Ready for Exhibition

Creative Block: My Frozen Pile

Silencing our inner critic takes years of practice.

Silencing our inner critic takes years of practice.

My Creative Block, My Fierce Inner Critic usually shows up when I’m wearing too many hats and just squeezing in studio time between all the other demands of a wonderfully full and rich life.  It happens when I am worn down and bone tired.  When “The Funk” malaise settles in and my creativity becomes frozen. The voice of my Creative Block is tireless and repeats phrases like – “This stuff is crap and it is going to end up in the land fill anyway so why waste your time.  Do something productive.  This is all so self-indulgent.”  Behind this voice is fear of failure.

Life is too short to let fear makes decisions for you!

Life is too short to let fear make decisions for you!

If you haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book, Big Magic, she has a terrific section on all the negative things we say to ourselves that keep us frozen. Needless to say, when I find myself in this icy land of unworthiness, I get discouraged, and set aside whatever I am working on.  This usually makes matters worse because the creative process feeds me in a way that nothing else does.

I always return to my studio table in a terrible funk, wondering what on earth is wrong with me.  When I settle down into the process, I usually find my way into whatever prompted “the funk.”  When things are not quite speech ready, when the messiness of life rumbles just below the surface, my practice of art making usually rescues me.

Advice from Artists on How to Overcome Creative Block, Handle Criticism, and Nurture Your Sense of Self-Worth

Works-in-Progress: Frozen

Over the past year, I’ve created some artwork that I just couldn’t seem to finish. Creative block strikes again.  I refer to them as my frozen pile, my works-in-progress. There are a handful of encaustics that I just couldn’t quite wrap up, a few paintings needing something, and some mono-types begging for more attention.  Rilke’s words of wisdom became my creative mantra.

Creative Block

Waiting for some creative attention

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.”

But the questions were going on way too long and I was becoming frustrated and blocked.  I felt frozen. Maybe the best place for these frustrated artworks was the sacred BONFIRE, something I have always wanted to do but haven’t had the nerve.  It seemed too murderous.

The Thaw Begins

Tibetan monks create sand mandala

Patient, focused, meditative process

My thaw began slowly in November when two Tibetan Buddhist Monks came to Columbia to create a Sand Mandala for Healing Icons 20th Anniversary.  Witnessing this incredibly patient and intricate process made me realize I simply needed more uninterrupted studio time.  My hummingbird approach to making art was just not working.  I needed larger chunks of devoted time.  I also fell in love with what they created.  The sand mandala of healing was full of vibrant colored, patterned symbols that literally pulsated with energy.  I wanted my art work to have that same life force.


Travel – Getting Outside My Normal

Moroccan Desert

Free spirited under azure skies and oh the sienna Sahara sand

My journey to Morocco, a couple weeks later, further enlivened my lackluster creative self.  As one who has always been filled with wanderlust, I love the challenge of stepping outside my comfort zone into a different kind of breathing space where my senses open into things I have never seen, smelled, heard or tasted before.  Morocco did not disappoint.

It is a country brimming with wild contrasts – the modern and the ancient living side by side.  The fortune tellers, magicians, gypsies, snake charmers, minstrels, and storytellers, live within “modern” Morocco.  The overwhelmingly chaotic serpentine souks (markets) of Marrakesh and Fez are the perfect fusion of color, energy and vibrancy.  It is palpable. My creative side was charmed, soul and spirit enchanted.

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Alchemy of Gold, Copper & Silver

When I returned to my frozen pile of Works-in-Progress, I knew that the end of 2015 had paved the way for me to breathe life into the unanswerable questions.  Gold, Copper and Silver leaf have become my saviors.

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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.”