CREATIVITY AS BIRTHRIGHT

Creativity and artistic expression are our birthright..or so I read in a self help book in early recovery  24 years ago. . Are we truly just born with an innate sense of how to see the world in a creative way, before the trenches of life’s offerings bury deep that longing?  What if after all the negative messages ( intentional and unintentional) one receives, nothing is left in that space that creativity holds but the dummied down, diluted version, afraid to draw outside the lines? Staying inside the lines assures that I will not make a mistake, and that I will keep to some belief I have bought into, that I must be perfect and orderly in some way. It changes the way I see things, only looking for the representational in everything, closing my mind to the possibilities.


I see this response in others when I share with them I am an artist. Some of the first things they usually offer up to me are “I am not creative at all. I can’t draw or do anything like that. I wouldn't know where to start. I don’t have a creative bone in my body. ” Inside my heart, I soften and compassion floods my being for this person, sometimes a total stranger. I see my reflection in them, and want to take them to all the secret places I have held inside of me, to show them what is possible when I uncovered the layers that shrouded my own creative processes for almost 50 years.   I was that person. I drew stick figures, and believed if I couldn't draw a figure with perfect looking proportions, or make a life like drawing of my own accord, from a   picture in a magazine, for example,  then surely I was not creative or talented. It is no surprise that I am drawn to work in layers now, to find the Hidden Underneath. Revealed within them are pieces of my history ,and the art that I find a need to create out of them. When I could not see myself for the creative person who I really was, I would forever defend the layers underneath, because in exposing them, I must show you who I am.


I just finished 6 intense days in the print studio I rent from time to time. It is a luxury I cannot afford but must afford. I had to tear myself away at each day’s end, almost as if I was afraid of there not being a beginning again.  I can’t pour the ideas out fast enough, nor can I change the fact that the learning process of polymer plate printmaking can yield one technical mistake after another. No matter what notes I have, workshop or class I took, or how hard I seem to try not to , mistakes I will make.   Hopefully, before I get too insanely frustrated, I will learn from them. Sometimes they are the most powerful, or beautiful of mistakes. They are the ones I keep and treasure.  

I had the grace of working with Keith Howard, master printmaker and teacher, last month. He took me to the press the first day, and as a print would roll off, he would say “now turn it around and put the plate back on the other way and send it back through”. He could see my horrified expression. He could hear it in my small little vulnerable voice responding “really” ? This went on for some time, until he was standing there watching me on my own, He had me adding different plates on top of one another,  taking them outside the boundaries of the first print line, adding chine colee,, then using collage to add  a piece on top of another. He knew where I needed to go creatively, and just gave me active permission to do it. "What if" he would ask, and I followed the bread crumbs down the trail he had marked for me.  I am so grateful to him for that. I observed his wife, Bernice, taking a plate I might have thrown away as it “didn't turn out” and cutting it into pieces and  then using them on top of a larger plate. She just kept rolling with it. Her work was so full of emotion, so rich, so uniquely her and so wonderfully, utterly creative.


Creativity is a big word for what makes your heart sing (or cry out) in an artistic way. That is my definition…doesn't matter what venue in the Arts one takes to find that path..all roads lead there.


I used to draw stick figures. I used to say “I am not creative”.  I would “WOW” at someone else’s  artistic gifts and lower my eyes to the ground,  so they couldn't see through me to  the shame I had been reduced to inside.  The embarrassment of not being comfortable in my own skin, and the lack of  creative talent I felt I did not, and would never, possess; caused such separation in my being  I would become an "IT" instead of a "ME". It was the lowest place I could go to hide emotionally, to protect myself from the truths I needed to find courage for to face and heal.  Art gave me the space to that, and found me along the way. Discarded by the side of the road, bruised and bloody, it gave me a safe haven.  Creativity, it seems, was what I had used to survive all those years. It was just disguised in a different form.

Creativity was, and is, my birthright, and now it has been returned to me. I brought “IT" back in to "Me", from a very lost, far away place. I own it now, it is mine, and it is no longer buried in "the artist that never was or could be"  graveyard. My prayers sing out to all who tell me they aren't creative, that  you will find your way home to your heart, and it will deepen. Art can heal you, if you let it.  It is your birthright.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Lost Soul

Intaglio print

16 x 20

ART AS STORY

All my artistic leanings have the central theme of art as story.   It doesn't matter what story you're going to tell or how you're going to tell it. What's important is it that a word is written, an image is drawn, a moment in time is captured. The story is shared, and as it is passed from one to another, so is the energy contained in the light threads from which it was woven.

 So many times the stories remain inside of us, like a field of bones buried in the yard by a very smart dog. He seems quite peaceful in his Buddha Zen dog self, moving about his days basking in the sun, enjoying his daily walks with his humans, and the treasure of routine. Then, seemingly without warning, he is compelled with a fervor and urgency, to go about digging for the buried piece of history.  His nails become tools, raking thru the earth and throwing aside anything that comes into their path, until the desired object is at last unearthed.   He always remembers where to find them, after years of forgetting that he had ever left them there in the first place.  They were always there waiting for him where he had buried them..underneath.

On hardened soil, in the rocky ground, and under the watchful eye of an unfolding night sky, lay my skin and bones.  I may unearth one piece of bone rather quickly, and go to town on it, chewing and gnawing the pieces up into a writing frenzy. Some find their way to my visual palette, and  when I put the bones together they fit so perfectly- It is as if that pre-determined moment was there all the time, wondering why it took me so long to find it.  Yet, there may be others that have to decompose some more, the skin still hanging in pieces off the meat, too raw, too fresh. Some may ever remain behind, buried deep and unrecovered, for the next dog that follows to discover. The true story is now only a ghost, along with it's teller, lost forever.

UNDERNEATH 

 I am dusting off the remains now, like an archaeologist in the den of an excavation site, of what I have buried. The large, soft camel hair brush gently removes bits of sediment  from the calcified remains, and the face

    of a warrior emerges, fearless and full of courage. Her war paint covers her high cheekbones in shades of scarlet, yellow and streaks of blue indigo.  I see her luminescent  features reflected back at me, and they are the same as mine. She is expressive, bold, and creates artistic works that jar the deepest cracks in my soul, urging them to melt back together, as if I were fusing one of my encaustic wax pieces.  She has a determined. piercing  look in her eyes, and lots of dirt under her short nails.  She is  not unlike the dog. When the time was right, she  went to work without hesitation, and with great intention. Clumps of Earth zing past me, creating a  wild spray of raw umber flashing by the corner of my eyes.  I bow to her, the strong she inside of me, and all the warriors who have the courage to unearth the truth and find voice for their stories.

     

    A DAY IN THE LIFE

    I have a problem. My right brain has gone wild, roaring down the tracks like a runaway train. I feel the sparking of neuron activity, igniting day into night, causing little sleep and much creativity.  The digital darkroom gives poetic and powerful transformation to my photos, tuning them into fine art.  I mount them on Wood panels , painting organic beeswax and resin quickly onto the surface. I see the wax harden before my eye, the kind of transformation that would fascinate me as a child, and realize it still does. I carve into the wax , following the crooked lines of the tree branch, or the  gentle curves of a  horses mane.  I disappear into the scene before me, feeling, touching  living in the textured surface.

    Later, my sunspot  freckled hands fly across the keyboard of my computer, urging me to dig deep into the well of  my emotions and paint in the form of words, write now... Kathy,  write now...

    I engage in dialogue with myself ;  don't forget to breathe, make some space...  Dig your toes deep into the sacred ground.    I am singing aloud  my favorite chant  Adi Shakti  with my heart, as I am working in the studio. The art goddesses and gods are beckoning me to come play with them 24/7. Everywhere I look there is an image to be captured , a panel to coat with wax, a story whose tale needs telling.

    This is the best problem I have ever had, blessings beyond measure. I bow at the feet of creation.  I am an Artist.