Part One : The Art of Sorrow (some thoughts on my creative process)

There are bodily fluids in some of my art. Things sometime get wet when I’m working. And then, it just happens. I just let it happen, I just let the creative flow move me wherever She would move me.

Sometimes she moves me to tears.

Sometimes I will be painting and collaging and out of nowhere a plume of sorrow will surface, traveling from some hidden fissure in my guts, moving up through my chest, then my throat… the sorrow will make it’s way clear to my eyes if I do not resist. I do not resist. I allow. I usually have no idea why sorrowful feelings and crying manifest when I’m being still and just making art.

Being still. There it is. I live an active life. My calendar is full and when home I am almost always busy with art, writing, or reading from my ever-growing stack of books… or yard work, laundry, the usual daily drudgery type stuff that fills the hours faster than a long weekend that ends too soon. Time just slips away like creek water through my paint-splattered fingers.I live in constant distraction.

Art time is Being Still time. The mind goes from a static cacophony of run-on thoughts and images river’ing through most of my waken hours. But when I sit down for meditation or to make art, my entire being becomes lost in a flow that is separate from my monkey brain ( no offense to the many fine monkeys out there) – I become undistracted from my own Being’ness.

That’s when sorrow makes her move. If I have a chance to feel her coming at me, I just might turn off all the lights and pretend I’m not home as if I’m avoiding a door-to-door peddler of religious zeal. It’s when I’m caught off guard she tends to pay me a visit. Art making and writing drop my shields. I become vulnerable to my own inner state of being where long forgotten sorrows lay in wait with the patience of ten thousand saints.

Movement will sometimes release sorrow inside of me. I will be at my Sunday practice of ecstatic dance and sometimes as I’m twirling and shaking my curvy groove thing here comes sorrow to join me. I often don’t even know what the crying is about. It just wells up inside of me. I allow it. I allow her to dance with me, sorrow is a wonderful dance partner, gentle and in tune with every move I make. I no longer resist her as I have for more decades than makes me comfortable to even admit.

Feeling the feels deeper than I have ever before means I am making my strongest art and writing my best writing than ever before. Emotions fuel inspiration.

My creative process involves my entire being. I have to feel the feels when I paint and write. In this way I discover inspiration for myself. I must inspire my self first with the art and the writing. I cannot expect to inspire another if I do not inspire myself first.

I am able to inspire myself when I am honest. When I am stripped of distractions. When I am naked … this is why sometimes, many times, I paint with only my apron on. My creative process is often best served when I strip myself down to the flesh, as if the very act of uncovering my body is also uncovering my truth.

I learned a long time ago not to wait for the Muse as some like to call inspiration. She is a fickle, elusive creature who lives in a mirage. I am my own muse. Sometimes there is indeed a force outside of myself that shows up when I show up. I call this Flow. I will be in the flow making art or writing. I have exited time and place and exist in that moment in Flow. But it is not the Muse that delivers Flow to me. Flow is flow… Flow shows up when I show up. Flow shows up when I let my guard down and allow my imagination to jump into the driver’s seat. And sometimes in that suspended state of flow I will spontaneously cry.

Flow is in cahoots with sorrow, I’m sure of it. The two of them have collaborated together many times when I am in my creative space. It’s ok. I welcome it. More than that, I revel in it. I am a woman who has lived a whole lot of years denying my own life experience. I have been an expert at numbing out. Much of my life has been spent navigating emotional crisis I could not understand for I was so disconnected to who I was. I lived estranged from my own body for more than a half century.

I do not mean to indicate that I am a depressed creative woman. It is quite the opposite. The creative flow has become one of my best therapists (the forest and music being my two other fave mental health specialists.) Making art and writing have become practices that bring great satisfaction to my life. It is one of the most revealing places to discover the truth about who I am and what scars and wounds need some love. Sorrow shows up sometimes like a life-affirming elixir. Letting go of suppressed ancient emotions increases joy in my inner and outer world.


Sometimes when I paint, I cry.
Sometimes when I write, I cry.
Sometimes when I dance, I cry.

Those are just my frozen parts melting under the sunshine of being true to who I am.

(Part 2 later this week)

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