Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Blooming True

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I awoke early this morning, while it was still dark, to see a star so bright that I wondered if it was an airplane approaching. Observing it for a few moments, I saw that it wasn't moving toward the airport - it appeared to stationary, twinkling and shining right at me. I thought: Katie.

As I watched it shine, other stars appeared nearby - bright, but not as large and brilliant as the first. They brought to mind our beloved friend Diane, who passed away ten years ago this month. For many days after her passing, I noted a similar star in the Eastern sky, which reminded me of her beautiful soul.

"Catastrophe is the essence of the spiritual path, a series of breakdowns allowing us to discover the threads that weave all of life into a whole cloth." - Roshi Joan Halifax

This has been a difficult summer. We have had glorious, sunny weather as well as joys and blessings in the mix, but it has been very, very hard at the same time. I'm thankful that things are beginning to lighten and improve; it has been dark, things have broken down, but I am beginning to see the stars and the threads mentioned in the two quotes above.

"What we need to learn comes when we need it, no matter how old or young, no matter how many times we have to start over...We fall down as many times as we need to, to learn how to fall and get up...No one really likes this, of course, but we deal with our dislike in the same way, again and again, until we learn what we need to know about the humility of acceptance." - Mark Nepo

I'm about to embark on a great adventure. It's one I have dreamed about for several years, awaiting the right time. Because of this courageous, talented and adventurous heart, a blogger who wrote about taking a life-changing course, a dream was sparked in me. Today, I am going on a journey to take a four-day course in painting called "Bloom True" with Flora Bowley.

I majored in Fine Art (with an emphasis upon watercolor painting). I had the privilege of traveling to England to study, and took courses at colleges in the U.S. designed to refine my skills. I love all things creative, artistic and crafty, but I have been "blocked" as a painter for over 30 years. 

I do not paint. I stand before a canvas, and my hands are "mute."

The critique process during my years of college could be called "interesting" and "educational," but for me, it was a savage experience of public humiliation, and it shattered my confidence, as well as any desire to try again. There was some praise thrown in, but I only heard - and took in - the criticism.*

We were taught a structured approach, but I could never seem to rein in my passion while I painted. I always tended to overdo something, and couldn't master the controlled, cerebral way that painting was taught in that school. The urge to let go, and let it all out on the heavy-duty watercolor paper was powerful - I was 20 years old, and overflowing with emotions - but this didn't fit the mold, or the medium. The result was weekly, public criticism for the way I expressed myself artistically. I believe this is a very unwise way to treat artists (and so does Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way), but that was the process of teaching where I studied. 
Photo credit: Anya Hankin, Bloom True
Tomorrow, I will stand before a blank canvas and begin again, in an environment of support and kindness. I will learn to trust my artistic intuition in a new way, and I am profoundly grateful to my family for supporting me on this journey. 

*I'm deeply thankful for my liberal arts education as a whole, and do not consider it wasted in any way. Perhaps I would have been happier in interior or graphic design, but these were not offered where I studied, and they were considered lesser art forms (art for commerce), so (being a young and impressionable) I didn't pursue them.


Busy Bee Suz said...

I have a feeling this art class will be only positive for you. I can only imagine the heartache you felt with you could only 'hear' the criticism years ago.
Oh....I love those bright shining stars that seem to speak to us!
I hope things are looking up for you and that the tougher days are far behind your memory soon.

Ann said...

Bravo for you Karen. I imagine you aren't remotely the same person you were at the age of 20. You have had profound life experiences that will give you the courage and confidence to shine. I can't wait to see your work. xo

jandi said...

So glad you got a bright shining star. And I do think everyone should be taught in an evironment that is kind and supportive- would have made a huge difference in my path too. I was burntout + disillussioned after 6 years of studying medicine and soon after qualifying I felt I couldn't continue being a medical doctor in the way I was forced to be.

jandi said...

Oh hope your course will be more than you hope it would be...

Anonymous said...

Courage Karen. Take the chance to begin...I have a BFA and avoided painting and drawing because of one professor who was full of himself and harsh. So I began my discovery in sculpture and photography because a different professor who was kind, funny and supportive. Funny but I have been forcing myself to paint and draw more. Sometimes for me finishing the piece is the hardest.
Enjoy and I hope you find that joy, satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment that art brings to us. Christy Kreps

Kay said...

I am loving that you are finding ways back to things you love in such nurturing ways. I am excited for you in your new adventure in art. My girl's heart hurt over and over during critiques for her art classes at college, but one teacher with encouraging words helped her soar. I know this will be your experience a thousand fold, my fried!

Elizabeth said...

Ack! I AM SO EXCITED THAT THE TIME IS HERE! It will be wonderful, Karen. Go and paint with joy in the re-discovery.

christine said...

I love these words of yours for this new journey....
I can't wait to see your work...please share. I too push to paint from a deep place within. the artist way helped me see how the blocks kept me from a place of joy.
love you friend. glad our hands hold each other close and dear.
a toast to our girls today.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you....Carin xoxo