I have invited you all along on this 31 day journey of exploring my painting this January, which it is both invigorating and scary at times because creating daily art is not always a given. It is an experience, a way to look inward and learn how the mind, soul and heart come together to create
Creativity can be mercurial, and our access to it sometimes has a life of it's own. The process of creating ebbs and flows, excites, invigorates, frustrates and exhausts. But most of all, it teaches us about the paradoxes involved in creating; being disciplined in order to seize an inspired moment, deconstructing old ways in order to grow new constructs, using ritual to let go of bad habits, or following the muse as you problem solve within certain constraints. Our job as an artist is to listen for it, coax it, and learn the lessons it teaches.
Sometimes we have to clear space for it, both literally and figuratively. When I started my first 31 days of painting in 2017, it I was at a point of needing a vast and thorough clearing out and cleaning up somewhere between Marie Kondo and Hoarders . Not just the space around me, but my mind and spirit were in need of it.
Like many women, I was at a place in 2017 where after doing the all. the. things. at a one time, taking care of everyone else and quite desperately trying to keep everything balanced, I was no longer in tune with my path, my creativity, or my needs.
I had been putting myself last on the list and knew I was ready to purge- getting rid of excess, changing, or rebuilding parts of my life from the ground up. I badly needed to re-evaluate and prioritize that which I valued and loved- and I needed to put myself at the top of the list.
So maybe it wasn't a surprise that a magical thing happened during the total eclipse of 2017.
I had been teaching classes at Painting with a Twist, ala Bob Ross style, for a few months. The day of the eclipse, artist and teacher Denise Hopkins https://denisehopkinsfineart.com/ flew in from New Orleans, to fine tune our methods, motivate and problem solve. I remember her enthusiasm and spark- her "can do" attitude, She spoke about taking up space in our lives; and communicating that with our bodies as we taught a class- standing tall, feet apart, palms upward, a sort of "wag the dog" approach that empowers our minds and bodies while bypassing fear and insecurity.
When the eclipse happened, she gathered with us in the eerily lit parking lot with our groovy eclipse glasses as we all experienced the awe of watching celestial bodies assert very plainly our tiny place in the universe. I later read about the spiritual meaning of a solar eclipse -
.." a time to focus on internal change, our most personal desires, and goals. The sun represents the personal significance of our desires and provokes changes that assist us in moving the unneeded from our path to help us reach and achieve our dreams."
The day was indeed strange and powerful that stayed with me as I traversed the next year.
I was inspired and kept up with Denise where I found out that she jump started her career in painting by doing 31 paintings in 31 days, way back in 2014. She was starting a group and I jumped on it, intrigued to see if I could do it, eager to bring more discipline and painting into my life. That first 31 days was transformative. I did not finish a painting every day, but the group was so encouraging and nurturing that instead of feeling guilty about it, I would just try again the following day.
In fact, I have done this every year since, and it has truly been one of the most transformative experiences for me as an artist. One of the biggest epiphanies is that I realized that if my painting wasn't "perfect", I didn't want anyone to see it. Denise and the "31ers" group, as we call ourselves, have helped me get over that aspect of being an artist. They have helped me embrace the artist inside and love it instead of shame it. Because we are a group of people simply practicing- practicing painting, writing, photography, organizing, walking, eating healthy- the whole spectrum. If we don't have something wonderful to show, it's okay, if we are stuck, someone can relate and help you through it. The lessons are something I try to carry on through the rest of the year. We could all extend a little more grace for ourselves, and for others. A little goes a long way.
I'm so appreciative of that day in 2017, meeting Denise, and all of the incredible people in the 31 group who have helped me grow artistically and spiritually. It is a nurturing, beautiful group of people and I'm a little sad today that it's ending for the year. But so very thankful to be a part of it.
I am also filled with gratitude that you have come along with me on this journey, following my art, subscribing to my website, encouraging me along the way, buying my paintings, and reading my blogs. It all means more to me than you could know. It allows me to do what I believe I am supposed to do in my life, what I love and wake up excited to do each day.