Tag Archives: Laura Horn Art

Dare To Go Deeper

“Rest Here” – Watercolour and acrylic ink on watercolour paper.

When I started painting 20 years ago, I had spent most of my life saying… “I am not an artist. I am a writer, but have no artistic ability.”

And then, on a whim and a desire to spend more time with my eldest daughter, I picked up a paint brush loaded with colour and fell in love.

Yesterday, as I sat at my studio worktable and debated whether to follow the guidelines of the online course I’m taking with Laura Horn or ‘just do it my way, I could hear the critter winding up his full-on, ‘You Can’t Do That’ diatribe in preparation for letting me have it, ‘the full truth and nothing but the truth about my artistic limitations. “You are not a watercolour artist,” he hissed. “You don’t even like working in watercolour. Why don’t you just skip the watercolour and play with your acrylic inks. It’s safer that way. You won’t be disappointed or look like a fool.”

The only way I know to quiet the critter is to breathe and acknowledge his fears.

“I hear you. I know you’re just trying to protect me but I’ve got this. I won’t know if I like them or not until I at least attempt to learn how to work with them. I’ve got this.”

The critter was not quite ready to call it quits. “You don’t got this! It’s bad enough you think you’re an artist but seriously… Well there are so many real artists out there who are so much better than you. They at least sell their work. You? You can’t even get it up onto your Etsy site so people can buy it.”

“Oh that’s what this is about? Not having my art up on my Etsy page?”

“Well you gotta admit Louise, you’re a bit of a disappointment there. Know what I mean?”

And a deep primordial fear awoke within me the longer I listened to the critter’s voice. “Oh no! I am a disappointment!”

I felt that fear. It felt so real. So tangible. So true.

And the the wise woman of care and courage whispered deep within me, “You are never and can never be a disappointment,” the wise woman of care and courage whispered deep within me. “What feels disappointing is when you do not give yourself grace to explore, test your boundaries, and use your mistakes to grow deeper in your understanding and communion with you, your life and the world around you.

And then…

I loaded my palette with watercolours and fell in love.

This morning I awoke from a dream vibrating with a deep awareness of all the lessons yesterday’s exploration of watercolour taught me.

And I smile in gratitude. Calling myself ‘an artist’ doesn’t mean I know it all or have all the answers or have even done it all or explored all the possibilities of my art-making. It means I’m open to the full and intoxicating exploration of my creative essence.

The lessons…

  • Sometimes you just gotta load your fear up with a bunch of paint and let the colours play it out on the canvas of life.
  • Just because you say you can’t doesn’t mean it’s true.
  • Don’t believe everything you think.
  • It’s okay to not know. You can’t learn all sides of the truth if you tell yourself you already know them all.
  • Truth reveals itself slowly, like a rose coming into full-boom. It needs care and time, nature’s grace and a willingness to be surprised by what is coming into bloom so that it can evolve into its full beauty.
  • Life is like your palette. Load it up with yummy colours. Mix them up to your heart’s content and let them dance with wild abandon on the canvas of your wildest dreams come alive in living colour.
  • When you think you’ve gone as far as you dare, dare to go deeper.
  • You are not, and can never be, a disappointment. End of story.

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About the painting.

The following two photos are of the different stages of this painting where I wanted to quit.

At this one, I thought, “Oh. I like it. What if I mess it up?” Problem was… the lesson I was on called for botanicals and painting over the background… Breathing through my fear of messing it up, I dove deeper.

Hmmm…. This looks good. Why don’t I just leave it at this point?

And… I dove deeper.

I’m grateful I did. I learned a lot.

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PS. As to my Etsy store… I’m going to work on loading it up and have it launched properly by September 15. That’s a commitment! To me.

Connection. Community. Coherence

When I sat down at my studio worktable yesterday morning, there was one phrase that kept drifting through my mind, “And her prayers became the song the night sang to sing the stars awake.”

I pulled out the altered book journal I’ve been working on with my mother’s prayer cards and gave myself over to the muse.

It did not start out well…

You know how you can be working on something and think, “hmmmm…. It’s okay but I’m not really sure what I’m doing here…”

My first instinct is to quit. To paint over. To tear it up.

My deeper knowing is to keep deliving into it. To allow myself to work through the ‘yucky’ to get to whatever is looking to be expressed.

When I do that, it happens. Like magic. There’s this moment where I feel so connected and so immersed in it all that my heart sings and my soul dances and my body sinks deeply into gratitude.

Yeah? Well, yesterday, that happened.

There I was, feeling stuck and blah when without thought, I felt my entire being sink effortlessly into that place. Breathing deeply, I felt the silence expand between my heart beat’s steady tattoo as my soul seemed to hang suspended in time. I felt as though I was floating in harmony with the universe and all of life surrounding me. My senses awoke to the moment and I sighed and whispered to the sun and the clear blue sky and the breeze drifting by as the leaves whispered their incantations of love and ease and bliss, “Ohh. I see you. I feel you. I know you. Here I am.”

And in that moment I felt the breath of my mother’s prayers wrap me in their sweet tender embrace and the world felt oh so precious, oh so sacred, oh so new and fresh. And I felt embodied in the present moment, connected, in partnership, part of and all of the trees and the leaves, the breeze and the sky, the river floating by, the chickadee perched on the birdfeeder and the squirrel spinning in acrobatic grace through the branches of the trees.

In that moment, I was embodied in ‘the now’. At one. Complete. Part of. All of. Connected. Whole.

“And her prayers became the song the night sang to sing the stars awake.”

Watercolour and acrylic ink on watercolour paper.

And then, later in the afternoon, my dear friend Jane came over to paint outside. And it happened again. I was one with the embodied present. Whole. Complete. Filled with a sense of harmony and peace.

That’s what creating is — it’s not about outcome, or style, or technique or saleability.

It’s about being present within the journey of creating. Being connected and whole.

And it’s about community.

Both these pages were created as part of two different courses I’m taking. When I shared the spread from My Mother’s Prayers on my Instagram yesterday, an artist friend wrote back,

“My spiritual community both soothes my soul and lights new fires.” Tracy Brown

“I put my Instagram artist friends in this category”, she said.

Yes.

Being present is about connection, community, coherence.

Thank you for being part of my community. For taking this journey with me. For illuminating my path with your light and making it easier to see in the dark.

I am grateful.

Out Of The Box

Boxes are useful. They pack things up. Keep them tidy. Make it easy to move. Keep things in place. Make carrying easier. Shipping too.

Boxes are also not so useful. When it comes to habits. Thinking. Doing. Boxes can be constricting.

Yesterday, I stepped out of my creative box of ‘anything goes’ to stretch my, ‘Be Mindful’ practice of art-making.

Be mindful.

Of clutter. Busy. Over-working. Over-layering. Over-doing.

Be mindful.

Of colour. Form. Shape. White space. Relationships.

Be mindful.

And in my practice, I discovered doing something I tell myself I don’t do easily, is not that hard.

I have been enjoying the online classes of Laura Horn, an Australian mixed-media/abstract artist whose style I really like.

One of her online offerings is called, Minimal Magic.

Me and ‘minimal in my art’ are not very familiar with each other.

I like colour. Lots of it. I like layers. Many of them. And I like flinging paint at the canvas until its story emerges.

In Minimal Magic, Laura invites me to explore how “limitations can bring clarity and confidence to our art-making.”

Seriously?

Think before I paint?

Have a plan?

Hmmm… okay. I love a challenge.

And so I dove in. But with a difference.

Where normally, I would paint along with the instructor, or skip through sections at random, seeking the essence of the teaching through experiencing it as I go. This time, I watched the complete series of the course videos before picking up my paint brush.

It was freeing to be so structured. I got both the essence and the substance of what Laura was doing — creating beauty with just a handful of colours and a few tools. Seeing what could happen through using less.

Most of the afternoon was spent creating backgrounds by tearing out pages from a few old books and using them as the foundational blocks for the pieces I wanted to create.

I kept my colour palette neutral. Mixing and combining colours to create different shades and tints and tones.

I even let the pages dry. Completely. Before applying marks and design to some of their surfaces.

Believe me. Letting things dry is not my forte. Usually, I have a hairdryer in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. Both compete valiantly (and perhaps blindly) for air time as I work.

Yesterday, I let the backgrounds dry naturally before I moved onto the composition of the pieces themselves.

It was a lesson in patience.

It was also a lesson in how my mind’s craving for ‘more’ is a habit founded in fearing ‘less’ will leave me feeling empty.

Working in a new style yesterday, I felt excited. Energized. Hopeful. Full. Potent. Mindful.

I found myself at home with less yesterday.

It was a wonderful, joyful, calming experience. It was mindful.