Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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South Calgary Art Show and Sale

Participating in an art show is more than just creating a bunch of paintings and then, selling some (she adds hopefully).

Because it’s about more than just the ‘selling’.

It’s about creating an experience that I like being involved within, and hopefully, in that experience, those who view my art, will also feel some of the essence of who I am when they look at, and (hopefully she adds again) purchase something.

This week I have collected, collated, assessed and determined.

I have framed and dusted off. Created tags and stories to go with the art. I have written my artist statement, both my personal statement and my statement for the #ShePersisted series that will be on display at the show. I’ve ordered business cards and cards of eight of the paintings from the series. I’ve also ordered 3 gicleé and 3 prints of some of them to show people what they would look like as a finished product — if they want to own one or two, or maybe even three (or more she adds again, hopefully) from the series.

When I was in the print shop to check the proofs for the cards, (Petro-Tech Printing is amazing! Thank you Jim and Evan) Jim mentioned a woman was in yesterday picking up her pieces as they were looking over the proofs of mine on the front counter. She was fascinated by the cards.

I think that is what has resonated so deeply within me, and what I hope within others about this series. The images and messages strike a chord within all of us. Like a harp string plucked in a room full of harps that causes all the harps around it to quiver in melodic response, this series quivers deep within our hearts. It is a recognition of our shared yearning for equality, freedom, dignity, hope, justice, respect. That yearning, and need, lives within each of us, women and men, alike.

Each painting is a story of our shared human condition — and the limiting beliefs we each experience that inhibit us from expressing it freely, completely, whole-heartedly. It is an expression of the divine feminine, and an acknowledgement that we can no longer suppress it, pervert it, contort it, deny it, ignore it. We need it to come fully alive if we are to create better in our world for everyone.

I am in an art show all weekend. I am grateful. I am joyful. I am blessed.

I hope if you’re in or around Calgary you can take a moment to drop by and visit. And honest, it’s not about whether you purchase a painting to take home and treasure. It’s about coming out to share your light, your spirit, your appreciation of all the talents of the artists collected in the room who have had the courage to listen to their muse and create for the pure joy of creation.

Because ultimately, whether I sell a single piece (though it would be lovely, she adds hopefully — plus C.C is a little worried about our ever diminishing wall space) 🙂 the joy of creation makes my life a wonderful place for me to live and it definitely makes me a more heart-driven, joyful and grateful human being!

Namaste.

To view my Artist Statement click HERE.

 

 


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Happy Accidents

Ever had one of those accidental outcomes that when it happens you look at it and say…. “Hmmmm….. I wonder what I can make with that?”

No. 41 in my #ShePersisted series, is just such a happy accident.

On the weekend, I started working into a background I’d created for a painting a couple of weeks ago. I drew and cut out a stencil of a woman and painted her into the painting. It’s called, The Goddess Emerges and I will be selling it at the art show I’m in this weekend.

I was enjoying using the stencil I’d created and decided to use it for another painting. The Duality of Truth in the Garden of Eden emerged.

 

 

To create the two women in that painting, I drew the figures onto a wax type paper stenciled with musical notes and words and images. I wanted to add colour to the cut outs so placed one of the figures on a canvas board that was tucked into a corner of my studio.

And that’s when the happy accident happened.

Using watercolour pens, I painted onto the cutout and washed off what I didn’t want. And voilá! As I worked to colour in the figure, the residual paint ran along the edges of the cutout leaving behind the outline of the woman on the board when I lifted it off!

I debated what to do with it. Leave it. Create with it.

Lesson learned.

Never let happy accidents go to waste.

Dig in. Explore. Let your creativity flow.

What’s the worst that could happen?

FullSizeRender (30)For me, painting into the figure inspired the quote for No. 41 in my #ShePersisted series. I like this quote — it speaks to what I perceive to be part of the feminist struggle for social justice — Why bother? The injustice is all in our imaginations.

She’s created on a different substrate than the others so I may recreate her later — I’m okay with that. Because, seriously?  What is the worst that could happen?  …I get to create more. I get to indulge in my passion for inspiring artful living. I get to immerse myself in the creative process and let go of my fear of what the outcome will be!

How exciting is that?

Namaste.

___________

The entire #ShePersisted series can be viewed on my website HERE.

And if you are in Calgary or environs this weekend, do please drop by the art show and say hello.  I’d love to see you.

South Calgary Art Show and Sale

Friday, May 12,   2 – 9pm

Saturday, May 13,   10 – 5pm

Marda Loop Community Centre
3130 16 street SW

 


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The art of being creatively alive.

There was a time when I did not think of myself as an artist. When I told myself I couldn’t paint. I had no talent.

Life, and the willingness to let go, showed me how little I know about my creative essence.

I tried to paint in my 20s. A friend gave me a set of oils, a canvas and some brushes and said, “Try it.”

I did.

I judged myself not very good.

I quit.

In my 40s I decided to join my then 14 year old daughter in painting. She loved to paint and I wanted to do something that was uniquely ‘ours’. Her younger sister and I rode horses together. She was hyper-allergic. Why not make painting ‘our thing’.

And that’s when I learned the first lesson in The Art of Being Creatively Alive.

  1. Let go of your plans.

My daughter was a teenager. Painting was fun. But she had a lot of other things to do that were equally as fun — some included me, some did not. And even though my plan had been to paint with her, I fell in love with the joy of splashing paint on a canvas, with or without her. In that joy, while we don’t often paint together, we love to visit galleries and devour other artists work whenever we are together.

The second lesson has had profound ramifications in my life.

2.  Don’t believe everything you tell yourself about yourself.

All my life I told myself I was a writer. I was not an artist. Committing myself to exploring my painterly ways in my 40s taught me that I was not always right. That in fact, the things I tell myself about myself are often based on my fears, not my heartfelt desire to live a true and authentic life. And, sometimes, the things I tell myself I can’t do are simply an expression of my fear of not being able to do it right or perfect.

Which brings me to the third and equally as important lesson falling in love with painting taught me.

3.  Set yourself free to express yourself, without expectation of what will happen next.

The beauty of any form of creative expression is that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. There is simply ‘the way’ you choose to do it. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and unless you have expectations of being discovered as the next Picasso or Monet, the point of creative expression is to express, not create a masterpiece. Don’t set yourself up with expectations of what your creative expression will look like, or do or be in the world. Meaning is not found through your artistic endeavours, it’s created through the act of creating. When you live from that place of being free to express yourself, you create space for others to do so too. And in that space, the world within and around you is changed for the better

Set yourself free to express yourself and then… let the magic happen. Creative expression is one part alchemy, one part science, one part sweat and labour and all parts pure magic. When you give into the mystery and the magic, who knows what you will inspire that creates profound change in the world?


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The Duality of Truth in the Garden of Eden

Yesterday, I spent the day in the studio getting ready for the art show and sale I’m in this weekend.

I love the creative process of letting go to create space for what is calling to become known to appear.

It can also be challenging.

I am, by nature, someone who likes to find meaning in all things. That includes, wanting to make meaning of what I create. Sometimes, I get stuck in my fear, it won’t have any meaning at all and spiral into a place of frustration, self-pity and negative thinking, telling myself, you are not an artist. Give it up already… and all that non-productive jazz.

To move beyond my fear that what I am doing may not make sense, or have meaning, or even be visually appealing, I need to look at my fear and let it go. In that space of being fearless, the creative has space to appear without my trying to dictate what or how it will be.

There is also another gift in that space of letting go of fear to allow what is, to be what it is, not what I want it to be.

And that gift is found in the space of creating for the pure joy of dancing with my creative soul without having to find a meaning, without having to make sense, without having to search for anything.

In that space, I am released of my desire to be defined my creative process by wanting my creative output to be purposeful.

The painting I did yesterday pleases me.

I don’t know why.

It doesn’t matter.

The process of creating it was pure experimentation, curiosity and pleasure.

Originally, I called it, “The Duality of Truth in the Garden of Eden.”  The vines made me think of a rich and verdant garden, which made me think of the Garden of Eden. Like vines wrapping themselves around the trunk of a tree, however, the story of the Garden of Eden has always had a cloying affect on my psyche.

It speaks to me of the original sin, not of Eve feeding Adam the apple and thus becoming the impetus for their being dispelled from the Garden, but rather, of Eve becoming the feared seductress, the one who caused men to lose all control of their minds and bodies.

In that story, women became the one men couldn’t trust. To me, in the unfolding of the story of Adam and Eve, the patriarchal construct of our humanity became entwined with the vision of women being the one’s who, if left to their own devices, would lure men away from the righteous path of setting the world right, of doing good. In their capacity to bring life into the world, women were feared. They needed to be controlled so that they did not destroy all of humankind by elevating the act of giving birth to life again and again as a sacred act.

It became a simple equation of power and control. Men could control the sexual act of creating life, they could not control women’s bodies and thus, the act of giving birth needed to become less than the power of man’s capacity to build, construct and destroy life.

See what I mean?

I am always seeking meaning. And sometimes, in my meaning seeking efforts, I dive so deep, I come up gasping for air in the power of what I discover about my own story.

Fear destroys.

And when I create from a place of fearing I won’t be good enough, or won’t create something of meaning, I am constantly looking behind me to see if there is something I’ve missed, if there is meaning to be divined. And in my continuous need to find the meaning, I undermine myself and my creative expression.

In fear, I create… with restrictions. I express… with expectations. I love… with limits.

I painted yesterday. It is something I love to do but in the expectation my creative expression would have meaning, I stepped into fear and fear took hold of my creative expression.

Today is a brand new day.

I originally called this painting, “The Duality of Truth in the Garden of Eden.”

I’m sticking to that story.

It suits me.

 


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Time to say good-bye.

Today is my last day at the Foundation where I have worked for the past 4+ years.

It is time to say good-bye.

I am sad. I am excited.

Both emotions co-exist in a field of possibility that opens up whenever we begin to step through a portal from one threshold to the next.

Life will change. It will keep flowing. It will adapt. Fill in the spaces behind. Open up the spaces in front.

And I move on. Along. Through. Stepping across this threshold into a new space.

The unknown beckons. The known is carried with me.

For 4+ years I have worked alongside incredibly talented and passionate people. In that time, people have changed, moved on, moved into the Foundation. Yet, no matter the faces at the table, the passion and commitment to ending homelessness has remained constant.

It has been 4 years of growth, of learning new things, of stretching my talents and gifts, of stretching my capacity to lead, to inspire, to collaborate, to share, to listen, to step back, to step forward.

It has been 4 years of being inspired by those I work with, for and amongst. Of building community where every voice matters, of working within a community where every act counts and is valued.

I move on and already the space I held is being filled in by the passion, talent, commitment and brilliance of those who remain.

It is what I love most about this point in time where I stand at the edge of the doorway leading into a new portal. Behind me are the infinite possibilities of change, just as there are before me. Where I stood can never remain the same. It is physically impossibly. As it changes and as I step out of it, it becomes part of the changing spaces behind me that others are creating through illuminating it with their brilliance and passion.  The possibilities of what they can do and create are limitless.

The spaces I move into have been created by others just as committed, just as brilliant in their passion to end homelessness. As I move into that new space, it too will be changed as we find our way together to create a space that is illuminated by our different voices, ideas, passion and creativity.  Informed by the past. Steeped in limitless possibility.

And so life continues.

We move from one space to another, leaving behind the possibilities of change for others to pick up, creating in front of us new possibilities for change for us to enter into.

I have been so incredibly honoured and blessed to work with amazing people. To Andrea, Kayleigh, Aaron, Wendy, Sharon B., Paul, Darcy, Kelsey, Joel, Ben, Sharon D., Teresa, Kara, over the years you have all played a role in creating an amazing space to be a part of and to work within. You have all touched my heart and made a difference in my life.  I carry you with me.

Throughout my tenure at CHF I have worked alongside incredible leadership. John R., Gerrad, Diana, thank you for sharing your brilliance.

To the team at CHF. WOW!  Your passion, commitment, willingness to learn and adapt and take risk to create better continually inspires me to do the same. Thank you.

To the CAC, your courage, commitment, humility and honesty have touched my heart deeply.

I am stepping through one doorway into the next today.

I am excited. I am sad. I am grateful.

Namaste.


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Creating through anger, hurts and pain.

When I began the #ShePersisted series, it was in response to a feeling of discomfort within me that was triggered by the statements Senator Mitch McConnell made to Senator Elizabeth Warren.

I began the series with the thought of touching and exploring whatever was triggered within me to give it expression so that I could understand its essence, and move through it.

Last night, while having dinner with the remarkable Kerry Parson’s of the Academy of Rising Women, she commented on the pain and suffering she felt in the series.

I was surprised. I hadn’t thought of it as being filled with pain and suffering. In retrospect, she’s right.

The #ShePersisted series is my personal expression of years and years of sometimes stealthy, often overt, societal feedback that says:  Being a woman isn’t good enough. You have to be more like a man.

It is my personal expression of countless encounters of struggling to carve my place in the world where my place is defined by masculine concepts of success. Of having men use my femininity as a means to get what they want, as an object of their desire, as a toy for their enjoyment, as a sexual tool to sell products and ideas that objectify and subjugate women.

Now, I am not saying men are bad. Or men are wrong. This is about a more pervasive sense that men = power and power is what runs our world and in that power dynamic, testosterone is king. Women don’t belong or fit in, unless they act like a man. Unless they embrace masculine traits. Unless they tone down the estrogen that is inherent in their nature and up their testosterone levels. Or, as that distasteful (to me) Ovarian Cancer campaign called it, you gotta get some lady balls.

As I contemplate the drive behind my expression of the #ShePersisted series, I recognize it comes from a deep place of anger, hurt, discomfort. It is that place within me that has at times bought into the myths of, I need a man to feel complete, women are the weaker sex, you can’t get ahead unless you act like a man.

The power of creating the #ShePersisted series for me is that it is my feminine expression of anger, hurt, discomfort. It is created through my feminine lens of what it means to express those feelings without targetting, blaming, shaming or calling out an individual or group of individuals in a way that diminishes the essence of our shared humanity.

And that is the feminine.

To create in a way that opens up space for awareness to rise up through our hearts into grace.

For me, creating from the heart of what troubles me with the intention of rising into my full feminine potential, awakens the possibility of expressing that which has been inexpressible. It awakens my nature to give voice to that which I’ve never known how to express because of my fear of what others will say about what I’m doing/saying/creating.

My vision is to create space for others to move into the conversation. It is to explore what it means to be a woman. What it means to express the feminine essence of our nature without giving up or losing our voices, our bodies, our dreams.

And reciprocally, to invite men into the conversation so that the feminine is not feared. It is revered. It is not condemned. It is celebrated. It is not corrupted. It is made sacred.

And to create that space, I must move through the anger, hurts and pain to find that space where love for all humanity remains my constant companion on the journey.

Namaste.