Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Beautiful Therapy of Creating, a Guest Post from Lillian of It's a Dome Life


Today is my birthday, and this woman has given me the gift of her friendship.  She is kind and generous, outspoken and true.  She is funny and quirky, authentic and patient.  As a writer in this bizarre world, it's comforting to know that there are others out there who understand what goes on inside my head.  
I've said before that she has more talent in her pinky than I could squeeze out of my entire body, and I mean it.   She is a writer, an artist, a mother, a friend.  Her blog It's a Dome Life is one place that I can always count on for a bright spot in my day.  She is, simply put, magnificent.
Ladies and gentleman, Lillian.  
Art is cheaper than therapy. Trust me, I have done both. There is something about the creative process that sets you free from mind chatter. You know what I am talking about, right? That voice in your brain that won't be quiet. The one that likes to over-analyze and keep you up at night? Making art helps me shut that off. It's like meditation.

When I was a psychology student I studied Positive Psychology and I read about "flow" a term used to describe the state I am in when I am creating something. The term was coined by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Don't even ask me to pronounce his name. I never could get it quite right. Flow is all about being so completely focused on your task that time seems to stand still. You don't think about anything else. You are living completely in the moment. It makes you really happy too. I think it gives your brain a break from worrying and thinking and obsessing. Afterwards you feel energized, awake, and at peace. It's the best thing that has ever happened to me. I wouldn't want to live without art.

Making art does even more for me. it gives me peace and makes me happy, but it also allows me to exercise my problem solving skills. Art is nothing but creating problems and solving them repeatedly. I've only taken up painting seriously in the past two and a half years. I try to paint every day and at the risk of sounding a little smug or even arrogant, I think it is making me smarter. I see the world differently than I used to. I see solutions more quickly. I also find I am more comfortable with change and flux and living with problems that really have no solution. I think maybe that is what feeling "at peace" is all about. You can be relaxed and calm in spite of all the chaos around you. It keeps you out of the cyclone everyone else seems to be spinning in.

I feel I need to explain this in order to explain my creative process. I am motivated on many levels to create art. I like to see the reactions people have when I paint something they enjoy looking at. I am not a big talker (which might surprise some people because I am pretty chatty on social media and I am pretty open on my blog) and art gives me a voice and a way to express myself that I might not have otherwise. I was very shy as a child. Art gave me a chance to shine. It also gave me time to collect my thoughts in school. Art teachers didn't expect you to answer questions or talk a lot during class. I found my art classes to be a refuge in a storm of social stimulation that my nervous system wasn't built to endure. It was a haven of solitude and quiet that I desperately needed and craved during the day.
Art also gives me confidence. It has helped me develop self-awareness and a much-needed identity. Becoming a stay at home mom was a struggle at first because I had to grapple with issues like who am I now? Art and writing helped me figure that out. I am a mother. I am an artist. I am a writer. I can say these things now because I believe them. I can say them with certainty because I live, eat, and breathe them. This is who I am. I have skills. I practice. I care about what I am doing.

When I approach a project I often have a goal, but I trust myself enough now to let things flow. Mistakes happen that often become strengths. Colors run together, lines are not perfect, compositions change and I go with it. Art is a process. It's an adventure. I may start out with a destination in mind, but arrive at a completely different place. I find this parallels so well with life in general that it is hard not to make comparisons. Five years ago I had plans to become a mental health counselor and was flirting with the idea of getting a PhD in psychology. I had no idea that I would have a daughter, start painting again and have a blog. No idea, but here I am and I am happy.
So, when I sit down to draw or paint or collage I often express gratitude. I am grateful that I have found a way to center my world. To fulfill my self-actualization. To become the person I was meant to be. I get to use the gifts I was born with. I get to nurture and practice those gifts  every single day. There is nothing that could bring me greater joy. So, that is why I always say that making art is cheaper than therapy. That is why I say I wouldn't want to live without art. It makes me who I am.
You can find Lillian on her Facebook page, and can purchase prints of her work through her Etsy shop.  

22 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday Kelly! It is an honor to know both of you. Truly. Thanks for sharing this Lily.

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  2. I am Grateful for Lillian and her Big Generous Heart. Breathing, writing and creating from Authentic Voice! She is indeed Magnificent!

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  3. I guess I feel the same way about art (in my case it is not painting - but what difference does it make!) just that you have the ability to put it into words and make it sound so beautifully - god bless you for that!

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    1. I think anything that can capture your full attention would work. I have a friend that makes stained glass windows and he feels the same way!

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  4. FANTASTIC. i loved everything about this post. Lillian and Kelly, thank you for letting us into your worlds. Lillian: i was in the zone with you. This piece felt very meditative to me; it has a rhythm and a tone. Absolutely lovely. And people should buy your art... My rooster is the bomb; he gets all sorts of comments!

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    1. Thanks, Molly! I am glad Prince Charming gets the attentions he demands....

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  5. Thank you for such a nice introduction, Kelly. I don't think I have ever been called magnificent before. I keep picturing the hummingbird! Now, if I could just convince my family....

    Happy Birthday!

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  6. Great job Lillian!

    It's funny that you said painting made you smarter. I felt that when I was actively taking artistic photos. You look for things in the every day that you'd normally just walk right by. It makes you aware.

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    1. Yes! Painting and photography have helped me see things differently and also made me more aware of spatial relationships. Since I often work from photographs I have gotten much more aware of composition when I am out shooting pictures too.

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  7. Happy birthday to you! and great post Lillian! Love artwork, wish I were more creative with it but just taking the time to look at it inspires! I love walking through art shops and museums on my "artist dates" to get a fresh breath and boost creativity. Will follow!

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    1. I spend time doing that too. I am very inspired by other artists and curious about how they make things. Some people are so creative they are brilliant! I am continuously amazed.

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  8. fantastic post! i used to do art and have thought about taking a class this winter or finding some life drawing in town. because, as you said, being a stay at home can really mess with your identity, so maybe this is what i need. hmmm...

    and, a happy birthday to your lovely host!

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    1. I got back into art by doing just that. The librarian offered a small class on painting with watercolors and I really needed to get out of the house! It was a couple of Saturdays in a row and the next thing I knew I was hooked. I haven't stopped since.

      I hope you take a class!

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  9. Beautiful art! Such talent. Happy Birthday Lady..

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  10. Lillian is one of the blogsphere's greatest finds. I was sort of hoping to not have to share her with the rest of the world, but since the word is out? Well,I will always be proud to say "I knew her when."

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    1. Awww, Marianne! I wish I could adopt you.

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  11. Great post Lillian, thank you for sharing here at debiehive! As always when I read your posts I feel like a 'normal' person (in the right sense)and know I am on the path I should be. Art does make a difference in everyone's life that it touches. How lucky we are!xo Silvana

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  12. Thank you so much for saying I make you feel like a normal person. That is such a nice compliment. It's nice to know that my experience resonates with other people. We are lucky!

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