Finding Creative Inspiration

Finding Inspiration in Troubling Times

In the depths of troubling, disturbing times, finding inspiration feels hopelessly overwhelming.  Darkness is casting its troubling shadow around the world.  There are so many things to be upset and concerned about – So much anger – So much violence – So much distrust –  So much frustration – So much division –  So much disappointment – So much despair – So much inequity.  I am distraught and overcome with grief.  A sense of helplessness clouds my vision and I am uncertain of how I can make a difference.  Finding inspiration seems irrelevant and making art seems trivial.  This is a completely different feeling than experiencing creative block.

Rescued by Reading

finding creative inspiration

Finding Creative Inspiration in the words of poets is one of my mainstays.

Reading Mary Oliver’s newest book of selected essays, Upstream, I was struck by the following lines.

“Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity.  May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful.  May I stay forever in the stream.  May I look down upon the windflower and the bull thistle and the coreopsis with the greatest of respect.”

Ok, so my tiny nail in all of this overwhelming mess is to continue to make art, to continue to teach art making as a way to heal and grow and thrive, and to continue to build a community that embraces mindful art practices that ushers us all into living fully engaged lives.  That is my job so I got to work.  Thank you Mary Oliver for getting me out of my creative funk.

Finding Inspiration in Trusting the Process

finding creative inspiration

It was cathartic to slather these white canvas with black gesso.

I do not remember when I first painted a handful of white canvases black.  But there they were stacked up in a corner of my studio. Unsure of how to start, I thought of painting them white again as there was already so much darkness consuming our world.  Instead I ended up painting more canvases black. There was something that felt really good about that.

All year long, I’ve been breathing, thinking, and making mandalas.  This is partly due to an on-line eCourse I’m developing.  Creating Brave: Mindful Mandalas is an eight week class on how to use mandala-making as a form of stress reduction and healing.

But making mandalas is nothing new to me as I have been creating these circle drawings for my own private use for many years.

 

finding inspirationMy mandala practice is a way for me to play, unplug, de-stress, unwind and get lost in the creative process.  These small drawings are daily sketchbook doodles. Sometimes I use the app, Bamboo Paper, on my IPad to drawn them when I don’t have my supplies on hand. As I draw and scribble, thoughts come to mind and I write these down within the mandala.

I wander around in my brain. I release things.  I discover things and I always feel better after I create one.

Now seemed like the time to take my private mandala practice into my public art making.

Finding inspiration

Finding inspiration in my sketchbook mandala drawings

Mindful Mandalas: From Darkness into Light

finding inspiration

Meditating, reflecting on a blank black canvas

I am used to staring at a blank white canvas or a white piece of thick paper, but this large black canvas, well I was at a loss of what materials to use and how to begin.  So I sat for a day, just staring. Inspiration struck in the middle of the night – mark off the canvas with wide bands that can accept words.  Begin by writing.  Write whatever comes to mind and see where it leads.  Use a white china marker.

I could not wait to get to the studio and begin.

The writing came easily as this is something I usually do within my art making practice but usually it is at the end of creating, not the beginning.  I began with phrases such as ‘How do we go forward when….” or “So now is the time to…”  Using the white waxy china marker to record my words made the letters seem more like marks and patterns than legible expressions.

The more I wrote, the more I had to say.  There more I had to say, the more questions I had.  Emotions emerged.  Anger. Frustration. Betrayal. Fear. Hopelessness.  Worry.  Sadness.  Embarrassment…

finding inspiration
The late afternoon sun poured in through the tiny window of my studio, casting a beautiful pattern on the canvas.  It was then that I decided to a draw a radiating mandala starting in the center of the canvas and work outward.  As I began, I wove in and out of drawing and tracing the cast shadows.

Slowly I realized these patterns, these shadows were being cast by the prayer flags that grace my studio’s ceilings.  I stopped, took a deep breath and looked around my studio.  I saw Beauty. Courage.  Protest. Confidence. Bravery.  Perseverance.  Hopefulness. Dedication.  Education. Communication.  Protection.

The times we are living in are ominously troubling.  For now, I have found some creative inspiration in painting fierce light and color into the darkness.  These paintings are a testament to the courage, and fortitude needed to face what is in front of us.  Finding inspiration in troubling time is a matter of trust.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where and how do you find creative inspiration in troubling times?

 

Heidi Darr-Hope featured on SCETV's Original SC

SCETV: Original SC – Portrait of an Artist

Creating a 5 minute video portrait that sums up an artist’s work is not an easy task!   The creator of the SCETV series Original SC, Tabitha Safdi, does an extraordinary job of it.  I received an email from Tabitha the very first day of December. She had gotten wind of Healing Icons 20th Anniversary and wanted to meet me.  Well, I can’t even begin to tell you how over-the-top busy every single day of November was.

Crazy Wonderful November

For Vista Studios 25th anniversary exhibit, I collaborated with my grandson, Wyatt.

For Vista Studios 25th Anniversary Exhibit, I collaborated with my 3 year old grandson, Wyatt.

My final arts as healing workshop of the year was held on the 7th, the Tibetan monks who were here to create a Sand Mandala for our anniversary left on the 8th, Our Circles of Life Exhibition was dismantled on the 9th,  the studios where I practice making art, Vista Studios, opened its 25th anniversary exhibition on the 12th, and I left for Morocco on the 13th.  I returned from Morocco (more on that later) on the 22nd and left for Daufuski Island to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family on the 25th.  Ah, home sweet home on the last day of November.

When I spoke with Tabitha, I was assuming she would want to meet in January 2016.   Actually, she was hoping to air this series in January.  Yikes!  Deep breath!  Anxiety!  Deep Breath!

Let the Filming Begin

Holding an Intuitive Mandala Practice...

A small group of survivors gathered for an Intuitive Mandala Practice.

Tabitha and I met at my studio to chat.  She loved my creative space so we decided to do the filming there. A few days later she emailed me some interview questions to ponder.  Terror started to creep in – self-doubt and stage fright all rolled in together.  I called a handful of my students to see if they would participate.  Tuesday, December 8th, we spent the whole day filming.  You’d think that after the filming was done, my anxious mind could rest.  Oh no.  Now I worried that what I said was not good enough.  I’d wake up at night thinking – Why did I say that? I should have said this and I forgot to say…

Mind chatter at its best!

On Thursday February 3rd, this aired on SCETV’s Palmetto Scene. I am honored to be included in this series.

Original SC

Tabitha films our Intuitive Mandala Practice.

Tabitha films our Intuitive Mandala Practice.

Original SC features stories of everyday South Carolinians living, working and experiencing all that the Palmetto State has to offer.

“We could do a million stories on the beauty of this state, from the rolling mountains of the Upstate to the beautiful seas of the Low Country. Our state is truly unique, but what really makes South Carolina sweet is its amazing people.”