Being in the flow of art is sort of like losing yourself in the moment. Before getting down to work, I always tried affirming myself as a person of value, talented enough and naive enough to rewrite my life.
Before journaling or art making, I begin a ritual of stretching my neck back and forth and rolling my head in a circle while thinking about what it is I want to write about or work on. I found it best to unclothe myself of negative doubt and invite new ideas and boundless energy into my body. I often say a prayer for guidance
When in tune with my inner artist, I am unstoppable. Strong. Able. Creative. I think about how hard my hands and fingers have worked for me; and, how often they gave me a sense of fulfillment. I thanked God for my natural abilities and prayed to be a tool of his love and creativity. If you are hurting and needing some tender loving care, try expressing yourself by doodling, scribbling, drawing, painting, sculpture and/or photography. They all allow you to tape into a source of inner wisdom that can provide you guidance, sooth emotional pain and revitalize your being.
Kneading clay is pure therapy not only for our souls but for our tired arthritic hands. Our world can be fresh with wonder and meaning when we bring something new into existence and something never seen before. We simply have to let our hands work their magic. I agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes’ words, a mind, stretched to new ideas, never goes back to its original dimensions.
Most of us need to express ourselves the most when we feel we can’t. But once we do, we change forever for the better. It is discomfort and lack of faith in our innate gifts that prevent us from the happiness and joy we want and need. Those of us who have found the fountain of youth in our special purpose regret to sleep while the rest regret to wake. Perhaps, living a joyful successful life is just a matter of living the life we were meant to live.
I was not one of those instant successes you hear about when I began studying clay at college. My instructors never hailed me as a promising student of ceramics or sculpture. As a matter of fact, many including my instructors laughed at my beginning efforts. I found that clay is nature’s cheapest and most abundant art supply. It is a malleable substance that can be molded into most any shape with the surface remaining smooth and unbroken. Its best quality in my mind was its forgiving ways. With clay, nothing was permanent until it was baked in a kiln. Clay allowed me to create images in three-dimensions. I modeled pots, vases, and figures, turning them around and around in front of me on a lazy Suzanne. From every point of view, my hands worked to get out what was hidden. I used only a few sculpturing knives, brushes, and sponges. But, when I got excited, I used both my hands. Sculpting and modeling clay become pure therapy when God set our pace. Below is a poem for all artists:
When twilight chases day, Heavens twinkled with the delight Of a thousand artists’ eyes, The day but one, a fireball called The Sun, to help us get our day’s work Done, When twilight chases day, Heavens twinkled with the delight Of a thousand artists’ eyes, All called upon to pay their due, Writers must write, painters must Paint, musicians are most blessed Of all, for their work, they get to Play for you!
Wet clay does not look like much when it is being layered onto an armature in the form of a human head. When I am birthing new characters, each sculptured face puts up a fight within me for a chance to be. “Pick me” ”No, pick me,” their muffled voices cry out to me. Primitive skeleton-looking men and women visit me tenaciously, all different yet the same; with more clay layering in an additive state, they gradually turn into younger hardier adults; and later with more fiddling and fixing, they turn into their own swollen cheeked big-eyed children. Their expressive eyes and energetic intensity give them a joyful reflection and awe lost to most adults. I am like a jeweler who created an original gem from an ordinary piece of rough stone.
All its polished faces contribute equally to its creative expression, fascination and beauty. I have to admit it so pleasures me to have so much control. Kneading clay was pure therapy for me. It took a while for me to realize art changes people in many meaningful ways including the artist. My most successful pieces are too simple to imagine. Serendipity loves simplicity! If you really do not believe in the serendipity of the unseen, leave yourself a wormhole for escape when you are writing or art making. The unknown will sneak into your work in a good way when you least expect. It takes time to communicate with our inner artist.
Many of my art clay pieces look more like photographs of nature than the drippings of serendipity. I often make collages out of two photographs like in the beginning picture for this article. I like to blend the unexpected. These thoughts were surely given to me by my guardian angels. Where ever our paths cross with creative thought messages, there is union with God and his angels.
Even if evidence is visibly lacking, you do not need to meditate on top of a mountain for twenty years to be welcomed into the angelic realm. Most of us can’t maintain a state of God consciousness for prolonged periods of time but we have occasional glimpses of it when we’re in the flow. Don’t take my word for it, the next time you’re daydreaming imagine your guardian angels there with you. Acknowledge their presence at a pool and they will dance for you on the walls or in the water. Imagine being heart-to-heart with our guardian angels who are our best fans.
I tangled with loved ones who ridiculed and laughed at me when I told them how well I was doing now that I had clay. At times I went off silently angry at their indifference and disinterest in my newfound friend. Maybe, they were jealous when they told me, “You’ll never get rich that, playing in the mud like children”. Sometimes I laughed at them and their ignorance I felt richer and happier than I had in years. I found self-acceptance is paramount to having compassion for others. I finally found a way to express myself and forgive others. I found joy. I found self-love. I finally realized each of us is special. We are packed with unique abilities to gladden the hearts of others and leave the world a better place than when we found it.
I am still a young soul passionately concerned about joy, involved in it, and in search of it. With my child wonder still so easily accessible, there was nothing too ridiculous to be considered when contemplating the erotica of joy. I have learned to take comfort where I can, alone in my sandbox when I was little; or when I was a teenager, cooking, sewing, and crocheting; or in the bedroom as a young woman. Now I look to writing or photography as well as savoring special moments of insight I get from reading. I have learned we can spend a lifetime wanting more, always chasing happiness, or simply decide to consciously want less and appreciate what we have and who we are.
Our imagination can inspire us spiritually, mirror our secret thoughts and embody our many emotions. Our imagination hugs us with possibilities. Sometimes when I cock my head just right, I can still imagine myself frolicking in the healing downpour of the fountain of youth with the other stone maidens lucky enough to follow their Casanova into eternity. On-lookers would be throwing pennies at us making wishes of their own. It is fun to imagine our heart’s desires.
I guess because I am a dreamer, I have an extraordinary capacity to deeply find the highest of highs, the lowest if lows, and every shade of emotion in between. It is at night when I get my clearest and most exciting ideas for poetry and writing. I lay stretching my body and my mind to all possibilities. It never bothered me how far I had to go to disappear into a dream. Even Jung tells us, “Many of us were given direct inspiration for art through dreams guiding us and pointing us in the direction of our true inner self, toward whatever we needed to resolve, create or transmit; we were so captivated by and entangled in our subjective consciousness that we have forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions.”
In a world awash with so many ways to enjoy ourselves, it surprised me when I read that Taoist Master Lau-Tzu suggested, “Practice not-doing and everything will fall into place.” Nothing ever fell into place for me when I was sitting around doing nothing. Again, I had a change of attitude when I was sitting my first day at college in a sculpturing class with a lump of moist clay in front of me on the table. I just let my hands dig into it when I talked and laughed with a classmate sitting next to me.
The moist clay felt cool and relaxing on y already sore arthritic hands, putting me in a peaceful kind of mind. I lost track of time as I pinched, pulled and savored the clay in front of me. I remember getting reprimanded by the teacher for talking and laughing instead of paying attention to what I was doing. Like magic by the end of class that day, the lump of moist clay turned into a 12-inch abstract sculpture of a lady dancing! I later wrote a poem about her. Everyone was amazed even the teacher – -even me! I did not know where she came from exactly but I suspected she was me and we were happy doing what we were doing. All my work was spontaneously sculpted within a very short time without models or preplans. This was just another example of tuning out the world, and tuning into the joy and healing of Art Therapy