“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works;
if from the head, almost nothing.”
– Marc Chagall
Each day for the past week I have been pulled towards my studio to create. Over the past few months my art practice has been sporadic but present nonetheless. As the weeks and months stretch on during this pandemic, art is my reliable sidekick. When my heart has wanted to close up and retreat, art gently knocks and seems to say “stay open for me.”
My studio is a light filled space in a converted attic in our home. I feel profoundly grateful to have this space to make art. However I have also made art in musty basements, next to my bed on the floor, on subways commuting to work, and at kitchen tables. (I still make art at kitchen tables. I often do it while the kids are finishing up dinner)!
As I climbed the stairs to my studio this morning my heart felt lighter with each step – an anticipatory excitement filling my body. My phone alarm was set to give me the maximum studio time before picking up the kids from school. They are home before lunch each school day right now. But that gives me a few hours to myself on many days. Working within the time constraints helps me to focus and dive into the process quickly. I set my phone alarm for 11:50am and then hit snooze to make time for a few more brushstrokes.
I am keenly aware of the hidden gifts of this pandemic. My husband Adam and I have made a daily practice of cultivating joy, even amidst the loss, anxiety, and turmoil of these months. We guard our joy when we can and try to wrap it around the children, like warm blankets on a chilly night. This is not about doing anything perfectly. Rather, it is about cultivating our intention to be as present as possible for ourselves, each other, and the kids.
Making art helps me to stay present as a mother and partner to Adam. Art making is a vital practice for me – especially right now. It feels less like a luxury, and more like a necessity. My art has helped me come back home to myself. These studio mornings fill me back up so that I can give to my family throughout the day.
Connecting Through Art
Making art is a large part of my journey. The second leg of the journey happens when another person connects with my art. I try to infuse each piece with energy, compassion, and feeling. I paint directly from those feelings intuitively and spontaneously. I am excited when my art resonates with someone. Perhaps it has helped spark a feeling inside of them. Perhaps it is a meditative visual pause in a busy day. Or maybe it taps into a hidden spring of ideas previously overlooked. During these times, I am also hopeful that art can be a vehicle for spreading warmth and empathy.
I let myself become intensely present in the mark making, layers, and colors. I trust that each stroke or line will give birth to the next one. I am comfortable wrestling with the uncertainty of a painting and seeing it through. (More on becoming comfortable with uncertainty in an upcoming post). Creating is a leap of faith. And one I happily take every day.
For months I had the intention of organizing my art in order to make it available online. In person exhibitions have been put on hold. I realized that I had an opportunity to pivot and share my art online with greater focus. Here is a gallery link to my available vinyl record mandalas.
These vinyl record mandalas are always evolving. Each piece tells a unique story. They are all infused with heart and passion. I hope you connect with them in some way. And, I hope you find a way to cultivate your own heart space during this time in our lives. It might not be through art making. It might be a different outlet or calling.
You will know you’ve found that path when your heart feels a little lighter with each step.