Tag Archives: art journal

The Quiet Whispers

Listen to the quiet whispers of your heart. They are your heartsong yearning to be set free. Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – pages 26 – 27

In my 40s I decided to join my then teenage daughter in painting.

It changed my life. It also gave me a valuable lesson in How to Hear the Quiet Whispers of Your Heart.

Don’t believe everything you tell yourself about yourself.

When I started painting, I had spent most of my life telling myself I had no artistic talent. I thought it was true.

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, often, when I say, “I can’t do that” what I’m really saying is I’m afraid of looking stupid. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid it won’t be perfect.

Which brings me to the second thing I learned about How to Hear the Whispers of Your Heart.

Get rid of ‘Can’t’.

Can’t is an easy way to let yourself off the hook of turning up for yourself in your life where ever you are, however you are, even in your fear.

If you’ve never done something before and you catch yourself saying, “I can’t do that”, challenge yourself. Allow yourself the grace of doing it imperfectly.

When I said, “I have no artistic ability” I was really just giving myself a soft landing and an excuse not to try something new. Sure, when I look back on some of my earlier pieces I can see how little I knew about colour, composition, light, depth – everything. But, if I’d never picked up that brush, I’d have missed out on the immense pleasure I’ve experienced over the years of creating art that speaks to and from my heart.

In the process, I’ve learned lots about colour, composition… and I’ve strengthened my creative voice and found incredible joy rising up from within the depths of my being.

I still sometimes catch myself saying, “I can’t…” That’s when I must listen for my heart’s whispers by reframing the ‘can’t into an invitation… “I have never tried that before. I wonder what will happen when I do?”

Which of course, brings me to the most important thing I’ve learned as ‘a creative’.

Listen for your heart’s whispers.

Your heart knows best. It is wise. It is loving.

The heart speaks in loving whispers, not angry shouts. Sometimes, you have to listen really deeply for the whispers because the fear that lives at the base of your skull shouts so loud it can be confused as ‘the truth’. In fear’s strident nature, it can become a habit to allow fear to drown out your heart’s quiet truth.

The way to tell the difference between heart truth and fear posing as truth is to ask yourself, “Does this voice hurt me or inspire me?”

If you hear angry, loud messages that are telling you you’re not going to make it, you’re not good enough, you’re stupid or anything negative and hurtful, it’s important to acknowledge that it is fear having its way with your real truth – you are worthy. You are good enough. You are magnificent, brilliant, a shining light.

In those moments when you realize the shouting within is becoming the ‘truth’ you’re accepting as yours – Stop. Breathe. Listen. Deeply. And ask yourself ‘Wonder Questions’… “I wonder what is really true here?” “I wonder what will happen if I just… step here, do this, experiment with this idea, stop listening to ‘can’t’…

Develop the practice of allowing the ‘shouts’ within to become an invitation to get still and listen for the quiet whispers of your heart.

Remember — The heart speaks in loving whispers, not angry shouts. Listen for its whispers.

Years ago, I did something I didn’t believe I could. I started to paint. My life is so much richer, vibrant, loving because I risked turning ‘can’t’ into possibility.

What about you? Are there ‘can’ts’ in your life yearning to be transformed?

Listen to the quiet whispers of your heart.

Namaste.

We Are All Connected

“We are all connected.” 2 page spread in Sheltered Wonder art journal – pages 24 – 25

When I sat down to create this page, bees and flowers were not in my focus. The page itself had started with a piece of collaged paper that came from Tamara’s work surface when she was here painting outside with me for the afternoon.

She’d scraped some paint off of her canvas, cleaned the scraping tool off on the paper covering her work table and exclaimed, “You should collage this into your next piece. The colours are so cool and look at that pattern!”

The beginning with the piece of paper collaged onto my page and gold gesso applied as an underpainting.

Why not, I replied. And promptly applied some medium to the middle of my just beginning next spread and affixed the paper.

The question then became… Where to from here?

It was all about experimenting with backgrounds and materials to see what happened when…

I worked on it a bit that day and then continued with it the next day. Again, letting the page itself guide me with whatever secret/story it was bringing to light.

I added background textures. Painted over places that didn’t ‘feel’ right. Kept delving into the background story.

Gold makes me think of bees and honey. I underpainted honeycomb shapes with pastels and painted a flower.

Hmmm… if there are honeycombs maybe there need to be bumblebees.

Part of what I’m enjoying most in creating the “Sheltered Wonder” art journal is the opportunity to experiment with supplies and materials I haven’t used in awhile.

Somewhere in my stash of stencils I knew I had a bumblebee. I dug through the box where I store them and found it. Perfect. Suddenly, two bumblebees appeared on the page surrounding the flower.

All things in nature are connected through an intricate web of delicate interdependency. Flowers rely on bees to pollinate them. Bees need nectar from flowers to create honey.

Flowers create beauty in our world. Honey nourishes.

Yet, we humans often forget the interdependent nature of all things on this planet. Including us. We strive for independence as if that is the gold ring of success. Even when our success doesn’t happen in isolation. It is always in connection with the people and things we employ to create whatever we have succeeded in doing.

Like art-making.

This piece began with a suggestion from a friend. From there, it evolved into what it became because of all the products I used that someone, somewhere developed and created. It also helped that the muse was flowing freely and I was open to her whispers.

We are all connected, interconnected and interdependent. As John Dunne wrote long ago, “No man is an island.” We are one world. One people. One planet. We need each other. As the African word ‘Ubuntu’ so aptly describes, “I am because we are.”

In Covid’s presence, I have felt the wave of interconnectedness as country after country worked to flatten the curve of this virus’ onslaught.

In the midst of shelter in place orders, people rose up to share their many gifts. From music shared on balconies and driveways, to art ‘zoom-in’ s happening online, to poetry readings and cooking classes, and hundreds of other ways people found to connect, we the people of this planet have risen to the challenge and found ways to make ‘shelter in place’ feel less alone and frightening.

As the world ‘opens up’ again and shelter in place becomes less prevalent, may we all remember the beauty of this time where together, we created a planet where the best of our humanity connected us in ways we never imagined possible.

Namaste.

Nothing In Nature Is Ever Wasted

It is inevitable. Somewhere between sitting down at my studio table to begin, and deciding I’d reached the end of the process for whatever I’m working on, I decide I must quit.

Not because I’ve reached a place where the natural harmony of the creation feels complete. Oh no. Never then.

It’s always somewhere in between the beginning and the ‘ending’. That place where I am thinking about the value of the ‘end product’ instead of being present to the value of being in the creative process. That’s when the critter wants me to believe that whatever I’m creating isn’t being organized enough to have value, make sense, look ‘good’. I may as well just chuck it and begin again.

Yesterday, I decided to collage three of the leaves I’d used to imprint with the day before, as the focal point of my painting. The message being — ‘nothing in nature is ever wasted’.

Good message. Yuck application.

Or at least that’s what my critter mind (who does not care about proper usage of English) kept hissing about midway through the creative exploration of what was seeking to emerge.

I didn’t. Quit.

I kept exploring.

Which also means, I kept breathing. Deeply. I kept breathing into the present moment bringing my entire body into attunement with the mystery that arises in the art of creating.

Nature is your inspiration”, the voice of wisdom whispered within my body. “Let your curiosity and your natural desire to explore open you up to what is possible when you allow the muse to have her way with you without your thinking getting in her way.”

“Nothing in nature is ever wasted.”

I let curiosity guide me.

I am grateful. I did not give up.

Spring blossoms are in full bloom here at the eastern foot of the Canadian Rockies. The undergrowth in the forest separating our lawn from the forest that lines the riverbank is growing thicker. Dead autumn leaves are decaying, becoming fertilizer for new growth.

A robin takes up residence in an abandoned nest tucked into the branches of a tree. I watch it carry offerings from Mother Earth, twigs and grasses and dead leaves. She is busy making it a safe home for her new family. Waste not. Want not.

I affix three leaves to a piece of watercolour paper and halfway through worry I have made a mistake. Ugh, the critter hisses. This painting is going nowhere’.

Frustration with the whole creativity process mounts. I want to give up.

“There is nowhere to be but within the wholeness of everything”, the voice of wisdom whispers. “Keep diving into wholeness. Let your entire being be present within the process.

I breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Deeply. Slowly. My thinking mind stills. My body attunes to the wonder and awe of the moment.

Criticical thinking of what I’m creating falls away. Appreciation of being in the creative moment rises up to greet me and welcome me home.

All things that were once alive become part of creating new life in nature. Nothing is ever wasted.

Like creativity.

Nothing is wasted. Every layer becomes part of the whole. Every idea energy to ignite what is possible into becoming visible.

I wanted to give up yesterday. And then, Nature called me back into the moment and I found myself, once again, in the sacred space of creating with Nature as my guide. Allowing all that was yearning to be called forth into awareness to become visible.

Nature. Wonder. Awe.

Curiosity. Imagination. Inspiration.

Harmony. Gratitude. Grace.

A perfectly whole trifecta of three. The embodiment of my creative expression.

Nothing is ever wasted when I am immersed in creative expression.

I whisper a prayer of gratitude to Mother Nature.

Thank you Mother for your gifts. For this exquisite moment. Thank you for your wholeness. I am complete in your expression of life, of mystery, of endings and beginnings. I am whole when I allow your creative Nature to flow freely through all that I create, all that I am. Thank you Mother for this life.

Harmony and peace wash over and up and throughout my body.

Nothing is wasted in nature. This moment, right now, is perfect. And it flows with nature’s perfect symmetry into the next.

Namaste.

Art, Like Life, Happens In The Messy Places

“Magnifico” – 2-page spread for Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – acrylic and acrylic ink on watercolour paper – Pgs 22 – 23

I painted outside yesterday. I moved two tables, chairs and some supplies out of my studio and onto the lawn and set myself up for a day of magic.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Tamara, friend, fellow artist and one of the other three founding members of the Basement Bombshells Art Collective, joined me for an appropriately socially-distanced paint-in on the lawn. We laughed and chatted and threw ideas around as easily as the squirrels leaping through the Poplars that every so often kept dropping little stickies onto Tamara’s canvas. They all added to the texture of her work while our conversation, the magic that happens when two artists come together to create and the environment offered up the perfect space to delve deep into soulful expression.

Nature’s beauty is ever-present. It lies deep within the soil giving birth to plants and trees, flowers and weeds. It fills the air. With birdsong and distant traffic humming, whispering leaves rustling in the trees and rushing waters gushing towards a far-away sea.

It is beauty. It is the beast. It is light. It is dark. It is softness. It is the hard edges of humanity colliding into life in the messy. In those places where we have forgotten the magnificence of our birthright and fight to find our place, make our mark, make ourselves be known, make peace, make love, make war.

Yet, no matter how far we slip into the dark side of fighting for our lives, we cannot avoid that which is true for every single human on this earth.

We are all born magnificent.

Our lives all began in one single act. I like to think of it as an act of divine love. And, no matter how it is initiated in human form, it is this same act that creates every single being on this earth.

And then, life happens with all its beauty and all its messy, inexplicably painful, frightening part. Immersed in trying to understand the messy, we lose sight of what is true as we struggle to make sense of a world that often defies logic. In our sense-making quest to commandeer life into some sort of order, we forget our magnificence and fall beneath the burden of living ‘our purpose’., finding success, making our life work.

Like life, art happens in the messy places. Pags 23 – 24 — work in progress

Until, one day, we come upon a time when the brevity of our life journey appears to be drawing closer and closer upon the horizon. “Where have the years gone?” we ask as we turn inward towards the glimmering shimmers of light illuminating the sacredness of our being here, on this planet we call home. Slowly, we begin to remember. Magnificence is our birthright. It is at the heart of our human essence. And the cracks appear in our memory as we remember to let go of mediocrity and live our magnificent selves alive in a world of other magnificent selves.

Yesterday, I painted outside amidst Nature’s splendour and I remembered.

Ah yes. This is life. This is joy. This is calm. This is what it feels like to feel, really, really feel, what it means to ‘be alive’ embodied in the present moment. To feel at one with all of nature, sentient and non-sentient beings, in this moment, right now. To know my inherent humanity in all its magnificent colours and to experience the magnificence of others.

Leaves used for imprinting.

Inspired by nature, I collected a few leaves and imprinted their delicate nature onto the page. I splashed and swirled, drew and etched as the page came alive with colour, texture, form, depth.

I’ve titled this 2 page spread, “Magnifico”. It is my reflection of nature’s reminder to never forget the magnificent nature of all things.

To honour always, our humanity and our impact upon this planet we call ‘ours’. It is fragile, this ecosystem that sustains us. It is intertwined amidst and in and of each breath we take in and each breath we exhale. It is a delicate, sacred dance. A gift of life that gives each of us air to breathe, water to drink, gravity to hold us in place and land upon which to stand and sit, walk and run. It is our home. It deserves our loving attention.

Namaste

______________________________________

You can see the work Tamara created in THIS CONVERSATION on my FB page.

Plant Only Love

Two page spread for Sheltered Wonder Art Journal. Mixed media on watercolour paper.

If your life is like a garden – to cultivate, to tend, to nurture — what seeds have you planted?

How have you tended it well? What have you nurtured in its fertile soils? What have you weeded out? What new plants have you introduced? Which ones have you transplanted? Where is it overgrown? Where is it barren and dry?

What is your garden asking of you today?

I had fun playing with creativity in my garden yesterday. Experimenting. Wondering, what if I… And then, letting the ‘what if’ guide me. Under its spell, I painted without knowing where I was going, trusting always that whatever was appearing was opening the portal to the next, and then the next, and then the next discovery.

In the art of creativity, I found myself immersed in wonder and awe, free-flowing through time, surfing on a jet stream of creativity that held me captive high above the earth, paying no heed to gravity’s pull calling me to come back to earth.

Eventually I did. Come back to earth. But not before something I hadn’t imagined would appear, appeared on the canvas – in this case an 11 1/5″ x 7″ piece of 140lb watercolour paper – filled with watercolour and inks, a bird on a branch, bright, joyful pops of colourful flowers popping up out of the ground.

The use of complementary and analogous colours was unintentional (that’s just a fancy way of saying ‘colours from the opposite sides of the colour wheel’). I had sat down at my studio work table with an idea in my mind of what I was looking to express.

It wasn’t what appeared.

And that is the beauty of the creative process. When I get out of my head brain and become present with my entire body attuned to the moment, magic happens.

For me, there is something chaotically joyful and abandoned about this painting. It stirs both my heart and my curiosity. It makes me wonder, ‘is the bird just alighting?’ or, is it just taking flight? What are the stories the wind is whispering to the leaves of its travels around the globe?

And then, the art-related questions of, ‘What would happen if I painted the bird white? Gave her a red belly? Or yellow one? What if…

And the circle continues. Widens. Broadens out to encompass more and more possibilities.

I’m not sure this painting is finished with me yet. I’m still wondering ‘what if’s’ and that is always a sign.

The choice to heed their intriguing possibilities is mine.

Hmmmm…. Will she or won’t she?

Ahhh. Life is such a beautiful, joyful dance of mystery, mysticism and magic. It is a garden full of all the seeds I’ve planted growing into my life today. No matter what seeds I plant, or what seeds are pollinated by the winds of time, it is my destiny to tend it so that all that grows, all that flourishes, all that becomes known and witnessed and experienced is, Love in all its rainbow colours.

Namaste.

Snow falls. Feathers drop. Birds sing.

As light as a feather, the bird’s song fell into my heart and lifted me up in joy.

It was an evening of laughter, joy and creativity.

Seven of the 9 people registered for the course weathered the snow and made it to Kensington Art Supply for my Art Your Heart Out Journalling Course.

It was inspiring. Energizing and above all, for me, it felt so right. So like… this is where I’m meant to be. This is what makes me come alive.

Left side of the 2 page spread

There is something sublimely pleasing about sharing what you love with others eager to experience the joy of creating.

One of the areas I was a little concerned about is that at the beginning of the workshop, I do a guided meditation meant to stimulate creativity and help people discover the words that will guide their creative exploration.

I’m not always sure people will ‘get into’ it. That they won’t think I’m weird, it’s weird, like seriously? What’s that all about. (Yeah, I know. That critter is an annoyance I don’t need to listen to — but man. He sure can be persistent!)

Right side of the two-page spread

Which is why it’s wonderful that my inner wisdom voice understands the value of such an exercise and overrode the critter who kept trying to insist I skip it and just ‘get on with the workshop’.

At the end of the evening, some of the women commented on that particular exercise, telling me how it helped them relax into the evening and become more open to the experience.

Music to my ears, and heart.

I am feeling tired this morning, but it pales in the presence of the gratitude, joy, calmness that fills me up.

Part of what is filling me up is how engaged everyone was. How everyone created something uniquely ‘of them’. In each creation the beauty of the individual’s heart and inner glow was evident.

One of the things I absolutely adore and find inspiring is how, when a group of women get together, even strangers, they quickly settle into ‘friendspeak’ and collaboration. It was evident at the table last night as the women chatted and shared ideas, support, and encouragement of one another.

It was beautiful.

Thank you, Jane (your help setting up and gathering up at the end of the evening was invaluable. Actually, just having you there helped calm my nerves and gave me joy!)

Thank you, Evelyn, Charlotte, Nathalie, Ghislaine, Dantry and Linda for braving the snowy roads and bringing your beautiful selves to the table and for sharing your delightful light with each of us. You made the evening very, very special. And I love how you expressed yourselves so creatively and beautifully!

Namaste.

PS. And for those of you in more ‘gentle’ climes, this is the view outside my window as I type this morning. Winterwonderland!

 

On Mornings Like These

The wind picked up the seed and said, “You don’t belong stuck in the ground. Come fly with me and I will show you the wonders of the world.”

The seed planted itself back into the ground and said, “I grow best where I am planted. This is where I belong.”

Sometimes, okay most times, when I create I don’t have a ‘destination’. I simply feel the calling of something wanting to be expressed, and I go with the flow of expression until what was yearning to be brought into the world takes form in the light of creativity unleashed.

Regardless of my beginning intention, by the time I’ve drained the story of a piece, the words to express whatever has been called into creation appear. Without thought. Without effort. Without planning.

Oh sure, sometimes, (ok most times — I am a bit of a control freak, aka perfectionist at heart…) I work them out to be more poetic, to have better ‘flow’, but the original thought that was germinated throughout the creative process is always there. Planted firmly in the fertile soils of soulful creative expression.

I am grateful for the soft moments where light filters through the cracks. The gentle breezes that lift my imagination and carry me into story-lands that can only exist when I let go of thinking I know life and all its mysteries.

I am grateful for snow-filled, wintery mornings. The soft sibilant, barely audible hiss of traffic on the bridge outside my window. The sweet early morning quiet of dawn’s slow light edging into the dark.

I am grateful for moments like these and all the mysteries and wonders that flow so freely throughout my world.