There’s an intensity to being a product maker. Deadlines, product development, marketing and visibility as well as technology, systems, goal setting and planning. I’ve been a graphic designer for three decades. I am fortunate to construct designs that help communicate or represent businesses and organizations, people, special occasions or for the benefit of my community.
As I rejuvenate my fine art painting practice, I find I am allowing myself to be an artist. An artist is someone who practices a creative endeavor (painting, sculpting, writing, composing music, dancing…I’ll add gardening, cooking, and photography to this description). What does it mean to be an artist — to express yourself fully, freely and authentically?? Sit with that a minute…don’t fall into the trap of thinking creative expression is frivolous.
Artistry is a language that your soul speaks. Art is not only for those with special skills or the very talented. The challenge is how to “unlock” your imagination and “invite” yourself on the journey of self expression.
We are innately drawn to certain colors, shapes and patterns. These visual preferences tell others about your style, interests and personality. I’ve been drawn to decorative art and ornamental design since I was a little girl. I would rub my fingers over the carved wooden chest that to this day adorns my living room. I would marvel at the glamorous and sparkly costume jewelry in grandmother's jewelry box or the way the sunlight would dance across the crystal flower vases and wine glasses creating kaleidoscopes of color. The intricate details on the hand painted porcelain figurines told their own story, like the characters in Beauty and the Beast coming to life when I went to sleep at night.
Even though I’m not a fussy person or outwardly bold dresser, I’m still in love with “objet d'art”, garden ornament and antiquities. So it’s no surprise that I find delight in painting these artifacts.
The mystery of art making is permitting yourself to not always be attached to the final outcome. Of course there’s an “intention” (plan, aim or purpose) when you carve out time to create but the key is listening to your intuition. Your creative soul is awakened by your experiences, your relationships, your time in nature and your spiritual practice.
My current muse, my source of inspiration of late is tied to the term/word VESSEL.
Vessels serve a number of purposes — they act as storage, repositories, receptacles, pitchers, bottles, buckets, pots, vases, chalices and ships/boats. Throughout history they have been made by hand and out of materials (clay, glass, stone, wood) for which their purpose is intended (pouring, drinking, gift giving or ornamental decor). Another definition of a vessel is describing a person — one who is seen as an agent or the embodiment of a particular quality.
It’s not uncommon for artists to be fascinated by the forms, shapes and history of ancient cultures. Museums are filled with archaeological finds that display vessels adorned with decorative elements, spiritual forms, auspicious symbols or mythical beings. Many vessels are simple forms, to which on occasion have handles, lids or spouts attached. Typically they are designed with a neck, body and feet.
Metaphorically let’s explore the idea that we are all vessels of discovery, creativity, and truths. Visualize yourself as a pitcher or ewer. Our outer appearance is an expression of our visual style and preferences, but it also shows our age, uniqueness and some of our imperfections (which can have their own essence and beauty).
Envision how you “pour” your energy into the things that require our attention (responsibilities like parenting, chores, bills…but also relationships, travel, entertainment, fashion/decor…). These outward actions can drain us but also fill us up. This isn’t a “cup overflowing” or “running on empty” blog piece. I’m finding it difficult to describe or even verbalize what’s going through my head and my heart. But I am consumed by this abstract idea that our subconscious and intuition is guiding us to take risks and explore our creativity.
Currently, I’m inspired by the inexhaustible amount of “ceramics” that I can use as my subject. I’m less focused on the literal representation of the image in my paintings and more preoccupied with surrendering to the spontaneity of the shapes and patterns as well as the encouraged yet unpredictable transparency and opacity of the paint on the paper. Watercolor can be difficult to control, it has its own personality. I am trusting the process and I’m committed to seeing what develops.
We are human vessels of infinite possibilities. I ask you to channel that energy source that fills you with awe and wonder and see what takes shape. Your creativity is a gift to yourself but by sharing it, it’s also a gift to the world.