It was just… one of those…

Drives. Yup. Just one of those drives that took way longer than anticipated. Even the lady in my navigation system who talks me into going places I’ve never been before didn’t know where we were going. She was so lost she led me down a road and told me to turn right when I reached the main highway — except, the road she led me down no longer has access to the main highway.

The south west quadrant of our city is under major road construction as they complete the last leg of the ringroad — which means…. directions, road access, signage… it’s all iffy! When I finally got to the highway (after many unnecessary extra kilometers) she still didn’t like the direction I was going and insisted I pull a ‘legal U-turn. Except, I was on the right highway, going in the right direction to get to Vale’s Greenhouse in Black Diamond, the site of the art show where my art is on display for sale this weekend.

I write it as ‘my art on display for sale’ as one of the things I mis-read in the instructions letter Vale’s had sent was the fact that artists are not actually in attendance at the show.

Due to Covid — capacity limits on the number of people in attendance are too low if all the artists are onsite. So… the show is on display, without artists.

I didn’t realize/connect to that reality until I was leaving after spending the day setting up. When the manager of the Greenhouse asked if I was not selling the three paintings I was taking back to my car, I said, “I don’t have enough room for them so thought I’d just leave them in the car and bring them in when space permits over the weekend.”

That’s when I realized my misconception.

It’s the same way they ran the show last year – and it went well so I’m not worried. Just a tad disappointed as it really is fun to be onsite and chat with people as they wander through the art.

Lady in Red – mixed media on canvas board, 11 x 14″

There was a woman yesterday who insisted she was coming back on Friday to buy my Lady in Red painting. And, several people did take poems from my Poetry in a Basket display — so I’m pretty pumped!

And, I have to say this — the show is absolutely gorgeous! I was too tired at the end of the day to do a slow walk around the greenhouses and plan on doing so tomorrow when I go back as a ‘customer’ – I also wanted to pick up some plants so it’s quite legit!

There are some incredible artists in the show and seeing all the work amidst the greenery and flowers is stunning.

And none of it matters. The getting lost. The tiredness. The did I forget anything worries nor the oh dear… I misread the directions angst.

In the end, my little greenhouse corner looks great and I have done something I’ve wanted to do — be part of the Vale’s Greenhouse Cultivation of Art Show and Sale. Yipppeee!!!

And here is a little video of my corner of the greenhouse.

Before time…

Before Time– Mixed Media on Canvas – 30 x 24″

Most of the pieces I’ve been working on for he art show next week are relative small — 12 x 12″, 11 x 14″ and smaller.

As I was looking through my stash of old canvases I found one I decided I wanted to paint over. It’s 30 x 24″ so a big ‘jump’ from what I’ve been working on.

I had a vision in my head of what I’d create. The original canvas was extremely textured and layers, lots of collaged in pieces along with ridges made with different papers. I layered on a bunch of white paint, letting areas show through and once dried, used alcohol and baby wipes to lighten up some of the thicker painted.

And that’s when the magic happened.

Originally, my vision was to create big splashes of colourful flowers. Somewhat impressionistic/abstract. And then, the muse whispered… before time, there was only limitless space.

Hmmm…. and suddenly, the flowers became the sun and moon and earth and all the planets…

I’m not done yet. Lying in the bath this morning after returning from my early morning walk with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, I closed my eyes and felt the warm sunshine on my face. I listened to the river flowing and the trees standing silent with no breath of breeze brushing through their limbs. In the sacred nature of the silence, the rest of the ‘quote’ wrote itself out.

And now… I’m off to work on the painting…

Have a beautiful, glorious day. May it be full of warmth, joy and above all, Love.

Namaste

How to Beat Back Fear

Grow Wild – mixed media on canvas, 12 x 12″

Every time I sit at my studio table, stare at a blank canvas or page in an art journal, I feel the dark, dank tendrils of fear slithering up my spine. They scurry throughout the dendrites of my brain, plump with their insidiously sour whisperings about why I must stop. Now. Before I prove my worst fear true: I am inadequate to the task.

And every time I put paint brush to canvas or word to print or complete any task I set out to do fearing I can’t, I beat back fear.

Painting has taught me, I must feel the fear. See. it. Acknowledge it even. And then, I must transform it through taking action.

It doesn’t matter if the action leads to a ‘masterpiece’. What matters is, I stepped into the fray, faced my fears and forged on.

Creativity is the art of facing fear down with action. Action that takes you into the very territory fear is trying to keep you out of. Your fear of facing your magnificence, your beautiful self expression of your soul’s calling to be witness to all of life. Your fear of moving beyond your comfort zone. Of facing your fears, and the world. Your way. Wild and Free.

Perhaps, that’s what makes one person dive into their creativity while another will insist they don’t have any – the willingness to face fear again and again and again and still keep going.

Perhaps, it is our definition of ‘creativity’ that needs to expand so that we can all see how inherently creative it is to be human.

I have a friend who constantly says she is not creative, even though she is a marvelous cook, seamstress, friend. One of the things she does that always strikes me as an expression of her creative nature is to make beautiful meals for friends in moments of distress. She artfully packages each meal up with flowers and a beautifully penned note of support and delivers them to her friends in need. Yet, when I point out this is another viewpoint of creative expression, she brushes off my assertions with a, “That’s not very creative. It’s just what friends do.”

“Don’t you worry about intruding on their grief or pain?” I ask. (I have a fear of intruding when people are in moments of distress.)

“Sometimes,” she replies. “But I also know how much comfort someone feels when a friend turns up at their door with a gift of food and flowers when the last thing they can think about is what to make for dinner. So I do it anyway.”

See. Facing fear with action to create beauty, comfort, and ease in the world around you.

Yesterday, a friend picked up one of my paintings he’d purchased. One of his comments touched me deeply. “I love your art,” he said. “It’s so peaceful.” (Thank you BC)

I have never thought of my work as ‘peaceful’. Yet, when he said it, I felt the peace that consumes me when I face my fear of the blank canvas and lay down swathes of color and texture. Perhaps, that is what my friend sees and feels – the peace and joy within me, expressing itself outward onto the canvas.

The great Russian abstract painter, Vassily Kandinsky said, “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.”

I paint with color. It is an expression of my soul. It soothes my mind, my body, my being present.

It calms my fears and, even though I hadn’t realized it before, it stirs my courage awake. Awakened, I beat back fear. Not with angry words and protestations against its presence. But with the most loving, kind thing I can do for myself. Get creating.

And while I often don’t know where I’m going with a painting until I get there, the fastest route to get beyond my fear to find out where I’m going, is to let the colors lead my body into self-expression.

So thank you BC. Not just for your friendship and support of my work, but for your words. They touched me deeply and bring me great joy. And have given me a window into my own self-expression I hadn’t opened before. Much gratitude.

Namaste

Why I Dance!

Why I Dance – mixed media on canvas board. 11 x 14″

Years ago, as a gift for my daughters, I painted two paintings on the theme of dancing.

Yesterday, I wrote a poem entitled, Why I Dance.

I knew that somewhere I had a photo of the painting I’d created for my eldest daughter and went in search of it. I thought it might make a good accompaniment for my poem.

I found the painting, (believe me I was surprised!) but… I wasn’t all that pleased with the work. At the time, it was good. I had only been painting for a couple of years and it was a reflection of my nascent skills and talent.

But, (and yes, there’s always a ‘but’) I had totally forgotten about the ‘when’ of my beginning to paint until I started working on a new piece to go with my poem.

I started painting in the throes of a relationship that almost killed me. I had mostly quit writing. Writing is about truth for me and the truth around that relationship was enshrouded in so much pain and fear and terror I could not, would not, didn’t dare express it.

On that first day when I picked up a paintbrush, I found a way to express myself through creating beauty to block out the pain and fear I lived within every moment of every day.

As I look back on the gifts that painting has brought me, I am humbled by its power to transform fear into faith, pain into perseverance, horror into hope.

My eldest daughter taught me how to paint.

My daughters teach me how to love, the darkness and the light, within and all around me.

Writing teaches me every day how to walk in truth.

Painting awakens me, every day, to the beauty, within and all around me.

And here’s the thing about writing. This post is not at all what I had thought it would be about when I started typing this morning.

And then, the words appeared and as is the way, they just kept flowing as I flowed with them.

I’d type more but… Beaumont the Sheepadoodle is sitting by my desk, staring at me with that looks he gets when he feels I have been sitting here too long. “It’s time to get out into nature,” he says with his emploring eyes.

And I believe him and am off to dance with nature.

Why I Dance 
by Louise Gallagher  

There is no rhyme 
or reason 
to why 
I dance 

there is only  
the beat 
pounding 
pulsing 
pushing 
my body 
to move 
cavort 
contort 
into expressive release 
of the energy 
coursing 
through my veins 
limbs extended 
reaching out 
as if in that one  
fluid motion  
I can grab on 
to nothing 
but air 
and fly 
as high as the sky 
free 
of all earth 
bound need  
to be tied 
down.  
There is no rhyme  
or reason 
to why I 
dance. 
 
There is only  
the desire 
to fly 
free. 
This is the painting I created in 2003, the year I was released from that relationship.

Unfurling

I awoke with the first stanza of this poem drifting through my mind.

When I wrote it down, the second stanza wrote itself out as if it knew its truth long before I heard the words calling.

When I went in search of an image to include with it, the image above was the first image I opened on my computer. It is from the Sheltered Wonder art journal Icreated last year to mark all I’d learned, experienced and grown through during the initial months of our sequestered solitude.

The body knows even when the mind doubts.

Yesterday, in response to a comment by the lovely and thoughtful Kiki, I told her I wished I’d taken a video of the raw journal. And then… while I was looking for something else, I accidentally uncovered the 19 sec video I’d taken of my Learning to Fly art journal before I started to create the images and quotes.

The body knows even when the mind doubts (or as in this case, forgets).

Since completing the LtF journal, I have been working on pieces for the Vale’s Greenhouse, Cultivation of Art Show and Sale I’m in June 18, 19, 20.

Initially, I was hesitant. Worried. Fearful of moving from art journal to canvas.

I love the freedom of the art journal. There is no right or wrong way. There are no rules. Anything goes.

The Canvas… well there my mind starts to impose rules. It has to be ‘good’. Sale-worthy. Meaningful. Impressive…

I balked. Stalled. Procrastinated.

And then I listened to my body. I sank out of my thinking mind into the font of knowing deep within my belly.

Just start, my body whispered. Just start and let whatever is yearning to appear find its way into expression.

And so I did.

And so it has.

And I am reminded again, the body knows even when the mind doubts.

Blossoming – mixed media on canvas board – 10 x 10″
Nurture your dreams – mixed media on canvas board – 10 x 10″

Leafing Out – Lessons from the canvas

Leafing Out — Mixed media on canvas – 10 x 10″

I find some transitions hard.

Like going from autumn to winter. Here in Alberta it can happen in less than a day, just as spring can pop out and then be burdened again with snow. Some days, like this morning when Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I went for our walk, I’m not prepared for the sudden leap backwards from 22C (72F) yesterday to 3C (37F) this morning – my hands were really cold!

Another transition I find challenging is moving from working in my art journal to a canvas. My mind starts chattering about how ‘There are rules when painting on a canvas.” “A canvas can’t be wasted.” “Make it good.” “Don’t mess up.” “This isn’t as much fun…’

Which is what happened when I went back to working on a painting I’d begun a couple of weeks ago in preparation for an art show I’m in next month.

The under-painting

I had an idea of what it ‘should’ be. Big pops of colourful flowers on the background of smaller flowers I’d already painted.

I worked hard to make my vision come into reality.

But it just wasn’t happening. I felt stiff. Confined. Like it was all just turning to muck and mud.

I took a breath. Stepped back. Made myself a cup of tea and contemplated what was going on.

It wasn’t that the painting was awful. It was that my mindset was full of ‘stinkin thinkin’.

I was getting caught up in my expectations of how it should be, versus allowing whatever was seeking to appear to find its way into expression.

I wasn’t letting it be. I was trying to make it become…

And that’s why I was feeling so frustrated and uncomfortable. That’s why the critter was prattling on about how I couldn’t paint. How I wasn’t good enough. How my art sucked.

To find my inner knowing/intuitive self, I had to shut off my thinking mind and get into my ‘belly brain’. I needed to allow myself to sink deep into my body so that I could be present with the process instead of trying to force it into what I was trying to make it become.

It was a great lesson.

Getting stuck in your head. Dousing yourself in self-judgement. Self-criticism. Self-harshness and a desire to control the outcome all play a role in limiting joy, self-expression, creativity and passion.

To live life fully I must release myself from expectations. I must let go of the outcome to fall deeply into the process of being alive in this moment. Right now. Unfolding in all its ineffable mystery.

When I hold on too tightly to the outcome, I lose sight of where I am, what I’m doing, how I’m being in this moment right now.

I’m pretty sure spring leaves don’t tell the tree, I’ll only leaf out if I can be 3 inches long, two inches wide and a certain green hue. And they definitely don’t say, “Oh. And I’ll only unfurl if you promise to not make me turn orange and fall later in the season.” They leaf out fully immersed in the journey of leafing out.

To be fully immersed in my life, I must release my need to control the journey and throw myself with wild abandon into each moment unfurling in the deep unfathomable mystery of life.

Namaste

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A Most Glorious Adventure

Click the Spotify link below to hear the short story in this post

or CLICK HERE to listen

final page and insert in the “Learning to Fly” art journal I’ve been working in.

I have been MIA from social media for a few days. Though, for me, ‘MIA isn’t – missing in action’. It refers to ‘Mesmerized in Art-making’.

I have been creating and, when I get so immersed I lose sight of the world around me, of all that is happening as I dive deep into creative exploration.

Yesterday, I completed the final pages of the Learning to Fly art journal I’ve been working on for the past few weeks.

This morning, I’ve come up for air, but not for long, I’ve an art show to get ready for in June and another project I’ve started to work on that has a deadline I can’t miss and a host of small tasks to complete.

Life is full and wonderful!

___________________________

About this artwork:

As I sat down to work on this page, I wrote out a little story that had popped into my mind and was calling to be released. It guided the page’s creation.

“Standing at the river’s edge she cast her dreams out into its rushing waters. And the river caught her dreams and carried them out to a distant sea where mermaids sang and dolphins leaped and stars were born in the skies above.

As she stood watching her dreams float away, she heard the mermaids’ sweet song and built a boat of wishes strung together with her hopes untied from her fears. Holding onto nothing but her desire to catch her dreams, she set sail to find the distant sea she’d always dreamt of.

And then, one day, while she was sailing to the murmur of the mermaids chanting, surrounded by leaping dolphins and falling stars cascading into the waters all around, she heard the calling of her wings unfolding.

Joyfully, she cast aside all her doubts and leapt into the unknown, light as air, radiant as a moonbeam.

And in that moment, she flew high and fell in love with her dreams soaring all around as life unfolded in the mystery and magic of her dreams coming true.

“What a most glorious adventure,” she called out to the sun and the moon and the stars and the sea. And the mermaids sang and the dolphins danced and stars shimmered in the depths above and below her.

And so… the story begins…

_________________________________

The story was freefall writing that simply appeared on the page, the consonants and vowels pouring out the tip of my pencil.

I felt immersed in the magic and mystery of dancing with the muse, untethered from the need to ‘get it right’, perfect, ‘just so’.

What a gift of nature!

___________________

My art table when I began in the morning…

The photos below are the final spreads from the journal –

Brave Beauty

Brave Beauty

Late spring snow
melts
velvet purple petals
preen
eager green grasses
shoot
out of winter moist soil

And the seasons turn
and the sun shines
warm
and Mother Nature
dances
as my heart
expands
to embrace
brave beauty
budding
up
out of the ground.

As I sit at my desk this morning I watch two robins chase each other through the trees. An opportunistic squirrel, taking advantage of what I assume to be their amorous intentions, raids the birdfeeder while chickadees hop along the fence, tweeting and twittering. I think they’re telling the squirrel to get lost.

A man in an inflatable raft drifts into view on the river. He drifts with the current, a fishing line trailing behind him as he uses one oar to gently guide him along. He passes in front of my window, under the bridge and out of sight. I imagine him full of hope.

And the trees stand still. Yesterday’s breezes gone. Buds are appearing along their branches, tiny shoots of hope leafing out in possibility.

High above, the blue sky is dotted with islands of fluffy white clouds that lay seemingly motionless, like a warm woolly blanket covering the earth below.

And I awaken.

There is much to be done today. I am in spring cleaning mode.

The deck. The storage area in the back of our basement. Both done.

Today, after my prerequisite morning walk with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, I tackle the granddaddy of all cleaning chores. The garage. There are closets and cupboards that also need my ministrations but they can wait for a rainy day. The weather folk have promised a warm, almost hot for this time of year in this northern clime, day. It’s a good day to clean the garage.

Later, after I’ve soaked off the dust and grime from the garage in a leisurely bath, I shall venture into my studio and keep working on pieces for an art show I’m in this June.

I have a lot to do. My body of ‘saleable’ work not yet big enough.

I used to joke that you could always tell when I was writing. My toilet was sparkling!

It was my avoidance tactic.

And I wonder…

Is cleaning out the garage (or scrubbing the toilet for that matter) avoidance or preparation?

I’m choosing to reframe it as ‘brave preparation’.

Creative expression requires presence.

Presence requires full embodiment in the moment.

Embodiment calls for ridding my thinking mind of clutter.

So… I clean and clear and declutter.

It is a brave thing to do.

To create I must dare to release myself from thinking mind directives and allow myself to flow, unguided, along the river of creativity that courses through my veins and the air around me. I must allow myself to be carried on the current, like the fisherman in his raft. Trolling for nothing but a little nibble of an idea to seed itself in the fertile soils of my imagination.

I am cleaning out the garage this morning.

I am stepping into the beauty of brave creativity.

What The Moon Did.

When I am talking with my 10-month old granddaughter I like to pretend her baby-talk is really a conversation we’re having about… well… who knows what? Neither of us really do, but I love to pretend that she is telling me some outlandish, totally engaging story and will answer with nursery rhymes. As in, “What? You saw the cow jump over the moon? Oh my goodness. What did the moon do?” And when she replies with some indecipherable sounds, I respond. “Oh. Really? And then you heard the little dog laugh? Oh my. What did his dish do?”

As I worked on my ‘moonstruck’ spread in my Learning to Fly art journal yesterday, memories of my recent two weeks with my grandchildren kept floating through my body. My mind savoured each morsel, my hands remembered the touch of their skin, my olfactory nerves their sweet just-out-of-the-bath smell. My fingers traced the line of their chin and felt their tiny hands touching mine while my eyes savoured the memory of their beautiful faces smiling at me.

And I painted and splashed paint and drew stars and a moon as the magic and mystery of memory envelopped me.

it was one of those sublimely calming and delightful afternoons where news of still rising case counts and possible harsher restrictions faded away beneath the sounds of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and one of my new favourites which continually urges me stand up and dance around my studio, Sam Ryder’s “Tiny Riot“.

If butterflies can use their wings to turn the wind to hurricanes 
You and I can break the chains, it takes a day to 

Start a tiny riot
Stop being so goddamn quiet 
Got a spark in your heart so strike it 
Crush your way up here 
Turn the pouring rain to a tidal wave

And here’s the serendipity and pure magic of it all. This morning, I checked out Eugi’s Causerie to see what this week’s prompt was and was a little disappointed I’d already shared my art journal page with all the butterflies fluttering.

“Oh well,” I told myself. “If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be.”

And then I began writing my blog not thinking about butterflies but rather, thinking about the magic of my afternoon in the studio and the wonder and awe of time spent savouring memories of time with my two grandchildren.

When I wrote about the music I was listening to, I included “Tiny Riot” as one of the songs I was listening to because… well… I probably listened and danced to it 3 or 4 times while I painted yesterday.

But here’s the thing. I’d never focused on the lyrics before and thought it might be fun to include a few lines here. And that’s when the magical became mystical and wonder and awe enveloped me. Because, when I looked up the lyrics, butterflies ‘fluttered’ their way onto the page.

Isn’t life just the most magical, mystical, magnificent journey?

I hope your day is full of magic and mystery, wonder and awe and that serendipity catches you in the most unexpected moments of joy!

Namaste

_________________________

While I started this post not intending to have it be in response to Eugi’s prompt “FLUTTER” — it is!

It’s fun to play with a prompt – and easy to do too!

Just click on over to Eugi’s Causerie to either read what others have created or contribute your own! I do hope you do. There’s lots of wonder and awe fluttering around the many beautiful responses!

_________________

Oh. And in case you feel like dancing…

Lost In Nature

I wrote this poem as part of National Poetry Month as well as in response to this week’s prompt at Eugi’s Causerie to “Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.”

To inspire you, I’ve included the prompt “Dance” along with the photo, Eugi’s beautiful haiku and a quote from Maya Angelou below –

dance with harmony
and let cosmos rid chaos
stars sway in moonlight

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.” – Maya Angelou

Prompts such as this are a fun way to stretch your creative muscles and to discover other bloggers.

I do hope you check out the offerings that are linked over at Eugi’s Causerie — and maybe… just maybe… you’ll be inspired to dance with words and images too! I hope so!

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