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 creative process is a constant journey through trial and error, experimentation and hope.

On the weekend, I began working on a couple of paintings loosely based on my #ShePersisted series. For most of the paintings in the series, I drew a figure that became a stencil, or the actual figure I collaged into the painting after printing onto coloured paper.Which means, I’ve got a bunch of stencils and cut-outs I can use to create new paintings with.

I am not yet ready to sell any of the paintings in the series. I’ve created 40 different paintings with quotes and want to create 52 before I do anything with it.

And that’s where the experimentation comes in. I decided to start creating using the stencils and cutouts and see where it took me.

What happened was fascinating.

With a ‘destination/purpose’ in mind, I was not as loose nor fearless as I like to be when I create. I was too conscious of the outcome. In fact, while I didn’t take a photograph of the original background for this painting, I was so attached to that background, I worked carefully, not fearlessly. In that space, my curiosity took a back seat to my desire to ‘create an outcome’.

And I felt frustrated. Dissatisfied. Unfulfilled in the process.

Creative endeavour is a journey through discovery.

What happens when…

What if I…

I wonder what…

Painting with an outcome in mind limits my freedom to be ‘in the process’. Attached to the outcome, I think, rather than feel, my way through.

The results showed.

The first iteration of this painting, once I applied the same figure who is in the final to it was not satisfying. Though there was a point where I gave a big ‘oof’, which is my sigh of contentment when something goes just right in the process, I moved beyond that moment and muddied up the colours, over rode the symmetry and was too careful in my application of everything!

The final painting pleases me more — though I am thinking of going back in to now bring out some of the flowers…

But, we shall see.

For me, the secret is to let the painting sit for a few days so I can feel my way back into what is calling out to be revealed, or not.

I often begin my paintings with meditation. From that space, words often appear. I like to write them onto the canvas. I use them to inspire me to ‘stay loose’ and to inform whatever is calling out to be revealed.

Underneath this image is written:

A flower doesn’t think about what it is going to grow up to be. A flower just grows into itself.

We can learn a lot from flowers. How to bloom in full colour. How to grow where planted to be who we are and not spend endless time trying to become someone we’re not.

If you look really closely at the first photo of the words painted on, you can see the image of the ballerina — upside down.

As always in life, it’s all in our perspective.

If you don’t like what you’re seeing, change your glasses, change your position, turn things upside down.

Namaste.

______________

I am creating these paintings for an art show & sale I’m in —

South Calgary Art Show & Sale

Friday, May 12 — 2 – 9pm

Saturday, May 13 — 10 – 5pm

Marda Loop Community Centre,   3130 16th St. SW


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The #ShePersisted Series

When I began the #ShePersisted series I thought that I would create 12 images and quotes for the series, and that would be that.

Ideas continue to flow. The muse persists.

I am grateful.

The muse and I have a love/hate relationship. She loves me 100% of the time, I am not so loyal. In fact, I like to tell myself, I don’t need her. Or, in my willful disregard of her presence, I like to believe she has deserted me.

It is my victim’s voice. That monkey mind chattering place where I tell myself all sorts of things to justify why/how/what isn’t happening in my life, isn’t my fault/responsibility/accountability.

I cannot control 100% of what appears on my path. I can choose to be 100% accountable for what I choose to do with what appears.

This morning, the muse awakened me with her insistence I pay heed.

I decided to get 100% accountable and take her lead.

The thoughts that awoke me were about my youngest daughter’s ballet point shoes that still hang from the corner of the armoire in my art storage room downstairs.

They are pink. Scuffed. Well worn.

I remember the first time she danced ‘en pointe’. She was so excited, in spite of the pain.

She continued to persist, to push herself to dance ‘en pointe’ because it was so beautiful, so seemingly effortless when done well.

It was never effortless. And it always hurt.

In her teens, her feet were a mess.

I am grateful today for her wisdom to stop doing it.

I didn’t want to interfere. I didn’t want to take a stand against doing something she obviously loved, even though it caused her pain.

Life’s like that. We do things, in spite of the pain, telling ourselves we have no choice. To be a ballerina, you must dance ‘en pointe’.

To be a woman, you must wear clothes, shoes, outfits that squeeze, reveal, bunch, crunch and push up places that don’t need pushing up and scrunching in. Not to please ourselves, but rather, because we believe it is important to please others.

I like my daughters point shoes hanging in my art storage room.

They are a good reminder to stop doing things to please others, even though it hurts me.

Namaste.

May your day be filled with ease of heart, mind, and body. May you have the wisdom to stop doing things to please others if doing them hurts you.

_______

The #ShePersisted series can be viewed on my website.


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Dance like no one is watching.

Once there was a little girl who loved to dance. She leapt and spun and twirled about and no matter where she went, people stopped to watch and admire and say how cute she was.

As she grew older she kept on dancing and people kept on watching and admiring.

Until one day, when she was much older, someone in the crowd who was watching yelled out, “You oughta be ashamed of yourself. You’re acting like an old fool.”

The comment from an unidentified stranger surprised her. She stopped, mid leap, lost her footing, stumbled and fell to the ground.

As she lay on the ground rubbing her ankle, the crowd starting mumbling. “Fool! What an exhibitionist,” they muttered amongst themselves. “Can’t she see she’s too old to be dancing?”

“These are serious times,” they whispered as they moved away. “We’ve got no time for such foolishness.”

The girl, who was a much older woman now, lay on the ground, nursing her bruised ankle. She was surprised by the crowd’s response to her fall.

As she struggled to get up, a little girl came to her side, held out her hand and helped her stand up. “Are you hurt?” she asked.

The woman laughed. “No. I just have to catch my breath so I can start dancing again.”

“Doesn’t it bother you what they said?” the little girl asked. “They sounded so mean.”

The woman chuckled as she checked out her body to make sure nothing was broken. “Tell you the truth, I hadn’t noticed anyone was watching me dance.”

Just then, someone threw a rotten tomato at the woman and screamed, “Stupid old woman! Go home!”

The woman ducked quickly and shielded the little girl with her body. The tomato landed far enough away, she didn’t even feel its splatter.

“That was so mean,” the little girl squealed.

The woman knelt down in front of the little girl, gripped her hands in hers and looked into her eyes. “Sometimes, we fear what we don’t know or understand,” the woman told the little girl. “All those people are scared because they don’t remember the pure joy of dancing. Some of them probably never even knew it. So, they’re afraid.”

“But they shouldn’t throw rotten tomatoes!” the little girl insisted.

“That’s true,” the woman agreed. “But when we don’t know better, we can’t do better. Most of those people don’t know that taking life so seriously is making life harder to live.”

“If I dance, will my life be better?” the little girl asked.

“Only you know what’s true for you,” the woman told her. “The secret is, to live your truth and let everyone around you lives theirs in harmony and joy. I know that dancing won’t fix all the woes of the world, but it sure helps me get through each day loving my life and the world around me.”

“Will you keep on dancing if no one’s watching?” the little girl asked her.

The woman threw back her head, laughed out loud and took a little leap of joy. “Of course! Dancing is what I love to do!”

“Oh goodie!” said the little girl clapping her hands in delight. “I want to dance too! Will you teach me?”

And the woman rose up and taught the little girl to dance and together they spun about and twirled and leapt for the pure joy of dancing like no one was watching.

#ShePersisted

______________

I am always so enthralled and fascinated with the creative process. When I went to bed last night, I had completed the painting, but did not know what the quote would be — or the story. I had started the evening with a vision for a different quote. The muse had another story in store for me! And that’s what is so fascinating about giving into the flow of creative expression – I never know what will appear. How fascinating!

 


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Honouring times of fallow

 

No 25. #ShePersisted
Winds of Change
Mixed Media on art paper

My friend Kerry Parsons recently gifted me a set of “Soulful Woman Guidance Cards.”

It is no accident the card I pulled today is called Time of Fallow — Creative manifestation occurs more easily when I have nurtured myself and honoured my time of fallow.

Nature understands the meaning of honouring its time of fallow. Spring fields produce healthier bounty when they have had a time of fallow.

I have been considering this blank page for a while this morning. Wondering what do I feel calling within, yearning to come out.

And the muse quietly rests, calling me to honour my creative urgings through a time of fallow.

I have been so consumed by the creation of the #ShePersisted series, I feel my creative energies calling out for a rest, a respite, a reprieve.

Life is ebb and flow. We breathe in. We breathe out. We step forward. We step back. We repeat.

On another level, my immersion into the #ShePersisted series is an honouring of my time of fallow.

It has given me space to gently and effortlessly explore my desire to stand up and step up to be heard. To clarify my voice, my gift, my offerings to the world.

It has given me beautiful guidance on what I want to do to create a world of difference.

If I change my glasses, shift my lens, I can see this time of creating the #ShePersisted series as my journey into my soul where I delve into exploration of our human condition through wonder and awe for all we do collectively to create war and peace, discord and harmony, walls and bridges, abuse and comfort, deception and truth, hatred and love.

As the images and words for this series have flowed, and continue to flow (I’ve still got a list of over 10 quotes that have popped into my head at random times), I have been enthralled by the experience of giving into the creative process, fearfully and fearlessly, haltingly and effortlessly.

It is the yin/yang of creativity.

To be afraid of a blank page. To dive hopefully into the open space calling itself into being.

And in that realization, I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude. Joy. Knowing.

There are no blank pages. Just beautiful wide open spaces calling out to me to breathe into my creative essence and with every exhale, blow away my fear of being the change I want to see in the world.

Namaste.

 

To view the whole #ShePersisted series, please visit my website.

 

 


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When failure is not an option.

badge-1-copyIt is a commonly used phrase. “Failure is not an option.”

Challenge is, when failure is not an option, we risk not learning from our mistakes, because in failure is not an option thinking, mistakes are not possible. In that space, we limit our capacity to think outside the box — or to even see, there is no box.

Our thinking becomes so focussed on doing the things that will guarantee success, we can’t allow space for ‘mistakes’ to lead the way to greatness.

In front of the easel I meet myself.

It is one of the many things I learn standing in front of the easel, leaning into the unknown.

Again and again, as I dig into the creative process, I see myself staring back at me with every brushstroke, with every layering of colour and texture and moment of wanting to wash it all over with white paint to begin again.

The creative process has expanded my understanding of the phrase, “Failure is not an option.”

I used to believe it meant, there is only one choice, come hell or high water, you will not fall down, you will not give in, you will persevere and rise above — at all costs.

It was the unspoken, at all costs, that had me in its grip.

At all costs meant, no matter how tired, how broken, how lost I was, I could never give into letting go of the need to appear ‘successful’. I could never let go of my pride.

“Failure” is just another cloud floating by

In front of the easel, I am constantly reminded that as long as I allow the urge to create to lead me into the unknown, as long as I give into the flow and trust in the process, without buying into my ego’s insistence it knows best, failure is just a thought that flows through and out, like clouds floating by on a summer’s day.

Ultimately, the fleeting thought of failure becomes part of the outcome. And, as long as my thinking stays expansive enough to allow for curiosity and experimentation, for happenstance and unexpected developments to appear, success isn’t measured in the beauty of the final piece (because believe me, I can always find flaws in the final piece if I really want to). Success is measured in the whole-heartedness of my experience of creation and the entirety of the final product – not the individual brushstrokes, but the entirety.

Moving through the fear of the well drying up

As I have been delving into the #ShePersisted series, I keep coming up against my fear of ‘the well’ drying up — which is just another term for fear of failure. Thus far, I have created 18 different images and quotes for the series. My original intent was to create 12.

Some I really like. Some, I’m curious about because they don’t resonate quite the same way as others. All are an expression of my creative essence.

Is that success or failure? Is 12, 18, 32 the number I will measure my success by? Or, is it simply a trusting in the process knowing that when I stay open to the muse, creativity flows freely and expresses itself through me without any expectation of success or failure?

Staying open and free of self-judgement/criticism requires a letting go of my need to ‘achieve’ and produce. It requires my breathing into my desire to be in harmony with the world around me through allowing the expression of my creative essence to flow freely.

The mystery of creativity is exposed in the unknown

I am fascinated by how the #ShePersisted series is appearing in my life. Several people have asked, how do you do it? How do the ideas keep coming?

It’s a mystery to me.

And I love that part of the creative process.

I trust in the process of letting go of my fear of creating into the unknown, so that the unknown can appear through my creative process.

Every time I stand in front of the easel, I don’t know what will appear. I don’t know how it will manifest itself. I do know that something magic happens when I let go of ‘directing’ the process and let it be the process of delving into the mystery.

Often, most times in fact, I start with the quote — and let the painting appear in concert with the words I want to use.

Often, most times in fact, the words I begin with give way to the words that appear through the mystery of being part of, into and of, the creative process.

As I mentioned, it’s a mystery — and part of the teachings of the creative process. Give into the mystery and let go of the need to direct the outcome by controlling the process every step of the way.

In that space, failure isn’t an option because, failure and success are simply part of the joy of being willing to take the journey.