Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Inspirational Tips: Work Your Way Through the Forest and Be Sure to Leave Mile Markers

There was a time in my life when those closest to me, those I knew better than anyone, lied to me. As I look back, I realize that the lies were born from a place of love and protection. It was thought that they were necessary in order for me to feel accepted in life. However, they did some damage that begins and ends with how well I know myself.

Throughout much of my life, I tried to “hide” my writing, my art, me. I had received messages from many that it was not ok to be who I was so I decided to keep “me” in the dark. Alone, I would write and sketch for hours on end in my journals; I lived among the pages of the books I scribbled in. In that space, I was able to be, do, think and say anything I wanted. I was able to stand at the edge of my cave and look out at the fields of colorful flowers I’d painted with the crayons of my imagination. There were only a handful of folks I shared anything with; they helped to keep me from disappearing. Today, I share with a much wider audience :)

As I lived and worked amid those pages, I learned to understand and even appreciate the sound of my own voice. My “writing” and “art” voice was funny, warm, inspirational, dark, thrilling and uniquely me. For longer than I can remember I have been comfortable with its sound. Then recently, while working on a project and simultaneously working to “unlearn” certain behaviors and hiding techniques, I discovered a new piece of myself, a new avenue in which I’d like to apply my voice. I can feel myself growing and, as I do, I find I am able to come to the table with parts of myself that I have never shared.

As I ready myself to delve deeper into this project, I find I am filled with questions. It has been said that we spend our adult lives trying to unlearn the things we learned; I think there is truth to that as I have noticed that the older I get, the less I seem to know or understand. On the one hand that’s good, it means there is much more to learn and on the other it makes me feel young – so wait there are two good sides to that! As I learn or unlearn, I find myself wondering about knowing oneself and art. Does knowing yourself make your art stronger or do you think that we create art to work our way through the forest in the hopes of knowing ourselves and our world? Is the creation of art about the journey of self-discovery or the celebration of who we are? Are these idea mutually exclusive or two sides of the same coin? And is the finished product - that beautiful, completed piece of work- what we have learned or simply a representation of something we already knew and finally decided to share?

Plato said that we should never write anything down because things are always changing. He said that when we looked back at what we had created, we wouldn’t like it because everything is impermanent. Thus we would have moved forward, gained more knowledge and our former creation would be left looking like the work of an amateur, an incorrect representation of who we are or who we had become. How do you feel when you look back at something you loved when you first created it? Do you feel the same love for it?

I disagree with his theory. Though change is inevitable, I think it’s essential to our growth to create and share our creations throughout life. While I have experienced that feeling of disappointment when looking back at a piece I’d written or a work I created only to find it is not the beauty I remembered it to be, I have also looked back to find that some things I created still bring great inner joy and celebration. I think it is important to share our work as it allows us to create a living scrapbook of our creative lives. My work is almost always a journey that leaves me astounded at its end. That final creation is often a mile marker; it’s a celebration of some small piece of magic that I found along the way. I share it not to celebrate myself so much as to share a piece of my journey in the hopes that someone else will connect with it. It helps when we have people to share our hearts with; it makes life less lonely.

So, I come to you today and ask you to share your thoughts about you and art. Is your art an exploration of who you are becoming or is it a celebration of the “you” that you know inside and out right now? Is it both? Do you feel as though you are learning something new about yourself each time you create OR have you already learned something and your art is an expression of that new knowledge?


Jenjen © GottaLoveMom said...

Oh my..that’s a beauty!

You should never hide yourself. You are one amazing, thoughtful and talented person.

I, too, disagree with Plato. Even though things constantly change, a part of who we are belongs in the past – of the what, where, how, whys and when. Without those memories, we won’t know what the next step will be. It’s like looking at old photo albums or old love letters and journals; the overwhelming feeling of revisiting those memories leaves me thunder-strucked and amazed on how my life was and how it led to where I am now.

The motivation to write and express my journey comes from all that has happened and all that I hope to achieve. Sharing and opening-up truly make life less lonely.

As I write or take pictures, I do learn something new about myself – something that’s been buried maybe; Not the content or the passion of what I have to share but the methods I choose to express them.

And you, my dear, have been a big motivation.

Keep smiling =D

Frenzy23 said...

Beautiful post. We change, we improve, and that's a reason to look back on our work and be proud of how far we've come. I see older work of mine that feels amateur now, but that just shows improvement, a mile marker :)

Natasha said...

Jenjen - thank you for this...and I love the way you discover and share all that you life is filled with, all that your heart is filled with through your words and images....it's a beautiful gift for us all.

Frenzy23- thank you so much and I'm right with you...I dig mile markers :)

Rowena said...

I have been having trouble keeping up with all my favorites on the internet. I am an in a phase of recalibration, I think. What does this have to do with art?

I use my art to understand my life. My paintings are very much a function of my living and my thoughts and my lessons. Sometimes, I paint what I already know. Sometimes I learn by doing, and at the end I understand something new.

Right now, I think I am trying to understand the place of art in my life. I'm stepping back a little from my shop to reorganize and readjust... I'm not closing, just not actively marketing or building right now.

I think I want my art to be about my life more, and make my life less about the art. Who is driving this cart? Me or my creative responsibilities?

I don't even know if this is the question you asked, but it made me think. And my writing IS how I make sense of things.

Natasha said...

Rowena - I've missed you and actually sat down this morning and wrote, "Check in with people." I've been so caught up with so much I haven't been playing with Internet friends...how are you? You know what you wrote makes perfect sense to me...I started to go through it after I opened my shop but didn't have words for it...I wish I had and that I'd written about it because it sort of stopped me for a bit. I'm still learning and wondering about it all...I want to hear more about your thouoghts because they always inspire me and help me....and you and I are the same when it comes to writing....you are such a wonder...thanks for always helping me to shift my focus back to where it needs to be....hugs

Phoenyx Ravenswing said...


The only 'shadow' side I've noticed to the understanding less is a certain desire for stability and centering elsewhere, but that very well may just be me. :-)

Imo, all of the above. I've created to keep myself sane, and I've created to explore and learn, and I've created b/c my heart and spirit would not let me do otherwise. And in the end, these have all been good things. :-)

I struggle with not letting a similar feeling hold me back. Sometimes there is a tendency to say 'Not enough of an artist now. Maybe later.' But later may not come - the need to say that particular thing may change, or life may simply move on in a different direction. So the thing is to make the creations anyway. :-)

Exactly! It's all about the Journey, at the end of the day. We all come into this world the same way and we all leave it the same way - the circumstances may differ, but the end results are the same. It's the parts in between that are different. :-)

Thank you again for a most wonderful and insightful piece. I hope that one day you take some of these and give them a home between covers. The world could use that wisdom in an even wider format. :-)

BB & GF! :-)

Phoenyx Ravenswing said...


And yes, playing here has been part of what's sat me down to start thinking about what I truly want in this life. And given me the safe haven to do so. I've realized what I want to keep, and perhaps even more importantly, what I want to let go. And the most important of all, that letting those things go does not make me a fool for having followed that Path in the first place. If you don't explore, you never get anywhere. And exploring involves making mistakes, needing to double back, etc. Perfection isn't here. And that's okay! :-)

BB & GF! :-)

Marja said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, Natasha... and for being such an inspiration for growth and sharing!

I know creating for me brings me closer to my truest self and is part of my self-discovery - helping me "unlearn" all those negative things I've picked up through the years. But it is also a celebration of how far I've come. So, I'm going with two sides of the same coin for this one.

Thanks for the awesome, thought provoking post!

aquamaureen said...

Sweet Natasha, I am grateful beyond words that you are not hiding anymore!!!! Finding you and TST in January has been such a foundational part of my continued growth . . . I have made leaps and bounds in truly regarding myself as an artist, thanks to this community you have assembled.

You asked: is the creation of art about the journey of self-discovery or the celebration of who we are? my answer: yes. For our art to be alive at all, it has to grow, and that means the artist has to grow. At the same time, we are also all in the business of noticing what already is, all around us, and letting that inspire us and then be expressed through our art. So it's both, sometimes simultaneously.******Thank you again for such a tender and open message.

Amanda (Blake) Fall said...

I thought for sure I'd already left a comment here--apparently only in my mind... (sigh, oh, these crazy artist types who talk to themselves... lol)

Natasha, remember when I said your writing needs to be shown to a larger audience? This is exactly the kind of piece I had in mind.

All too often, artists/writers are hiding something deep down...we're such sensitive souls that the world "out there" makes too sharp of an impression sometimes. For me, my art is steadily becoming a place not just where I learn more about myself, but an avenue for actually *creating* who I want to be... colorful, warm, vibrant, open.

Each new piece is also a reflection of what I've learned... but hopefully, on a "good day in the studio," ;) it's also a step farther down the path.