I recently posted a photo of my morning-pages-journal on FB, and a creative soul wrote “morning pages rock!” in the comments. Another wrote “Morning pages are fabulous! And I thought: yes and yes and YES!!!
(The latest morning-pages-journal got a cover-make-over, which makes it even more tempting for me!)
The author and creativity coach Julia Cameron has managed to create such a popular and almost embarrassingly simple tradition amongst creatives over the world. The fact that I can write the words “morning pages” and someone from another country know exactly what I am talking about made me so happy. A truly good thing that heals the creative soul has spread around the globe for good….YES!
(Me, my beloved morning-pages- journal and coffee!)
Why are morning pages so special?
They work like a shower for the soul and mind, cleaning the systems before a creative working day. They leave you more at ease with what is, and therefore more open to what else is there that want to play that day. Like inspiration, visions and passion. And that is a BIG thing for a creative person, that makes the difference from misery to magic!
And what are they, how do you do them?
1. Get a journal, preferably biggish.
2. Set aside about 20 min´s in the morning for writing.
I prefere the time just before starting my working day, with coffee by my side. Some do them in bed when they awake. They work best if you do them every morning, but some is also good and will surely make a differece.
3. Now write 3 pages, longhand.
Start anywhere, ex: “I am tired today, must try to go earlier to bed tonight. I hate to have to wake the children in the morning. Maybe it´s time to look at our family´s timings again…..I am keen to paint but actually wished I had more time, worried it will affect me…..Amazing how that scene from the movie still sits in my system…..bla-bla-bla….” sweet nothings will get you going. It´s not important WHAT you write. What matters is that you WRITE, and without judgement, 3 pages at a reasonable pace. Don´t be surprised if some of your best ideas show up some days on the pages. And don´t worry when they don´t. Just DO them.
(Often it is during the morning-pages I get ideas for images or words to my paintings like in the one above)
That´s it. And maybe remember that it is ok to make notes for your do-do-list, but be careful, only notes. To do-lists are not Morning pages. The pages are you listening to the sound of you, right there in the moment.
(From a café-visit in the company of another of Julia´s books, “The sound of paper”)
Try it out, or even better, get Julia´s book “The artists way“. It totally rocks too!!! So does her other books, but I recommend starting with this one.
If you already write morning pages, please share how it is in the comments below, I would love to hear!!
Today I realised I have quite a few newer paintings that I never showed you, so it´s about time to make a little show, here are 3 for a start:
“Dance with me”, mixed media on canvas, 20 x 20 cm
I love the idea that dance can happen anywhere. I used to fantasize about dancing in the local supermarket on a wednesday afternoon. Just out of the blue and really giving it my best, then buying milk and going home. Did not dare to do that yet, but my brain has done it brilliantly over and over. And I do tend to loose myself and do dancing steps in the street now and then. And really, why don´t we humans dance more, and in all kind of places? Why is it that dancing in a supermarket is considered weird unless you are 3 years old and has just spotted your favourite candy? Maybe I have a secret wish of being born in a musical, yes, that must be it!
Free spirit”, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 60 cm
I called this piece finished a year ago, but it kept whispering to me that it was not yet done. Now it is, and I am really happy I listened and worked on with it so that this free spirit could shine brightly as it was meant to. Now it´s ready to fly…and maybe land on someone else´s wall, spreading the message of the freedom we all came with.
“Life flowing over”, acrylic on canvas, 75 x 75 cm
This one is big, with gold-effects added, and for me, it´s about pure joy of being in the middle of life, feeling the richness and abundance of it all.
I love to see how other people create stuff. Each person has a special way of doing what they do. I paint at the dining table in our living room, and what you can´t see: I´m left handed. Here´s a sneak peak into my painting process…
White canvas, paint, brushes, and an idea
The sight of patterned paper can make me so happy!
Simple start, I glue the paper with Golden medium or glue-lack
Adding thin layers of acrylic paint, using spunge, cloth and water spray. Drawing a sketch with an oily pencil
Painting with acrylics, and some more sketching…and as always at this point, remembering not to judge, trusting the process, trying to stay curious: “I´m here, doing my best. Now show me what will unfold from the canvas today.”
“Quiet now” Here cropped. Almost finished, but still in process…
I had a wave coming my way. A wave of goodness and confirmation. It was awesome. Thrilling. Surprising. “Butterflies in the stomach”-ing. It all came my way because of a song.
More than a year ago I wrote a song to the mixed media artist Kelly Rae Roberts. When I wrote it I had no idea how popular she was. I had just discovered her amazing paintings, and felt a wawe of healing in my artist heart through them. And then a song appeared.
Not long ago I recorded the song with my camera and sent it to Kelly Rae, asking if she would be ok with being mentioned in connection with that song on my blog. She responded so incredibly warm and asked if she could post it on her blog. So she wrote the sweetest post with a link to the song and to my blogpost.
(Rain, mixed media on canvas)
Then the very feelable and positive side-effect to this warm response from her kicked in: Soooo many visitors came to my blog during those days. Oh my, I was almost blown away when I realised just how many people are plugged into the inspiration coming from her. So many kind souls came via her blog to mine. To hear the song, and to read my story about it, leaving sweet comments.
I started writing a blog half a year earlier and was not used to anything near that number of visitors. I began checking in on my blog for visitors several times during the day and also checked how many people had watched the video (lots!). I could feel what people describe when they talk about addiction. I knew the wawe was borrowed and that I had to stop the “blog-drug-addiction”. And just find my own feet. Because, that is what we have to stand on in life: our own two feet. So, I slowly began to step back from the hyped feeling and just enjoy the ride. And work on with the things I love to do.
(This is a recording of a song I wrote some years ago: “Quiet moment” Lyrics here.)
It´s quiet now. I am landed. Filled with gratitude. Some of you kind people who visited told me you will come back (welcome!). But the big wawe has calmed down. The song I wrote came from a quiet place in me. So does most songs I write. That is also where I create from when I paint. Quiet and timeless. I love to be in connection with that place.
But this experience made me realise something very important: I totally enjoyed the feeling of being part of something BIG. To connect big, share big. So enjoyable!
The song was written from pure gratitude. Because of what Kelly Rae had been able to be a channel for through her paintings. I am so thrilled that the song made her happy in return. Isn´t that what we want when we experience something good: to find a way to give back. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to give something back to the person who caused such a healing to the artist in me. And to have the honor of recieving this wave of kindness back. So, so grateful. What a wave, what a beautyful ride!
On now, to see where my own two feet will take me next….
(“Old friends” , one of the very first paintings I made in my week alone where I began painting again, inspired after watching this KRR video where she paints live)
Here comes the second part of the story about following my passion and beginning to paint again after more than 15 years. You´ll find Part 1 here if you missed it. Part 2 is actually the beginning. Like I promised, this one has a video in the end with a song I wrote one inspired evening.
Do you have your cup of tea or coffee ready?
Long, long ago I loved to paint and draw. The passion stayed with me as I grew up and later I thought that was what I wanted to do for life, paint.
LIFE TAKING OVER
So off I went to art school. Then I took up dancing to get more body in my paintings and got swept away with the love for stage-expression. So I went to theatre school. Later I got busy teaching and many other things, all good, and involving a steady income. I had two wonderful children with my dear husband, spending much time on family business. All the time thinking that of course I would paint again, some day.
Often friends or family who knew me as an aspiring painter, asked me if I had made any new paintings lately. That was so strange, because when I answered, I wanted to say “yes”, – I almost felt as if I had just been painting. Only I hadn´t.
(From Creative quickie book: “Imagine that you woke up one day and discovered something much greater than you ever expected growing out of your pot!”)
Now I can see that all those years I avoided taking responsibility for my deep passion: creating. I mean this in no regretting way, truly not. I don´t believe we are here to get everything right straight away. I simply believe we are here to do our best and learn whilst we do. And I learned so much. Many things that are utterly useful for me in what I do today. But true passions have a way of not leaving us alone. They are our own voice whispering persistently, and they will keep on whispering (even shouting) until we listen. Sometimes a lifetime. We may not be open, but the passions are there, ready to play the moment we are still enough to feel who we are.
TAKING RESPONSIBILITY AND ACTING ON IT
One day I stumbled upon a book about finding your passion and creating your life and income from that. I was totally on fire about this and systematically did the self-study during almost a year. Through that book I learned that we may have many passions in our life and that it is no shame to pick and follow one, then another, and then a completely different one. I had always thought that I had to get it just right, and did not dare to fully go for my passion since I was not sure if I knew which passion would be the right one to go for. I was also afraid I would make a fool of myself because of lack of true talent.
TALENT, PASSION and WORK
Oh, talent! Talent is wonderful. It is the gift we arrive with, ready to use as we choose. We all have them. But we need more than talent. I have a talent for being creative in many different ways. But god knows I wasn´t born with a big talent for taking charge of my dreams. It took me so long to realise that I had to deliberately work for that, if I wanted my own direction in life. Working with the book helped me choose one dream, for now, and try out what may happen when I dedicated time and effort to follow that. After finishing the book (only available in danish, but I believe there are many books on the subject in english), I attended a workshop with the author. Truly inspiring! And enough for me to get started on my first dream: to teach workshops about creativity.
During the coming year I created workshops designed to spark off a daily inspiration and a clearer vision of what you want in your life, using bits from all the artforms I knew and loved: Dancing and movement, writing, vocal exercices, creating images and working with life visions.
After each workshop I taught I was happy. And proud that I had given my dreams wings in the real world. And then, when I was done celebrating that, I started to hear a whisper that had been waiting patiently underneath this whole time:
“I want to paint. Please allow me to get dirty with paint and real canvas. Are you going to be too tired or busy for that forever? Isn´t that what you teach in your workshops: How to create time and space to do a bit of what you truly love, each day? So please listen to me, I REALLY WANT TO PAINT!”
(A creative quickie: “When you wish to help a plant grow, It won´t help to pull in it. Instead you need to discover how to nourish it´s own power to grow.”)
I felt ashamed. I had found my passion and followed it. I knew a lot about how to nurture creativity and do more of what you love doing. I was even teaching it, and still, the thing I kept dreaming about seemed almost impossible to do. I had been thinking about it, longing to paint on real canvas for so long that I was terrified I would let myself down if I dared to paint again. What if i was no good, or even worse: what if I would find the painting process donwright boring?
I needed a shift, a helping hand, something that could bypass the fear-effect that came from dreaming about, but not doing the painting.
One evening in october 2010 as I was sitting at my computer, I finally listened to the advice from a very caring lady who told me to visit Kelly Rae´s blog. She said that I absolutely had to check it out.
That was my first visit to Kelly Rae´s wonderful universe. That night, I just sat there at the computer, watching one painting after onother. I remember becoming very, very still inside. Such simplicity and freedom in the usage of colors, forms, words, images. The free mix of it all. Wauw! Here was the spark of inspiration I needed. I was transported into something similar to meditation, I must have sat there for hours, soaking in the goodness. And the following evening too. The paintings worked like healing, and up and out came a song, want to hear it?
(You can find the lyrics to this song here)
Seing Kelly Rae´s paintings helped me find back the freedom to paint from goodness. And to keep it really simple and close to my heart. A big thanks to her for inspiration, courage and belief! I know she helped so many creative souls listen to their passions, following their dreams. Whilst stayting true to her own.
(Heart, spread your wings of joy)
To end off this celebration I want to thank to all of you who gave your support this last year. You told me to keep going. You spoke kind words. You bought paintings when I started selling. You gave me a practical helping hand. You listened to me and was bearing with me during lots of words about my process. You commented faithfully and cheered me on here on my new blog. I believe all creative souls need some cheering and confirmation. In the end, all humans do. This year, your support meant so much. Thank you!
One year ago I started painting again after more than 15 years of only dreaming about my passion for painting. This is the story of how it happened. It is about the freedom of being able to create from connection to good, uplifting things, simply because that is what makes my heart sing. And it is about listening to the dream that has been buried under all the other dreams, the one that seemed too simple and good to be true.
And it is at the same time a celebration of a year with so, so much joy, of creating what I had known for years and years that I would love to do in this world, one day. A celebration of putting dreams into action.
It is a “longer-ish” one, so you may want to read it like listening to your aunt or uncle telling a calming tale whilst you lean back and sip a nice cup of tea.
Ready? Here comes Part 1:
About a year ago my husband Rune suggested a trip together with our two children to his home country, Holland. I said something like “yes, it´s a long time since we went, that would be nice”. His response to that completely caught me by surprise, he said: “I actually thought of going with just me and the children. Thought that maybe you would like to stay home and spend some time alone”. Well, anyone who is a busy mother with lots of dreams and passions for her own life can imagine how I responded: Yes!!!!! Really?!? Oh my, how can I best use this precious time? And then just one big smile.
I instantly knew how I wanted to spend my time at home alone: I would give myself the time and freedom to paint. Buy some canvases and unpack my long hidden color box with all my stuff for painting. And I would carefully take myself by the hand and allow that longing for real paintings on real canvas to be heard. Allow myself to play. Read and listen to inspiring prompts. Move and dance to kick-start the creative process. Have the feeling of “all the time in the world” . Paint again, after more than 15 years where that last remaining painting-box had been moved around from home to home, untouched. And most importantly, I knew I would allow myself to create from a joy of connection with good, uplifting life-filled things, allowing myself to follow the bliss and what worked. As simple as that.
I told almost no one about this. I was already partly self employed as a teacher in different creative expressions, so I simply told everyone I knew that I was staying home to get lots of work done, which was true. But I did not tell anyone exept my husband and a very close artist friend that I was going to paint and just spend the whole week in my own company, exploring. I needed to do this in utter privacy, protecting myself like a young life from the rush and possible insensitivity from other people. We can so easily cause damage in another person when we do not understand their reasons. And small new shoots needs protection to grow stronger before they are ready to meet the world.
During that holiday I entered into a field of passion that I almost couldn´t believe I had put off for so long. I felt a bit like when you first fall in love: happy, but so afraid that it would all go away again and vanish when the holiday was over. Then I made a decision. I decided to dedicate one day every week to painting. One working day, each monday. And to honor it as far as I possibly could. No e-mails, no other business stuff on mondays. Just creative prompts like writing or moving the body, and – painting. This too, I kept as a secret for a while. And I kept my promise of painting mondays this whole year with very few exeptions.
During this week I also discovered that there was a “Do What You Love-retreat” in England in may. A retreat for artists, who want to do what they love – for life. I had seen lots of PR for creative retreats in the US, but not any in europe. So here it was, in England, just a hop from Denmark. I knew I had to go. I could almost fysically feel it. I just didn´t know how, because we litterally had no noney to spend during those months. So I started knocking on doors, way out of my comfort zone, and then some really kind people I work with offered to help with the payment of the course. I had contributed to their company in a faithful way over a long period, teaching season after season without a steady employment, and they already mentioned that they wanted to honor that in some way. They decided to support my trip financially. So amazing! And kind. And totally worth the uncomfortability of knocking!
So off I went to the “Do What You Love-retreat” in England in may 2011. I wrote more about the experience here. I met many lovely creative people there, some of them I still keep contact with, and gained a lot of perspective in terms of what is possible in the creative world. I started this blog shortly after the retreat, and it helped me stay in touch with many wonderful people plus created openings for new creative blog-friends. Completely new world for me!
(Me, during Floras workshop in the retreat)
And then very slowly and organically I was getting ready to show my paintings to the world. My neighbour Mark is a very skilled and talented painter, I especially admire his wonderful portraits and him and his music-wife Birgitte are both generous ideas-people. Both helped me tremendously in boosting my confidence to just get out there and make an exhibition. One day Mark saw some of my paintings and offered to introduce me to some galleries. He saw that I was more ready than I knew. I am so grateful that there are people who don´t hold back their compliments and support. He also helped me put up my first exhibition. I am always nervous about stuff involving something I never tried before, like hanging an exhibition, so that was an enormous help.
(One of Marks beautyful portrait paintings)
This year included so many “first times” for me. I created my own home-page and blog, something very unlikely for me. I learned how to edit photo´s and make prints and cards from my paintings. Had a first show in a local market in august, then an exhibition in a café in october, then in a church in Copenhagen, and on to another church in Havdrup, and from march to december ´12 my paintings will be shown in 3 different galleries in Møn, an island with lots of art and galleries here in Denmark. Many paintings are sold, I have commisions coming up and I continue to be just so utterly inspired about the whole thing. Grateful. Actually grateful. I can´t recall having felt this “quiet-happy-grateful” before in my life. It´s not big bang. It is indeed a quiet, but steady stream of so many small joys. As if life is a bit more vibrant because I do more of what I want the most. And it isn´t hard. But it took a decision and sticking with it. And since making that decision there has been so much help along the way.
I made about 25 paintings this year. Plus some illustrations. I feel proud! Proud that I showed up monday after monday, and did whatever was needed to get into the process of painting. I never think of the painting process itself as something I do alone. I can only paint when I am able to connect to something much wiser and more humerous and brilliant than me. A great source of inspiration that is available whenever we knock on it´s doors with the right intention and speed. And I could not have done this without the loving support from my family and friends. I litterally mean that. I still have much to learn, but I found the freedom to do this, and I know how to find it back whenever I move away from it. That is my strength. That is why I am proud. That is also what I had already been teaching about during the last years in my workshops, but more of that in part 2.
Rune, with Celeste and Vincent, our 2 children
This part is soon coming to a close. But first, here´s to Rune, my wonderful husband, who thought I could use some time on my own! And who believes in my ability to paint and sell my work and keep supporting it in small and big ways. He is a wonderful constructive critic and has that fresh eye that I sometimes lack because I am in the middle of my own creations. Yet he leaves me respectfully alone too. I think that is pretty special. I think that ongoing support and care deserves a toast!
(“Remember to celebrate”, from Creative Quickie book)
Now this was the first part, thank you for sticking with it this far!
The second part will be about the actual beginning. About why I was so ready to start painting again. And about a sweet little song I made, inspired by something beautyful I saw one late evening, sitting behind my computer. And also about finding the way through layers and layers of fog and inspiration. I will post part 2 here soon, keep an eye!