Chaos and Change


Over and over, I notice the parallels of the practice of making original art with personal growth in the therapeutic arena. In my role as therapist and artist, I observe that the parallels are amazing. Generally, integrating change in life is preceded by a period of disorienting chaos. The feeling is one of being out of control, overwhelmed and distracted. Here's the thing: the same thing happens in creating a painting. You come to a place in the process where you land in "the ugly painting". Every artist knows this place. It's so disheartening; after many, many hours of intention, physical effort, decision making (choice of colors, brushes, value and design decisions) you land in this ugly place. Not again!


It's at this juncture I put my naughty babies on "time out". A best choice. Go bake a pie. Go to the beach. In biblical terms, go to the desert. Meditate. Bake bread. Read. Start a different project. Incubation time is needed for clarity. This is a topic of much discussion in classes and mentoring programs for artists.


I have facilitated over 20 Artist Way groups (al'a Julia Cameron). I also participated in a 3-day Artist Way Program at a spa in Austin, Texas, facilitated by Julia herself. I am reminded of her many lessons. For example, when you hit an artistic "U-turn", similar to ‘hitting the wall’ in our personal lives, she recommended turning to simple things like walking, meditating, cleaning out closets, making soups, breads, and pies ...in contrast to the chaos that thunders outside your door. I add to that reading & making time for favorite music. This creates a space, a time for rest and integration of lessons learned. Returning to simple restorative practice fills the creative bucket as it returns us to living a creative life. When that bread comes out of the oven, voila! We are enlivened. When I lose touch with 'soulful living’, I become ungrounded in my life as well as in my creativity. Unmoored. The pandemic has hit our whole culture and people feel this mind-bending shift in our common reality. Truly, art reflects life and life reflects art. I keep relearning this.


When the shut-down occurred, I moved a small studio to my home. I was very disorganized in both studios. I realized, I needed to purge years of accumulated ephemera and books from my studio ... and my home. My aesthetic shifted, changed. At first alarming (how do I justify my past works?), I embraced the new perspective, an artist journey. I needed to clear a space for the new by releasing the old and create breathing room. This happens in life as a natural aging process. We leave behind many developmental stages and embrace our new reality. A teenager no more, I learned the ropes of adulthood. As I entered the arena of an older adult, I embraced mentoring. How we perceive expansion changes as well. A time of letting go envelops us.


I was recovering a confidence in my aesthetic as I cleared out. Overly busy managing all these ‘things’, I had neglected my home and my studio. I had stopped enjoying time in my kitchen, reading, walking, having time to do nothing. Internal ‘things’ started shifting as external ‘things’ found a new order. I took advantage of the lull in momentum created by the pandemic. My creativity had suffered as I had no time for the ‘muse’ to assert herself in long walks and lazy baths.

Newly energized, I tackled a long-held dream of re-branding my artist self, hired support to update social media sites and begin a process of creating a newly thought out professional business of making art, rather than running from one thing to the other, squeezing in a few hours here and there to paint. This in turn has led to streamlining how I organize my entire calendar, clinic, studio and personal time. I am eating better, sleeping better, feeling calmer. A new day awaits. How about you? What are you learning from the new world order we are living in?


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The Alameda Artworks
The Alameda, San Jose, CA, USA