Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Isn’t that Fascinating? I sure think so.

India Ink and Acrylics on Mixed Media Paper 11 x 14″ Louise Gallagher

In the quiet of the morning…

Leaves rustle
Traffic hums as it crosses the bridge
Birds sing in tree branches
Piano music plays gently in the background
Quietly, softly, I come home to my heart.

Outside my window, the river flows calmly. The BuaffloBerry bush that just a few short weeks ago was only as tall as the fence, now rises up above the railing on our second story deck.

Life flows. I flow with it.

In my heart, joy flows quietly filling in the cracks where life’s hurts have broken it open to experience the pain and wonder of being human.

My heart is stronger for the pain and healing that inevitably follows with the grace of autumn leaves falling and growing back again in spring.

A broken heart is an open heart. An open heart is a loving heart.

I let the joy flow freely, stirring my heart to beat wildly in Love with this life of mine, this world I inhabit, this place I sit in the quiet of the morning.

Yesterday, I played in the studio. I mean played. Really played.

I had no destination. No plan for what I would do. I simply wanted to play and experience the process of colours and ideas flowing. Plus, I had some new India Inks I wanted to try out. In the process, I learned something about myself that is amusing me, and exciting me.

Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
11 x 14″
Louise Gallagher

If you’ve been following along on my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I love playing with alcohol inks. I love the vibrancy of the colours, the free-flowingness of the process. The unpredictability of the outcome.

But, here’s the thing. There are only so many pretty paintings of flowers I can create before becoming bored, or at least somewhat tired, of the lack of challenge in the art-making.  (a little self-confession – I was challenged by the flower in the middle when I created this painting. It wasn’t working so I really had to work at creating something out of the big blob it first appeared to be — which I admit, was fun and challenging, but it still became… just another pretty flower painting…)

Because that’s the thing my playdate in the studio taught me yesterday.

I like art-making where I’m challenging myself to create something with more ‘depth’ than what alcohol inks require of me. And yes, I could create ‘real’ paintings of scenes and things with alcohol inks — it’s not the techniques that inspire my imagination. It’s the process of discernment I experience when exploring colour, shape, texture, mood, ideas… that inspires my imagination to leap and my heart to run wild.

India Ink and Acrylic on Mixed Media paper
11 x 14″
Louise Gallagher

The art may not be as ‘appealing’, but the process is definitely more heart-enriching for me.

And so, yesterday I played and deepened my understanding of what makes me tick, not just in the studio, but in life.

I like feeling challenged. I like to feel like I am growing, shifting, experimenting with what I know to expand it into the cracks where I don’t know how strong or resilient I am to discover the more of who I am when I let my heart run wild and my imagination flow free.

I’ve always known I’m an experiential learner. I’ve just never realized, the experience of art-making ignites my soul.

Isn’t that fascinating?

I sure think so.

Namaste.

 


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Hail The Wild Woman Within!

No. 48 #ShePersisted
Mixed Media on watercolour paper
2019 Louise Gallagher
“I Am Worthy”

Yesterday, I painted and breathed into the truth of art as Pablo Picasso once described it, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

After four days of grandson time, my heart-felt light and breezy. My senses alive.

I’d given myself a day of relaxation before returning to my office. A day to breathe into the open spaces of time unplanned. When the muse called and invited me to explore my creative essence, I stepped into my studio, picked up a paintbrush and began to express myself freely.

In March 2017, I began a series of paintings titled, “The #ShePersisted” Series. Inspired by the events in the US congress that lead to Senator Mitch McConnell stating, “She was warned… Nevertheless, she persisted,” about fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren, I heard the call of the wild woman within me; the one who stands tall when told to sit down, who speaks up when told to be quiet. I began to paint the series, got to No. 47 and then… we moved, my studio was packed up and the series went into hibernation with the wild woman’s silence.

Yesterday, the wild woman within returned. This painting is No. 48 in the series. “I am worthy.”

In everyone’s life there is a place where we fear or believe someone else determines our worth.

As a teenager, I remember desperately wanting to fit in while fearing the price of doing so. I bought the latest styles. Danced the latest steps and gushed over the latest Hollywood heart-throb, juggling school and extracurricular activities and a parttime job while struggling to figure out what to do with my future. University. Job. What next?

In my twenties, I railed against conforming as I donned the wardrobe of a working woman. I wore suits and carried a briefcase and told myself my worth was made up in the things I carried and the height of the ladder I climbed.

In my thirties I became a mother. I was struggling in the ‘wife’ role, but I could do the mother thing to perfection. Or so I thought. The pressure to do it all, have it all, be it all became a daily treadmill of workdays spent rushing from meeting to meeting and weekends chasing my husband up rocky screeslopes and glacial expanses or hurrying my daughters from birthday party to dance class to sleepovers and playdates. And did I mention I was always training for half and full marathons, throwing elegant dinner parties and learning to cook in the latest craze?

My forties brought an abrupt end to much of my life as I knew it. I failed completely (or at least that’s what I called it) as a wife and became a single mother of two pre-teen girls. Briefcase in one hand, dance outfits and bobbypins in the other, the treadmill picked up speed until I ran full tilt into a man who professed he would love me until death do us part, and wound up taking the death part way too seriously.

It was that painful encounter that opened the doors to my freedom from believing my worth was determined somewhere ‘out there’. Healing from the devestation of that relationship meant taking a deep dive into my psyche, rotor-rooting into the bedrock of my being to find who I truly am. It was there, in the broken pieces of my feminine soul that I found myself waiting where I’d always been. Grounded in the brilliance and magnificence of my inherent human condition, I discovered, I am worthy. Period. No explanation needed. No caveats. No designer clothes or big titled job to prove it. I am worthy.

We are all worthy. Period. No explanation needed.

As I journey through my sixties towards this place called ‘retirement’, I hold steadfast in my belief of my human worth. It is irrevocable. It is priceless. It is undefeatable.

I may struggle with letting go of my working identity, or rail against falling into the ease of unstructured days, the truth is, nothing and no one can change my worth, my worthiness.

I am worthy.

You are worthy.

We are worthy.

Grounded in that truth, the open fields of possibility planted within the seeds of my creative passions, are calling me to explore what it means to express myself in freedom.

I am excited. It promises to be a fascinating journey. Hail the Wild Woman Within!