I am inspired by trying to understand things that I don’t understand. The unknown inspires me. Confusion and displacement and new perspectives– new ways of thinking inspire me.
I am inspired by everything that demands that I slow down and face all that I don’t know. Nothing is more intriguing to me than trying to figure something out. And nothing produces more anxiety. I guess challenge inspires me.
Painting is always facing the unknown. There are always so many questions. Every brushstroke, every scribble is kind of question. What will happen if I. . .
Then of course there is the inspiration I get from looking at the works of great painters and writers whose work is so masterful that it allows me to get swept away. Or a line by a great writer in a book that takes me right into the scene and in that imagined place, I find another place, a completely different place, where my own stories live.
And when I look at the work of other artists I feel invited into a world where new worlds are born. It becomes like a conversation somehow in the language of imagination, where one artist speaks and I am listening.
Art frames the world for us and opens doors in our minds that ignite cognitive fires.
If you would like to view more of my paintings click here
In 2010, I made myself a promise to create something every day for 100 days and post it online. I posted art, poetry, stories, thoughts, and dreams. It was my 100 day blog. I was really new to the internet. I posted something every single day except when I couldn’t –and then I would start over at Day One. Eventually my hundred day blog became about 200 days of posting art and writing and poetry. I got a lot done. I made friends with a whole lot of like minded souls, all over the world, and we shared our personal journeys and our writing and our paintings
To be honest, I think it might have saved my life. I had been cycling in and out of clinical depression for years and although I was continually making art and directing theatre I wasn’t really letting my paintings or my own performances get out in the world all that often. It was liberating to be able to show my art to whoever found me randomly surfing the web. I ended up making art friends in about 15 countries and was a bit of a miracle to be honest.
Anyway this adventure led me to not only connect with painters but also to finish writing a play and performing that play in the Fringe Festival in 2011, as a solo show-despite unbelievable -heart-stopping stage-fright. I had a wonderful director Sarah Rodgers who took my rambling script in hand and together we built the show.
So now it’s ten years later and though the Dogs of Depression continue to nip at my heels, I have consistently found ways to keep going even if my pants are torn in the process. The goal is always to face my towering fears, come out the darkness and be seen in the light. I have accomplished quite a bit.I have directed a few pick of the Fringe Plays, and this past November 2018, I was in New York where a show I was privileged to direct starring the wonderful Beverley Elliott, won Best Musical in The United Solo Festival. How great is that? If you only knew how ten years ago this would have been impossible to imagine. So here’s to art and creativity and the willingness to face self-doubt and fear. Here’s to a willingness to be seen. PS. Thanks for reading if you made it to here.
If you would like to view more of my art and learn more about my process click here
Even if we have a reliable method and a process that seems to work there is still a lot of mystery in making art.
It’s a act of faith sometimes.
Somehow magic is involved and patience.
Sometimes a story calls you to come and find it, but you can’t quite locate where it’s hiding.
I think an artist or a writer or any kind of maker has to be a bit of dreamer with a willingness to search imagination the way a stargazer searches the endless sky.
In a way we are looking for distant galaxies of meaning and metaphor–trusting that somewhere, beyond the dark matter of a half-baked plot, there is a story that needs to be told or a painting that wants to be painted.
Astronomers know that beyond the glimmer of a of a billion years lies astonishment. And an artist must be like an astronomer and trust that beyond the dark matter of self doubt that story will appear.
When I ask myself why I never finish anything- my mind will assume that this question is valid and that the statement is true and I will supply all kinds of evidence and end up concluding that I shouldn’t even bother writing.
I call this particular kind of self-questioning leading the witness.
It’s like there is this big trial going on inside me and the prosecuting attorney wants me to confess that I am guilty of never finishing anything–and of course I have this very compliant witness inside me that is swayed easily and will provide lots of evidence that I am guilty as charged.
But the thing is it’s not true. I’m not guilty. I do finish things all kinds of things.
I have learned that when I feel stuck or confused, I try to ask questions like: What can I do today to get back on track- to keep me excited- to keep me focused on my writing goals? How can I make better choices to keep going when I get bored or confused by my script— or how can I increase my focus when I am distracted and in danger of losing my momentum? These questions are more effective because they have me asking a wiser part of myself how to do what I am trying to do.
A writer asking themselves why they are not writing might miss the implied judgement in the question, and judgement of self is not useful for moving forward in life or in art.
Judgement– to stay with the legal metaphor is a way to punish yourself and lock yourself up in a prison of self doubt. Or if that’s too dramatic-it’s a good way to slow you down or even cause you to give up.
Who, what and how questions imply that there is a solution. These questions move us into a part of our brain where we can strategize and plan and problem-solve and analyze. How can I get the support I need? How can I organize my time to make room for writing?
If we want to transform something, change something, finish something, asking why is not the best way to do it.
Of course writers need to ask why their characters do what they do. Asking why can helps justify an action or a decision. But, writers do not need to supply evidence of their lack of discipline, dedication or actual talent around writing itself. That is a waste of your time.
So if you are wondering why you aren’t writing, don’t ask why.
If you do–well–I object–the prosecutor is leading the witness.
“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
It’s December 31st 2017. I am re-blogging this post from 2013, a very difficult year in my life and I’m sending it out to anyone who has struggled this year.
Life this year has been stamping it’s foot, screaming at the top of it’s lungs–that I should face my life and not look away. Well I have faced my life. I’ve stared it down, and looked directly at jmany harsh truths. I’ve struggled with all my might, mostly against my own self torment. And here is what I have learned.
1. Not to fear my fear.
2. Not to feel bad about feeling bad.
3. Not to be ashamed of my shame.
4. I have everything I need to create change in my life.
5. And sometimes disappointment and grief and loss are our greatest teachers.
So on this last day of the year when people are celebrating, I am going to take a moment to speak to those who are not.
If it has been a tough year for you–and you think you have nothing to celebrate–let me send you a message of hope. You are brave and amazing and resilient and strong, even if you don’t feel that way right now. And if you are looking into the abyss of your own lonely heart, let me tell you that I know what that is like.
Be kind to yourself. Be loving with yourself. Forgive yourself. Let yourself feel whatever you feel.
And if you have a hole inside you-that you can not fill or if you are angryand afraid, if you have a wound that has never healed–a mark that will not go away–remember you are absolutely beautiful, and your torn and tattered heart, only makes you more so.
I like to think of the Japanese idea of Wabi-sabi- and the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
So Happy Wabi Sabi New Year to you my kindred family.
I have hope for you even if you don’t right now.
Let me hold your hope for a while. It will be here when you need it.
You are going to feel happy and stardust shiny again.
“There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.” ~ Byron Katie
Today, I had the urge to write about something that I was outraged about. I was annoyed about a particular internet art star. I wanted to be the kid in the crowd who cries out that the emperor has no clothes. But I changed my mind. And even if I am right and the emperor is truly naked a lot of people love her. A lot of people hang on her every word and lavish fawning praise every time she overshares on her facebook fan page.
My grandmother used to say- “A still tongue in a wise head” In other words, keep your opinions to your self. So I will. I will not blab my snarly opinions, even though I want to. I will not be a critic. I will not be a judge. I will hold my tongue. It is just me being skeptical, about what I see as bullshit.
Truth is, I feel threatened by it. Not sure why. Some form of jealousy maybe? Some kind of resentful feelings about her success. Feelings of injustice maybe? My judgements might be my own insecurity. I don’t know. Then again I could be right. My skepticism could be spot on. What I see as a load of crap,could be indeed–crap.But it’s not my business. People apparently love crap. So who am I to try to counter that. Who am I to tell them what to believe. So I have told myself– Don’t sit around grumping in self righteous indignation about whether or not someone deserves their success.
You have your own work to do. I am reminded about my grade two teacher Mrs Clippingdale who never listened to tattle tales. She said if we were busy doing our work we wouldn’t be noticing other people not doing theirs. So thanks Mrs. C. I am taking your advice. I will do my own work. It’s not my job to save the world from naked emperors. Life is too short. So now–Back to work on this play. I am on draft three of that and I have a ways to go. Right now my play sucks so I need to stop avoiding it with indignation and other wastes of time.