Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I got to hear quilt artist Susan Shie last night at the Front Range Contemporary Quilters meeting in Westminster, Colorado. She's delightful with a great sense of humor. I'm looking forward to taking her workshop later this week at High Peaks Camp outside Estes Park.

When I got home I saw Robert Genn's twice weekly newsletter on Artists with Low Self Esteem. You can find this letter here. I count myself as one of the 10 percent or more of artists with low self esteem, due to childhood experiences.

I learned two things from Susan and Robert tonight that have helped me immensely. First, Susan pointed out that one of the recurring images in her quilts is the stinkpot. Stinkpots are like compost bins or piles. You put your garbage thoughts in them and they decay and through a magical energy exchange turn into the most wonderful fertile muck that helps you grow strong. I love that idea of a stinkpot filled with all my stinky negative self doubt, where I can imagine it changing into a mud mask that will comfort, support and encourage me!

Second, Robert wrote that a 'patient methodical approach' is needed to overcome low self esteem. As I reflected on this, I recognized a problem area for me. Because this process of dealing with low self esteem takes sooooooo much time, and I want to be over it like last YEAR, I often look at slow progress and interpret it as NO progress!

Does this happen to you? If so, stop this moment, think back 5 or 10 or 20 years, and see how far you've come. Right? The fact that there's still more work to do does not negate how much work you've ALREADY DONE!

So get your stinkpot ready and next time you catch yourself saying something mean and nasty to yourself, write it down and stick it in the stinkpot. The more garbage you put in there, and the worse it smells, the more lovely will be your flower beds and the juicier will be your tomatoes!

Here's my stinkpot. What's yours look like?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meeting the Troll Beneath the Bridge

Bead artist Robin Atkins shared her reflection on a lecture by visionary artist and architect James Hubbell in a post called "Work of the Artist, The Space Between." Hubbell described the space between opposites as the place where energy resides and that this is where the artist works. Read Robin's full reflection HERE.

I have enjoyed living with this idea this week. As I shared in my previous post this week, I spent some time by the St. Vrain Creek playing with paint. The process was messy and I had no idea what the outcome would be. And just being in it was glorious.

At the same time, I had to let go of outcome, of my desire to make something pretty or meaningful, and just BE. I had to let go of my fear that I would make something that could not be classified as "art."

I chose to enter that space between known and unknown, spirit and matter, idea and substance and give way to that mystic process that stitches, melds, paints them together in the most unpredictable and magical way.

I agree with Hubbell that the artist is herself or himself the bridge between opposites. My take is that artists are the bridge between spirit and matter. When the artist is willing to enter the flow between the two, not just cross above, the object that he or she creates has magic. This art has the power to take the viewer beyond into that messy place in between shores where the unknown comes into being - to meet the troll beneath the bridge.

When you wade through the muck and vegetation and out over the slippery rocks into the capricious flow of the current, you find yourself in an exhilarating space, wild and untamable, scary but full of life. You meet the troll and learn his secrets.

And isn't that the art that shakes you out of your shoes?

For more inspiration from Robin, check out my interview with her HERE on my website.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Freedom from Self Improvement

Jennifer Louden, the Comfort Queen, has declared this week the freedom from self improvement week, and I've signed up!

This does NOT mean that we get to let ourselves go hog wild and do everything we normally do to keep our urges under control (Ice cream!!!!!) but that we give ourselves the grace of accepting ourselves as we are. Knowing that we are already good and wonderful and amazing. Our job is to let ourselves see this. Beyond see, experience!

So I realized this morning that I could NOT spend another day at my computer trying to knock out more writing or other parts of my developing creativity coaching biz. I gathered up some acrylic paint, a big sketchbook, some fabric and my folding chair and headed down route 7 to this lovely spot. Here I planned to free myself from responsibility to work with some freeing no expectation art making.

I sat on a huge flat rock by the St. Vrain Creek. I practiced my qi gong, Cosmic Freedom Qigong, no less :-). I was intrigued by the patterns on the beech tree next to the rock and this made its way into my painting.

And of course, I have a compulsion to use every last bit of paint left on my palette. This is where I work with wild abandon, as I dipped the muslin I brought in the creek to wet it, then made monoprints with the leftover paint.

Topped by an iced chai latte, this was the perfect day for celebrating my self, complete as I am, loving and enjoying what I love to do.

What does your perfect day of celebrating you look like?