Writing by hand

artistic practice, painting, the creative process

“Writing by hand will show us True North.” Julia Cameron

Part of my journey towards a daily art practice has included ‘morning pages’, the longhand freeform get-everything-out-of-your-brain writing exercise made famous by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way.

As I was reading through the book of hers about creative pilgrimage called The Vein of Gold, these quotes about morning pages – specifically about writing by hand – were jumping off the page at me!! Here they are scripted alongside an earthy-orange compass.

All Roads Lead to Burgundy

journeys of the heart, painting, pilgrimage, the creative process

Series no. 1 ~ The first of four series of paintings I am in the midst of creating is an exploration of my journey on the Camino in France. I call it All Roads Lead to Burgundy.

How did I get here?

It all came together through a French wine tasting, an art project with maps and compasses, and a decades long desire to walk the Camino. 

Here is a peek at the project story:

How do you draw a map of your heart?

For years, two dreams haunted me with that ‘someday?’ question. I ached to return to France, the culture I love most and the foreign language I know best. And I read and talked and daydreamed about making the fabled Camino, as journeys of pilgrimage have long been a recurring theme in my personal history.

Pilgrimage, I’ve heard it said, starts with loss. For me, it started with a longing bigger than I could hold: for the full and adventurous life I hadn’t dared to believe was possible.

It began with a series of startlingly moving encounters and continued with three years of a strange interior pilgrimage ~ “My Camino, at Home” as I called it ~ which sharpened my life in a myriad of ways.

At a certain point, stepping into these dreams of mine turned from I’ll do it One Day to Now is the Time. And the culmination came through Burgundy, a region often called the heart of France. How apropos.

This painting series is a chronicle of my week on the Camino through the French countryside.

day one on the
Chemin de Saint Jacques

I will be using my own photographs for inspiration, such as the one above. Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing about the development of these paintings and my creative process as I go.

How do you draw a map of your heart? Join me as I find out.

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Getting un-stalled, Part 2: Let it Flow, art is a process

the artist's life, the creative process

Continued from Part 1…

For at least two weeks, no ideas I came up with were getting finished, and nothing was being published. What was I going to do? Just let this blog die?

I’ve started blogs before, and after a period of time they always end up stalled and I rarely get back to them… this happened both last year AND the year before that! In fact, in most of my art projects I eventually get to that point of hitting a wall, where continuing gets really hard and I don’t always know why. If I don’t push through or find a solution for what is blocking me, I never get back to the project. ((I imagine no other writers/artists/creatives out there can relate to this, right?? Ha.))

One of the primary purposes I had for creating this Art blog was to be a venue to encourage other artists in their own work. I certainly didn’t want that to die just because I got stuck in the mud of my own creative process! It appeared that I was now the one in need of encouragement.


Trying not to stay stuck in the mud…

I wrote a little about my dilemma and shared it with friends, receiving some great feedback which made me realize that my posts didn’t need to be quite as formal as I had been making them. A blog is deliberately informal, I was reminded, and a place to share the beginnings of ideas. A good thing, too, as there are dozens of ideas I am juggling in my brain at any given moment.

As my friend Rose put it “Art is a process. This is you talking about your process…. Just let it flow.” That was immensely helpful, and I’m going to start practicing doing just that. I think the less I allow my perfectionist tendencies to slow things down to a crawl, the more I can say “yep, this is ready enough” and just post and put my work out there. Simply these couple of posts about getting un-stalled, discussing my process and not being afraid of being open about my struggles, seems to be a huge step forward for me. Already it has loosened up my highly charged energy around editing and sharing my art. Now I can keep moving forward.

So I’d like to hear from the artists and creatives: how have you worked through periods of being stalled with a project? What do you find useful for moving past road blocks, or going around them? How do you get yourself un-stalled or un-stuck? Send me a message or leave a comment.