I am not just good at being blocked as an artist. When it comes to being stuck, I am an expert.
When ‘The Great Isolation’ began last year I slipped inside my little home studio in bewilderment many times. I gazed longingly at my waiting paints. I slowly retreated, puzzled and hurt. I beat myself with the conviction that the forced seclusion was the perfect time to paint but was incapable of sitting alone with so much social and communal anxiety vibrating through the floor, the walls, the air and into my bones. I sought solace in the sunshine and buried my hands in soil and sawdust. I had to keep busy; busy enough not to think.
I have been comfortable with solitude much of my life, but not at that time.
The summer of 2019, before Covid rampaged through the ordinary every day, I had connected online with a small group of writers and lightworkers. I wanted to paint but unable to find the teacher I longed to find, I settled for writing instead, with a teacher I trusted.
The penultimate assignment on the course had been to do a short, silent meditation before writing.
I did what I often do. I jumped in to the project with my whole being. The rabbit hole opened and I was Alice. The last two assignments never did get written. Instead I reconnected with an abandoned meditation practice and threw myself into silence. Deep silence and infinite space. Space.
Space into which a second small group arrived. I joined them as winter descended. It was perfect timing. The virus reached closer as our bond deepened. I was not painting. I was healing.
The pandemic struck. I was not painting. My writing came to a halt. My journal languished abandoned in our inaccessible holiday home.
Alone but not lonely. My two online groups held no agenda save mutual support. I stopped struggling to paint and surrendered to the garden. I forgave myself for not writing and dusted off my sewing machine. I had help online as the bonds with my beloved lightworkers strengthened. Enforced confinement connected me back to my blood family across Europe. I was healing my relationship with my world. I felt as if I was coming home to myself. By the time I collected my exiled journal I was determined to paint ‘just for me. To deepen my experience of life, of living.’ I was resolute in my desire to paint.
So I didn’t. I sat in the studio and wept in confusion and frustration.
That’s what happens when I hustle.
I wasn’t ready.
It was a year into my meditative sojourn before I was motivated to pick up my brushes. I painted; not for myself but in gratitude for the Beloveds in my healing circle. Something deep within me had moved. One of the great blocks shifted enough for me to squeeze past. Through trusting my Beloveds I was learning to trust myself again. Self-reliance is my natural state. Independence is my homeland. To trust, to move out of my familiar ruts, required the help of others.
A hero answers a call to personal transformation through conquering an adversary, according to myth and Joseph Campbell. Sheroes begin from alienation and journey through the Wasteland towards community, collective belonging and becoming guardians of the Earth together. It’s a new narrative into the depths of ourselves within the landscape, the world. Generative, imaginative, creative…with integrity; the Eco-heroine’s journey.
My paintbrush began to paint me back to life. It’s a roller coaster. Ecstasy and tears come hand-in-hand. I am being stirred from deep within. It is new and unfamiliar territory.
Now, however, it is time to take matters in hand and to share my virtual studio space.
Now I am ready to support as I have been held and helped. I am calling you to the hearth in the studio. Painting is soul food: slow cooked, fermented and infused with beauty. Food for the soul is more satisfying, enriching and joyful shared.
You are still reading this. A web of connection links us.
You are called to my cosmic cauldron. Will you join me?
The arts are predicated on human connection across space and time.
Zoom also works with paint and poetry.
Something magical is brewing. Each of us has a unique ingredient to share in the cosmic infusion. Are you thirsty for creative expression? Are you hungry for circle-space?
Bring your pens and pencils, crayons and pastels. Find pages or sketchbooks to receive your marks. We will play with meditations and invocations that move across your pages and into your consciousness. Words can tie us to reason and judgement. Let’s explore a vision quest. Community is transformative. A small group may work wonders. Love and integrity amplify our messages.
This is not about talent or technique. You don’t have to be able to paint. The materials will lead you to explore your inner landscape. Are you ready for a small, safe, free adventure?
Come on over to sistasymbol on Instagram.
I began a new painting in a different way. My canvas holds the intention of honouring my mother. I offer below the first layers and a portal glimpsed through the veil.
It's large for me. 4ft x 3ft. Since I began her, canvasses have become more difficult to buy. I'm eager to go even bigger for my next one but everywhere seems to have sold out.
#intentional creativity #cerisart #elementalart #creativityheals #divineguidance #empoweringwomen #liminalspace #braveartmatters #wisewoman womensvoices #healingcircle #trusttheprocess #grieftransformation womenwhopaint
My new series of paintings pushes at the frontier of inter-being.
Each canvas evolves from a space beyond rational understanding. It is a space beyond words. It is a space of associative connection.
Beginning with intuitive mark making the process allows me to step out of my head, beyond rational understanding. The materials, in a like-to-like magnetism, connect me to my material body. The painting begins to make demands. It is imperative to enter into an associative dance with colours, textures, lines and shapes. Insisting on my conscious will causes disorder and discomfort. The paint will fight with me. Dropping into the space that opens with intuitive expression opens a holographic microcosm that is held grounded in the art materials.
I have explored this space for decades. My art from this void has been intimate and private. It felt too vulnerable to share. This strange year has pushed me into new interpersonal spaces. I joined a meditative healing group. A transitional space unfolded as I began to paint for another. I asked through the paint ‘What is it like to be you?’ This compassionate space created a psychological bridge. It is a place of deep trust.
In this transformative space it feels as if it is no longer ‘me’ that is painting. My heart opens to something beyond the personal. I paint as an act of love. The painting takes on a life of its own. There is no longer you and me but an ‘us’ embodied in the matter.
Relinquishing control is a risky way to paint. It is exploratory, wild and surprising. I am learning to be comfortable with unfinished gaps. These areas become entry points. The viewer as well as the subject of my inspiration is invited into them with their own perceptions.
This painting is about the group, interconnection, mining my heart for gold, and inter-being.
Take some time and sit with each image. Every image contains a tender space for you to recognise yourself here too. Welcome.
,Painted cards and small unframed abstracts are now available in Midtown Makers.
Do you love anyone enough to send them something individual and special? Each of my cards is unique and sizes vary.
The abstracts, although unframed, are in mounts and A4 size. It makes them easy to post.
The eye of outward sense is as the palm of a hand.
The whole of the object is not grasped in the palm.
The sea itself is one thing, the foam another; Neglect the foam, and regard the sea with your eyes. ~
E H Whinfield
I had noticed a few social media posts related to a creative new moon.
I could do with some cosmic energy to recharge my creativity.
This time last year I was in the midst of difficult change during my mother’s final unsettled and painful months.
Since she died I have been adroit at avoiding my studio, the canvas, materials of all shapes and sizes and the agony of sitting alone with my brain in the vulnerable state of mush that grief imposes. This grief has triggered all kinds of old miseries that I pushed away without complete resolution. I moved through my days without meaning or purpose; closed down and empty.
Until grief’s distress hit me with all the force of a ten ton truck I was busy, functioning and superficially productive. But not creative. Not healed.
So now I am trying a new approach; putting two strong creative techniques together to create a third potent practice. Intuitive painting plus Light-Writing together with an intention to spawn change, to shape-shift: transformation, transubstantiation, transmogrification. A rebirth is what I seek. Not merely a change but an evolution. The crack between the two processes is where something happens; where the smudge may evolve.
Meditation has become an essential ingredient in the alchemy. A silence without incantation; wordless spells. I sit and try not to think.
This weekend was that creative new moon in some sign or another. My desire for an original and inspired time was in the stars. I was hungry to find a productive outlet; to paint and write and find some peace beyond.
My Dearest Darling makes the breakfast at the weekend. An Irish spread with scrambled eggs (he’s got this down to a fine art, he’s a perfectionist). Toast with bitter marmalade and coffee. He’s a coffee connoisseur. Fragrant freshly ground beans in a rich liquified extract (did I mention he’s a perfectionist?).
Adventurously, the breakfast was Heston Blumenthal-ed. Somehow (I declined to ask for details), the coffee and the eggs entwined. He took an executive decision to continue to cook those eggs. It was Sunday. There were no more eggs in the house. The breakfast evolved into something between frog spawn and cat sick, but funny. Inedible but hilarious. Inventive and bravely inspired. Highly creative. Gross, but somehow just what I needed. It was refreshing and endearing to see my man’s human flaws.
Social media is usually a polished façade. It hides all the mess and confusion, the frayed edges and the ugly beginnings. I love posting images but social media is tireless. It devours hours of works in an instant, the gaping mouth calling for more posts, unsatisfied, insatiable. I am tired of the black hole, the void, into which my work falls. Once posted my painting feels used. With its image on the web it takes on a cloak of ‘done, been there, what’s next?’.
Once the gloom of an artist’s block envelopes you, perfectionism is the monster in the dark. The effort and the learning are disregarded. We all need to produce messy images. We need permission to engage with chaos and disorder. My brain is in turmoil. I need to honour my dis-ease. Judgement is anathema to creativity. I need to produce messy images. I’m giving myself permission to engage with chaos and disorder and to find the joy within.
My painting may evolve into pond sediment but painting helps me to feel alive.
I will push past my reluctance to feel and the perfectionism stirred up in the wake of grief to enjoy my messy images. It is time to follow the colours that stir my brain to cry and to sigh in frustration but that also enable me to rediscover joy and to laugh with pleasure.
Ceri McKervill PhD
Artist, researcher, art therapist, pragmatist: intent on making life changes with the help of art materials.