“Everyone is living a myth, you just have to figure out which one you are living in” – Romanyshyn, Author and Professor
I remember the first class in my Doctorate program and the first thing my professor said. This quote above were his words. I also remember being so puzzled by what he meant. Now, 20 years later, I still think about this.
It seems we are all living out our mythologies steeped deeply in our upbringing whether we realize it or not. I recently hired an art coach. Instead of critiquing my art, she has me looking at my inner narratives; those things I say to myself while in the studio. I have been getting reacquainted with my Rebel Self, the part of me that grew strong in spite of a highly dysfunctional family. This rebellious voice, or self, has been absent in my work in the studio. Although I have found her in other ways and grown to appreciate this part of me, unfortunately, it hasn’t been with me in the studio.
Instead, the Good Girl has been in there. She is the part that wants to please other; to do pleasing art. She is the traditionalist..doesn’t want to cause waves. I have an artsy friend who dyes her hair purple, pink or sometimes turquoise. My rebellious part just loves this friend because she has no fear of expressing herself any way she pleases.
These 2 parts are players in my mythology ; they are my inner narratives born out of my past. They are alive and well, even though I have worked with them in other ways, they are now in the front seat fighting over who gets to drive when it comes to painting.
Consequently, I haven’t been producing much art. This incubation period to put it in another framework, has been rich with self assessment, daily writing ( The Artists Way style) and uncertainty. According to Bayles and Orland in their book Art & Fear, uncertainty is a good thing. We just have to learn to tolerate it. To stay in the uncertainty means not knowing where you are going… its hanging in there even though its not the ‘comfortable’ place.
Reading Art and Fear was actually homework assigned by my coach. At first I thought, “no way, I am fearless in my art!” But that was only what one part thought, but the truth is, I have been in a stuck place with my art ( hence the coach). The truth is… well, I am not so sure what the truth is…
I have posted these 3 pieces before… but what I have realized is that they were painted by my Rebel ( she must have snuck into the studio). These are her titles, and as I thought about them, I just now recognized it was that part of me that was in the studio painting that day. Notice the titles of these pieces: “Never Mind, Out of the Box, and Playground”.
I am thinking I will imagine a new mythology for my inner artist…one that plays Outside the Box! I may just invite her, whoever she may be, in more often as well.
Until next time,
“Every day is a canvas waiting to be painted” – Craig Sagur
Do you have enough time? Of course you don’t have enough time to do it all! No one does.
I have been procrastinating getting to my “to do” lists… after the December rush, January came and I hit a wall. I met all my deadlines with the holiday shows and all else it entailed and guess I just needed a bit of time off, mostly from working in the studio. That is ok, we need to be able to give ourselves “time off”.
However, now that February has arrived, I am feeling the need to re-prioritize my intentions and goals for the year (I usually like to do this in January). With this in mind, I got out my journal for organizing my time and setting my intentions, and thought I might share a few important keys to be successful when setting intentions.
Freedom. I used to wish I had more time when I was working full time as a psychotherapist. Ironically, I got more done then with the time I had. I had to be much more organized to be able to manage everything. But now that I have more freedom (and more time), it is actually harder to have the discipline needed to plan my goals and keep them. Yes, it is a luxury to be able to say, “I will do it tomorrow”, but that can get in the way of meeting goals.
Art that inspires me in my work
Goal setting. Create a goal and be sure you are 100% committed to it. Whether its weight loss, a new exercise program, or carving time out in your studio, evaluate your commitment on a scale of 1-10. I find the things I am not ‘that’ committed to just don’t happen. Ask yourself what may be the underlying reason. Perhaps you have a goal to write a book, then you plan to write every day…but are you committed? Maybe you really don’t like writing after all!
Procrastination. Being busy all the time is a form of procrastination, an excuse not to arrive at the goals or plans you have made. I get an A+ for this one…I always used to say yes to everything else when I finally realized by saying Yes, I was saying No to myself. Which brings me to the next important step: setting boundaries.
Boundaries. I absolutely have to set boundaries around my time in order to carve out the time I need in the studio. If I don’t do this, it just doesn’t happen. Seems silly to have to be structured about free time, but for me, it’s vital to give myself this in order to reach my goals in my art business. This is true for all goals…you have to make time to devote to that plan of action to meet the goal. Any successful person has found the balanced equation between being disciplined and have freedom of mind
Art that inspires me in my work
Accountability. I need to be accountable to myself and to do that I have a support team that helps me. I have an artist friend that that helps me keep my goals. We trade with in order to help each other stay on track. A support team is so valuable to help you no matter what your goal is.
Motivation: And last, none of this will be helpful unless you feel motivated! So, figure out what motivates you. Is it a you-tube video, a class, a group of like minded people. How about making a vision board? Perhaps this should be the first thing on the list – but if you have this one thing, the rest become easier with that determination driven by motivation; the engine that gets you going. I hope this has been helpful.
*Some of these ideas have been borrowed from art coach, Alyson Stanfield.
Until next time,
” An artist is only an artist on the condition that he (she) neglects no aspect of his (her) dual nature. The dualism is the power of being oneself and someone else at the same time”– Charles Baudelaire (Parentheses mine)
Recently, I was invited to place art in several businesses in Sacramento. The problem though was that I didn’t have enough art in my inventory as it was already in other places. So, yesterday I had time to be in the studio – all day. I had waited for this week and day and was excited to finally have time to get out there and paint uninterrupted. I also had an envisioned an idea of what I wanted to paint. As I began to put that idea into action…it wasn’t looking so great. I re worked it to no avail. Finally, I got frustrated and thought, “Never mind!” Then I began thinking about that phrase.. yes, good advice: Never mind!
How many of is live our lives minding the other, minding the rules, the societal norms, etc? What does it mean to step out of the box, to not mind the inner judge and ruler? My inner critic tells me that I am not weird enough to be an artist. I lack the Jackson Pollock extremism that makes abstract art a question instead of an answer. Yes, my critic thinks she an art critic! I have to mindfully not listen to her. How many times do you listen and believe your inner critic? Perhaps yours is telling you lies as well.
That inner voice may be trying to keep us from feeling embarrassed because it has rules to keep us safe. The critic is formed when we are small in an attempt to stay in line, not get into trouble, or feel ashamed. Problem is, it’s not so helpful in the studio when creativity needs to be unleashed. Take the axiom: Never Mind with you when you need that crazy unleashed freedom to play, experiment and imagine that comes with creativity. An art teacher I have studied with, Robert Burridge, calls this “Fire in the Belly”.
Get out of the box, just play. That freed my imagination and I was then able to move into that zone where the muse shows up and painting happens…I just happen to be on one end of the paint brush!
So, it’s time for me to head back out to the studio…. I am taking with me the thought, ‘Never Mind’ while I play. How will you play in your playground?
I was juried in to the Old Town Gallery in Auburn. I will have a wall there soon. TBA. Look out Pollock Jackson!
Don’t miss the annual Placer County Art Tour, Nov. 11, 12 & 13. If you let me know ahead of time, I will hold a brochure for you that has a map of all the artists and their studios. I will be located in the IQ Gallery in Rocklin, 3700 Midas Ave. The hours are from 10:00- 5:00 all 3 days. I am showing with 2 other fine art artists. Gini, owner of the gallery, has wonderful gifts in her gallery as well as Trisa, who makes one-of a-kind glass plates, jewelry, scarves and more. Last year, we had lots of people who came through, loved the gallery and shopped for Christmas! To get a taste of what is in the gallery, click the video here.
Until next time,
“The past is not dead; it’s not even past” William Faulkner
I started painting a series recently called Honoring the Ancestors. It was born from a prior series called Artifacts in which I was exploring the idea of how and why we are fascinated by what archaeologists find in their digs from long-ago civilizations and what they leave behind. I am intrigued by what it is that is important to us with regard to these ancients’ sites and relics.
I began to wonder if the people who lived in and at these ancient sites were our ancestors. Who were these people? How do they shape our lives and psyche today? These questions have seeded my imagination. I have been wondering how our ancestors inform who we are now? And, perhaps more importantly, how do we pay homage to them?
On a sacred journey one year to Egypt, I remember being greeted by the guide. He said, “Welcome home.” This became a familiar greeting all over Egypt. It is said that Africa is the cradle of all humanity, therefore the foundation of all our roots. Homo sapiens have been around for 3.2 million years and perhaps science will someday confirm that we all have roots from the ancient past in Africa.
Malidoma Some (pronounced Somay) wrote a wonderful book called Of Water and the Spirit. Some, a West African of the Dagara people and teacher, told how his elders are honored once they have died. He described a scene in his own household in which his family would set the table for ‘grandfather’, the most recent elder who had passed. They believe that the elders are not gone but, in fact, are even more available for counsel with daily family matters. Some said that Americans are lost because we have forgotten our ancestors; the very thread of who we are has been broken. We are, he says, bereft of the richness of our collective and cultural roots.
Along these lines, I have been reading a thought-provoking book called Jung and the Ancestors; Beyond Biography-Mending the Ancestral Web, by friend and colleague, Sandra Easter. She asks these same questions by exploring the foundation of who we are now by reaching back into our ancestry. It is not just our personal ancestry that is important but how our collective roots shape us as well. I love this book and highly recommend it if you are interested in this rich topic of how we are who we are because of those who lived before us.
My sister-in-law gifted a family member with a test to trace her ancestry. This niece was surprised to learn that her DNA showed an entirely different lineage than that which she was told. As a result she now knows herself better. I have also decided to trace my ancestry through ‘23 and Me’. I can’t wait to get the results!
Until next time,
New You tube Videos!
I have been making you tube videos called Tips and Techniques for Painting. Please go to my You tube channel and subscribe. It’s under Connie Rodriguez Art. Here is a link to one of them. Hope you enjoy it!
“I dream of painting, and then paint my dream” – Van Gogh
We live with symbols all around us; some are universal, some are personal. Symbols can be things, such as an animal, or ideas such as a Journey. For example this painting is a Mandala symbolic of the Self. A circle is a symbol of wholeness and is seen all over the world.
Sacred Portal: Throat Chakra
Earlier in the month I was on a women’s retreat in a gorgeous lodge up near Tahoe with 8 wonderful women. Our topic we chose to work with was deep. It was on the subject of Grief. All kinds of grief, not just death, but other losses as well. We all chose medicine cards to help us with our personal journey with grief. I picked ” Wolf”. Wolf is symbolic of many things including the teacher. Wolf totems include Loyalty, Compassion, Communication, Creativity, all which I relate to.
Spider is another personal symbol I have. According to Native American lore, She is the weaver of all life: the web of life. These are personal symbols that I could use in my art and would be meaningful to me. Perhaps they would have meaning for others as well depending on their experience with these symbols, but more important is the symbolism they hold for me.
Symbols that have universal meanings Carl. G. Jung called archetypes. These symbols hold meaning for everyone, everywhere.
Between Heaven and Earth
This is what Robert and Sara say in their blog called the Painter’s Key about symbols:
“I guess there’s about a billion paintings of sky, mountains, trees and water. Beneath these basic and universal elements lie symbols that may empower our work.
For example, the sky may represent infinity, eternity, immortality, transcendence or inspiration. As the traditional residence of gods, the sky may suggest omnipotence. The sky may also be symbolic of order in the universe.
Mountains are thought to contain divine inspiration, and are the focus of pilgrimages of transcendence and spiritual elevation. Mountains surpass ordinary humanity and extend toward the heavens. They symbolize constancy and permanence and at their peak signify the state of absolute consciousness. Mountains can also signify danger. Climbing a mountain may depict inner elevation. Trees may invoke struggle, rebirth, and other traits such as barrenness, complexity, productivity, fecundity, and the presence of the sheltering mother.
Tide Pools - SOLD
Water — by way of river, lake and ocean — may be suggestive of ambition, tranquility and life-force. Ocean, in itself, suggests the beginning of life on Earth, and symbolizes formlessness, the unfathomable, and chaos. The ocean can also be seen as a symbol of stability as it has existed largely unchanged for centuries. The ocean is considered to be boundless, a place where one can easily be lost, and can therefore be seen to represent the boundless span of life and the way one can become lost on life’s journey.”
I couldn’t have said it better. So you can see that there are so many symbols that we can photograph and paint in our art. I am sure many of you love butterflies, hummingbirds, dragonflies, etc. and have a story that echoes why you love these symbols. Let me know what your personal symbols are and why!
Until next time,
This painting, ‘Changing Seasons’ was awarded first place in a juried exhibit in Folsom, Ca! It will be hanging at the Bag Lady downtown Folsom beginning Oct.3rd. Its beautifully framed as is for sale.
Coming soon! Youtube videos with tools, tips, and short demos.
Please log on to www.artandsoulmattersstudio.com to sign up for my blog. I look forward to hearing from you there! Thank you
You can see more of my art at Tre Bella, Salon and Gallery in Auburn, CA.
Visit my YouTube channel for more videos: Connie Rodriguez Art YouTube.
Last month I talked about the inner critic and art. This month I want to talk about the why of it… Last Friday, I taught the first class at Placer Arts called, “Painting from the Inside Out”. We are working with the colors of each chakra in each class, so we began with the color red. As many of you know, the first chakra, located at the pubic area of the body, is related to our health, chi, our survivals needs, and the way we manifest, to name a few. Think of red as vitality. How is your vitality? One of the ways to rev this up is to get outside and walk, to dance, to connect with mother earth. There’s a wonderful book on the market actually called Earthing, which is related to our health. The author, Clinton Ober, recommends putting your feet on the bare earth 20 minutes a day to erase all the static from your body collected by environmental toxins, including noise pollution.
So back to my class last Friday.. many ‘students’ were brand new to painting, and they painted incredibly wonderful pieces using red and a few other colors, along with some stamping and collage. The results were amazing! Even to the students, who were amazed at themselves. One woman said she came in feeling stressed out, and left feeling inspired, calmed, and happy! I guess you could say that pursuing joy is one of my passions, not only for myself, but for others as well. (You can check out some of their work on this website under Events and Classes).
What I have learned over the 30 years of doing a psychotherapy practice is that when you don’t feel well it is difficult to feel joyful. I find it hard to ‘feel’ happy when I am achy, tired, over worked, or stressed. Taking care of my body, my physical self, is number one when it comes to feeling good. What do you do to take care of you?? To be able to manifest, to have chi, we have to be well. I strongly urge you to find out what it is you need to do to have these primary needs fulfilled so you can fulfill your destiny in life, and happiness and joy is part of that!
Is painting the only way to feel that kind of joy and pleasure, to stimulate serotonin, the feel good hormone? No, it isn’t! There’s lots of ways. Finding that for yourself is what I am advocating. I just happen to love paint. It is juicy, brilliant in color, glides around the paper, and just combines in the most fabulous ways with other colors. Inviting a create muse into your life is really a second chakra activity (pleasure). But I am getting ahead of myself…
The first building block is concentrating on the first chakra. It is the ‘pilot light’ for all the other chakras in your energy body. If you are new to my newsletter, you may want to buy Anodea Judith’s books on the Chakras: Wheels of Life, and Eastern Body Western Mind. She goes into detail about each chakra and how to clear them.
So why do art? Think about what you do in your life that is creative. How are you feeling during that activity? I am guessing that you may lose time, feel rejuvenated, and just get into a ‘zone’ that isn’t like any other time. It frees the mind, makes you relax, helps you unwind. Your body will appreciate that, so will your nervous system, your stress level your sleep; all of these will improve.
So, until next time ~ get out that paint!
Lose the Critic and Find the Creative Zone
This morning I was watching a painting video and it triggered that creative urge to get out in my studio and paint. It is such a luxury to spend the day out there or at least until I have satisfied that urge... What is it that you do to find that creative place, ‘the zone’ that replenishes serotonin in the brain, and just brings you a sense of great satisfaction?
Many artists talk about having an intention, or purpose when painting. I want to back it up a bit.
The Sacral Chakra
Where does that creative place begin? When I get the urge to create, I have found that writing, gardening and/or doing art in some way satisfies that for me. I have often written about the 2nd chakra or sacral chakra. This is the place of creativity, sensuality, passion. It is also about relationship in the creative or fecund way. But what if this is shut down? Many times, I have worked on people in Hands on Healing to open this center. Often it is closed, but occasionally it is the only chakra that is open out of the major 7 chakras in our subtle energy body. In that case, I would look for sexual addiction. This is a person who is using the energy of this chakra to express it in ways that are not healthy for that person. Sex is just one of the ways this ‘urge’ shows up. It can be channeled up through the body, and expressed in many ways. This is the vitality for life, what in Eastern medicine is known as ‘chi’. I also believe that when the 2nd chakra is open, this is the place that captains the soul’s purpose. What we have come here to do as a soul is often blocked by parts that sabotage us such as the inner critic or the judge which are parts that have nothing good to say to you about what you do and who you are. We all have critics; it is a matter of being in charge of them, not the other way around.
The Inner Critic
If I let my critic out in my studio, I wouldn’t be able to even get started on a blank canvas. Expressive, loose painting with no ‘purpose’ is a journey, a fun way to follow what inspiration comes forward with color shape and movement of these two things. It is a great way to free the soul, quiet the critic, and find pleasure in a creative activity. Children most often don’t worry about the end result of the art they do. They just do it! And we are delighted by the freedom in which they convey their emotions and thought on paper. We need to bring that back into our lives and just be n the moment inside a painting, a journal, the garden, music, or where ever else you get lost and time stands still. This is the magical place, the place I call the ‘zone’.
I shy away from purpose when it is translated as a goal. This is when I get stuck, when I feel the work must look a certain way or it has to match my vision. For many years I didn’t paint because it never looked the way I wanted it to. When I finally stepped out of that I had to begin with an abstract approach which never has to look like anything we see in life. I found that when I painted from the place of wanting to express the energy of the piece to convey a feeling, it freed me from the critic’s voice. This is very different than painting a flower, for example that looks like a flower. For me, if I get too involved in how it looks it serves to squash my creative juices. I know that some of you who paint realistically or figuratively may not have this experience and that is great. But so many of my past clients and students bring the citric with them before they even get started. In my past work as a psychotherapist, I almost always recommended the book, “Embracing Your Inner Critic” by Hal Stone. It is a wonderful book for taming the inner critic’s voice in any situation in life. In truth, this voice or part invades people’s lives in the most insidious ways.
Lose the critic with loose painting, big brushes, and a sense of play! One artist I know said, if you don’t make a mistake, you aren’t painting right. We can apply this to life. Mistakes are how we learn. So, whether it is crafting, collaging, cooking, or writing, create time in your life for it. It will enliven you in the rest of your life in ways you may haven’t experienced since you were a kid. So if I had to have a purpose, this would be it. Learning how to banish the critic is lesson number one in my painting classes! It can be channeled up through the body, and expressed in many ways. This is the vitality for life, what in Eastern medicine is known as ‘chi’. I also believe that when the 2nd chakra is open, this is the place that captains the soul’s purpose. What we have come here to do as a soul is often blocked by parts that sabotage us such as the inner critic or the judge which are parts that have nothing good to say to you about what you do and who you are. We all have critics; it is a matter of being in charge of them, not the other way around.
As a 'retired' psychotherapist I have worked with both children and adults in art therapy, I understand the value of doing art for healing. Children are exceptionally uninhibited and naturally turn to non-verbal methods for expression and making internal changes to places that hurt. With some coaxing, most adults are able to find art process a way to express those underlying places that may not be so conscious, and the process is more gratifying than you would know…unless you have experienced this for yourself.
I remember one little girl who was struggling with self esteem and was being bullied by others. She wanted to work with clay, so I got a gray lump of clay out for her. She began kneading it and said, “this wants to be a lion.” She proceeded to make a lion’s head coming out of the clay. I was amazed that she wanted a lion. Lions are connected to the constellation Leo, to the color yellow, and to the sun. It is linked with the “solar” plexus, which is where the third chakra sits in the energy body., The solar plexus is about self empowerment, healthy boundaries, and ego… another symbol of the sun and lion! This was perfect, as it was just what she needed to develop. Did she realize this? No, it is an archetypal image that appeared just when she needed it. This is the power of healing images, they appear when needed.
But what about that art you look at. Can it also serve as a place of healing? Yes! I remember Jason Horjes, Gallery owner of Xanadu Galleries, wrote that he had spent months of preparing his new gallery to open. The day of his opening happened to fall on Sept. 11, 2001… He said for days no one showed up, until one day, a woman came in and said she couldn't take in any more – she had to have a beautiful piece of art to uplift her spirit, to remind her that beauty still existed in a world of pain. She wanted a piece that gave her this feeling. Most people connect with art that is meaningful to them whether it is self produced or purchased in a gallery.
When I paint, I am usually painting something that has a story that has meaning to me. As an example, I have had wondrous experiences in Sacred Sites around the world, and wish to somehow convey that in my work. In other cases, it can be more of a process painting.
Last summer I was in a very difficult place emotionally having had a cancer diagnosis. I remember little of that summer except for the feeling of being in the underworld, a place of death and darkness. At
the time before this diagnosis, my dreams were screaming at me to try to tell me something was wrong. Receiving this diagnosis, as anyone who has had cancer knows, is a shock. It was devastating news, since I had no symptoms and only found out due to a fluke blood test. ( I am since happily on the recovering side of the diagnosis).
That summer I decided to paint my experience. But, I could only put black paint on an entire canvas. For days I would go into my studio and just look at it. It felt exactly right, as this is where I was living internally. I wondered when I would be able to put more on the canvas, and often thought that I may never paint anything else on it. Then one day, I felt like I wanted to put some source of light, or white paint on it. I just flicked some while and it looked like little dots on the canvas. For some time, that is all that wanted to be on the canvas. Again, I couldn't force anything more, but actually was content to have that be what it was. For me, a little light was emerging into my life. But then the grief hit! Wow, I needed to have lots of drips on the canvas. Red blood (paint) felt just right as I slathered it on the top with a full brush and let it drip slowly down that canvas. Now it was, black, white and red. Perfect. Again, I lived with this painting for quite a while. Then one day I was feeling more hopeful and wanted to add some other colors. This painting is now finished and called “Out of Darkness”. Some of the drips can still be seen in the back ground. I painted gold in a center of a flower- like image to symbolize hope.
I am sharing both these examples with you to show you how art heals. You don’t have to be an “artist” to experience the healing nature of an image. Images evoke inner emotions. They remind us of our ancestors, our loved ones, perhaps a fond memory of childhood. Or they can be healing forces that journal a healing process and may have meaning only for you. Next time you have a chance, I invite you to experience art as a healing, or a way to express an unsaid part of yourself that wants free expression. No critics allowed!
I almost called this blog site 'Musings' as that is what this blog piece is. But I am hoping to hear back from you on any piece of my art or about the 'musings' themselves. I am hosting a dream workshop in the fall, and it has a day of art process. A woman who received the brochure said that the art process day was intimidating...
I have been sitting with that because for me, doing art is like having a day in the garden. It is purely creative, and allows me to have that way of connecting in with spirit and psyche that then becomes alive on the paper or canvas. I feel sad that for some, art is shadowed by the inner critic, or perhaps baggage from our younger years in school when our art was placed on the chalkboard and 'critiqued'.
There was a time in my life that I felt I couldn't do art, but always wanted to. I had to let go of needing it to look a certain way, and to allow whatever began to show up to be what it wanted to be. Perhaps those artists who are realists begin with an idea, and know what they want to express ahead of time. They indeed do beautiful landscapes, portraits and such. But for me, the journey is in the not knowing. I am never very happy in the studio when I start out trying to produce a certain subject. Perhaps that's why abstract art is so appealing to me.
For me, art comes from the inside. It doesn't really matter if it looks like anything 'out there'. The act of working with the material inspires me, not the other way around.