What my art — and making it — is teaching me



Having embarked on a new professional direction after selling my design firm 5 years ago, I dicovered that I loved Intuitive Painting (so much that I became an instructor in that proecess), but that engaging in other personal creative work was a challenge. In time I started writing poetry (as I have always loved words, and that was a comfortable way for me to express ideas and emotions). And, last year I enrolled in a class at Boston's MFA and began sculpting in clay. To my delight, I loved working with my hands and in three dimensions.

On my fall 2015 sabbatical, I took a new big step and enrolled in an abstract painting course at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. To say that it was life-changing is not an overstatement. I had a brilliant teacher and wonderful classmates who generously embraced me as a new student, and who all taught me more than I'd have imagined possible in a one-semester course.

Now, I am enrolled at the SMFA in Bosotn, with another brillient painting teacher and inspiring classmates. And, I have continued to study with my sculpting teacher.

All of this art-making takes a lot of time. I wondered, at first, if perhaps I was devoting too much time to this work, as my coaching practice and the programs I offer are so important to me and require so much time and attention. Now that we are four months into 2016, I am taking stock of the decisions I made, and how the balance is working for me.



What I have realized is that my creative work is richly rewarding — and it challenges me. In the best moments, I make what I feel tangible in my art. I sometimes find myself in such flow that I completely lose track of time. That is an amazing experience, and one that, happily, I often replicate when engaged in my coaching work.

Other times when I am in the studio, and more often this semester in my painting class, I find myself struggling to connect to my intution, unable to create with ease. I had decided at the start of the semester to deliberately use this painting class to experiment with a wide range of techniques, so that I my painting process can flow. I want to find a way to paint that feels like home for me. So, I am perservering and have started to find more freedom as I paint.

Strikingly, when I am at work outside of either the painting or sculpting studios, I realize that I more naturally look for opportunities to be responsive, intuitive, adaptable and, yes, creative — in recognizing unexpected and intriguing ideas, and in the decisions I make and the actions I take. This fluidity is striking to me, and is leading me in exciting directions. And, the happiness I feel with my work is ever increasing.

I am certain that my descion to devote time to personal creative exploration is paying dividends for me, and I am excited as I contemplate continuing my journey to develop as an artist.

New discoveries at two very different museums

In the last 2 weeks I’ve been turned on by amazing art at the ICA in Boston and at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. I am happy to share some of the memorable pieces I enjoyed.

The ICA’s current special exhibitions are outstanding. Nick Cave’s sound suits and his newer sculptural works knocked me out. The inventiveness of materials and forms, his colors and concepts, were delightful and exciting.

I also discovered the incredible work of South African artist, William Kentridge at the ICA. His pulsing Refusal of Time installation was fascinating and mesmerizing. If you get to the ICA, plan on spending at least 20 minutes taking it in. Equally exciting for me was seeing his monochromatic and varied works on paper. Imagine my delight when I visited the Barbara Krakow Gallery a few days later and saw another group of wonderful pieces by Kentridge. I intend to continue to explore the work of this marvelous artist.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of taking a day trip to New Hampshire to spend time with a dear friend. She told me the Currier Museum would be a treat but I was surprised by their eclectic and impressive collection. My favorite discoveries included paintings done in the middle ages, including one portrait that looked amazingly modern. I loved walking through the gallery of modern art that included stunning works by Picasso, Matisse and O’Keeffe. And, we spent a lot of time in a contemporary gallery that included a standing mobile by Alexander Calder, a large Joan Mitchell painting and intriguing sculptures by Louise Nevelson and Marisol. Savoring a cup of tea was especially enjoyable because the dramatic cafe space was framed by a pair of enormous, colorful paintings by Sol Lewitt. 

I hope you can plan an excursion to a great museum or gallery soon. When you soak in the beauty I predict that you’ll start to notice and enjoy more of what is in your every day surroundings. And, your emotions can become fuel for your own creative expression.

Let me know if you come across wonderful new art and where you’ve found it.

New creative adventures

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I belong to a small group of creative friends that meets monthly (or as close to monthly as our busy lives allow). We’re now into our 6th year together, and the ways we spend our time has changed over time as we’ve changed.

Each member (there are 4 of us) does professional work related to creativity. One sold her ad agency and has been a full time (and very successful) artist for over a decade. One is an architect with a thriving practice. One recently gave up teaching in an MBA program at a prestigious university to be a full-time artist — something she was just starting to explore when we first formed the group. I transitioned from my design firm to my current creative coaching practice. Our journey together has been marvelous.

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This year we have paired up differently to plan new creative adventures for each of our 3-hour meetings. For this week's meeting, we each sent in a piece of music we loved, and were told to come with an assortment of materials to share for making sculptures — something totally new for me. Here’s a photo of one of the three sculptures I made. It was created while listening to Tigerlily by Natalie Merchant.

I’m also including a photo of a collage I made at our session in December. I'd helped to make the plan for the collage project. Each person started by picking a topic from those in a hat (the topic for my collage was “pain”). To make the collages, we selected images from a stack I’d saved from my design firm days — wonderful samples provided by printers and paper merchants — and applied them to wooden panels. As at our sculpture session, everyone's collages were marvelous and quite different.

If you’d like to learn more about the experiences my group has had, or how you might start a similar group, get in touch