Believe Me

I’ve been slow to understand that a belief in ones self and abilities is the foundation to everything worthwhile. And I mean slow- I’m sixty-two. It would’ve been great to figure this shit out when I was a nineteen year old art major, I might’ve gotten somewhere with it. But I saw myself falling into this debilitating pattern of believing that I didn’t have the “Real” talent or skill, or confidence. But others? Sure. They must be more, know more, smarter. I could not see myself as a professional artist. So I didn’t take my art seriously; including the art education I had received, sorry mom, dad, or any other talent I may have, like singing. I coulda gone places, I’m pretty sure now. This belief pattern has stifled years of the opportunity to build on a creative, artistic life. Drat. And thanks for nothing, hindsight.

In High school I was put into an art majors program. Upon my graduation my art teacher wrote on my transcript that I need to pursue this, that he didn’t want to see me become a Sunday Painter. I didn’t become a Sunday Painter. But maybe I should have, at least I would’ve painted once a week!

After graduation I went on to Banff School of Fine Art in Alberta for a summer session. When my parents asked would I like to enrol for a year, I said – no. I had a (fricken) boyfriend back home. I still get nauseous when I regurgitate this memory. Not the boyfriend, at the time he was great, but, me turning this opportunity down turns my stomach to this day.

An aside to that story: My boyfriend was also an art student and we went on to college together that September. In our second year he was accepted on a student exchange to Florida for the year. I wasn’t and stayed behind at our Vancover Island College. So, there ya go.

During my solo second year at college towards a degree in Fine Art, I became involved in theatre. I sang for the first time on stage, I joined a band that had a loyal following. When then it came time to continue on to University to complete my BFA, I bailed. Because I met a man. Oh to go back and slap my young self.

But I continued with sabotage. I was a champ. Every move I made where I had the potential to launch myself in a worthwhile endeavour, to finish my degree, to paint madly and mount a show, to sing, I’d never take the bait. I always felt I wasn’t enough, that I was an imposter, or that relationship was more important.

This has been my life’s pattern.

So, what troubles me is why we lack belief in ourselves. Part of us knows we are qualified or talented or skilled, but some other part of us says naw, you better step aside and let the other more qualified, talented, skilled do the thing. Even when the road before us is clear. I know I’m not alone in this, it’s a universal neurosis. How can we be our own worst enemy? If anyone should be rooting for us it should be – US! If you can’t find a supportive friend in yourself, then where? Who? Why do we self sabotage? It’s what I did throughout my entire youth, my twenties ….and thirties……and….ok, my entire life thus far.

That pattern stops here. Ok, it’s a process. I’m continuing to work through it, and I am making inroads into what has been blocking me.

I’m asking more questions than having answers for because I’m still searching for the answers. I had mentioned somewhere earlier in a blog post that I’ve been working through The Artists Way book with the goal to tease out some of these answers. It’s been instrumental for me. I still continue with writing my morning pages, a year now. I think by doing that work it has brought me to this point where I can see things a bit more accurately. It’s enabled me to stand stronger in my convictions to recover what I tossed mindlessly aside, who I am, in trade for not being abandoned. To please.

I’ve maybe disclosed more than anyone probably cares to hear, but it’s all about self reclamation here. Creative Recovery. I need to hear it. Am I exceptionally talented? Not at all. And that’s what’s important for me to understand. That it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you think I am or not. But the work I do is important. It matters.

Am I too late? No, there is no time limit, there is no age limit. It’s about picking up where I left off, except this time I have intention. An awareness about myself. Finally. But I have it, so that’s a start. That’s a good start.

Rainy Day

Just back from Salmon Arm visiting my daughter, her husband and my two granddaughters, one of which we celebrated her third birthday.

The card I made for my granddaughter. She’s obsessed with dinosaurs. Knows many of their names, since the age of 2. Genius.

I managed to get the final glazing done on a batch of mugs and bowls before I left. Still working on getting the size of my mugs right, and to get that perfect “Lip” on the rim. I use underglazes to create my patterns and designs, the final glaze is a clear glaze on the bisque ware.

Here are the under-glazed pieces before I coated them in the final fire glaze:

Here is one of the mugs, bisque fired and ready for final fire glazing. The size is better, I’ve been more aware to make the mugs on the large size to compensate for shrinkage. Most of my past mugs have come out of the bisque fire rather teensy.

The same mug painted with the final clear glaze. Looks kinda crappy, but it will be clear and the images beneath will shine through when it comes out of the final fire.

Then there is this bowl. I was attempting my first ever large bowl when it suddenly collapsed. I was about to pull it off when I noticed it fell into a pleasing way. It had a shape. It could still be something. I thought, meh, fruit bowl?

So I left it on the wheel for a day to set up, and then removed it to a board to dry further so I could clean up the bottom. Then I painted a poppy image on it, and hope for the best! Below is the bisque fired piece.

I hadn’t played my guitar or had done any writing over the week I was away in Salmon Arm, a house with two toddlers is a BUSY house. Now I’m home, that’s deathly quiet, and back to my creative practices. On this stormy, rainy October day it was spent in the kitchen making tomato jam and figuring out what treats to make for the ghosts and goblins that will be coming by my door in a few days.

Cheers~

October, already, can you believe it? (blurted by every news host across the land)

Yes, incredible as it seems, seasons do come and go in a repeated annual cycle; we know this, why are we always so surprised? It’s fall y’all.

It means for me that I had let some lengthy time lapse over the summer since I visited my blog. The truth is, my summer hasn’t been all too productive in the way of pottery- a little bit, painting/drawing- nil, or music- months ago I wrote two songs, since then; well, I had to wipe the layer of dust off of my guitar yesterday. I can’t blame my slackness on the VID- 19. What, stay home, away from people and keep busy ? Those instructions are an artist’s/writers dream scenario.

But I did do some writing. A neighbour, new to the little island community I live in, had heard there were many artists living here and thought it would be fun to call upon those of us who are inclined to write, to contribute a short story, up to 2500 words of fiction or non, for a book to be titled Protection Island Writes. The finished book would then be sold to raise money for the continuing renovations on our community hall, which now needs a kitchen makeover. The caveat: the story must mention or relate to Protection Island in some way.

So I got busy putting some edits in one fiction piece I had previously written titled Seafarer, a story about a girl setting sail to New Zealand and the lover who has to let her go, and then I set to work on another creative non fiction piece about the Coal Mine that once worked here on Protection Island in 1918. The story takes place on the day the elevator cage cable snapped and sent 16 miners 550 feet to their death. A horrific accident for this little island. I built the story around a pocket watch; the only item that came from the wreckage intact, and the miner who owned it, Robert McArthur. The watch remains, frozen at the time of the accident of 7:10, in our local museum.

I submitted both stories for the deadline of July 19th and then waited to hear if they would be selected among the other eighteen stories submitted, and be included in the book. All the stories were given over for consideration and critique to a long running reading group in another city. Toronto in fact. The neighbour I mentioned earlier who is putting this all together had moved from there to here, and so was calling upon her reading group to help out and make the final selections.

During this time I managed in June and July to visit my daughter and her family in Salmon Arm and coveted time with my granddaughters. And another few days spent in Vancouver with my son and his family, and more grand baby love. British Columbia’s “Curve” had sufficiently flattened, and travel restrictions had relaxed allowing us to roam our home provinces, but for how long? We couldn’t know when or if another clamp down would come again in the coming months. So I got those visits in while I had the chance!

By August I was notified that both of my stories were chosen. Better still, although I am happy to have either story accepted at all let alone two, both stories made the top ten list, and “Pocket watch” won first place out of the top ten. Sweet!

A zoom meeting was then organized for all the top ten authors to read an excerpt from their story, and the rest of the island community was invited to listen. So I did that. Uncomfortable with Zoom meetings. With “presenting” in general. Anyway, the book is said to be ready by Christmas. I think I get one for free, as a prize, – not sure. Kind of excited.

I still have a bunch of pottery that has been bisque fired ( some of the greenware pictured here) and needs to be finished with clear glaze and fired again. I will get that done in the next couple of days before another trip to salmon Arm to celebrate my granddaughters third birthday next week, and will also be the last visit of the season before the snow flies and… can you believe it, it will be winter!

Man, I just have to say, grandkids are one of the coolest parts of being old….er.

And then with November brings the writing marathon NaNoWriMo. (National November Writing Month ) The attempt (some would say a laughable attempt) is to write a novel in one month. It means 50 thousand words in 30 days, it means roughly 1.666 words per day. I’ve attempted twice in the past. Three times the charm?

I’ll be busy. But, ( index finger raised ) I have realized that complacency has been settling in on me over these months, and has slyly stymied my intentions of doing the exercise of creative artistic work each day; whether it’s writing, painting, drawing, music and lyric writing, photography or pottery. Doing a creative exercise/project daily, much like doing yoga daily, should set the intention to ingrain these practices, to make them second nature and habitual through repetitious action. To become a LIFESTYLE, a way of being.

I’ve decided to set up my own deadline to push me along, and keep me motivated and focused until it does become habitual. To help with this, I’m enlisting my blog as a tool and vow to myself, from this day forward, to post on my creative work and practice on a weekly basis, rather than a whenever I get around to it.

My blog will act as a kind of personal Sergeant Major, staring me down, impelling me to get to work in the studio, NOW!…. and then write a report on it and post it.

Hey, whatever works to start and keep the juices flowing.

Stay well, stay kind ~

Sunflower in my garden 2020