I have been working on a ‘top secret’ project as Beaumont calls it.
I laugh at myself when I type that phrase “as Beaumont calls it”. Fact is, Beaumont doesn’t actually speak so he can’t call it anything. All he knows is that I have been back in my studio again.
And that’s a good thing.
I forget when I take long periods away from ‘arting’ how restorative, healing and calming it is to spend time immersed in the creative flow. How fulfilling it is to play with colour and texture, mediums and papers. To let my mind disassociate from the everyday to become embraced by the magical
I can’t write about the project… it wouldn’t be top secret if I did (and my daughters tell me I can’t keep a secret. Ha! Can too!) 🙂
What I can write about is the pure joy of losing track of time and space to become one with the moment, fully embodied in the wonder of now.
What I can tell you about is how when I begin each page of a new art journal, I don’t have a clear vision of the outcome. I simply have a vision of the ‘feelings’ I want it to evoke. The emotions I want to capture, the sense of there being room to breathe freely in this busy, chaotic world I want to create.
Every page is an emotional response to the moment, and on every page, I lay down not just paint, but those very emotions I want to evoke, examine, escape, embrace… show and know
Emotions that sometimes have no words. No space to breathe. No space to be simply because their ability to hide is greater than my ability to know them clearly — and so, I paint them out in an effort to set them free. Or at least, set myself free.
And that is what always happens.
In painting them out, I set myself free to be the light I want to see in a spacious, beautiful, calm and loving world.
Arting. It’s a gift that keeps creating the more of what I want in my world. Love. Joy and Beauty.
Let me dare to hear the wild within calling me to dance.
Let me dare to invite the wildness of my heart to set my spirit free to leap and cavort as I throw my arms up above my head in a joyful salutation to the sun and the moon and the stars.
Let me dare to spin and twirl beneath a cloudless sky of blue infinity laughing and exalting in the sheer delight of being alive.
Let me dare to paint the world with childlike wonder, casting doubt and self-consciousness aside as I spread my arms wide to capture all the colours of the rainbow dancing in the magic, wonder and beauty of this day.
Let me dare to seek miracles, to believe in love and let go of holding onto unforgiveness and regrets.
Let me dare to drain every juicy ounce of goodness from the day so that as night settles in and I lay my head upon my pillow, my soul is soaked in a river of joyful celebration infusing my dreams with sighs of contentment for this day well lived beyond the realms of my imagination.
Let me dare to forget about the steps as I leap into this dance of life with wild abandon.
I have often written about my awe of the muse’s ability to flow in and permeate my body causing my fingertips to ooze vowels and consonants that form words marching into sentences I never imagined could escape from my keyboard.
The manifesto above was just such an occurrence.
Unbidden, but most welcome, the muse arrived as I sat down at my desk in the quiet darkness of morning light not yet broken and began to write.
I knew I wanted to write about the latest She Dares art journal page I’d created — I just didn’t know what.
I needn’t have worried. The muse knew. All I had to do was get out of my head to let her flow freely through my body onto the page (in this case the computer screen but you know what I mean) and become a manifesto I didn’t know I needed/wanted/had to write out.
My wish, the one I dare to dream, is that this manifesto speaks to your heart. I dare to dream you too will rise up and twirl about in childlike wonder of all the magic, beauty and awe in your world.
Usually, when I create in my art journal, the words drift into substance dripping with paint and creative sweat somewhere along the path, after I’ve begun the page.
Yesterday, as I sat and contemplated one of the backgrounds I’d created for the art journalling course I taught at Kensington Arts, the words landed before I’d even set up my paints, with a clear and resounding note of “Here I am”, demanding a page upon which to appear.
So much of the fun of art journalling is in the ‘allowing’ of ideas for words and imagery to materialize from somewhere deep within – without judging, limiting or condemning each thought.
So often, as I created this page, I stopped and asked myself, “What am I afraid to try?” And then, I did that.
Like adding gold pearlescent powder to the leaves and birdcage (hard to see in the photo) I haven’t worked with those types of powders in years — it took a lot of opening and closing of cupboard doors and drawers to find them – but it was like encountering an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. The familiarity, the comfort, the excitement, the remembering of things you’ve shared, the experiences you created together, the memories you built — they’re always there, enriching each step of your journey. As you begin to laugh and chat and share stories, the time apart evaporates and you are left with that wonderful knowing that a friendship like this is not measured by time. It is woven forever into your hearts, spinning songs of joy and laughter through time shared and time apart.
I danced with the muse yesterday. It was an old, familiar tune we played. In its familiarity, woven into each strand of melody, sweet notes of possibility filled my heart, calling my wings to spread and grow stronger.
The first thing I told the attendees in my art journalling workshop on Wednesday night was that I was so excited to be there I came a day early.
’cause that’s what happened.
On Tuesday, I packed up my two rolly bins, loaded them into the car and drove across the city to Kensington Art in anticipation of greeting 12 people into my class.
Except, I realized when I got there I’d somehow put it onto the wrong date in my calendar on my phone. Me and technology… know what I mean?
After laughing with the staff about my excitement, I wheeled everything back out to my car, loaded it up and drove home, laughing all the way.
On Wednesday night, I repeated the driving there but this time, I set-up and after the staff member checked people in along with verifying their vaccination cards, we dove in.
It was fun. Exhilarating. Exciting and challenging.
It’s the first in-person workshop I’ve given since Covid lockdowns began in March 2020. Fortunately, no one balked at wearing a mask throughout the evening. Though I must admit, teaching with one on is… different.
Different is ok. I can either resist or accept. My choice. I chose to accept with grace to ensure each attendee received value from the workshop and felt safe and supported in their exploration of their creative expression.
In preparation for the workshop, I created a number of backgrounds in one of my art journals as examples of ‘where to begin’ to show the class. I find it both cathartic and medicative to spend time simply layering on paint, texture and contours. The objective isn’t to think about what I’m doing. It’s to simply let whatever is seeking to appear, appear.
The first background I started with however, kept calling me to dive in. Three hours later, I had a completed page.
Ooops! I hadn’t meant to take it all the way! But I’m glad I did!
I still needed some sample backgrounds so I dove back in and consciously pulled myself away when I felt the urge to keep going. (Believe me. That’s not always easy when I’m in the flow!)
Yesterday, I opened my journal to the first background and began to play.
And that’s where the magic and the muse found me.
Perhaps it was the influence of the stunningly beautiful full moon of the night before, or the fall Equinox, or both… because somewhere at the edge of night, walking beneath a golden moon, breathing in starlight, wonder and awe, magic embraced me and I let go of thinking to allow what was seeking to be known and seen and experienced appear.
I taught an art journalling workshop this week. My first in-person workshop since March 2020.
It was fun. Exhilarating. And a great reminder to let go and be present in the fullness of the moon and the stars and all of life, to bathe in the wonder and the awe of this moment right now.
PS. I’m teaching another workshop at Kensington Art on Wednesday, October 27 — if you’re in the Calgary area and want to join in, it would be lovely to see you!
Have you ever noticed how, when fear awakens, so do the voices in your head?
That’s my experience. As I get closer to doing something I’ve been avoiding or putting off, or doing something that’s new and/or different or requires me to step outside my comfort zone, or at least the lizard brain’s comfort zone, the cacophony of sound emanating from the dark recesses of my grey matter get louder and louder.
Intoxicated with the lizard brain’s negative feedback, I begin to tell myself it’s right. I shouldn’t… – Do whatever it is I’m attempting. Step outside my comfort zone. Talk to someone I think could really give me guidance on a project [as in, ask for help]. Submit my work to a magazine. Create that Art Journalling 101 course…
Working in my “Learning to Fly” art journal has been an awakening and an inspiration to keep on going, keep on digging in, keep on stepping out, reaching beyond my comfort zone, looking at all the things (lies) I tell myself I risk losing if I do… x, y, z.
it’s also been a great wake-up call.
As in, the only thinking that’s stinking around here is mine!
And I smile as I type that. I might sound like I’m being hard on myself – it’s actually a loving form of tough love – I’m being real and honest with my fears — as I wrote on Spread No. 6 of the journal – “Fear is the voice of doubt and confusion that would have you believe you don’t deserve to live your dreams.”
I also think I’m suffering from Covid-brain Weary Syndrome.
You know, the falling into lazy patterns of thinking without even realizing I’ve been doing it.
No one can deny, this has been a long year. And there is still more to come before we can step out of our front doors and into the world without fearing this invisible microbe’s attack. As the world has hunkered down, so too have I in some ways.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been very creative and given birth to lots of creative expressions. The challenge is, I’ve not done much with my body of work. I’ve just kind of floated from project to project like a sleep-walker drifting through the silence of the night.
To wake myself up I have to get out of my feelings and into my body, my whole body, where I know, beyond doubt deep, deep within my entire being, that I am more powerful than I could ever imagine, more creative than I could ever express and more fearless than I could ever envision.
We all are.
More than we imagine.
Think about it. Our imaginings take place in our minds. Our minds are constructs of our habitual thoughts.
If our thoughts are limiting, so too will be our expressions of ourselves.
Living under the thrall of Covid has limited all our lives in so many ways, it makes sense that some of our thoughts could evolve into more limiting than freeing.
Which is also why birds appear throughout my Learning to Fly journal.
I don’t know where they’re leading, I don’t know where this journal is going (it’s all part of the adventure) what I do know is… if I do nothing, nothing will happen other than what already is. I must follow the flight of the birds where ever they lead. They carry my dreams.
To pursue my vision of creating inspiring and compelling work that ignites the creativity and passion in others, I must pursue pathways to getting my work out there.
And so… the adventure continues.
Going back to my 20 Attitudes and Actions to live the life of my dreams, today I commit to working on No.s 9 and 10.
What about you? What do you commit to doing today to move you one step closer to a dream you want to transform into your reality?
I hope you share your thoughts. I’d love to be your accountability buddy!
No. 6 – Attitudes and Actions — “Don’t let fear muddle-up your thinking. Even when you think you can’t, tell yourself you can. – Listen to your heart.”
Yesterday, when I stepped into the sheltering welcome of my studio, the muse whispered a tantalizing thought “He gave her words.”
Curious, I followed her lead.
I tore a page from an old book I keep on hand for just such occasions. I pulled out my GelliPad (a rubbery mat used for mono printing) and laid some colour down. Using the round end of a paintbrush, I drew a vase and flowers, laid the book page down and pulled a print.
The words on the page showed through. Cool. I kept going.
Pulled out a piece of deli paper, laid some more paint down (mostly darks), made more marks and pulled another print.
On the canvas paper page of my art journal, I collaged strips of paper from an old dictionary onto the page. The words defined on the torn strips all had to do with flowers. I collaged the deli paper printed page and then the printed book page onto the background and set to work creating a cohesiveness to the piece with paint pens, markers and fingerpainting – I had decided, somewhere in the process, that I wouldn’t use any brushes on this page. So I didn’t.
When I was finished, I placed my hands on the page, took a breath, closed my eyes and asked, “What words do you yearn to release?”
And the poem below came into being.
I am sharing my ‘process’ because it is, in so many ways, a reflection of life. We start with a desire to live life as best we can. We set goals. Follow dreams. Discover and use our talents. We gain knowledge. Expertise. Experiences. We layer on wounds. Scars. Cracks. They form the stories we tell ourselves about why or how we can or can’t do something. Those stories, made up of all the words we use to tell them to ourselves, again and again, create pathways, ruts, habits. Sometimes, we question their existence. Often, we accept them as natural limitations.
And then, one day, if we’re lucky or if we’ve hit such a devastating patch we cannot fathom how we will go on, we have no other choice but to start questioning the stories we’ve told ourselves about how we got to this dark and foreboding place. In our questioning, we start to unravel the words that formed those limiting beliefs that trapped us in believing this, this place where we feel so lost and alone and hopeless, is really all there is. Isn’t there more?
And then, if we’re really, really quiet, if we’re really, really still, we hear that voice deep within calling us to awaken. To open our eyes and heart and arms to the infinite mystery of who we are when we stop questioning our right to live wild and free and outrageously ourselves.
That’s when we begin the journey back to our truth. To the stories we tell ourselves, not of our limitations but of our limitless capacity to live wild and free and outrageously ourselves.
Yesterday, I stepped into the studio and the muse whispered, “He gave her words.”
I did not question, “What does that mean?”
I did not ask myself, “How on earth am I going to create something around ‘that’.”
Instead, I dove in. I let my intuition, my inner knowing guide me, unquestioning, into the creative expression of the muse’s invitation. I allowed ‘whatever yearns to appear’ to appear as I expressed myself without limiting my expression of my intuition by listening to all I tell myself I know about words and making sense of them or art and all I know about making it happen.
I stepped into the studio yesterday. I let go of ‘knowing’ and allowed myself to be present to the process of unveiling the mystery of what was seeking to be revealed.
And in the end, isn’t that what life is? A journey of exploration? A great mystery to be revealed with every step we take in its unfolding? Wild and free and outrageously ourselves.
He Gave Her Words
by Louise Gallagher
He gave her words
ripe and plump
of plundered promises
from the strings
playing a melody
he vowed would never die
with the turning of each season.
He gave her flowers
colourful and bright
cast upon indolent days
beneath a summer sun
hot against her skin.
He gave her promises
beneath autumn’s kisses
upon the frozen ground
of winter’s ice-cold breath.
He gave her words.
She gave her heart.
His words faded.
Her heart beats.
Fierce and free
of his words.
spirit of the wolf clan
running through my veins
Fierce. Loyal. Fearless.
streams of wildness
through the vast unknowing
of the mysteries
through the untamed fires
of my heart
Wild. Bold. Free.
The moon. The moon. Oh galaxy of night dreams…
Okay. So that line just wrote itself out when I started to type. It’s kind of a prequel to Spirit Wolf Clan.
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.
The Spirit of the Wolf Clan is where the prompt took me – first to the poetry, then to the artwork.
All of its creative expression inspired by a prompt to write something, anything, about this month’s Wolf Moon.
Someone asked me yesterday how it is that I just seem to keep creating. How does it happen, they asked.
I don’t really have an answer as much as a sense of memory beyond this known world… A feeling of being open to the whispers of all of life flowing around me and feeling that presence stirring the creative forces deep within the crucible of my belly.
Once stirred, the forces start bubbling up in a wild dancing concoction of words and images weeping through every pore of my body, yearning to get out.
So I let them out.
Perhaps, told my friend, it is that I listen to the whispers and do not censor myself. I don’t criticize, condemn or judge my work-in-process nor in its relative completed state (relative because… well there’s always word for one more brushstroke or one more edit out of a word). I look at it through loving eyes and ask, “What are you here for me to embrace? What windows into my creative nature are you seeking to be opened?”
See, I believe that whenever we say something like, “I”m not very creative,” it’s actually our yearning to experience our creative nature calling out.
We can see through the window, we sense creativity — how would we recognize what we judge to be its absence if we didn’t? — but we’ve never opened the window to let the essence of its nature flow in and out and all around us.
Yesterday, I read a prompt. It stirred the creative forces deep within my belly. I looked through the window of my soul, deep into their depths and opened the window.
… and the spirit of the wolf clan flowed free.
Do pop over to Goff Jame’s place and open the window to his creative force. And once you’ve sated your senses there pop over to Eugi’s Causerie and immerse yourself in all the poetry and sights of the Wolf Moon.
I enjoy putting words to my paintings. Yesterday, when I had finished this one, my beloved asked me, “What kind of berries are those?”
Red, I replied.
And thus…. a haiku was born.
This morning, as I sat at my desk and watched the night sky fade into reds and rose and blue, I snapped the first photo.
And another haiku was born.
I am fascinated by the haiku form — both by its endurance through so many centuries and its compactness inviting the author/reader to say something about nature and life in so few words — the form is precise – three lines with a syllable count of 5 / 7 / 5 to equal 17 syllables in total.
From the website, Poets.org — “the philosophy of haiku has been preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment.”
It’s a great form to test and stretch your creative muscles.
The painting of the berries was an experiment with watercolours, acrylic ink, spray ink and Inktense watercolour pencils.
Yesterday, I entered my studio without any clear idea of what I wanted/needed to create or without having heard what the muse was whispering into creation.
I opened my art journal to a blank page. Threw down some colour and text and lines. And took a breath.
A deep one.
I closed my eyes, let my conscious mind sink down, down, into the crucible of my belly, into the font of where creativity rises up to inspire, cajole, exhort me into being wildly, joyfully present to all that is present where ever I’m at.
And that’s when I felt the murmurings.
Of words. Of song. Of flowers and trees and birds and life flowing.
I started to draw and paint and when I was finished, she appeared.
I told C.C. “She’s my Frida Kahlo meets Marie Antoinette.” He laughed and asked, “Where’s the cake?”
“Her cake is the words she spins into stories the flowers breathe in,” I replied. (I might even have been a little flippant. But the muse didn’t care…)
And thus, the words appeared… Her words grew into the stories flowers told to chase away grey skies and cloudy days.
This morning, when I sat down at my desk, I didn’t know what I was going to write.
I closed my eyes, took in a breath and watched it sink with my conscious mind floating on air down, down, down into the crucible of my belly. The busy places in my heart grew still. The stuck places melted… and that’s when I felt the murmurings.
Of words dancing and sunrises melting and hearts listening deeply and breaking open to love.
And the words guided my heart into creative expression.
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