I decided to start this Back Story Blog because it'll be fun to share some of the stories of how or why a painting comes to be - However I am a visual artist for a reason and I tend to avoid writing! so please bear with me.. I recently graduated from the Kang O' Higgins atelier, a 3 year contemporary painting program at Gage Academy of art. I have become so used to structure. I miss leaving the house, painting, discussing paintings, observing others painting and smelling the paint in the old building. And now I'm home. I graduated! Hurray!
Instead of getting on with writing, or painting I've been worrying about the messy kitchen, the washing up and walking the dog with a dodgy knee! I was also procrastinating and having a never ending debate in my head over what and how to write this first post, so I took a break, got on the bike (I'm getting over an ACL surgery so it's mandated P.T. exercise!) and thought I'd listen to a podcast instead.
My app start playing The Savvy Painter podcast by Antrese Wood and she was interviewing Julie Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and The Listening Path. Even though The Artist's way was a best seller I never read it because I thought I had it all figured out and didn't need any advice on how to get the creative juices flowing!, ha! but here I was, blocked. As Julie Cameron spoke, she gave some great tips:
Write once a week, and get out and walk. Could it be that simple?
So I went for a walk...
Strangely on the corner of my street was a box of free stuff!. Inside the box there was a book with a bright orange cover, calling to me. So I took it. It was called 'Be the gateway' 'A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience' by Dan Blank. I mean, what a coincidence it is a book literally about writing a blog post!
Free Found Book in a Box, Green Lake, Seattle 8/24/21
So walked a bit further and sat on a little bench outside my favorite donut shop. I just started looking at the first page.. when I was interrupted.
Dog Pack, Mighty O' Donuts
A pack of dogs came over to my dog Abby. They were very friendly and she didn't seem too worried so we said hello. It turns out that they were with a dog walker and he commented on how chill Abby was, and he said he'd walk her if I get really busy painting! Someone was answering my wishes! .
The first page of the Gateway book talks about why you might be blocked and what to do:
"I want you to think about specific experiences that indicate that you and your work connected with, and influenced, the lives of others.'
So this sentence really reminded me why I love connecting with people over painting, and I immediately felt better. Immediately one moment that stuck in my mind. In 2015. I had my paintings on show in a neighborhood coffee shop, Caffe Vita. I had decided to part with a piece called 'Journey' that was very dear to me but I put it up for sale so that I might have room to create more paintings.
'Journey' 40x30", oil on canvas mounted on panel, 2015
For me this painting symbolized my journey from the UK to Seattle, and my journey back to painting having taken a long break and having gone through a rough patch. It was painted from a memory of a winding path around Green Lake in Seattle - a long tunneling, watery path with a light just around the corner on the horizon. Painting was the light at the end of the tunnel for me.
During the show a lady called Kate contacted me and asked if 'Journey' was still available. I was elated! She told me it was going to be a gift to her husband on their first wedding anniversary because it reminded her of their honeymoon traveling in New Zealand. They had taken a multi day riverboat trip through an amazing canyon. It reminded her of her own special journey starting a new life. I was so touched that my painting could resonate like that and was so very happy it was going to be cherished by someone else.
After my dog walk I got home I finally read the whole of the first page of the book - and guess what the words read?
"Let's begin the Journey'
Is this a bit too much coincidence for one day? Julie Cameron was right! I went on a walk and I came back full of renewed creative energy, a book of step by step instructions about writing blogs and social media posts, help dog walking, and renewed memories of why I paint in the first place.
I'm happy to share this story with you. I think the message I learned today is that things happen when you let them unfold. Painting is the path for me that has a heart and next time I'm stuck thinking what to write here I will definitely go for a walk! Who knows what we'll find next.
I hope you'll come on this journey with me.
p.s. If any of you are creatives who are also feeling stuck in this online world, read this: