Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


8 Comments

The creative process is a constant journey through trial and error, experimentation and hope.

On the weekend, I began working on a couple of paintings loosely based on my #ShePersisted series. For most of the paintings in the series, I drew a figure that became a stencil, or the actual figure I collaged into the painting after printing onto coloured paper.Which means, I’ve got a bunch of stencils and cut-outs I can use to create new paintings with.

I am not yet ready to sell any of the paintings in the series. I’ve created 40 different paintings with quotes and want to create 52 before I do anything with it.

And that’s where the experimentation comes in. I decided to start creating using the stencils and cutouts and see where it took me.

What happened was fascinating.

With a ‘destination/purpose’ in mind, I was not as loose nor fearless as I like to be when I create. I was too conscious of the outcome. In fact, while I didn’t take a photograph of the original background for this painting, I was so attached to that background, I worked carefully, not fearlessly. In that space, my curiosity took a back seat to my desire to ‘create an outcome’.

And I felt frustrated. Dissatisfied. Unfulfilled in the process.

Creative endeavour is a journey through discovery.

What happens when…

What if I…

I wonder what…

Painting with an outcome in mind limits my freedom to be ‘in the process’. Attached to the outcome, I think, rather than feel, my way through.

The results showed.

The first iteration of this painting, once I applied the same figure who is in the final to it was not satisfying. Though there was a point where I gave a big ‘oof’, which is my sigh of contentment when something goes just right in the process, I moved beyond that moment and muddied up the colours, over rode the symmetry and was too careful in my application of everything!

The final painting pleases me more — though I am thinking of going back in to now bring out some of the flowers…

But, we shall see.

For me, the secret is to let the painting sit for a few days so I can feel my way back into what is calling out to be revealed, or not.

I often begin my paintings with meditation. From that space, words often appear. I like to write them onto the canvas. I use them to inspire me to ‘stay loose’ and to inform whatever is calling out to be revealed.

Underneath this image is written:

A flower doesn’t think about what it is going to grow up to be. A flower just grows into itself.

We can learn a lot from flowers. How to bloom in full colour. How to grow where planted to be who we are and not spend endless time trying to become someone we’re not.

If you look really closely at the first photo of the words painted on, you can see the image of the ballerina — upside down.

As always in life, it’s all in our perspective.

If you don’t like what you’re seeing, change your glasses, change your position, turn things upside down.

Namaste.

______________

I am creating these paintings for an art show & sale I’m in —

South Calgary Art Show & Sale

Friday, May 12 — 2 – 9pm

Saturday, May 13 — 10 – 5pm

Marda Loop Community Centre,   3130 16th St. SW


6 Comments

The #ShePersisted Series

When I began the #ShePersisted series I thought that I would create 12 images and quotes for the series, and that would be that.

Ideas continue to flow. The muse persists.

I am grateful.

The muse and I have a love/hate relationship. She loves me 100% of the time, I am not so loyal. In fact, I like to tell myself, I don’t need her. Or, in my willful disregard of her presence, I like to believe she has deserted me.

It is my victim’s voice. That monkey mind chattering place where I tell myself all sorts of things to justify why/how/what isn’t happening in my life, isn’t my fault/responsibility/accountability.

I cannot control 100% of what appears on my path. I can choose to be 100% accountable for what I choose to do with what appears.

This morning, the muse awakened me with her insistence I pay heed.

I decided to get 100% accountable and take her lead.

The thoughts that awoke me were about my youngest daughter’s ballet point shoes that still hang from the corner of the armoire in my art storage room downstairs.

They are pink. Scuffed. Well worn.

I remember the first time she danced ‘en pointe’. She was so excited, in spite of the pain.

She continued to persist, to push herself to dance ‘en pointe’ because it was so beautiful, so seemingly effortless when done well.

It was never effortless. And it always hurt.

In her teens, her feet were a mess.

I am grateful today for her wisdom to stop doing it.

I didn’t want to interfere. I didn’t want to take a stand against doing something she obviously loved, even though it caused her pain.

Life’s like that. We do things, in spite of the pain, telling ourselves we have no choice. To be a ballerina, you must dance ‘en pointe’.

To be a woman, you must wear clothes, shoes, outfits that squeeze, reveal, bunch, crunch and push up places that don’t need pushing up and scrunching in. Not to please ourselves, but rather, because we believe it is important to please others.

I like my daughters point shoes hanging in my art storage room.

They are a good reminder to stop doing things to please others, even though it hurts me.

Namaste.

May your day be filled with ease of heart, mind, and body. May you have the wisdom to stop doing things to please others if doing them hurts you.

_______

The #ShePersisted series can be viewed on my website.


8 Comments

Dance like no one is watching.

Once there was a little girl who loved to dance. She leapt and spun and twirled about and no matter where she went, people stopped to watch and admire and say how cute she was.

As she grew older she kept on dancing and people kept on watching and admiring.

Until one day, when she was much older, someone in the crowd who was watching yelled out, “You oughta be ashamed of yourself. You’re acting like an old fool.”

The comment from an unidentified stranger surprised her. She stopped, mid leap, lost her footing, stumbled and fell to the ground.

As she lay on the ground rubbing her ankle, the crowd starting mumbling. “Fool! What an exhibitionist,” they muttered amongst themselves. “Can’t she see she’s too old to be dancing?”

“These are serious times,” they whispered as they moved away. “We’ve got no time for such foolishness.”

The girl, who was a much older woman now, lay on the ground, nursing her bruised ankle. She was surprised by the crowd’s response to her fall.

As she struggled to get up, a little girl came to her side, held out her hand and helped her stand up. “Are you hurt?” she asked.

The woman laughed. “No. I just have to catch my breath so I can start dancing again.”

“Doesn’t it bother you what they said?” the little girl asked. “They sounded so mean.”

The woman chuckled as she checked out her body to make sure nothing was broken. “Tell you the truth, I hadn’t noticed anyone was watching me dance.”

Just then, someone threw a rotten tomato at the woman and screamed, “Stupid old woman! Go home!”

The woman ducked quickly and shielded the little girl with her body. The tomato landed far enough away, she didn’t even feel its splatter.

“That was so mean,” the little girl squealed.

The woman knelt down in front of the little girl, gripped her hands in hers and looked into her eyes. “Sometimes, we fear what we don’t know or understand,” the woman told the little girl. “All those people are scared because they don’t remember the pure joy of dancing. Some of them probably never even knew it. So, they’re afraid.”

“But they shouldn’t throw rotten tomatoes!” the little girl insisted.

“That’s true,” the woman agreed. “But when we don’t know better, we can’t do better. Most of those people don’t know that taking life so seriously is making life harder to live.”

“If I dance, will my life be better?” the little girl asked.

“Only you know what’s true for you,” the woman told her. “The secret is, to live your truth and let everyone around you lives theirs in harmony and joy. I know that dancing won’t fix all the woes of the world, but it sure helps me get through each day loving my life and the world around me.”

“Will you keep on dancing if no one’s watching?” the little girl asked her.

The woman threw back her head, laughed out loud and took a little leap of joy. “Of course! Dancing is what I love to do!”

“Oh goodie!” said the little girl clapping her hands in delight. “I want to dance too! Will you teach me?”

And the woman rose up and taught the little girl to dance and together they spun about and twirled and leapt for the pure joy of dancing like no one was watching.

#ShePersisted

______________

I am always so enthralled and fascinated with the creative process. When I went to bed last night, I had completed the painting, but did not know what the quote would be — or the story. I had started the evening with a vision for a different quote. The muse had another story in store for me! And that’s what is so fascinating about giving into the flow of creative expression – I never know what will appear. How fascinating!

 


4 Comments

What happens when you cross the line?

Crossing the Line
#28 #ShePersisted
11″ x 14″ Acrylic on acrylic paper
©2017 Louise Gallagher

When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.  Pablo Picasso

Each painting in the #ShePersisted series, has a story to it. Sometimes, I know the story before I begin to create. Sometimes, the story appears in the creation of each piece. In Crossing the Line, I remembered a piece I’d written several years ago on my old blog, Recover Your Joy.  And I smile — I always knew my answer. It was inside of me waiting for me to create it into existence.

When I was a child, my sister and I spent hours re-enacting scenes from our favourite movies. Gone with the Wind. The Parent Trap. We knew all the characters, all the parts and we each had our favourites.

It didn’t matter that our stage was a stretch of lawn or that Tara was a sheet draped over a tree or that we each had to play three or four different parts, differentiating the characters only through our voices as we didn’t have time to change wardrobe —  we didn’t really have any wardrobe to change into anyway. This was a low budget reproduction — very creative, just not very accurate.

But none of that mattered. What mattered most was that we spent the time together. Laughing. Sharing. Creating.

When I was a child, I liked to draw. To sing and dance and to play piano. I liked to write and make up stories. To play dolls and the now politically incorrect, “Cowboys and Indians”.

It didn’t matter to me what the game or activity. What mattered most was that I was being creative. Expressing myself through arts of all nature.

And then, I grew up.

I still liked to write. To create. To make something out of nothing.

But the tone was different. There was something lacking in my creation.

I kept thinking it needed ‘A Purpose.

To create for creation’s sake just didn’t seem to be viable, make sense, have meaning. If I was painting, there needed to be a reason. If I was writing, there needed to be an audience. And, if I was dancing, there needed to be ‘the right steps’.

I’ve grown beyond those ‘grown-up’ days of believing I need ‘A Purpose’ to my art. I’ve grown beyond thinking there are right steps, wrong moves, perfect brushstrokes or perfectly turned phrases.

I’ve grown into being me. Creatively. Expressively. Passionately.

Today, I know that at my core I am a creative being. That life is an act of creation.

Today, I express myself in ways that fulfill on my belief, and need, to create beauty in the world around me.

Today, I let go of the right steps and move with grace and ease into being each step I take to create beauty in the world around me.

There’s freedom in each movement. Freedom in being my creative self.

And, there’s joy in knowing every breath I take is an act of creation. Every step I take is an expression of the beauty I want to create in the world.

When I was a child, I believed colouring inside the lines would keep me safe. Now I know, when I lean over the edge of what I believe I know and explore the all of what I cannot see, I am free.


8 Comments

Honouring times of fallow

 

No 25. #ShePersisted
Winds of Change
Mixed Media on art paper

My friend Kerry Parsons recently gifted me a set of “Soulful Woman Guidance Cards.”

It is no accident the card I pulled today is called Time of Fallow — Creative manifestation occurs more easily when I have nurtured myself and honoured my time of fallow.

Nature understands the meaning of honouring its time of fallow. Spring fields produce healthier bounty when they have had a time of fallow.

I have been considering this blank page for a while this morning. Wondering what do I feel calling within, yearning to come out.

And the muse quietly rests, calling me to honour my creative urgings through a time of fallow.

I have been so consumed by the creation of the #ShePersisted series, I feel my creative energies calling out for a rest, a respite, a reprieve.

Life is ebb and flow. We breathe in. We breathe out. We step forward. We step back. We repeat.

On another level, my immersion into the #ShePersisted series is an honouring of my time of fallow.

It has given me space to gently and effortlessly explore my desire to stand up and step up to be heard. To clarify my voice, my gift, my offerings to the world.

It has given me beautiful guidance on what I want to do to create a world of difference.

If I change my glasses, shift my lens, I can see this time of creating the #ShePersisted series as my journey into my soul where I delve into exploration of our human condition through wonder and awe for all we do collectively to create war and peace, discord and harmony, walls and bridges, abuse and comfort, deception and truth, hatred and love.

As the images and words for this series have flowed, and continue to flow (I’ve still got a list of over 10 quotes that have popped into my head at random times), I have been enthralled by the experience of giving into the creative process, fearfully and fearlessly, haltingly and effortlessly.

It is the yin/yang of creativity.

To be afraid of a blank page. To dive hopefully into the open space calling itself into being.

And in that realization, I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude. Joy. Knowing.

There are no blank pages. Just beautiful wide open spaces calling out to me to breathe into my creative essence and with every exhale, blow away my fear of being the change I want to see in the world.

Namaste.

 

To view the whole #ShePersisted series, please visit my website.

 

 


2 Comments

I surrender

I have an early morning meeting today.

Had two events last night.

Busy. Busy.

Yet, no matter how busy, the invitation is always there to co-create with the muse, the universe, life.

My dear friend Sheila K. sent me the MEME above. It’s inspiration, and her creative spark, will lead to another piece in the #ShePersisted series. “They said calm down. She created winds of change.”

Yesterday, at an International Women’s Day Luncheon sponsored by BDP, I listened to Elisabeth Manley speak about her journey through mental health issues to the Olympic medal podium. Her words inspired another piece for the series. “They said there’s nothing you can do to change it. She did what they said couldn’t be done.”

The universe is filled with invitations to co-create. To fall into the flow and let yourself be carried away by life’s juicy creativeness.

As I am leaning into co-creating the #ShePersisted series with the muse, giving into the flow means surrendering to life’s urgings to express my creative essence, fearlessly, honestly and freely.

I surrender.

 


9 Comments

I have tolerated bad behaviour. It’s time to change. #BeBoldforChange

I have tolerated a lot of bad behaviour in my life.

I have had men hit on me with the promise to support my career if I slept with them.

I have had men offer money for sex, because I was standing in a hotel lobby by myself or walking down the street at night.

I have had men ask me to take notes at a meeting, not because that was my role, but because I was a woman.

I have had men ask me to grab them a coffee, again, not because that was my job, but because I was a woman.

And, I have had men tell me crude jokes, or make suggestive comments on the phone, confident they will not be corrected, abraded, or called out.

Sure, it may seem small potatoes in the big picture of the pressing dangers women face all over the world, everyday. Rape, war, violence against women and  female genitalia disfiguration and so many other inhumane practices that do not serve our humanity well.

But, gender based biases where I allow bad behaviour to be the norm, or laugh them off with a wave of my prettily manicured hand and shrug as if to say, “Oh well. Boys will be boys,” does not change anything.

Boys will be boys and they deserve so much more than being the target of women’s ire and disdain.

Thank you Ghandi. We need to BE the change we want to see in the world.

Change depends on our doing the small things and the big things.

Change depends on our not tolerating the innuendoes and the sexual assaults.

Change needs us to speak up in the face of discriminatory practices and to yell out, loud and strong, when faced with attacks on our sex, gender preferences, race and faith.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is:  Be Bold for Change!

My #ShePersisted painting for this day is about being brash, loud and bold.

It’s about wearing whatever we want, without fearing reprisal.

It’s about speaking up, without fearing being shut down.

It’s about being bold, without fearing being emblazoned with labels that denigrate our femininity, sexuality and humanity.

Let’s each of us, men and women, rise up in support of our sisters (and brothers too) for whom real life dangers continue to threaten their rights and lives, everyday.

And let’s each of us, men and women, do the small things today that create positive change in our lives, everyday, for everyone.

Let’s stop tolerating bad behaviours. Let’s start doing the right things for one another.