I’m an Art Rebel

February 23, 2015 in creativity, inner muse, inner wisdom, inspiration, mindfulness

 

live outside the box

 

The other week when I was dropping of some creative deeds for #creativedeed365 project, I left several around the restaurant we were eating at.  I figured the restaurant was full so why not? My eldest son laughed at me and called me an “Art Rebel” like some kind of Marvel superhero. At the time he said it, I had to laugh too: there I was sneaking around public places looking for just the right spot to leave a creative deed for an unsuspecting person to stumble upon and perhaps make their day, maybe even inspire some of their own creative power to shine through.  Yes I felt like an art rebel for sure!

 

It also felt rebellious to be doing it without trying to take credit for it – quickly placing them in spots where others could find them but not while others could see me do it- anonymously. I am an Art Rebel!

 

In the grocery store . . . 

 

Where I teach . . .

 

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At a senior’s building . . .

 

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Then I started thinking about the idea of being a “rebel”.
The Merriam Websters dictionary defines a rebel as: “A person who opposes a person or group in authority : a person who does not obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior, dress, etc.”.

 

While this definition is a little more extreme than what I mean by Art Rebel, one thing that stands out for me is the “does not obey rules or accept normal standards” part.  Not so much in the act of leaving creative deeds for others to find, but more in the way that I create these little creative deeds. Like my usual process they have been spontaneous, intuitive, and free-flowing without a particular plan to them other than following the constraints of the cue card I use as a base. I add a message, but don’t make my art around the message instead the message finds a voice in the art and once I see this I add the verbal rendition of this message in. Sometimes I use quotes that I stumble upon that fit with what I’ve created. Sometimes it’s seemingly disjointed words which begin to make sense when I place them together with the imagery. There are no rules perse, only unlimited options for expressions.

 

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To me this is not just what an art rebel is it is what following your creative muse is about. Many people don’t identify themselves as creative or artists because they measure creativity by artistic skill.  As a result their inner artist is trapped inside, without permission to come out. But what if you were to see art I. A different light and rather than judge it by standards of professional art view it as a creative expression capable by anyone willing to take the courage and express themselves. An art Rebel doesn’t allow inner critics or outside judgement to silence their creative voice. An Art Rebel does not follow the rules of conventional art. An Art Rebel creates their own standards of expression and recognizes when these too may hold them back.

 

I’m an art rebel and I’m proud!

 

Creative Deeds for Me and You

February 2, 2015 in creative tools, creativity, inner muse, inner wisdom, inspiration, mindfulness, poetry, self-care

 

 

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I have been making  little art offerings to give away as random acts of kindness as part of Gretchen Miller’s  #CreativeDeed365.  Though January has proven to be too busy for me (I’m doing one extra day of clinical art therapy, plus teaching and extra class for the Toronto Art Therapy Institute) to make these daily, I have been making batches of them on the weekend or on evenings when I have some down time.  They have become somewhat of a meditative practice for me; flipping through magazines and picking out words or phrases that entice me as well as textures or photos that inspire and putting these together in ways that seem right in the moment.

Live Life

They have been relaxing to do, and fun to leave in places where unsuspecting by passers might spot them and pick them up.  This has actually been challenging, since I really don’t want to be “caught” leaving them somewhere for others.  I like the mystery of it all, yet my critical self starts second guessing if anyone will find them or more specifically pick them up.

 

Anais Nin quote

So far I have left these little messages of hope in washroom of restaurants, yoga studios, bulk stores, public transit, community centres, an ATM

Trust the process, trust the process, I keep reminding myself.  It has become my daily mantra.

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What is this process anyway? By committing to make these little art offerings I am also committing to making art more regularly. The nature of these means that they are very in the moment and spontaneous driven. They are process oriented, yet there is the structure of a message that seems important for me to share at the time that I make it.  I follow my intuition.

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Another part of the process is the placing of them in public places where they will be discovered by someone who will enjoy them.  There is of course the process of letting go.  Some of them I start to feel attached to in that I might like one more than another. Though I take pictures of each one, leaving them for someone else allows me to practice the act of releasing, letting go and non-attachment.  I don’t need these cards, but because I created them sometimes it feels like I should hang on to the ones I like. Letting them go helps me stay true to the process of creating for the sake of creating rather than for a product to hang on to.

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I will keep you posted as I continue to leave these little art offerings for others.  Who knows maybe they will inspire the finder to make some of their own.  Maybe it will inspire a journal entry, or some art making in response.  If you would like to follow along and see the cards that I am leaving for others you can follow me on INSTAGRAMTwitter Pinterest or Facebook .

If you really want to challenge yourself, you can make your own art response to the messages on my creative deeds in your art journal.  And of course you can make your own creative deeds to share with others- whenever you want (no rules). 

Embracing Your Creative Self

January 25, 2015 in inner wisdom, inspiration, mindfulness

 

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“The thing that is missing from your life is you”  Guy Finley
 

Sometimes we spend a lot of time looking for things. Things to make our lives better, things to make us feel better, look better, be better. We seek change to happen to us. We seek change or transformation as if it’s a commodity we can purchase. We get sucked into the notion that there is always something better out there that we need to be, better as if what we have or what we are is not enough.

 

This searching for something more only serves to reinforce any feelings of insecurity or not being enough.

 

Do you see where this is going? The striving to be or have something more or better ends up making us feel less than we are. It preys  on our insecurities and makes us seek outside of ourselves even more.

 

But what if we began to believe that all we are is enough? What if we accepted ourselves as we are and basked in this revelation. Even if we are not perfect.  Even if doesn’t meet our expectations?

 

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I’m not saying that things should just stay as they are, but the idea that we need to change to improve is misleading. When we  begin to accept ourselves for who we are we open the door to our full potential, not trying to change who we are but rather expanding the notion of our Selves outside of the preconceived restricted notions we may hold about who we are becoming.  The  way I see it is that we are constantly growing and evolving.

 

This opening to acceptance is essential. Rather than looking at self as something broken in need of fixing we may look at self with compassion. And when we have compassion for self we can connect better with self.  When we are more connected with self we are more of who we really are – the possibilities that exist inside flourish in that kind of attitude and environment.

 

What kind of environment are you fostering for your self to grow in?

 

Here are some tips that I have found helpful for opening to my inner possibilities:
     

  1. Start the day with a clean slate: I spend 10 minutes in the morning (most) sitting in silence just noticing my thoughts and going back to my breath.
  2. Do something you enjoy each day, whether it is 5 minutes of dance, doodling, art journaling, playing with your kids, or yoga.  Just give your self permission to do it, expanding the time as it becomes more comfortable for you to gift this to yourself.
  3. Notice what is, there is beauty everywhere, recognize it within yourself and name a strength of yours.
  4. Find something to celebrate about your day: the way you handled that conflict well, that the sun was shinning, the infectious laugh of a child you crossed paths with, the smile of a stranger, whatever it is notice it and celebrate it.
  5. Use affirmations to remind yourself of your worth.

 

Witnessing the Unfolding

January 13, 2015 in art therapy, expressive arts, inner wisdom, inspiration

 

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This past weekend I witnessed the beauty of women connecting with their inner wisdom. This is one of the many things I love about my work: holding space for the unfolding of the creative process as it guides  people back to their inner wisdom. In my clinical practice this happens as well but often over a longer period of time. There is something about the workshop process that allows participants to engage their inner wisdom at a quicker pace and in ways that pleasantly surprise them.   I feel honoured to be a witness to this.

 

Each woman was unique in her process with separate but overlapping intentions for participating. Each came to the workshop with their own ideas and goals for participating.  Their willingness to explore and share their journey simply by being present was inspiring to me.

 

We laughed, their were some tears, expressed desires and intentions. We released old patterns form 2014,  shared new intentions and visions for 2015.

 

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Each woman knew they wanted to be there, but not necessarily why. Their original vision of what they would accomplish shifted in ways that empowered them connecting them to their inner wise woman.

 

I was in awe of their strength, their willingness to open to vision. Each board reflected their uniqueness, beauty and power. These strong women embraced their heart’s desires, ripped through pages and pages of magazine in search of a connection with their intentions in visual form.

 

No two vision boards were the same. They were as different from each other as they were different from what each thought their vision board would look like. And that was the point. Sometimes we think we know what we want but it is this very thinking that  gets in our way of our true desires. If we allow ourselves to feel our way toward a vision for ourselves, the outcome can be miraculous.

 

I share this here to remind you that you too have the answers inside. There is no need to over think the answers. For they will come when you are ready to open to your vision.

 

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Looking Back to Look Forward

December 30, 2014 in creativity, inner wisdom, inspiration, mindfulness, Self-Love

 

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The beginning of a new year often seems like a over-rated time to begin anew with setting intentions for the year ahead. But to me New Years is a symbolic of a new start, a reminder that at any time we can begin anew and make positive changes in our lives. We don’t need to wait for New Years to do this however there is something about the idea of a NEW Year that helps us focus on the possibilities of letting go of the old in the past year to make room for the possibilities of what we can invite into our lives.

But in order to make room for creative possibilities ahead we must pay respect to those creations which have already been nurtured into being by us.

This year brought so many new beginnings, lessons and opportunities into my life. Here are some of the highlights I would like to share below:

1) I began my year by going on a much-needed retreat with my soul mate and best friend.  It was an important reminder to me how essential self-care is being in the helping field.   Always remember to give back to yourself, so that you have the energy to give to others.

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2) I was part of Dirty Foot Prints Studio’s 21 Secrets Spring, offering my workshop Inner Art Explorations combining my love of nature, meditation and art in art journaling. (You can still purchase 21 Secrets Spring 2014, the 21 Secrets fall 2014 or the newest Spring 2015 21 Secrets here) Note: these are affiliate links which means I get a portion of fees from purchases through these links- this is how I get paid as a 21 Secrets teacher.

 

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3.) I went on a wonderful bike trip with my friends and colleagues!  We stayed at a beautiful luxury cottage. This is the second year we’ve done this together and it looks like it will be turning into a yearly thing!

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4) I took some time off to visit California! I took time to relax with my soul mate and left the online world behind for a few days!

 

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5.) While guiding several Painting With Your Muse Workshops I met so many fabulous Muses!

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6.) I was invited to be part of  Art Therapy Alliance’s 30 day Facebook Hop in June.
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7.) I made the top 50 Art Therapy blogs! http://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/expressive-artists/top-50-art-therapy-blogs/

8.) I enjoyed some beautiful spa days and nature adventures while I was off for the month of August.

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9.) I was proud to be a part of 21 Secrets Conversations over at  Dirty Foot Prints Studio’s.  Click the picture below to watch this interview. It’s FREE!

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10.) I hosted a Doodle A Day Challenge for the month of November and doodled every day!

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While I have just shared some of the highlights these are by no means the only celebrations from my year.  There were many more, just as there were times of disappointment.  I chose to focus here on the positives, as the lessons learned from the more challenging times are personal to me, but just as important to acknowledge and reflect upon.  Be honest with yourself but gentle too.  When you take the time to reflect upon your year you may be surprised at just how many highlights there were as well as important lessons.

Take some time to acknowledge your accomplishments from this year.  Allow yourself to let go of perceived failures and accept the lessons  as gifts. Take some time now and review your year. What gifts has this year brought you?

 

For a limited time I will have my link for my New Beginnings Guided Meditation available for those who are signed up for my newsletter and Free e-course Free Your Inner Child. You can sign-up below or to find out more click here: Free Your Inner Child Free e-course

 

Want to connect more with your playful side?
Sign-up below for my FREE eCourse  and free Your Inner Child today!

Bonus! Download my New Beginnings meditation when you sign-up before Jan. 10th 2015!

New Beginnings Guided Meditation

 

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Lessons In Letting Go

December 22, 2014 in art journaling, creative tools, creativity, expressive arts, inner wisdom, intuitive painting, mindfulness

Letting Go solstice 2014

Flowing across the floor as I dance that is where my comfort lies. The sharp movements of staccato feel awkward forced. It’s as if something is off and it is. Staccato in 5 rhythms is a force to be reckoned with. A few weeks back I attended a 5 Rhythms movement workshop and have been processing it’s effects since.

This is why I love the expressive arts. It gets us in touch with parts of our Selves that otherwise might be ignored, and left  unexplored.  There are many more than just five rhythms to life. But how many of our own rhythms, or ways of being in this world do we actually allow ourselves to connect with?  Or perhaps it is better to look at these rhythms as potentials for being in life.

 

At the workshop I attended I was reminded of this. How important it is to let ourselves go and freely experience these  other parts of self.

 

When I paint or art journal or do any sort of creative expression I give myself permission to connect with these true aspects of self.  This includes the parts we may avoid as well. The shadows that scare us or seem ugly are held safely in the space of the large canvas or paper.  Containing them this way allows them to be  explored more deeply.  When this happens, the parts of self that are meek or shy are able to make an appearance, peeking through the pages of my art journal, knowing that they will be seen yet protected between covers.

 

This is the beauty of self-expression through the arts.  We are not limited by our technical skill, but only by our minds and their eagerness to control out comes.  The more we work in this expressive-process-oriented way the more room we give for authenticity, unhindered by outcome and our own judgement.

 

Last night I went to the annual Festival of Lights celebration here in Toronto and was reminded of this once again while I watched the burning of a magnificent bird sculpture.  Every year a different sculpture is made and lit for the final bon fire as community gathers to celebrate  this time of year.  There is no sadness as the paper mache sculpture burns, in fact we are all in awe, embracing the beauty of the moment and releasing it happily.  The sculpture, a product made through a loving process of communal expression is not as important as the process of creating it.

 

I am reminded of how easy it is to let go when we are not invested in hanging on.  I am reminded of how difficult it can be to let go within ourselves when we place unnecessary expectations on ourselves.  And so the process of creating in the expressive arts has the potential for powerful lessons in letting go and connecting with the present.  Letting go of the past and our frustrations with it and letting go of our future hopes which inadvertently can suggest that what is now is not enough.

 

Need some help developing or maintaining a creative practice? Why not create in community?

Art journaling, intuitive painting or creative visioning available online and in Toronto

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Setting Intentions

December 8, 2014 in creative tools, dreams, inner wisdom, inspiration

 

world is a canvas

 

I have never been the best planner. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants for the most part. Getting ideas and acting on them shortly after. But in the last few years, at about this time of year I find that I am drawn to doing a little more planning ahead than usual, and do you know what I have noticed? The things that I am dreaming to do and wanting to make happen are coming together much smoother as a result. I know, I know, hard to believe right?

 

But seriously there are a few rituals that I do this time of year as the seasons are changing.  Where I live things are getting colder and I tend to go into my shell a little more – in a good reflective way that is.

 

One of the things that I always do this time of year is clear out old junk, literally and metaphorically speaking. The last few weeks I have been tidying around the house and in my home studio space (there are pockets of creative space throughout my house) getting rid of stuff that I don’t use. I have been clearing out the old to make room for the new. Not necessarily new stuff, but new ideas, dreams, hopes, aspirations, the kind of stuff that takes up a lot of mental and emotional space and needs a tidy organized environment to thrive. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a neat freak, and I’m all for a bit of creative chaos, just as long as it doesn’t become so distracting that it gets in the way of my new ideas and creativity growing.

 

Another thing I like to do this time of year is a vision board, otherwise known as a dream board. I find that as a visual person, visioning my year ahead in this way helps me tap into those unconscious dreams and aspirations in ways that just writing lists cannot. And it is a tool that I can use throughout the year to help keep me focused on my vision and my intentions for the year.

 

The next thing that I like to do is review my Life & Biz planner from the year (I use Leonie Dawson’s Shining Year in Life and Business). It is amazing to see what I have dreamt up and what I have accomplished. I review throughout the year of course.

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I then set out to fill in my new planner for the upcoming year. This is by no means a rushed process. I like to begin to fill it out in early December and work on it as much as I can each week so that I am ready for the new year. I don’t always fill out every part, and sometimes come back to fill out parts when it makes sense for me to.

What I know is that this process of doing opening to vision and  filling in the 2015 workbook help bring more clarity into my life. These simple but powerful rituals really help me focus on my intention to bring more of what I want into my life, namely a joy filled year.

What do you do to help bring life into your intentions?

 

Need some support getting started?  In person or online vision board workshops are available.  Creative visioning online workshops available, online art journaling and  Toronto vision board workshop.

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Creative Flow

December 1, 2014 in art therapy, creative tools, creativity, inner muse, inner wisdom, inspiration, mindfulness

 

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Going with the flow is something that is thrown around a lot as the way to “be”. While I’m not against this notion, I do think we need to first define what exactly this “going with the flow” means or looks like. One might conjure up an image of a free-flowing, stress-free, worry-free life, doing things as they come or feel right to do. But does life really play out that smoothly?

 

Going with the flow can be difficult. Our tendency is to fight the current. Pun intended. It’s hard to stay in the present. We resist allowing ourselves to just go where we might because we fear losing control. Going with “the flow” is not about loosing our identity, it’s about accepting it.

 

There have been many times that I thought I was going with the flow only to find out that I was paddling against it.  Trying to prove something to myself or to others.  Going with the flow to me is about being present, noticing what is before you and trying not to get pulled into the past or the future worries.  When we give too much importance to criticism our focus becomes worry oriented and our fears (such as fear of failing), can keep us disconnected from our creative selves.

 

So how does one go with the flow more readily? That is a very good question. Just as we all have our own unique creative expression, and need to go at our own pace, it is also important to recognize that going with the flow is a very individual process which we each need to figure out.  Some of us may be fast paced, full of energy and take a “go-go-go” stance. That may just feel right for some but for others the pace may be more turtle like, slow and steady.   So the real question is what are some ways that personal flow can be honoured.

 

Flow happens when we find our own voice. Flow happens when we recognize what blocks us or makes us stumble so that we can be prepared for any falls, and accepting of them as part of our path.  Tapping into our flow is a practice. Something that once you have given yourself the space and permission to explore will come as your awareness of self deepens.

 

Flow happens with creative practice.  We need to take the space for our creativity because it is ours to take, and won’t be given to us.  Excuses will only serve to slow the flow, and keep us disconnected from our creative wisdom.  But we need to make that move, whatever it is to get the flow started.  Movement inspires movement and prevents stagnation.

 

At first it may feel awkward, particularly if you have been out of your creative flow.  But as you keep going back to your creative practice you will begin feel, intuit what feels right for you. It won’t feel forced, but rather will naturally flow.  There will be bumps along the way, you may fall, but if you allow yourself to roll with the falls then you are still in the creative flow.

 

Need some help developing or maintaining a creative practice? Why not create in community? Art journaling or creative visioning available online and in Toronto.

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Creating in Community

November 24, 2014 in art therapy, creativity, inner critic, inner muse

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I have a confession, I have reached a point where I have run out of words. I know it won’t last but it is uncomfortable just the same. Here I am supposed to be writing something inspiring to you the reader- even that sounds drab and unexciting. But I could not think of what to write, that is until I began to write.

The act of writing in and of itself began to inspire me and the words that had not come to me before this moment began to flow. It doesn’t always happen this way. In fact, most times I just keep putting it off, stuck in my thoughts of “I have nothing important to say”. Does this sound familiar? Or perhaps your inner voice sounds something like “I have nothing important to create/paint/draw/sculpt/art journal (fill in the blank) about.”

When I was doodling daily it felt good; the inspiration came to me through the doing not the talking, and I was reminded why I chose the profession of art therapist rather than just therapist: it is the doing that shakes things up and gets creative juices flowing, not the other way around. You can’t actually think things into being until you actually act on those thoughts. And sometimes if we can just skip the (conscious) thinking all together we’ll surprise ourselves with what appears before us when we just begin to create.

A story that is not recorded either through written word, spoken word or depicted visually are just trapped thoughts until they are released.

Reading posts on creativity or viewing videos on connecting with your creativity may spark that inner creative fire, but it won’t sustain it. What sustains our creativity is creating- nothing else. It is the act of creating that gives us the drive and the hunger for more creating. It is not the thinking about it that keeps that creative spark lit.

This is where most people get stuck. The starting of the “doing”; the act of creating rather than waiting for that perfect time when nothing else is in the way. Too much planning and expectation can be the death of a creative spark. Over-thinking can betray our creativity.

Do you remember when you were a child how great it felt to share what you did? “Look at me” was your mantra. Family, teachers, and friends would gather round and give you your 2 minutes of fame, genuinely interested in what you had created. When we create in community, with others as our witness it can be reaffirming of who we are. Community is important, it is a part of what makes us human.

I know for me having accountability to other than myself can be motivating, for example saying I’m going to create daily doodles and then sharing them. Creating in community or with a witness can be a powerful process. Creating in this context is a sustainable practice.

It doesn’t have to be big or even daily, though a daily practice can certainly help. The important thing is that you create following your rhythm and flow. I’m not saying it is easy. But when you set the inner critics and busy mind aside, it is possible to reconnect with your creativity, sustaining it one brush stroke at a time.

 

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The Messy Stuff of Creativity

November 11, 2014 in art therapy, creativity, inner wisdom, mindfulness

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I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to write my next blog post about and have been stuck.  After writing a little something daily and posting doodles for the past month of October my mind has come up blank.  I have my moments when I seem to have a lot to say and am on a role.  The same happens in my art making, I go through stages when I am making art all the time and then it just stops.  I use to panick  and worry that I was not creative enough to sustain my art making.  Now I try to just roll with it.  There is a natural ebb and flow that happens with creativity which often is forgotten.

When we are driven by product its easy to forget the importance of honoring the process.  This includes embracing the unknown aspects of our creative process, that which has not yet unfolded and which still needs time to grow.

Creativity is made up of many parts, which often occur under the radar of most people’s awareness.  We take things in from our environment and our experience of them can ignite a creative spark. The ideas  (for lack of a better word) may sit there, meditating in a sense until they are ready to come forward. Thus the seed is planted, nurtured, then germinates,  sprouts, and the seed grows becoming more than the original seed, now a living entity.

This is the messy stuff of creativity, it’s unpredictability. It pushes us to let go of our need for  control, our need to know.

The right environment has to exist for sure, one of acceptance and willingness to venture into the unknown, but also an environment which has just the right emotional temperature, and timing.  Timing can not be bartered with, the seed of the creative idea knows just when it is ready to sprout, and no two are alike.  This is the messy stuff of creativity, it’s unpredictability. It pushes us to let go of our need for  control, our need to know.

Creativity is of course more than a sum of its parts. It is a beautiful dance which occurs between the art maker and their creative fire. A letting go of expectations so that the dance can be danced without inhibition and with the utmost of expression.

When I am  comfortable with my unique creative pace  I am more prepared to  be patient with the unfolding and witnessing of creative ebb and flow in others.