1980 - First art exhibit at Miller and Rhoads downtown Richmond, VA.
creativity + the art of play
Creating art begins with accepting that we are born artists. We are innately creative. Not just some but ALL people. After earning a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in 1996 and teaching pre-school, elementary, and middle school art for twelve years, I had the honor of observing the beautiful way in which young children approach art. THEY GO FOR IT. Children have no ties to what the final product "should" appear like. They don't care if they are doing it right or wrong. They are not judging every artistic move they make...they are purely creating from a place of playful joy. It is absolutley brilliant to behold.
As we grow older our courage to take risks in art or creative pursuits is sometimes dampened. Perhaps we heard adults remark "how not one creative bone existed in their bodies and not a stick figure could they draw". Most likely we watched peers receive praise for drawings that perfectly captured reality. As a result, maybe we received messages that only a certain kind of art was acceptable. It's also very possible that we experienced a creative crushing teacher where taking innovative risks no longer felt safe, sabotaging even our willingness to try. Spaces for learning should always feel safe to go out on a limb and play with process without any concern for the end of result. Excellent teachers facilitate this kind of learning experience.
Art is our first language. Our pre-historic ancestors communicated the stories of their lives by drawing pictures on the walls of caves. Medieval Churches used stain glass windows to dipict bible stories to teach illiterate masses. Art is a crucial pre-cursor to reading development in young children. It is true, "A picture speaks a thousand words." There is ART in everything we do. Art is a form of self-expression not bound by technical skills that one might learn in school. It is time we embrace ourselves as all kinds of artists and re-connect with our creative spirits.
Don't let the lack of formal training impede your creativity. After Art School, I became so concerned with the appearance of the final product that I became a master of self-sabotage, crippling my creativity. It wasn't until I connected with that inner child that my love affair with art re-ignited again. Watching children engage with art and taking risks allowed me to start doing the same. Here is a permission slip to PLAY WITH YOUR ART. THROW OUT THE RULES OR ANY OLD MESSAGES that said "you can't". In fact, art is just about the safest place you can get away with breaking all the rules without suffering any major consequences. SO GO FOR IT. You are already a masterpiece.
The creative process never ceases to amaze me. Each painting allows me the sacred opportunity to embark on an artistic journey. I begin with a loose structure. This planned vision is mostly derailed by creative forces that take me in an entirely different direction.
In my experience, painting mirrors life. There is usually a plan and the journey takes us down an entirely different road. For years, I fought the natural creative current of my voice and style, forcing my art to fit into my preconceived vision. In clinging to my plan, my art did not breathe. I became frustrated and disenchanted. After much soul searching and benefiting from the healing practices of yoga, prayer, and meditation my work began to transform. I rediscovered the pure joy of art!
I have learned to surrender to the powers of the creative process and just go with the flow. Some days I find this experience invigorating and other times quite frustrating. I love the presence of mind that painting requires. One can not paint in the future or in the past. The act of creating happens in the NOW!
In my meditation practice, I am constantly herding my thoughts like a shepherd corralling sheep wandering in every direction. I do not experience this when painting. The sheer act of creating anchors and tethers me to the present moment and I find this mindful state mesmerizing.
I am completly motivated by color, line, shape, space, and texture. The juxtaposition of these elements and their relationship in a painting begin to tell a visual story. The anticiaption for the unfolding story is what compells me to create. I am fascinated with the visual dialogue that evolves in a work of art. I look forward to the surprising twists and turns on the artistic journey. The magic and power of the visual image to evoke feeling and stir the spirit captivates me.
"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
- Maya Angelou
"Find your art in whatever makes your heart sing."
- Jenny Courain
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come ALIVE, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
1978 - The lack of paper can't keep
a budding artist down.
1976 - Favorite place in school....