January '09 Seminar- Art Making as a Transformative Process.

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January '09 Seminar- Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 03 Jan 2009, 21:59

Hello, and welcome to the Speaker's Corner January Seminar.

I hope you find it as enjoyable and useful in the reading as I did in the writing. It really is amazing how much you learn about yourself when you try to put into words what you do.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process

Postby Bracken » 03 Jan 2009, 22:08

January seminar: Art Making as a Transformative Process [or ‘How Hiding Away to Draw Pictures Made Me See Myself Differently.’]

Happy New Year, everybody!
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A still from a performance video. The performers were my sister and myself.
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It’s January, traditionally the month that everyone gives things up (tobacco, fat, sugar,) or takes things up (yoga, jogging, meditation,) in order to improve themselves and their lives, and in this spirit of fresh starts I would like to talk about the magic of the visual arts as tools to use on our individual paths of self-exploration.

I love art. I love it in my blood and my bones, but it wasn’t always so because when I was a teenager at school, I was ‘rubbish at art.’ I think this is probably a common phenomenon. You see, when you are a small child, art making can come quite naturally. You don’t really question it. You just do it, like everything else. Even Picasso said famously that he had spent his entire life trying to learn how to draw like a child. Then you reach a certain age, usually round about 11 or 12 years old, and you want everything you draw to be a life-like representation, and if it isn’t you say to yourself, “I can’t do that. I’m rubbish at art.” You find it desperately embarrassing making any sort of mark. This can be compounded by teachers who also praise work that is a life-like representation, and an education system that often sees art as something you do if you’re not very clever. You avoid it as much as you can, and before you know it you’re 34 years old and you haven’t allowed yourself to make any sort of artwork for a couple of decades. If this is ringing bells, then I‘m speaking to you, because the great majority of adults, in this country at least, have the artistic ability (or experience) of an 11 year old. Honestly. That’s because we reach that age, get all judgemental about our art, and stop doing it.
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A photogram.
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I think this is a major tragedy. It is a tragedy for the world and for the person, and in this seminar I hope that I can explain why I feel that way and also encourage you to pick up a pencil again, or paint, a camera or video camera, modelling materials, anything really. I am currently about half way through a three year training to become an art psychotherapist, and with that in mind I feel the need to be clear up front. I am not talking about the creation of aesthetically pleasing or accomplished art works here, although that may be a bi-product of engaging with your art making process. What I am talking about is allowing your soul the space to speak, and that work can go very deep. In fact, it needs to go deep. We’re dealing with the unconscious.
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Paint and quilt cover on human.
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We can see the images that arise in our dreams or daydreams as a part of ourselves. The unusually furnished houses, the roaring lions or yapping dogs, the slow-moving rivers can be seen as messengers from our psyche. We understand that they are trying to tell us something about ourselves. In our meditations in the inner sacred grove or using other journeying techniques images can arise, people or animals, objects or situations that speak to us and teach us more personally and profoundly than any external teacher or healer could do. They are not as clearly recognisable as parts of us. They seem to come from a different place. Their appearance, their manner or their message can be shocking or surprising at times, but how do they know us so well? C G Jung of course used the term ‘collective unconscious’ to give shape and meaning to this phenomenon, a term which helps us to verbally express what is essentially inexpressible being such a personal experience, relevant to our most secret selves. And that level of exploration internally can, as we know, manifest externally in ways that are sometimes stirring and challenging, and eventually healing and nurturing.

I think that engaging with art making creates the conditions needed for your soul to find its own expression in your waking reality. There is a different quality to the very concrete and real image that you have in front of you after art making than from the inner image of the dream or meditation, but I reckon it arises from the same source. In the opening paragraph of Art as Medicine, Shaun McNiff says, “Whenever illness is associated with loss of soul, the arts emerge spontaneously as remedies, soul medicine. Pairing art and medicine stimulates the creation of a discipline through which imagination treats itself and recycles its vitality back to daily living.” Imagine that. A self-regulating system of healing that we all possess, but which many of us actively suppress by judging ourselves as being ‘not good enough at’ to even let happen. I think that is very interesting.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process

Postby Bracken » 03 Jan 2009, 22:15

So, I was ‘rubbish at art’ for 20 years or so, and during that time I don’t even remember doodling. I think that the idea of art is so closely linked for many people with the idea of exhibition/work being looked at by others/being judged by others that they become entirely stagnant in that area. That was my experience. Interestingly enough though, I did become a reasonably proficient tarot reader, arguably pairing art and medicine in a way that facilitated my clients’ healing. I was never a ‘fortune teller’, well not often, but instead used the images from my tarot decks to initiate discussion with clients about their lives and important issues therein. Different tarot readers have different theories as to why the cards work. For me there are two important factors. The first is the solid acknowledgement of Spirit in the work, by whatever name. The second is the presence of the art, the images, although I am speaking entirely with hindsight here. At the time I don’t even think I saw the images on the cards as ‘art’, but I found during the course of this work that it grew in its effectiveness, the space I worked in felt more energetically powerful, the cards more responsive. There was something happening between me and my clients and inevitably the issues that were arising in sessions were coming from a much deeper place, for both of us.
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Not to go too far, because it really is beyond the scope of a seminar such as this, but in art therapy there is a way of talking about what is happening in a session that is known as the ‘triangular relationship.’ The art image is an equal participant in what is happening in the therapy. It is just as important as the client, just as important as the therapist. I include this because I want to elevate your artistic creations in your eyes. I want you to see just how magical they are and get you excited about what they can give you. You see, round about the time my tarot practice was deepening, I met an artist who gave me a big bag of old art materials that he didn’t want any more. Out of everything I have learnt over the past decade, I would say that my decision to use those materials has been the single most important positive influence on who I actually am now. It was a really big thing for me to get a brush and a piece of paper and those tubes of acrylic paint. I certainly didn’t know how to use them, and I was frightened to, but I sort of had to at the same time. I used to wait till the kids had gone to bed and then I snuck the materials out and painted all night. We lived in a house with a real fire at that time so I knew that if I painted anything that was just too rubbish to live with I could burn it before anybody woke up and saw it.
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This is the first painting I ever did. I was living in Co, Mayo. When you go out walking on a field in Ireland in your bare feet, it is warm, warm like a radiator.
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I don’t actually remember burning anything. In fact quite to the contrary, I found the images I made utterly visually compelling. So now I want to say something about looking, because this is probably where transformation is most concretely supported. If you decide to give art making a go, I guarantee that you will produce work, of whatever form, that will draw your eyes back to it over and over. Your soul is speaking to you, and you need to listen, by looking. If you can, display your works in a place where you will see them over and over again, on your walls, your desktop, your mobile phone; let them work their magic. I find that often after a meditation I am left with a really simple image, something that it is very easy to record, and if I post it up somewhere in my space it acts as a visual magnet. I just can’t keep my eyes off it until it has done its work. Looking at art is at least as important as making art. I got very heavily into exhibition because I went back to college after my creative epiphany to do a Foundation in Art and Design, followed by a Fine Art degree and now this Art Psychotherapy MA, so of course I feel strongly about it. And it is no surprise to me that in training as a therapist I am still hiding away to make art, and facilitating a space for my clients to do the same, a space that is phenomenally healing.
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An image from work with water.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process

Postby Bracken » 03 Jan 2009, 22:20

There is one other ingredient that needs drawing attention to and that is the OBOD Bardic Grove. My approach to what I consider art, how and why I create, my relationship to what I look at has been affected beyond explanation by my engagement with the work of the sacred inner grove and the teachers there. When I draw now, I can see that I am drawing my own tarot cards. The images I need are clearly arising from my own unconscious and giving me the reading of readings.
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The Goddess of deep trauma.
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Now I want to suggest some ideas about art and art making that might be interesting to think about. I tried to organise these ideas. I tried to categorise them. I failed. By necessity they have to be jumbled in a big heap like this, because art is infinitely creative. They are nothing but random ideas that are intended to spark other ideas intended to lead to the creation of art.

• Absolutely anything can be art material. Let yourself seek out what you need: bandages, oak leaves, chilli powder, the perfect colour of the perfect paint, mud, wood, menstrual blood, house bricks, silver, cling film, the blackest charcoal, the whitest chalk, an old engine, pins, mirrors, mouldy cake, ripest apples, newspaper, wrapping paper, wall paper, toilet paper, top quality cartridge, your bed-sheets, the ground of the nearest field, the bed of the nearest stream, fire… You might like to spend time thinking about using those items. Just thinking. How would they affect what you produced and why would they have that effect?

• NOBODY EVER NEEDS TO SEE YOUR ART WORK.

• When we take photographs it is our eyes that we let make all the important decisions. Have you ever tried putting the viewfinder on a different part of the body? I wonder what the result would be if you took pictures with your lips, your heart, your stomach, your penis, your feet. Forget the settings. Your heart might want to overexpose.

• Limiting yourself can produce really interesting results, especially if you like to control what you’re creating. Draw with your non-dominant hand. Draw with your non-dominant hand while you are recording your inner grove experiences with your dominant hand, both hands going at the same time. Hold your pencil funny. Find yourself a long, slim branch, one that has a lot of spring in it. Put a great big piece of paper on the floor and put your paint or ink in a bowl to dip your stick into. Drawing that way is fabulous – almost totally uncontrollable. You get the idea.

• Did you ever get told off for drawing or painting on yourself? Well, you’re big now so you’re allowed to do it. Use face paints if you absolutely have to, but there are so many other things. Marker pens and biros work particularly well. That’s why we used them all those years ago.

• How would you feel about using your own hair as a paint brush? Head hair? Facial hair? Pubic hair?

• Are you lucky enough to have access to a video camera? Film yourself doing things. Loads of things. Watch your movies. I’ll say no more. It just has to be experienced.

• You might want to try simply (or not so simply) making marks. You can do this with a pencil on a piece of paper. You can do this with a pair of scissors. You can do this by putting flour and water in a bowl and mixing them together till they make a dough. You can do this by rearranging all your crystals, or all the dishes on the draining board if you feel like it and you find that it is speaking to you. Is it visually compelling? I think the key is to just be playful with it. Before you know it, you will be in a light trance state and your unconscious will have taken over. Your soul will be making art.
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• On the subject of arranging crystals, an image of a mandala sprung into my mind. Jung explained mandalas as spontaneously occurring tools that impose order upon psychic chaos. I have experienced this myself. One week I am painting huge, traumatic images in black and red, the next I am tinkering about with little symmetrical designs bordered always by a circle.

• If you like sitting in front of an object, a collection of objects or landscape and making a representation of that, remember that your soul is stamping its mark all over the resultant artwork. You cannot hide from yourself.

• Looking at art is at least as important as making art, not just your own but that of others. Find out what does it for you by spending time looking.

• It is extremely good practice to sit and draw things straight from out of your head. NOBODY NEEDS TO SEE THIS STUFF. You don’t even have to keep it.

The conclusion I am building to lies in part in the images I have chosen to illustrate what I have been saying. It took me ages to choose them. They have been very carefully chosen in order to communicate something non-verbally. It is not important for me to explain them to you, even less analyse them. I wonder if you consider them art or not, and why. What is art’s function? Does it need a function? Is it enough that it exists? Is it working away unbeknownst to us anyway somewhere, subconsciously? I made all of these images, and for one reason or another I find them visually compelling. They feed my soul. They make me feel. Yours will make you feel.

Ok. I think I’ve said what I wanted to say, more or less. Please forgive me in advance for replying to my own post here, but I’m sure I will have further thoughts that I want to add. This seminar will be here till the end of the month, so if you want to discuss any of the ideas or issues raised in it then feel free to post here. Also, if you feel like having a go at any form of art making as a direct result of reading this seminar and you feel that you would like to post your visuals, then they would be very welcome. No explanations needed.

I referred to the following books:
Art as Medicine (1992) Shaun McNiff
Mandala Symbolism (1952) C G Jung
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Donata » 03 Jan 2009, 22:39

HI Baobab,

Your seminar is wonderful! I totally related to it! As a child and growing up I wanted to be an artist - until I took an art class in first year of high school! The teacher didn't like my choice of colors, and didn't like that I (this was on purpose) drew outside the lines. End of career as an artist!

Years later - in fact about 10 yrs ago - I took a workshop, first of a series of 8, on art as a personal expression. We were told to draw a symbol, something of meaning as expressing ourselves. I started to draw, letting it flow and the picture looked something like a gourd or womb. It felt great - until the teacher came over and told me it wasn't what I wanted!!! I said it was, and she said to try again. I left and never took the remaining classes. I felt awful - and angry.

Your approach is so accepting and practical!

Thank you!
Donata
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Beith » 03 Jan 2009, 23:45

Baobab,

This is an absolutely brilliant seminar! I absolutely loved it and I know it will reach out and touch many people who read it; and give them confidence to try things they have probably forgotten they used to do as children.

Everything you have written here is very relevant and right on the money as regards the perceptions we may grow up about our abilities to draw, paint, photograph etc, if we are not recognized as a "natural talent" (or recognize ourselves as being such) from the beginning. There will alway be people who stand out but all of us have the ability to create something special and meaningful or simply just for fun.

I liked very much what you described about bringing forth inspiration through art - calling up images from the unconscious or after meditative sessions, visualizations etc., just as you describe drawing your own "tarot cards" of symbolic images; and that the arrangement of form can be inspiring itself, even if just a pile of dishes!

Also the fact that you incorporated a lot of visual imagery and from different media - paint, photography, everyday objects, is great...it gives examples that anything can be turned into art in the eye of the "creator".

More importantly perhaps, the way you have written this is so full of passion and will speak to anyone who reads it and no doubt make them think that "yes I can give it a go". I would love to hear you deliver this as a talk because you have a very natural flair for communicating a lot of ideas in a very accessible manner. In fact, I think this seminar would be very useful in teaching materials, supplementary information to the obod course or other publications.

All the very best and thank you for sharing this excellent seminar with us.

Very well done!

Beith

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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Clamhan » 04 Jan 2009, 01:38

This is fabulous - as a lad who was 'shite at art' when I was at school its only now I have ventured into it again.

I did my first pastel work last week which was both therapeutic and meaningful to me - as a methodical and analytical person I find it too easy to criticise my own work because it isnt lifelike and your comments were an inspiration for me to carry on nonetheless.

Thanks Boabab! Amazing seminar.

G x :grin:
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Dryadia2 » 04 Jan 2009, 03:06

Well Done, Baobab! :clap:
You really have a knack for bringing a fresh approach to creativity; and with so much enthusiasm!

I've always had an interest in art (watercolors, pastels, charcoal, oils as a kid), and when I was in college had taken various art classes including: Contemporary Art History, Color & Design, Sketching, Pottery, Painting, etc. where I discovered and fell in love with acrylic paints. My plan had been to be a Medical Illustrator; but after the requirement of 200 sketches in one semester class, I decided that I didn't like the pressure of 'having' to be creative. It took all the fun out of 'being' creative.

Your Seminar is delightful; and your examples (visual and written) are so inspiring. And that's what art should be...creative and fun!

:dryadia: /|\
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby mark the compost elf » 04 Jan 2009, 11:33

belting, cracking,as verbally poetic as an explanition carved of the fines impure garnet. loved it hun, must admit i ve recwently started playing even more with my artistic side, wands, staffs , wood cuts, slate amulets and i ve recently discovered the pyrography iron - good gods its the perfect destructive paint brush!!

looking forward to reading any extra comments you put on now :warm:
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby urbandruid » 04 Jan 2009, 13:27

Then you reach a certain age, usually round about 11 or 12 years old, and you want everything you draw to be a life-like representation, and if it isn’t you say to yourself, “I can’t do that. I’m rubbish at art.”
I picked this key up, and was astonished to find it turned in the lock.
I'm now nervously pushing open the door.
Fantastic piece! I'm speechless. In a good way.
Thankyou. :o

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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Leaflady » 04 Jan 2009, 14:43

Bravo Baobab! :yay:

This is very insightful & I hope it will encourage people who think they can't make "art" or have no reason to just because they think they're "not good at it".

Our society has strangely put so many forms of self-expression beyond the average person just by somehow making us think they are for "professionals."

It is true of music too. Once upon a time, so many people played an instrument. Now almost the only thing left of that mindset is kids with their guitars who get together and jam just for fun. We need more of this sort of thing for everyone!

One point struck me particularly -- the point that when you create something and "leave it around", put it on the wall, prop it up somewhere, even stick it to the fridge with a magnet -- it creates a place for communication between your conscious mind/everyday self, and the part of you that made the creation. A kind of alchemy. It is like a dream. Images that we made keep on speaking to us -- our soul has a message for us to hear.

So cool -- I hope everyone reads this!
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.Carl Gustav Jung
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Magrathea » 04 Jan 2009, 16:56

Thankyou, my mind is bubbling like a cauldron on the go for a year and a day.

Up until recently I was doing art for other people, trying to make a few quid. This came to an end and now I just do it for the shear pleasure. I enjoy it a lot more, not worrying about whether or not they are going to like it etc.

So bravo for this seminar, give Baobab a big hammer to continue getting this message through.

While I'm here...
i ve recently discovered the pyrography iron - good gods its the perfect destructive paint brush!!

I'm waiting of mine coming in the post!! :o

and... Hello UD
Theres a picture you may recognise in the current Eisteddfod competition :tiphat:

BB

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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Ade Sundog » 04 Jan 2009, 20:23

Many THANX for posting this MamaB , it is a true inspiration!!!
:idea:


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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 04 Jan 2009, 20:34

Hi all. Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. It's fab when people join in. :)

I see that a good number of you have had lousy experiences art wise. I think it's common as muck, but it does make me question why.

You see, when I was that age, if somebody said "you're not going out dressed like that" would I run off upstairs and change? Uh, no. If I was expounding my latest political stance and somebody told me I was talking rubbish, did it make me crawl under a stone to reconsider my viewpoint? :-) Absolutely not. If anything, it helped me (in a backhanded sort of way) to work at developing my essential self.

So what is it about the arts and our expression in that arena that makes us so vulnerable to wounding that we slam the barrier down on it as soon as it gets a bit too close? I think our reactions attest to the great power of artistic creation to aid in our self-creation.

Leaflady makes a very good point regarding the mystification of art resulting in it being a specialist field. My thoughts about this lead me instantly to the concept of there being a right way to do art. I think I was really lucky with my choice of university because we were taught how to be fine artists. Nobody ever taught us how to draw or paint the right way. In fact, to be honest, you didn't need to draw or paint at all for the whole three years if that wasn't your bag. We were taught instead to value ourselves and our work. We were supported to discover what our work was 'about', which is nowhere near as obvious to an artist as you might think. We were taught to create first and ask questions later. There were stunning results.

A friend of mine, a woman that I did my foundation with went to a university where the whole group would stand round a still life with easels painting the same thing together. Their teachers would come and correct their art if they hadn't done it right.

Now, there is definitely a good argument for training in techniques in that way. It gives you a great range of wonderful tools to use as an artist, and you can produce work to order, create something that somebody else wants. Also, it can help you to get the effect that you want in order to express yourself, if you actually do express yourself using those traditional tools. But to me, that is a very different thing to the kind of psychic expression that I am trying to put in to words. Art technique training starts off from a place that is already too cerebral to achieve the desired result. I'm not criticising it as a discipline. I greatly respect it and derive much pleasure from it. I'm simply trying to sort through my feelings about it as 'proper art.'

Janine Antoni creates sculptures out of huge blocks of chocolate and blocks of lard. She uses her teeth to carve the blocks into shape. Now, any western woman alive reading this will know instantly what the artist is trying to say. You don't need to know how to use oil paints competently to do that, but you do need practice, practice, practice as an artist, because as a beginner there is no way your ideas will be that elegant or eloquent.

That relates very closely to our Bardic work. Engaging with it on any level results in an unearthing of the precious jewels we each have buried inside.

And saying that, I have to draw attention to the gorgeous poetic imagery abounding here in this thread. :)

Donata began it with her gourd-womb. Beith brought money in. Clamhan brought shite, which is without a doubt one of my favourite art materials, and gets past the profanity filter beautifully. Dry added the fantastic image of the 200 sketches - "I sentence you to death by 200 sketches." [Actually, once at uni we had a week to fill 500 pieces of paper. It was brilliant, but I would say that because I love art, me.] The Compost Elf was carving garnet, UD found the key to fit the lock (praise be), Leaflady's hearing music and Magrathea's just about to taste those fateful drops of Ceridwen soup.

I wonder what would be the result of our bringing all that out into the world in a concrete way. What effect could it have on us?

Janine Antoni could be somebody to google if you're interested. Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Maya Deren and Cornelia Parker might be some others to look at.

[Hi WSD. Cross posting. You on msn? Let's chat. X]
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby skh » 04 Jan 2009, 21:02

Our society has strangely put so many forms of self-expression beyond the average person just by somehow making us think they are for "professionals."

It is true of music too. Once upon a time, so many people played an instrument. Now almost the only thing left of that mindset is kids with their guitars who get together and jam just for fun. We need more of this sort of thing for everyone!
Yes, I have observed this with adults learning to play an instrument (again) - it is so liberating and possibly life changing to express yourself without having to learn "the right way", without being measured against some standard called "professional". Maybe once in our lives it was an external limitation, a teacher or parent, who insisted on measuring, but I think very often the hardest thing is to allow oneself again to be non-perfect (only to then realize that you are perfect in a completely different way than you thought).

Thanks Baobab for this seminar. Bookmarked :)

:beith:

peace /|\
Sonja
I don't think anybody ever died thinking they loved people too much, or had too much joy, or made too much music.

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Romelia
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Romelia » 04 Jan 2009, 22:37

when I was that age, if somebody said "you're not going out dressed like that" would I run off upstairs and change? Uh, no. If I was expounding my latest political stance and somebody told me I was talking rubbish, did it make me crawl under a stone to reconsider my viewpoint? Absolutely not. If anything, it helped me (in a backhanded sort of way) to work at developing my essential self.
Hey B,
Great thread, thank you for your inspiration.
I remember my childhood as being the most creative part of my life, as it was all spanking new; and I think we develop our inner selves by what happens with all these new experiences that we create and perceive. I have always felt, that when I painted a picture,composed a poem, or made a clay animal it was part of me. A very deep spiritual connection that I learnt to embrace and study, but also to criticise and destroy. I always communicated better in a creative way than academic, so it was hard for me at school, as the teachers thought I was a lazy daydreamer…..turned out that im dyslexic tho!

My first day at art college I was told to paint a picture of something I felt strongly about, and when I had finished, I was told to rip it up!!!(THE HORROR!) But then I was told to put it back together in a random order. I learnt that it is sometimes good not to be so precious with my work and to find new ways of looking at what do and think.

It’s interesting in your analogy of the above. Could it be that perhaps what we do in these instances is wear a mask, something that we feel safe to believe in, or helping us blend with where and who we think we should be? I think we become quite defensive about our art/creations as they are a product of our true self’s, who we really are.
Perhaps reflecting our individual meaning and beliefs. As adults we lose our innocence a veil lifts and we see the darker side of life as we start to experience it. The inner child is always there, but as adults we hide it and protect it, so it can’t be taken away or hurt.

Anyway Im going to get back to making silver shells…….

BB

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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby flowerfairy » 04 Jan 2009, 23:26

Oh dear MammaB I am a bit of teary mess sat here after reading your wonderful, beautiful shake-me wake-me please go paint something seminar.

I have a confession. I am a dreadful dreadful not-artist. I dream and I imagine a thousand pictures a thousand times a day but summoning up the courage to actually sit down and DO is the hardest, hardest thing I have ever and will ever face. Harder than childbirth - far far harder (and yet feels strangely similar in my head). This is made all the worse by the fact that I do actually have some artistic skill - what I have managed to produce in my life, in moments of sudden bravery, I believe to be good and beautiful and I am very proud of. Yet each accomplishment completed somehow fails to give me the confidence to begin the next.

I convince myself that I cannot do it, that what ever I produce next will be worthless, and as such I probably should not begin at all. Physically putting pen to paper, brush to canvas, becomes like riding a bicycle up Everest. Backwards.

And yet I can't let go of the yearning, the NEED. It calls to me. It makes me go buy art materials and endless pads of clean crisp paper. Just to hold and look at and dream. If asked what any one thing I would change about myself and my life it would be this creative blockage, this artistic constipation. I hate it and more than anything I want to overcome it - I'm detirmined to.

For me this creative longing and my spiritual quest are intricately linked. It's what led me to druidry and I feel that the key to my growth as a spiritual being and as an artistic being will be one and the same. I hope that by following my Druid path I may overcome this creative block. I hope that by creating I may open new worlds in my soul and find spiritual enlightenment and peace.

Your words give me hope and the strength to keep trying.

Thank you :hug:
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 05 Jan 2009, 00:24

Oh Sonja, Romelia, flowerfairy, thank you all from the bottom of my heart for such beautiful and open posts. I feel so moved by what you have said.
It’s interesting in your analogy of the above. Could it be that perhaps what we do in these instances is wear a mask, something that we feel safe to believe in, or helping us blend with where and who we think we should be? I think we become quite defensive about our art/creations as they are a product of our true self’s, who we really are.
Perhaps reflecting our individual meaning and beliefs. As adults we lose our innocence a veil lifts and we see the darker side of life as we start to experience it. The inner child is always there, but as adults we hide it and protect it, so it can’t be taken away or hurt.
I can hear the truth in this, love. I owe you a big one for coming here and saying it. Art gives us a way in to "our true selves" and one that we can work with non-verbally, and I think that is pivotal.

Flowerfairy, this struggle can be such an important teacher for us. Do you know what struck me? There was something about how you anticipate that your efforts will be "worthless" alongside the image of "endless pads of clean crisp paper" that seemed to fit together for me. Maybe you could allow yourself to create some 'worthless' art by using 'worthless' materials rather than worthy, clean paper. How about something so worthless that you're going to throw it away anyway, like an empty cornflakes box?
I think very often the hardest thing is to allow oneself again to be non-perfect (only to then realize that you are perfect in a completely different way than you thought).
If nothing else, let's keep talking about this.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Leaflady » 05 Jan 2009, 05:55

This is such a life-giving discussion... :)
Baobab, I love you! :kissie:
And everyone else who is creating such a wonderful discussion.

For me it is a real episode of "synchronicity" as well. I read this post in the morning after having spent all the previous day working on a little painting - well, I guess it is a painting to the outward eye but to me it is an icon.

I haven't done any painting or any other art for a long time until this weekend. Ever since about a month ago, when I started to discern whether to come back to the study of the Bardic grade, I started becoming more and more aware of what a terrible state my soul was in. Even my writing was starting to dry up. Anyway, not to get off the topic, once I knew I wanted to return, another wierd obstacle came up... sort of an energy block, for lack of a better term. All sorts of "problems" got created by my intellect -- all sorts of objections, questions, frets. Another part of me was determined :x not to suck in to that.

Because I had such fun painting the little icon, and because I was upset that all the fretting was ruining my decision, I decided to give myself a day off and make another icon, to take my mind off the fretting and agonising. I was having issues with topics like deities, etc... so I decided I would paint something related to a dream/vision image that's of particular importance to me. It felt significant. And it had something to do with the question... I sort of decided, well, I'll make an icon of it because that image could be a deity. I listened to a lot of music the whole time (Loreena McKennitt and Damh the Bard). And my mind more or less disappeared for the whole day, except when I needed to solve a problem like "how shall I make this blue a little greener?" I have to say I think the music was part of this ...

By the end of the day (now) I had finished the icon -- it went through two complete revisions -- and the problems and frets were -- fixed. I was experiencing them totally differently. In fact there was a moment when I became conscious of a line in one of the songs, and said out loud to myself, "Oh! that changes everything!" I know it was because of the process I was doing.

Baobab said:
I think that engaging with art making creates the conditions needed for your soul to find its own expression in your waking reality. There is a different quality to the very concrete and real image that you have in front of you after art making than from the inner image of the dream or meditation, but I reckon it arises from the same source. In the opening paragraph of Art as Medicine, Shaun McNiff says, “Whenever illness is associated with loss of soul, the arts emerge spontaneously as remedies, soul medicine. Pairing art and medicine stimulates the creation of a discipline through which imagination treats itself and recycles its vitality back to daily living.” Imagine that. A self-regulating system of healing that we all possess, but which many of us actively suppress by judging ourselves as being ‘not good enough at’ to even let happen. I think that is very interesting.
The imagination treats itself.
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.Carl Gustav Jung
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Eilthireach » 05 Jan 2009, 08:51

Hello Baobab, hello all,

thank you for this wonderful seminar!

It relates to Druidry because Druidry is about life and creative expression is a necessary part of life.

It relates to myself. Like others who have posted here, I have been naturally creative in my childhood and if I look at my creative life in the light of your seminar, I can see how creativity was systematically trained out of me during the later school years. Just as my natural love of literature and poetry was.

The Bardic course has brought back a bit of it, at least the courage to publicly express myself in poetry and writing, the courage even to publish a little book in German. But to this day I didn't dare to touch a brush or a pencil...

Your seminar, Baobab, is a beacon of hope. An epitaph to all the creative lives that have been killed by the government school system. A reminder at the same time that everything that seems gone from the mind can be brought back. A flaming torch of courage lighted in times of consumerism and materialism. And a monument to your art!

Congratulations for this valuable and inspirational work!

Eilthireach /|\. :tiphat:

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
(Corpus Hermeticum I,3)

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