Inspiration and Cognitive Fires.

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. 

Glimpse of another world

 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. . .

Quantum relationships

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.

Fairy worlds under our feet. Tread lightly
Fairy Worlds

If you would like to view more of my paintings click here

It all started with a 100 Day blog.

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.

Junk Journal jpg 2

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.

Sally LIve Here2

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 

Painting and Writing and dreaming and stargazing

lunapicmorningstar

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.

 

lunapic_136700294065435_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading the Witness. A cautionary tale for my fellow writers and artists.

cropped-scan5.jpeg  

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.

Perry-Mason-Burr-Talman-1958-crop.jpg

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 goalsHow 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.

 

A New Year Wish for anyone struggling and not able to celebrate

Tall-trees-whisper-1


“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.

lunapic_136700294065435_2

Mind your own business

Scan
“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.

Sally LIves Here
Sally LIves Here

Phew!

Scan

I am working on my play again

after a couple of months of avoiding it.

I feel like I am standing in front of a house with no door–

and I am trying to figure out how to get back in.

Today I am going for a long walk around Trout Lake with my characters.

I hope they will speak to me and tell me where the secret door is.

Walking is often the way that I re-connect with my imagination,

when it has been otherwise engaged.

Lately it has been busy scaring me half to death about things.

Life has been complicated in recent months.

But my imagination likes to get in there with the worry,

and exaggerate it–turn it into an epic tragedy.

It likes to get me to rehearse my internal drama

and perform it to myself long after the curtain has

come down on whatever difficulty or annoyance or perceived injustice

I am facing. Yes I am obsessive.

Time to re-direct my unruly imagination and tell

it to stop scaring me– and instead help me write my damn play.

DSCF1309

Poem from a recurring dream.

I have built a little cage

on the edge of a cliff,

where I pretend–

to live contentedly,

rather than learn to swim across

the turbulent waters below.

Cushioned by the delusion of safety,

I hang there trapped–

above murky waters-

as if sitting alone in a cage–

is  preferable to the risk of drowning.

I watch with envy, all the

happy swimmers passing by.

They seem to calm the water

with their powerful strokes.

But the thought of being

swallowed by the current,

keeps me here,

behind the iron bars of

disappointment.

I  have dreamed this flooded landscape.

I have dreamed this turbulent water.

I have dreamed the murky depths.

And I have dreamed this cage.

Now  wide awake–

I am dreaming of a little red boat.

Red boat JPG

Some lists.

I reblogged this post from a few years ago

I think I have come a long way from this but some of them still apply.

 

Reasons I get stuck.

1. It is hard to keep going when the destination seems so
distant and unknown.

Imagining Frida
Imagining Frida

2. It is hard to keep believing in yourself–
when there is no real evidence that what you believe
is more than your ego gone wild.

3. It is hard to go on without recognition
or validation or reward–
because you could be delusional.
Completely mad.
It’s a distinct possibility.

4.It is hard to find a reason to keep going because of
all of the above.

5. And then there is the question of your own sanity.

So Here’s another list.

Reasons to question my own sanity.

1. I am writing the third draft a play–that may never be produced.

2. I probably could put time and effort into more lucrative pursuits yet
I persist.

3.The life of an artist is often painful, disappointing
frustrating and depressing.

I hate to say it, but this leads to another list .

Painful things about being an artist.

1.The weeping, nail-biting–
and hopeless staring at an empty
screen.

2.Thefeeling that I am absolutely on the right
track suddenly changing to the realization that I’m not.

3.Awareness that my ability
to say something-
that hasn’t been said-
by countless others–
seems–
a) lacking?
b)missing in action?
c)otherwise engaged.

3.The constant nagging voice inside me
saying unkind things about the value or validity
of my own work

4. Experiencing shame, jealousy and resentment for the success of others

5, Trying to not have jealousy and resentment for the success of others.

6. Feeling threatened by the success of others. Oh God! Help me!!!!

7. Though some artists, writers and actors are wildly successful
famous and rich– the majority of us deal with–

Oh dear– I guess it’s another list–

The 99 percent

1. lack of recognition,

2. crushing poverty

3. the thought of dying in obscurity

4. The realization that absolute failure is entirely possible

5. The ever looming reality of poverty–
and dying in obscurity increasing with age. Yikes!

BUT–

I realize that despite the above lists–

None of these are good enough reasons to give up my dream.

Not writing–because of fear of failure
ensures my success at one thing– failing.

Failure is possible enough without my helping it along.

And–If I do not write–

My fearful, negative, self will have defined me and
controlled me and won this battle.

AND SO

I keep

1. writing.

2. painting,

3. improving,

4. growing,

5. discovering–

and even though I am often–

1.stumbling

2. falling,
3.crashing,
4. burning.

I keep going.

Because

1.There is no turning back for me.

2.The road only goes one way.

3.There is no place that I can go back to.

4.The road behind me is closed.

Well folks–

if this has not been annoying enough–

Here is another list–this one is for you .

1.What are you working on?

2. If you are not really working on something–

What are you avoiding?

3.What are you risking by not risking?

What are you denying yourself

by not devoting yourself to the discipline?

4. What terrors are you subjecting yourself to

by not confronting the fear?

And last but not least–

5. Why are you reading my silly lists.

1.Go get to work.

2.Call the Muse.

3.Wait for her.

4.Don’t make other plans

She is most likely to show up when you are actually at your desk or your easel
on tapping away on a keyboard in bed or in a coffee shop or wherever you write.