Chairs in a Row

November 29th, 2009

I traced the silhouette of this woman onto rice paper last night, but today I came back to it and traced a series of chairs, which got me all excited. Again, I collaged and painted on a 6"x6" clayboard surface, using bits from my collection, things I intuitively grabbed that seemed right in the moment. One scrap looked like it was the shape in the house, so I played with that. I had a piece of rice paper cut in the shape of a eucalyptus that I'd written on months ago, but not used in anything. It seemed like the right time to use it here. Stamps and stamped images of ferns came into play as well. Then I lay the rice paper image over it, using a soft gel medium to bring it together. I love the translucent quality of the rice paper and the way the drawings sit on top of it. I've always been a fan of layers, the way it mimics how layered things are in real life.

I'm so enjoying the rice paper at the moment. I love when a material thrills me and I know I'll be playing with it for awhile until the next medium makes me giddy. It's a good place to be, feeling the joy of materials, feeling in the flow.

I was feeling a big sluggish the last week, although I kept plodding through. Flow in creativity comes in cycles for me and I've come to accept that. Sometimes a down period means I do other things like reading or research, re-stocking the well as Julia Cameron puts it in The Artist's Way. And other times, like during Art Every Day Month, I keep plodding through, knowing that the spark will fire again, if I just keep patiently putting mark to paper. Often times, I don't think the spark has returned to me, until I've already begun, like last night, which makes me glad for those times when I kept plodding through. But other times, a break feels necessary. Neither way is wrong or right. Knowing that both ways of returning to my work can be fruitful helps me come back without judging myself in the process.

What helps you come back to your creativity after a slow period? Are there any sparks happening right now for you?

24 Responses

Wow. Slow period. That seems so foreign to me though I am coming up on an intentionally slow period, which I am actually delighted to experience.

I enjoy catching up on reading memoirs. Being contemplative with my photography. Deep conversations work wonders.

And continuing to create: even if it is simply morning pages or writing my prayers. When I had a lot of crises layer upon layer of crises, writing prayer was the only thing I was able to do creatively… and it worked.

I find having a context created prior to a slow period (like a 365 day project) keeps me focused on both the ebb and flow and the “stepping into the next moment”… stopping completely never serves my creativity. Taking time to listen and make space for the next idea through using art as a spiritual, sacred practice DOES serve me.

THANK YOU for asking!

Ooo…fantastic piece. The multiple layers and see-thru is very cool!

Wow, I think I’m always in a slow period. It’s like too much stuff going on inside and somehow you find yourself frozen on the outside, can’t get to creating what you feel. I think it helps to do other things to stimulate yourself in slow times and use it to learn technique. Perhaps everyone has their own cycle or rhythm, we just have to learn what it is and make use of it!

I love Julia Cameron’s books – I actually re-read it during my ‘down’ time last spring I’d forgotten how the morning pages can get me back to creating art! Right now I’ve been so busy trying to get my ideas on paper! ‘The well over-flows’ right now, but I won’t be able to share what I’ve been working on this weekend since they are for Christmas presents for family.

love the use of rice paper and the layers – how cool – I will have to try out some rice paper – looks like fun~!~
THANKS for visiting and leaving such positive comments I really appreciate it all – it has been a fantastic month–thanks again for all you do~!~

this is super cool AWESOME!!!

Part of getting in a routine helps me through the rough parts. Sometimes, I’m not satisfied with my drawings. But, getting through the rough days helps me get to the great days!

I love these two pieces! Cool images!

You never fail to come up with something original and lovely! I’ve never done anything with rice paper but it looks like fun.

These are lovely, Leah. You are making me so excited about the possibilities of using art supplies I’ve never even considered. I’m an art supply addict. I go nuts walking into an art, paper or fabric store. Thanks for sharing the ebb and flow of your creative process. For me, I’ve gone really long periods of not doing anything because I’ve felt overwhelmed by the mundane chores of life. But since discovering your blog I’ve made art a priority in my life. The push to do something, anything everyday is keeping me inspired. Everything I make won’t be a masterpiece, I’ve discovered. And that is OK, which I have only discovered because I’m doing something everyday. An artist friend told me a long time ago that to overcome the fear that what I make won’t be good is to make more, then make some more. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m doing so much that I don’t have time for fear. And it is so wonderful.

I think you should give yourself a break. You had a significant death in your family last week and you went away at the holiday. It may have been “slow” putting a brush to the paper but you managed to come up with something pretty wonderful everyday amidst a pretty emotional and hectic time. I think it is perfectly normal that you may be feeling some ebb in the flow. You may not think in the moment that your art is healing you because it doesn’t save you from “feeling the feelings”, but I guarantee you it is healing. You’ve been quite an inspiration in about 100 ways this month! Thank you.

When I am feeling slow, or as if the tide is out, I try several different things. Going back to the basics, and working on the basic skill, kind of like warming up stretches.
Or I go through my art supplies until something sparks in my imagination. I have all the stuff I collected over the last 20 years of being a blocked creative, stuff that was my husband’s grandmothers, My grandmothers and My mothers.
Lately I have almost approached it with a feeling of if I can hold this and not have project ideas spilling from me, it should go. Very rarely does anything go. Usually the stuffs fills me with ideas that get me going.

i love this art piece

This is so different. I really like it. I have not worked with rice paper much. Did fish prints with it with kids once. To get the creative spark going again I like to take a day and indulge in all the creative magazines or books that I have gotten either recently or from a while ago and cozy up on the couch under a quilt with cup after cup of tea and look at what others have done and new techniques.

More words from Betty Bethards’ – The Dream Book: Symbols for Self-Understanding

Trintiy, Mind-body spirit harmony; dream has a spiritual message

The self. Where you are in the house and what is going on provides insights into the many facets of your life.

Limit or protection. Eventually you outgrow protective coverings; understanding relationship between need for protection and need for expansion is important for continued well-being

Spirituality, relaxation, happiness. Depending upon context, may mean sadness or disappointment, as when feeling blue; frozen emotions, as when one turns blue with cold; or hurting and bruised from experiences.

Balance of energies with a partner; growing in perfect balance

Your attitudes, position in life; how you see yourself, identity

Beliefs, ideas and attitudes that surround you. Extension of self: how you define yourself. Self-expression.

Attributes. Leaves on tree represent lessons learned, accomplishments, rewards. Fruit of activities. Many leaves mean great growth and accomplishment. Leaves on ground are things completed, let go.

For me, a down period indicates a need for more self-care… play and time off!

Wow Leah! I love, love, love these paintings….your connection and love for the rice paper really sings with these. Very beautiful!

Slow time…..I do more of something else that I love….more Yoga or read more or longer walks with my doggie!

Peace & Love.

i learned about needing to honor the need for downtime this fall when i hard laryngitis for three weeks. i believe i got sick from trying to do too much. so for me downtime is about resting and really doing nothing.

i love this piece of yours, leah. i saw the house and the woman and wondered if you didn’t feel good now, being home, where you were safe and around your own stuff. i enjoyed reading rebecca’s comment with dream symbols from betty bethard. thanks rebecca.

what has me going right now is realizing how much fun it is to step outside my box for a while. i get pretty focused on my digital work, but that quote you offered the other day about not stopping where you started out really hit home. it’s good to try new stuff, and i still have plenty of new stuff to try out.

thanks for everything you do for us here, my sweet, and your unbelievable support.

love ya

Leah, I love these! They make me think of encaustic. I love layers too. It’s about depth, unpeeling layers, discovering, unearthing…
Slow periods or for me a down feeling can happen when I’m feeling highly creative and maybe just finished something. I need to leave, take care of myself and know I can come back. Transition can be very hard for me, hard to leave but I know it really helps when I come back. It’s that space between that’s really valuable.
AEDM has been an incredible experience for me. Thanks! Looking forward to Creative Every Day!

Leah, thanks so much for giving us this opportunity to connect with others and to challenge ourselves. I know that it has been a particularly difficult time for you. Your collaged images are lovely. I will have to try out rice paper. I also love the idea of researching in times of creative drought to get those creative juices flowing. How do I get back into creative flow?….I visit your website. Thanks again!

i have enjoyed this month Leah, especially seeing your pieces each day…sluggish or not they are wonderful…

Creativity for me during those slow periods interchange between my art and a camera. Photography is such an artistic outlet for me as well, I am never without my camera!

Thanks for a lovely month of meeting such amazing artists!

I love the way this piece turned out. The transparency, layers, and the way the chairs sit boldly on the top level.

I really like what you said about the Flow of Creativity. That’s something I’m struggling with too. It’s hard to recognize the fact that sometimes you just need to work on something else. All to often we Creatives feel like failures when we aren’t or can’t be creative. But it’s not about being a failure at all. Even Hercules has to rest sometimes.

Being creative is a lot like having a magical or super power. You must recharge in order to fight another day.

Dear Leah,
Your creation reminds me of a Fado Artist for some reason, and the chairs represented during when Fado is being played, and the background houses feel very part of the culture within the Fado too. Amazing insight there. It’s interesting as I have realised that I am the most motivated when I am creating art for others as a gift-as I always feel connected to that piece and them when I create, so the fact that there is a lot of Birthdays coming up, it is all unveiling for me.
Thank you so much for hosting Art Every Day Month. :)
Though sluggish I feel you are still creating every moment, regardless of whether you feel you may not.
Happy Day.

That is an amazing piece! She reminds me of a jazz singer, in a little cafe (the chairs)!
This time of the year is a particularly tough time for me to be creative, because I feel the stress of the upcoming holidays and so very much to do! The list is long and playtime is short. I liked reading others’ comments, as perhaps that will keep me a bit more focused.
Thanks for being here for all of us!


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Leah Piken Kolidas and Victoria Brouhard, revtristy. revtristy said: RT @leah_art: My art for Day 29 of Art Every Day Month: Chairs in a Row: #aedm (always so inspiring!) [...]

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