What better activity for the first month of a year than to join a small group of fellow artists in refreshing our creativity with exercises and discussion? Artist and coach Leslie Avon Miller is providing that opportunity with a six-week online class that I joined called “Refreshing Your Creative Practice.” I discovered Leslie first as an artist and then found out that she is also a coach, a very intuitive and fine one. I signed up to help loofah and polish my creative skin and CONNECT with my creativity in new ways for 2010.
Our small group met for the first time through a teleconference last Tuesday. We are talented and diverse. What powerful, accomplished, expressive women to share with – a gift in itself.
We introduced ourselves, shared a bit and then at the end of the session we received our first “assignment”-- create and carry out a personal ceremony of any kind to unite with our creativity and then post about the experience on the private group blog.
As I started working and focusing on this partnership between my creativity and myself, she began to take on an actual persona of her own. So I let go and let her. Here’s the post I wrote for that assignment:
Me and Cree Celebrate 60 Years Together
Me and Cree (she says everything is abbreviated in the 21st century and it's lucky that any of us still know how to speak in full sentences) had our first real out loud chat after Leslie posted this assignment. We've been together all my life and I love her dearly, and she me, but we never officially spoke about our union. However, since we've been a couple almost since the advent of color television, this celebration isn't a new marriage, it's a 60-plus anniversary renewal of vows and all-around excuse to Make Stuff.
We started the ceremony in my studio. This is our special place and where we spend the most time together. I took charge (she says she admires it when I do that). "We need to make a symbol of our relationship that we can look at again and again, one that will remind us both to be lighthearted and also of how much we mean to each other."
"You love James Castle's work," Cree said. "Outsider Art! Let's make Us out of whatever we can find right here." So we pried apart empty packaging, drew and cut out shapes and created the two of us. We savored dividing the words, "I Am She Who Is Loved" between our paper doll bodies. That was day one.
On day two we improvised a backdrop. The negative shapes that remained in the reclaimed packaging from which we cut out our bodies seemed important to include.
It all relates, Cree announced as we worked, "The positives, the negatives and all the in-betweens come together into a perfect whole when we are together."(Cree is a bit of a philosopher at heart.) I wrote passionately on the surface all the deep feelings I have for this most Beloved presence in my life and then layered over them. Secret words only to be shared by the two of us.
On day three Cree stood back and squeezed her eyes almost shut and squinted at our creation. "We look beautiful," she declared, "but we are lacking the Wondrous Patina Of Age that is ours in Real Life." And so we weathered and aged ourselves. We had commandeered an old frame and mounted our testimony to Us inside it and hung it on the wall.
"Shouldn't we have some hair or clothes?," I asked her. I could imagine inventing some wonderful outfits for all the various occasions we might choose to celebrate. "Maybe another time, " Cree said. "For now, we are Perfect Just As We Are."
And as we worked, the gray cloud cover began to dissipate and the sun beamed through the studio windows. Honest.
Shyly, I pulled out my journal. "I wrote this for you this morning," I said. Cree clapped her hands and laughed in that amazingly contagious way she does. " I was there too, of course, and wrote it with you!"
And so, in unison, we stood before our paper selves and read these words aloud:
"Bless this union, universe; may it ever continue, deepen and grow in our perception and understanding of grace and beauty.
May our work together bring forth abundant and authentic expression.
May our creative practice flourish and our hearts always be open to touch and be touched by others.
May we share our joy in Making freely and fully with others.
May our works be received, supported and valued by others of like mind.
May we smile at the end of our labor, look at each creation and be able to say sincerely, "It is Good."
May we always appreciate the love and companionship that we share together.And when we come to the end of our time together on this earth, may we fly away easily with joyful enthusiasm for all that awaits us next."
"That was truly magnificent!" Cree said. "My little paper hand will hold yours forever."