Saturday, January 3, 2015

When Did You Learn To Fear Art?

"The primary benefit of practicing art, whether well or badly, is that it enables one's soul to grow." -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

In July 2013 I was on a yoga retreat in Tuscany.  (Yes, Tuscany.  It's ok to be jealous *wink*).
During some down time a group of us decided to take a walk.  One of the instructors (Scott Moore) asked me, "what do you create, Celeste?  What is your art?"  At the time I had really placed my left brain in the driver's seat.  While I felt proud of my artistic friends, I prided myself on keeping an obsessively orderly life.  Making art was messy.  It was for naturally creative people.  I was better suited to keeping my house clean, being productive, and my organizing every corner of my life.  The others in the group seemed to have an art, a passion, a creative outlet, so I decided to play along.  With a little thought I replied, "I don't have an art.  Cooking, I guess.  Being a teacher counts as creative."  I left it at that.  Little did I know that with one simple question a seed had been planted.  Somewhere inside my brain (probably not the left side) the question was living:  is there value in making art for art's sake?

Two real artists were also on this retreat  Jill Hooper and Kamille Corry.  These women are insanely talented, dedicated to their art, truly world class.  Everyday while the rest of us went on excursions, Kamille and Jill would stay at the farm and paint.  Here's a photo of Kamille's paint palette.

Doesn't it excite your heart?  My totally-in-denial inner artist knew she had to at least pull out her camera and capture a picture.

On the last night of the retreat Kamille and Jill held an art show.  They made invitations and delivered them to everyone.

I pressed those flowers and they are sitting on my own art desk today.  The night of the art show was ethereal, beautiful, magical.  Everyone dressed up.  There was a gentle buzz of excitement.  The soft glow of the evening Tuscan sun illuminated the art and its muse: Tuscany.

That's Kamille in black, getting ready.

Isn't this picture gorgeous?  Notice there is actually a farm animal behind the ladder.

Jill and her donkey.  So much love.

This night was one of those experienced where you are just flat out humbled to be there.  You want to capture the feeling, the memory, the image and store it somewhere in your soul for a dark winter's night.  I loved it.

Fast forward one year later.  By some grace I had spent enough time meditating (either that, or my left brain was getting worn out) that my right brain began to wake up.  I saw people around me whom I loved and respected making stuff.  I saw them enjoy it.  I saw that even though I'm not a world-class artist with a decades-long career, I could still create.  I could create really bad art and enjoy myself.  I could create really awesome art and surprise myself.  I could play.  I could get messy.

One day after getting up from meditation, I walked into what was then an empty bedroom in my house.  I thought about my friend Justin and his absolute delight in interior design.  He wasn't a formally-trained designer, he just loved it so much that he couldn't help but design.  I somehow gave myself permission to move into that room.  I had a blast.  I found some furniture on craigslist, started browsing paint colors, and found some prints on Etsy that really spoke to and inspired me.  When I was all done, a room that I never went in suddenly because a space I could not wait to inhabit.  Take a peek:

I love this space.  I love the second-hand desk and the window.  I love that it is organic and in-process.  I love the accent wall and it's paint color name: Mother Nature.  And the funny thing is, I was so afraid to do this.  It seemed so frivolous.  I kept justifying every move I made.  "Well, the chair was only $100 and the girl delivered it herself."  "Its just a temporary thing," I told my friends (and myself).  The truth was I loved it!  My life was seriously lacking frivolity, relaxation, and play (all of which are a breeding ground for creativity.

Why was I imposing this "everything must be serious to have value" mentality to my life?  I wanted to clear out any clutter, increase productivity, decrease down time and streamline my way to growth and arrival.  The thing is, you never arrive.  So you might as well enjoy the journey.  Rest and play are not luxuries.  They are essential to helping us operate as our most sane, authentic, fulfilled selves.  I realized that play includes the creation of art.  I am happy when I am making seriously crappy art.  And I was so scared to admit this.

This morning I went to visit my cousin and her two beautiful daughters.  Here is Alice (almost 3) working playing away at her creative process.

Doesn't that make you happy?  This year I am going to allow myself to create.  I'm going to scribble frivolously.  I'm going to enjoy the process without being so focused on what it is exactly that I am creating.  I am going to do that which I love to do.  No apologies.  No excuses.  Just art.

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