I think we may be in a “Gravitational Waves Moment“. Recently, I’ve been looking back at all this last year has held since the pandemic began to alter our lives. Last March I was excited to launch into a great schedule of spring-fall outdoor art fairs. I was the featured Artist-of-the Month at the Octagon Art Gallery in Ames, IA. On March 6, 2020, I gave an hour long presentation at the Business of Art Conference titled “Building & Organizing Your Art Practice & Art Business from the Inside Out”. And then, the very next week our world began to shut down.
It was heartbreaking to watch all the art fairs cancel.
But, it was much more heartbreaking to see pain and loss blanket our culture.
I’ve been painting my way through these pandemic times. I quieted my writing and sharing. I took the time to look hard and long at my mission and vision statements. I remodeled and deeply organized my studio spaces (watch for photos in the future).
These times of change and disorientation have felt tumultuous.
We’ve lived through a roller coaster experience featuring a range of emotions and thoughts.
And, now here we are…a year later. Still waiting…cautiously hoping that things will improve. Wondering how all the changes we have weathered will morph or coalesce into something new?
This winter I’ve been working on a commission piece I’ve titled “Gravitational Waves Moment”. Gravitational waves are the ripples in time and space that are generated with two large objects (like black holes or neutron stars) collide creating huge forces of energy in our universe. Gravitational waves are invisible to the eye, but are now detectable and measurable by highly sensitive lasers here on earth. In 1916 Albert Einstein predicted that gravitational waves existed, suggesting that the fabric of space could be caused to ripple by very powerful forces.
When life changes, when a culture experiences massive changes and upheaval, when things collide or form something new, ripples of unexpected energy may be sent cascading across the canvas of our lives.
Maybe we’d rather not be in this place of change. Sometimes we may want so simply squint our eyes shut, like “if I can just not look, not see what is going on, I might be able to avoid it.” But, what we turn towards and see, we can work with and even begin to work through. We can be curious about our thoughts and the emotions around the change. The collisions can invite us into the newness.
What changes might we be led to walk through?
Where might we be led into next?
What situations, patterns, relationships, or tasks might we be invited to leave behind or initiate?
Gravitational Waves Moments can redefine us and can take us to new places. They can take us on new journeys, and reveal deeper parts of ourselves. Hopefully, Gravitational Waves Moments, can prompt us into a growth trajectory creating new and expanded ripples of energy for the road ahead.
I’m excited to share that my solo show “Nuances of Freedom” will be opening December 14, 2018 at the Iowa State University Memorial Union in Ames, IA. This show will feature over 25 of the paintings I created through a process of carefully observing my own creative practice.
One thing I’ve learned after years of creative work-either my own creative work or nurturing the creative work of others, is that paying attention to the little things is important. When I first started out on my own personal creative journey, I thought “If I just had a beautiful studio space, then i could make things” or “If I only I didn’t have to go to work so much, then I’d have the time to create paintings.” These avoidance thought patterns were not helpful to my creative work. I know in my own creative journey that has been just as hard to start a painting if I was in my basement working on top of a door laid over two filing cabinets or in a well-lit sunroom with big windows and a great easel.
My experience is that while “lack of studio space” or “lack of time” are some of the easiest excuses to why we say we can’t do something creative, these are surface level issues. They are rarely the true reasons for why we have such a difficult time beginning, continuing or finishing creative work. There are often much more hidden, subtle, and nuanced reasons why we are not giving ourself permission to pick up the pen, pour paint, or make a life change. We often deceive ourselves that the real reason we don’t create is due to outside forces or circumstances. The reality is that most times this truly is a “inside job”. It is the internal issues that are creating the roadblocks.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been consciously observing the nuances of my own creative process- the personal rhythms, the energy flows and my own internal mindsets. I’ve been asking myself questions like…
“How do I create a life of abundant creative freedom?”
“What structures and experiences will nourish my creativity and support my work?”
The lines, colors, and movement of these paintings are brief moments of captured energy from my own growth process. They are a reflection of the inner changes and experiments I’m exploring as I work to intentionally build a lifestyle of creative freedom.
“Nuances of Freedom” opens December 14, 2018 at the Iowa State University Memorial Union in the Gallery. The Gallery is on the 3rd floor of the Memorial Union located at 2229 Lincoln Way Ames, IA 50011. The show runs through February 6, 2019. The gallery is free and open to the public 8 a.m.-8 p.m., seven days per week unless reserved for meetings. Call 515-296-6848 to confirm open viewing hours.
You may also want to mark your calendar now for the Art Reception for “Nuances of Freedom” on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 from 6-8pm in the Gallery.
Dear Creative Heart,
What are your creative influences?
Are you influenced by…
No matter what type of creative activities you pursue, whether that is creative thinking on the job, creative parenting, creative pursuits such as painting, writing, sculpting, photography, you are using your creative muscles multiple times a day as you solve the problems you encounter in the many aspects of your life both personally and professionally.
I’ve been thinking lately about what are the key things that influence my own creative work. I find some things are easier to discern and recognize in my own work than other things. I also am keenly aware that sometimes we are so close to our own influences and personal stories that it is easy to underestimate the ways that they seep into our work and creative solutions. I know I’m influenced by where I live-I am a creative living in the heart of the prairie in central Iowa. I know my relationships with the people who surround me in my personal life show up in the emotions and colors I create with on canvas. I’m becoming more aware of how my past experiences as a professional educator color the way I approach my creative work and the business of being a creative. I am certain that my love of reading and books challenges and grows the way I think and experience the world.
In a recent painting I was surprised to find one of my past explorations into the world of science creep into my work. When I was in college I was faced with the decision to choose a science class and studying the stars seemed a better choice than all the other options, so I signed up for a year of astronomy. I had no idea the amount of actual math and science (!?!!!) that would be involved in the course, but lab time spent gazing through the huge telescope in the observatory at our professor’s house more than captured my active imagination. And so at random interactions in my life, my interest in astronomy is peeked-a visit to NASA in Florida, solar eclipses, red moons, and now… gravitational waves. I’ve been a bit mesmerized by the recent scientific news this year scientists have been able to measure gravitational waves, which are ripples in the fabric of space time that are created when black holes collide. Predicted by Einstein in 1915-1916, studied for decades and now the year 2016 will be going down in history as the year that successful detection of gravitational waves occurred. I really am the farthest thing from a science junky, but thoughts like “What would it be like to experience the energy created when black holes collide?” and “What would the collision of black holes really look like?” have fascinated my mind.
And, as these thoughts and random scientific articles floated through my mind, I designed a painting. When I looked back at the line work several weeks later-I wondered if this might be a mere imperfect impression-a bit of intuitive artistic imagination on my part colliding with my scientific reading…I’m still pondering about it, but I do know that this painting experience stirred something deep within me.
Dear Creative Heart, my encouragement for you to today is to reflect on your unique life and study how these influences maybe showing up in your creative work. Repeat again and again…