I have to title this post “Make the Time for Art” because this is so very crucial for Creative People! Creatives, not for the first time, I have tell you again how vital it is for you to be creative for your health and wellness! In my graduate thesis, I discovered very robust findings that the more creative the person the more impactful creativity is on their overall wellness. In other words, you need to create to be well! Not only is it crucial for you to be doing creative work to stay the best versions of yourselves, but never has it been more important to the fabric of humanity for creative visions to be shared to make room and hope for growth and change. Creativity lays the foundation for where we go in the future, and that, creative, is you!
I know that even if you agree with me, and all of this sounds good, that life gets in the way. You may have a 9-5 job that occupies your time and leaves little time for any creative endeavors. You may be in a creative job but feel trapped in your creative business agenda and unable to invest in your own creative pursuits. You may have finished art school and not sure what to do with your art next. You may feel generally stuck or uninspired. You may feel inhibited by imposter syndrome. You may be raising children or supporting family members and feel you have no time to invest in your creativity. Money may be an issue. Resources can be a problem. Even our own bodies give us limitations. Believe me, I get it. As an artist I have faced some of these myself.
What I can tell you is it is normal for your creative journey and how and where you invest your time to change over time. You may go from a full time art student to a full time administrator with art as a side-hustle. You may be a dancer or a musician performing with a company and end up investing instead in a different profession and enjoy music and dance in your community as a performer or even teacher. You will need to create your creative journey over and over again. It will be frustrating to do this. You might feel like you sold out, failed or let yourself go, but this is just the normal process of change in life. You get to decide what you want to do with your life and creativity and when, and your pathway is your own.
In a recent #createwellminutecast (airing Thursdays on FB and IG stories) I shared a tip to get you started to find windows of opportunity to get reengaged in your creative work. Check it out- it was episode 13- but essentially the tip was write out a schedule of your typical day, and indicate ANYWHERE YOU HAVE 15 MINUTES OR MORE UNUSED. This time is enough for you to do some version of creative work. It is trial and error to see how and what fits into your life. It requires acceptance of where you are and what works.
My second recommendation to you is see how you can plug yourself into your creative community. There are opportunities all around you to get engaged and find your #creativetribe. I post things regularly that I find on my IG story under “creative ops” and keep a running list on my website- but there are many many more! Try some things and get yourself plugged in. The culminative energy of creative people working together is beyond compare and the motivation of events, classes and even little project deadlines keep you engaged.
Finally, change is hard and fitting yet one more thing into an already packed schedule I realize is a hard sell. That’s really what I am here for! To help you tease apart what is getting in the way of you and your creative work and blocking you from living your best life. Reach out to me at Creatively- I am here to help!
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
Hello, Creatives! Finally, some warm weather with the promise of Spring in Maryland. I hope you are getting outside and feeling inspired (remember the “Getting Inspired with Mindfulness” post? Worth a re-read). This week, I want to help you capitalize on the powerful impact nature and weather has on us and our creative process.
Remember, Creative, you are sensitive, and you are sensory. You have strong emotional reactions to many things, and are very impacted by information coming in to your sensory system (sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes). Change is very powerful because during a time of change our senses are very heightened to absorption (think jumping in a cold pool on a hot day- those first few seconds are potent!) All totaled, you have a powerful stream of energy to tap into during a seasonal change. And- the best, most mindful way to capitalize on this energy, is to go get in it- get outside!
I want you to physically put yourself into this energy stream and take what nature is offering you- like the plants stretching and unrolling their leaves into the warm sunlight after a long winter- absorb the energy and refill your stores. Biologically it is needed and healthy, emotionally it is restorative and creatively it is regenerative. This is so powerful!
Here are some ideas that might help you in your efforts:
And finally, of course, come to counseling! Let me support you moving forward and creating your best life. You are worth it. The life you will live when you do the work is worth it. Natural periods of potent energy like this are an ideal time to start working changes in your life, and I’m here to help!
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
Creatives! I have the amazing opportunity to meet and learn about so many creative people, places and spaces in the DMV that I want to give you a one-stop centralized location to find. In the directory you will find ongoing art events, shows you can participate in, places to buy swap or sell materials, places to sell or market your art, other local artists you can follow, network with and be inspired by, studios that have events, spaces to create and workshops, and even some wellness readings/watching/listenings/places and professionals sprinkled in for good measure. The list is in no particular organizational order and is updated as I released names on IG tagged to their individual profiles to you can learn more (@creativelyllc has pinned story with previously released opportunities). For the current release of the list so far, click on the button below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
An artist’s statement is similar to a cover letter for a resume. If it is for a specific piece, a program or a show, you are telling viewers about specific works- what for you ties them together. For a website, marketing, sales etc you may choose to speak more generally about your work historically and/or the period of work you are in. It is your chance to give a mini-documentary about the pieces you are making- a peek into your brain of motivation, inspiration and creation.
From a wellness perspective, I always encourage artists to have a working version of their artists statement, as a sort of touchstone for themselves and their relationship to their artwork. Exploring and knowing this relationship as it evolves and changes helps facilitate momentum and flow in the creative process.
If this is your first foray into artist statement writing, or your first try in awhile, my advice to you is to write. It. All. Write all the things. Put fingers to keyboard, pen to paper and begin a free flow of ideas that come from nowhere and everywhere and eventually tap into the same place in your body that you create from. Keep it going until you feel done. In the same sitting you might make a maximum of one to three passes over your work to loosely consolidate and synthesize the general feeling of your statement, then put it away.
You can come back to it hours later or maybe even the next day. The goal is to leave enough space so as to try not to get bogged down in words or married to sentences- but look at it asking yourself- how are these words reflecting the messages and spirit of my work? Make another one to three passes for clarity then set it aside. Rinse and repeat this process until you feel you have captured the spirit of your work.
When you have that accomplished, you may go back through and look for more editorial things like length- generally a paragraph or so is pretty good- use of pronouns- we can overuse them inadvertently when communicating our own perspective- and so on. If you feel comfortable, have another person look at the statement only to see if anything like grammar or composition interferes with the message you are trying to communicate.
You may also consider reflecting the type of media you use, the tempo or pace at which you use it, the volume (loudness and softness) of your work, thematic content, referential content, inspirational content, autobiographical content and more in your statement. As you write you may find the words compositionally mimic your work in various ways as well as describe it. Ultimately the statement will serve as a cognitive bridge both for you and your spectator to better understand your art.
A quick word of caution about the “confusion phase”: many people (I among them) when writing an artist’s statement will reach this critical juncture. The statement becomes so chock full of content that even the writer loses focus of what they are trying to say. Don’t worry- the information is in there. This is a good indicator of a time to take a step away and come back again- and the messages you started with will again become clear to you.
A final word about fluidity: like your work, your artist’s statement will be ever changing. Don’t forget to save earlier versions that reflect points in time just as your earlier works do- but also don’t be afraid to regularly revisit your artist’s statement and see how your purpose for art is changing and evolving and address that to yourself and document the flow.
Your artist’s statement is, after all, a sort-of formalized documentation of your evolution as an artist and how that changes your work, how your work changes you, and life impacts you both.
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
This week you get a rare peek into an anecdotal blog- this is a topic I feel is important enough to share some personal information and opinion. Please, if this is not for you and not in line with your sensibilities, take no offense, I do not offer my views to you aggressively and am always open minded and grateful to listen to your thoughts and experiences:
I am currently preparing two pieces for a female artists’ invitational honoring International Women’s Day (the Holiday is March 8, 2019). This day has always been important to me and so is this show and its message. Because of this, women’s history, feminism, and I suppose the unfortunate current exacerbated global climate of hate, division and fear have been heavy on my mind, and not so far from home. I hear and feel in my heart your stories firsthand on the therapy couch. I don’t pretend to ever know what another person’s experience is like and to hear these stories and take care of them purely by the listening is a responsibility I take very seriously. What I can say from hearing your stories and from knowing my own is that we are universally connected in our experiencing of hardships- of how we have been put down, marginalized, criticized, overlooked, judged and worse by other human beings. In a strange way it seems to be a fairly ubiquitous experience of humanity- though in varying degrees. I marvel not infrequently that people don’t connect more often on this simple point: life is a struggle and we are all struggling together.
This is a difficult topic to write about because I know how delicate it is. Each of us have been injured and many of us deeply. All of us so differently. That means there isn’t much that can be said specifically that won’t trigger someone else painfully. Perhaps, again, the best we can do is simply acknowledge, generally, this common experience of humanity. I wonder if healers, nurturers and helpers get a cross-section of stories and can see this better. Sometimes I meet a person that just seems to be born seeing “big” with “eyes open” able to consider the experiences of others easily. Others struggle or are unwilling to do this very thing. Regardless, all of us are neighbors, coworkers, and community members together.
The big question I suppose, is will anything ever change? Has it ever changed, historically? To be honest, I am not sure about the latter. I certainly want to have hope for the former. I think most of us have a pretty good idea of what it will take: good human beings as our children. The most simple and beautiful concept- muddied by a chaotic world of influences that each of them, each of us, came into.
I have been, and perhaps you have been, too, struck by this experience: watching young children, (perhaps 5 years old, perhaps younger) playing together. They do hurt one another’s feelings- but they also see each other’s pain and are quick to see their mistakes. They rally for each other. They are so beautifully inclusive. The new kid is incorporated. The shy kid isn’t left out. The crying kid isn’t shamed and someone gives them a hug. The child that doesn’t understand the game is explained the rules so they can play. Conflicts arise and are resolved. Clearly the potential for a future all of us hopefully want is there. We can see it in our littles.
From my perspective that is the most important thing we have to do. Maybe we adults are broken. Maybe we are too set in our ways. Maybe our hurts, our past, our present, have entrenched us too much to really change. Maybe not. But maybe. But maybe not so much that we can’t still want different for our children and support their natural inclinations to do better. I think looking at them we know what this looks like. We know that it’s better. Can we give it to them? Can we allow them to have it? I see this as our most serious responsibility.
These are my thoughts these days as I paint.
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
A favorite question in therapist offices everywhere, no less frequently heard in my offices : “how does that make you feel?” I ask it not for no reason! Getting in touch with your feelings is an important step to creating your best life. Today’s blog post spends some time on emotions 101- a nod to a blog post past and today connected to the theme of mindfulness.
In simple terms emotions are signals between our bodies and our brains to communicate information. They are physiological sensations often in unique combinations that have important messages to us about a threat, a need or overall sense of wellness. The process can be clouded by emotions’ tendency to not always be “logical”- the brain is needed to “assess” if anything is “needed” in response to emotional signals once received. The problem is, as human beings, thinking organisms as we are, we spend too much time in our brains and not enough time in our bodies. We lose touch with our emotions. They may be trained out of us by society. They may be labeled “good” “bad” or “valuable” “nonvaluable” to our lives. We suppress, ignore, or avoid. None of this prevents the signals of emotions from being generated by our bodies. Just as we are thinking beings we are also emotional ones. The emotional signals are going to be sent. What does this mean if we are not “listening” to them?
Oftentimes in daily jargon or even in the therapy office we are cautioned not to “stuff” emotions or “bottle them up” or there can be negative consequences. This is not really a good explanation of what happens. When we stop paying attention to the emotional signals in our body what we are suppressing or ignoring is information. What we are really avoiding are uncomfortable sensations in our own bodies (aka- the actual emotion). The consequences of this are not an amorphous pressure chamber that will “explode” some day though it is a ticking time bomb of sorts. What we are doing by neglecting these signals of information is neglecting our needs. Imagine if you had a pet and each time this pet tried to communicate to you it was hungry, wanted to be pet, wanted to go for a walk and so on, you didn’t pay attention to it. Over time this pet would not be well. By not paying attention to our feelings we are essentially doing this same thing to ourselves. There are consequences like becoming more vulnerable to stressors in our daily lives because we are generally not taking care of ourselves as we could be.
By using mindfulness we can begin to train ourselves to bring our attention from our thoughts where we spend so much of our time, to check in with what is going on in our bodies. We begin to get to know what physical sensations go on in our bodies throughout the day and what they mean. Do you know what your feelings actually feel like? Would you recognize them before they reached crisis levels? There is a lot of data about yourself to learn if you start paying more attention. It requires patience directing and redirecting wandering attention that wants to live in thoughts. It requires persistence staying with potentially uncomfortable body sensations we are used to ignoring. It requires daily practices and stick-to-it-ness. But it can truly change your life.
And- as we have alluded to in posts past- being more in touch with yourself and your needs and improving your control over attention in general has positive impacts on your creative work as well. Curious how? Look back at creative block posts for “Get Unstuck with Mindfulness.”
Ready to start your mindfulness journey? Want to live your life with more purpose, acceptance and peace? I can help.
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
An important concept in mindfulness is decentralization- the basic idea that we are not our thoughts. It is commonplace for human beings to over identify with thought content and make the easy jump from thought content to self identity, but this extrapolation is not well founded. Just by virtue of being capable of thought, we must be greater than and separate from it.
Consider the image of a game of chess with two main components- the board and the pieces. In this comparison we will use the board to represent you and the pieces to represent your thoughts. In a normal game of chess the pieces move about on the board, independent of the board, the board not invested in or concerned with the action of the pieces. It is merely the place where they are moving and the game is taking place. In a similar way, we are the containers where our thoughts occur but are no more our thoughts than this. Understanding and internalizing this principle is an important step to allowing yourself the space to pay attention to self and individual needs versus thoughts and thought content- you must start with a fundamental understanding that they are not the same.
Many of the concepts in mindfulness practices are about getting away from or not over attending to thoughts, and the ability of the mind to know things in many different ways without needing thoughts to give them voice- how that can even be a disservice to you. In fact, one way to learn, internalize and understand something without using thoughts is through art. When we use music, images, movement or other creative art forms, we are able to express and internalize concepts in a different way than through language. Writers are in more of a bind here since language is their main tool- so while its not impossible to use writing apart from thoughts you may try experimenting with a different creative modality as you begin practicing with mindfulness. In fact- it may even be beneficial for all creative artists to try a creative modality not in their wheelhouse to explore concepts while taking some of the product-focused pressure and accompanying thoughts out of the way in the beginning.
In the spirit of mindfulness, creativity and the concept of decentralization, I suggest to you a 2D art activity. As always, take this exercise and make it yours- make it abstract, use a different media and so on. The prompt:
Start with a self portrait. Some sort of representation of yourself. Consider as you work- what might this version of you be feeling? Physically experiencing? Thinking? How do you as an artist feel about the portrayal of yourself in your work? What are your physical, emotional and thought experiences as you work?
Once you are satisfied with your self portrait and feel you have taken a moment to be present with it (in your “nowscape” not your “thoughtscape”- if these mindfulness concepts are new to you sit tight- more mindfulness blog posts are on their way), add a second “self” to the portrait that is “observing” the first “self.” What does this second “self” think of the original portrait? How is their perspective on the original portrait different or similar? How does this second self feel, emotionally and physically, to be in the painting with the first self? What are their thoughts?
When your piece is done, sit back and consider your work. Feel your feelings and sensations identifying yourself as each person in the portrait. What insights can you glean? What if you label the original “self” as “thinking self” and the second portrait as “whole self”? How does this change your feeling about the piece? You don’t have to name or articulate your thoughts. Focus on your own emotions and sensations as you consider these concepts and try to stay present with them.
As always, be sure to book-end your exercise in some way, with some sort of ritual to signify to emotional and thinking self that the activity is over and you are closing doors that you opened to return to level of functioning you were at before you began. The goal is to grow in understanding, not leave yourself open and raw in an unhealthy way.
If you find you spend a lot of time in your thoughts, if you have ever noticed or been told you “intellectualize” or “avoid” as a coping skill, mindfulness might be for you. It is for a lot creative people. Come sit on my couch and let’s talk about how these tools can work for you!
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
This week I am giving you a post I have shared before- if you haven’t read it, I invite you to. If you have read it, and been have following the new flavor of mindfulness to the work going on at Creatively, I invite you to re-read it with an attitude of mindful acceptance of experiences. Take a read and absorb. Give me a call and come on in and talk!
Creatives! Exciting news. I have two wonderful workshop opportunities coming up- one at the Columbia Art Center called “Unstuck Studio for 2D Artists” and one at the Howard County Arts Council called “Found Object Mandala and Meditation” they are such exciting opportunities to create and be well. Learn more about each in the snapshots below- the links to register are in the buttons ABOVE each snapshot. Enjoy!!
‘Tis the Season! And for many Creatives, the darkness and cold temperatures along with the expectations that come with the Holiday Season put us in a creative slump. It is normal this time of year for studios to be empty, brushes to gather dust, notebooks go unused. So- for this week’s Creatively blog, I give you a challenge- get creative! A good accompanying read for this week’s post is the “Getting Unstuck with Mindfulness” post.
I have lots of information for you about getting unstuck and finding your creative flow (look for the upcoming workshop series at Columbia Art Center!) and this week we will highlight some of the advice: go simple. Release yourself, creative, from high-level expectations in your work. Set yourself up for a project that you enjoy. Choose a subject you are familiar with and know you do well and enjoy doing. Cook that back to an even simpler version of this that you know will likely produce something you can feel good about. We are trying to set you up for an enjoyable process and product. I really like mandala and zen doodling for this (there is a blog post to get you started on this if you are interested). One way to get yourself back into doing something is to simply remind yourself why you enjoy doing it.
Need more? Add a small component of motivation. Give yourself a deadline in the form of a gift, find a local show, event, open mic or something to participate in. Self impose a deadline- and make it short (1 week MAXIMUM). What would happen if you gave yourself 30 minutes? Sometimes a shortened timeline can release you from higher demands you might place on yourself and further facilitate the exercise.
When you are done, while you are doing it and as you are getting started- talk to others! Talk to friends, loved ones, other artists, or (gasp) a creativity expert (me!) about your process, what excites you, what your barriers are, what your successes are, what got you into your art form, what fulfills you about it. We are trying to get as many parts of our creative brains awakened to remembering our love of our art.
That’s it! Stop reading, start doing! I challenge you to share your work on the @creativelyllc IG page- help challenge each other to reignite your creative energies and support each other! I’ll kick it off- I have challenged myself to two pieces this week, stay tuned...
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.