Saturday, January 2, 2010

Process & Chronology

Early 2009

During the last few days of 2009 I made a conscious effort of catching up with reading, reviewing my work, thinking, looking and listening. I haven't painted much since my last post. Having a free week alone (daughter away on vacation) I enjoyed a mini retreat at home. It's been a long while since I've experienced such a calm period in my life. The holidays were jam-packed with wondrous events with family and friends filling up all my time. I realize I am just as outgoing as I am an introvert. Spending time alone outside the Studio without responsibilities for anyone else but myself is more fabulous than I ever remembered.

At the end of every year I like to take time out from the outter world and contemplate the year. I find it a profound practice in my daily life and also a gracious way to cycle into the new year. 2009 has been extremely busy in and out of the Studio. Integrating it all is a process and something that will continue to percolate into 2010.

Another year of painting, therefore, new work to look at, contemplate and study where you're going... Following the thread of your work, noticing the 'bridge' pieces, working from one place to another, break-through paintings, works on paper...noticing the chronology of your work. Yes! I am excited. Wouldn't it be nice to have all your work before you at once. I can still see them all in my mind as I visualize myself digging through 3 computer photo galleries... old press kits, postcards, portfolios, CD's. While we're at it can we burn all the artists statements we find.

I am happy to be in a place of enjoying my work and how things are coming along. There are cycles of depression and doubt-- but, taking the time to understand your process and knowing yourself deeply in relation to your work can bring you the medicine you need. My end of the year ritual helped me slow down and recognize the various threads and bridge pieces in my work (materials as well as content). Something is coming back around.

My 10-year relationship with the Art Therapy profession began in 1995 and I'm pretty interested in looking at my works on paper which were created from a therapeutic process-orientation. From what I remember, chaotic graphite circles and grids appeared frequently at that time. In my work, the geometric theme has always been present. Whatever it means, I find great relief in knowing this. Facilitating Expressive Arts groups was all about "Process". That's what brought me back to art -- the process instead of a BFA.

I have kept a pretty rigorous Studio practice for the past 4 years (excluding 2008 as the year from hell). It took me 3 years to establish a steady 5-day/30hr+ week. So, when I stopped for an entire year in 2008, I never imagined coming back. If you trust in the process, it brings you back from wherever you had to go. When we are able to soften our grip on the controls and relax, the essential movement finds its way to organic and unexpected outcomes.

When I am not in the Studio, I am always engaged with my work on some level. Today was the day to begin a new Studio notebook only to end up not finding an empty one. As what often happens, I found stacks of old ones and leafing through them found a chronology of thoughts and ideas that still hold a lot of juice. So, if you notice paintings stacked face-t0-face and back-to-back in your Studio or in storage, maybe it's time to get into the tunnel and take a journey to find out where you've been and where you'd like to be this year. Brace yourselves, I think it's going to be another year of digging in and keeping your eye on the prize (from my friend in art).

being with real people who warm us,
who endorse and exhault our creativity,
is essential to the flow of the creative life.
otherwise we freeze......when women are out in the
cold, they tend to live on fantasies instead of action.

__Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Jungian Analyst & Writer


  1. Cyndy, such wisdom! This process happens for me every year at this time too. I couldn't stop it if I wanted to. I'm always grateful when the rest of the world takes a break so I can reflect and meditate and assess.

  2. Martha - You know, I couldn't stop this process either! It'always so good to khow when to get off the train and catch up with ourselves. Meditation is everything!

  3. What a marvelous journey we have taken this year in art and life and in reflection, rumination and the time to feel the process, which has brought us to this place in time and especially the year past is what beckons us into the next year with hope and the excitement of old which becomes the yet unimagined, a new way of seeing and capturing what we see and is timeless. It is a gift to begin another year together Cyndy.

  4. Cathy - You've said it all so beautifully! Thanks for turning the not so lovely moments into a rose garden! Peeking into the new year together is looking pretty sweet...