not well received.

He, wisely, backs away.

Ten minutes later he is weighed in and I hand the leash over to the vet assistant.

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle is having surgery today to remove a lump on his backside. We believe it is just a fatty deposit but it’s been getting bigger and to be on the safe side, we’re having it removed. Two years ago he had a pre-cancerous one taken out and, while this lump is radically different, we’d rather not risk ‘the unknown’.

Life is filled with unknowns. One of the biggest being what Buddha called ‘the small death’ which we encounter every night when we go to sleep. We close our eyes with the assumption we will open them in the morning. Our faith usually pays off.

Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, wrote, “Those who are awake have a single and common world, but in sleep each person turns away from this and enters their own world.

There are nights when my sleep feels filled with dreams and messages. Some I remember. Some I don’t. And then there are those that linger, that repeat themselves in nights far apart, as if in their repetitive appearance, they are coaxing me to wake up and unravel some great secret about my life.

I am under the thrall of just such a dream. I remember its first appearance many years ago. At the time, I woke up from its occurrence and thought ‘what an interesting (aka disturbing) dream’.

It let it go, tucked it away in a secret compartment of my mind, and went back to sleep. It never really left me even though I thought placing it out of the light of day would save me from having to delve into its mystery.

Over the years it has revisited and each time I have tucked it away.

It has returned. Still as interesting (disturbing) and beguiling. Still as provocative.

This time, I am open to its entreaties and mysteries. This time, I’m allowing that dream to awaken the writer within as I delve into what my psyche is telling me the dream is revealing to me about my voice, women’s voices, the feminine journey and the reclaiming of our identities.

This time, I am not falling back to sleep.

Namaste.

 

 

Colour Me Excited

Last Saturday I christened my “Wild at Heart Studio” with six lovely women who came to explore, create, play and shine.

It was wonderful!

On November 19th, I am leading my first workshop @KensingtonArtSupply – a huge step for me – to offer an art workshop outside my own safe space! In this case, it is an art journalling workshop — Art Your Heart Out!  Colour me excited!

There was a time when I said I couldn’t paint. I had no artistic ability.

And then, I discovered how wrong I’d been about something I’d told myself all my life. (I was in my mid-forties when this revelation came to me!)

Hmmm…. I wondered. If I’m wrong about that, what other limiting beliefs am I holding that might be keeping me in place, stopping me from doing things outside my comfort zone?

Delving into artistic expression has been a life-giver. It has created space for me to explore my world in all its many colours, textures, shades and shadows. And, it’s enriched my life by giving me the inspiration to create opportunities for others to find their own creative expressions.

Years ago, when I first started working in the homeless-serving sector at a large adult homeless shelter, I started an art program. A church had donated funds for art-making that had sat unused for two years. I went out, bought some supplies and then invited clients of the shelter to join me on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons for creative play.

That program connected us in ways we could not imagine. It shone a spotlight on our humanity, our shared human condition and our capacity to create even in the face of abject poverty, sadness, loss. Providing space for others to delve into their creative core in the otherwise stark and soul-crushing world of homelessness was healing, affirming, possibility-filled.

That space was an opportunity for everyone to reconnect to that which homelessness crushes down — our humanity. Rather than being identified as the label “homeless”, both participants and those who volunteered in the studio, who came to our art shows and other productions were connected through the creative process to that which makes our world more caring, kind and beautiful — the creative expression of our human condition.

That program gave me a creative outlet and an opportunity to invite people to engage with individuals experiencing homelessness in more positive and supportive ways. It also taught me about my own human condition; its frailties, blind-spots, glory.

Just as back then when I started that art program I did not know where it would lead, (it resulted in some amazing other projects and creative expressions I could not have imagined if I hadn’t simply stayed present to the possibilities), I do not know where my creativity workshops will lead me. I do know, I’ll go nowhere different if I do nothing.

Yesterday, as I reorganized my studio and then spent time playing, I felt myself coming home to myself with all my being present to the beauty and wonder of the moment.

This morning, as I sit at my desk in my studio, looking out at the snow-covered grass, the bare branches of the trees lining the river, the sun shining on the waters flowing past, I feel myself connected to the amazing ordinary grace of this moment.

I breathe deeply into the wonder and awe, revel in the ordinary and extraordinary life that flows through me and say a prayer of gratitude.

Ah yes. This is life.

Beautiful. Joyful. Filled with awe and wonder, inexplicable moments of sadness and sorrow, breath-taking moments of radiance and light.

This is life.

How blessed I am to feel it flowing through me, connecting me to this world of limitless possibility.

Namaste

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Thank you JT, JD, JR, SC, WC and BB for creating such glorious magic in this space.

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As part of the workshop I created mini art journals for each participant and then demonstrated how they could create their own. As well, eveyone painted salt dough hearts I’d prepared and spent time just playing with ink, paint, water, paper and medium. What fun!

 

 

Let Me Taste Every Bite of Life

One of the things I am noticing about this ‘here-in-my-world not out-in-the-world workforce’ place is I am enjoying my kitchen more and more every day.

I have always loved to cook. I am intrigued by the opportunities to experiment when I dive into the process, the curiosity it ignites with its constant invitation to explore, ‘what would it taste like if I add…?’ or ‘what would happen if I do…. this….?’.

And then, when life got busy, really busy, I started spending less time in the kitchen. When every moment was determined by the extra minutes I could carve out from beneath the pile of to do’s that kept rising higher than the laundry waiting to be sorted on top of the dryer, cooking became a rote process. It took time and where was I supposed to find more of that?

In my newly embraced ‘here-in-my world not out-in-the-world workforce’ mode, I am spending more time thinking about food and the kitchen. I am pouring over recipes, checking Pinterest for ideas on what to do with this ingredient or that vegetable, dreaming up soups and sauces with the savoir-faire of a sous chef in a fine dining establishment (okay it’s more like at a ‘diner’ establishment and a sous/sous/sous chef but a woman can dream!)

And it’s been fun.

Cooking is a form of creativity for me. It is meditative. Relaxing. Soul-filling. And, having more time to spend delving into its mysteries and wonders is a gift — and one my beloved dearly appreciates as he is the beneficiary of my desire to keep creating in our beautiful kitchen!

Some lessons learnt savouring time in the kitchen include:

  1. Like life, cooking is an art form. It is best experienced with all your senses awakened and attuned to your environment and everything in it.
  2. Creating food is one part alchemy, one part science and the rest is all just pure love, joy and curiosity. Sprinkle liberally. Douse everything and everyone in love.
  3. Food is about all our senses. It not only has to taste, feel, look and smell good, it also needs to evoke an emotional response that ignites our gratitude, joy and aliveness.
  4. Cooking is all about being.  It’s not something you do. It’s something you experience by being immersed in the curiosity of its alchemy and magic, savouring each moment, tasting each morsel of energy created by the act of creating meals to nourish body, soul, spirit and wholeness.
  5. It’s fun to cook; alone or with someone(s) special. It’s always heart-filling to share your creations with another or more than one — remembering that it’s not about the food you’re creating or eating, it’s all about the community you’re building when you gather around a pot on the stove or around the table and share in a meal created with Love.

I am spending more time in the kitchen savouring the opportunity to create and imbue our home with my love of creation.

I am grateful. I am blessed. I am alive.

Radical Wholeness

The view from my room.

I left the house at 7:30am and by 7:50 was seriously considering turning back.

Snow covered the highway. There was low visibility in many areas. The driving was slow – except for the semis who seemed to be impervious to the winter driving conditions that blew in with the storm over-night.

I kept going, slowly. But I kept going.

I’m grateful I did. Travelling 30km below the speed limit felt safe, or at least as safe as I could feel in snowy, sometimes foggy conditions.

At least the wind wasn’t blowing and the highway was visible, especially if I kept behind another vehicle and could see its taillights.

An hour and 40 minutes later I arrived in Banff. At 10, the Radical Wholeness workshop with Philip Shepherd began and I was immersed in the science, exquisite mystery and beautiful practice of breathing with my whole body. It was a day to ground myself in the stillness within and to deepen my understanding of what it means to integrate energy and be accepting of what is.

What a blessing. What a gift.

I am always in awe of how learning something new can open me up to awareness of old patterns that do not serve me well. Today did not disappoint.

In Philip’s teaching of Radical Wholeness we are invited to breathe into the body and to be present to all life energy from the ‘Brain in the Belly’ versus our cultural bias to believe the brain in the head has all the answers and always knows best.

The Brain Belly yearns for felt relationships while the Head Brain knows relationships and measures all things against what it knows. Learning to move from the head into listening and being present from the belly is both art and science (and for me a whole lot of mystical experiences that opened me up to deep and refreshing presence.

It is powerful. Refreshing and so very calming.

I’m spending two days in Banff connecting to my body. It is a journey to live fully alive.

Feeling blessed.

Feeling grateful.

Feeling calm.

Saturday Morning. Light.

I sit at my desk beneath the glow of incandescent light cast upon my hands resting on the keyboard. The night is slowly retreating beyond the reach of the sun’s advances. The sky scans dark to light. The horizon stretches east to west, its vast expanse kissed pink and golden beneath a lone dark grey cloud hanging low.

The river flows unending, a silver ribbon of movement rushing eastward to greet the growing lightness of day dawning like a virginal bride blushing in her lover’s embrace.

Steam rises from my coffee mug. I wrap my hands around the warm pottery, tracing the shape of a heart etched into its surface. The scent of cinnamon fills my nostrils.

And I remember you. Long ago. You were like cinnamon on buttered toast. Sweet, scented memories drift through my mind, reminding me of how you were the question mark I could never straighten out. The exclamation I never dared to live up to.

I breathe deeply into memory stirring at the edge of night. Softly, lovingly I relinquish its hold on the landscape of my mind. Deftly, the rising sun erases the punctuation marks held fast in the imprints of your touch in nights long past. Memory falls as gently as the autumn leaves scattered on the ground outside my window.

Breathing deeply into the growing light, I fall with grace into the sights and scents of this Saturday morning opening  vividly into day.

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This post was inspired by the Saturday Morning offerings David Kanigan shared on his blog, “Saturday Morning” and this gem, “Riding Metro North. Stones, truths and time.”

Thank you David for the inspiration. I love when one sentence or image or words I read somewhere else, inspires me to write just for the sake of writing. Just for the fun of it.

 

Surrender to Love

Surrender to Love
Mixed media on canvas paper
11 x 14″
©2019 Louise Gallagher

The snow came. The snow left. Autumn returns, its trees a little barer, its splendor a little less vibrant. Snow riddled clouds have disappeared, the days are warmer again and winter has retreat beyond the distant horizon.

I feel content.

We had guests this week. Delightful visitors from eastern Canada where summer weather has descended the land, pushing even autumn’s hues off the calendar. For now.

And that’s the thing. Weather comes. Weather goes.

The seasons keep changing with the turning of the earth as it spins its story around the sun.

I feel joyful.

My beloved fights a cough. I am determined not to catch it. I pound back Vitamin C and other holistic remedies in an attempt to thwart off any germs that want to take hold. Thus far, I’m winning.

And that’s the thing. Germs come. Germs go.

The seasons keep changing with the turning of the earth as it spins its story around the sun.

And I feel grateful.

I sit at my desk in the soft morning light watching the sun gently kiss the sky good morning with its rosy pink hues. Cars travel across the bridge towards the city center. The river flows constantly eastward. A squirrel leaps from one tree branch to the next, hop-scotching through the forest lining the river. I watch his passage, delighting in his journey.

A leaf surrenders its hold and falls silently to the still green grass below. Piano music plays softly in the background.

And I feel at peace.

The seasons keep changing with the turning of the earth as it spins its story around the sun.

A new day is dawning. Filled with sights, smells, sounds and delights.

And I surrender to its possibilities.  I surrender to Love.