Monday, March 30, 2009

Welcome! Some Thoughts on Creative Insight...Loss and Rediscovery

Life is full of wonderful surprises. I experienced a series of small unexpected 'enlightenments' over this past month. My husband was away coaching in Florida. Teaching after school art club on Fridays was postponed until April due to in-service days and March break. So, aside from the company of my two dogs, after work and weekends I would have plenty of time on my hands. I was determined to spend this time to myself doing things that I would find enriching somehow- lots of reading, very little tv, some yoga, meditation, writing, visits with friends and family, long beach walks...

While I did enjoy all these, I also had some important conversations with people whose ideas are valuable to me. My energetic healer, my traditional Chinese doctor, my sister Cheryl, and my artist friend Julia. With each of them I discussed a major issue in the creative aspect of my life. I suppose you could call it my year-long struggle with 'artist's block'. That is, at least it was an issue up until this past weekend.

It only seems fitting that I should share with you a series of emails my mom and I wrote to each other today. Our conversation sums up the experiences of last few weeks for me perfectly, and lights the path for my present...

10:12 am

Good morning mom (& dad & Cheryl!),

This weekend was really good for me. After over a year and a half of feeling creatively 'stuck', I have finally been released. I was starting to feel really worried about my upcoming show in May, plus 2 group shows with 2 paintings each to get ready for around the same time. I was waiting and hoping to get the drive that always kicks in, but it just wasn't coming and I didn't know which direction I wanted my paintings to go in. I've been paying attention to my dreams, and had a powerful dream where my work was being critiqued. I remembered everything in detail and wrote it down as soon as I awoke. That was about 3 weeks ago.

Then, the same weekend I had a great visit with my energetic healer, Jane Moody (her website is posted as a link on our Wellness From Within blog. We talked at length about this dream and about how to release my creative block and pressure I put on my self. Then I had another great visit with my Chinese doctor, who also likes to talk about my painting and gave me great insight. Then Cheryl visited and gave her suggestions, and then an artist friend of mine stayed over Friday night and we talked about it. Saturday morning I woke up, and after she left I went into my studio. I looked at some paintings of mine- one I really like, and others that I don't. I thought about what everyone has shared with me over the past month, and just stood there thinking about how to get over this and feel that drive again. Then it started coming to me, and this window opened and I started to see how to resolve it and got so excited. Just like that. It all just finally came to me, thanks to all the help from my friends.

I painted 2 paintings Saturday night, and 2 yesterday that I am so thrilled with. I prepared another 6!!! I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I kept getting up and going into my studio to look at them. I had to read until 2am just to settle down. And amazing book, by the way, The Story of Edward Sawtelle. I usually go to bed around 9:30!! Yesterday my legs and knees were so sore I had to take advil to be able to keep standing and painting. I went to bed at a decent hour, fortunately.

So my paintings have evolved quite a bit. At first by accident I painted 3 figures and long shadows against a plain background in an evening painting class I took in winter '08 which I called 'Inner Child'. I loved it, but it was so different from anything I had painted before. My teacher, Heather S screamed when she saw it and proclaimed she would walk into a gallery one day and there it would be! She was impressed, and it felt good, like I was on to something I should stick with. I was always resistant to paint people, as if my feet were cemented in place whenever I contemplated it, although I wanted to try. Then I started forcing myself to paint again, out of desperation to have 'something' to show in May. I had booked a show last spring and cancelled it cause I couldn't release my creative block. I refused to cancel again this year. But with each painting there was something off, and I just wasn't feeling like anything was coming together. Both Cheryl and my friend Julia who stayed over Friday night said the painting I did in class, the simple one with the 3 figures, was their favourite. It was always mine, too.

The dream I had was suggesting figures with simplicity. My Chinese doctor said focus on something simple and master it. My energetic healer said to follow the guidance in my dream and make it my own. Cheryl and Julia both said they loved the simple brushstrokes, how the figures looked effortless. So...

Finally Saturday all that advice came together and I was 'released' from my long blockage. What a feeling. Can't even properly describe it. Anyway, I am continuing with the figures against a simple flat background. Stefan gave me a projector for Christmas years ago that I never used. I realized that I could use my own photo and project the figures onto the canvas and draw them to prevent the frustration and disproportions of free-hand. My new paintings are small, but I’m forced to slow down and paint every brush stroke to be deliberate and thought out, which I needed. My landscapes were so fast and frenzied. I got to the point where they were not getting better, but worse, because they became thoughtless. I always wanted to use my everyday photography in paintings. Now I can, and the composition doesn't matter so much as they did with landscapes, just the figures. It's more free in a way.

I painted one of you walking, holding Claire's hand. Your shadows are long and join together. She is wearing a pretty pink sundress, and you both have sunhats on. It is against a flat light green/gold background. Another one I painted of Barb and her friend watching their two little girls on the swing. The shadows cast are long and interesting. The background it plain sand. Another one is from overhead of two people walking on the beach with a dog running ahead. The main focus again are their shadows and the shadows created by the footprints in the sand. The background is just plain reddish brown. These are so fun! I can't wait to show them. I wish my family could be there at the show. The opening will be on Cheryl's birthday. But there will be many more shows now that my ideas are endless!!!

So much to share, I just about wrote a novel!! Have a great day mom (and Cheryl!!)

Lots of love,

Daina xoxo



HoleyMoleyDainaLee! I can Feel your adrenaline Rush across the country! I think with a little editing/tweeking you have just written what could evolve to another 'wellness' article. and/or better yet even open up a page on 'artbydaina' for occasional journalling... this reveal would certainly bring additional interest to that site (as well as the upgrading of painting photos that people far away could enjoy ;-) ). Other 'creatifs' (I think not a word as such, but it oughta be) of all kinds would both relate, and be encouraged. It is not everyone who can look inward and acknowledge and really let go so freely. So wonderful you have such a great support system around you, and that you actually seek them out and elicit their thoughts. So pleased for you.

Dad says, if you send pics, he'll send pics 8>D. He is So anxious to get out into the yard and gardening, that he's making beautiful wooden bouquets!!! Took a couple photos for the inventory!

Cheryl, you too will be very interested in next part... Me Too! Me Too!! Me Too!!! Creative juices Flowing like Crazy after loooooong dry spell. Much standing, walking back and forth and forth and back. Me Too! getting pooped.

(hint for you) When I feel my back giving out, I stop and pick up the weights, do stretches, one of the (?) videos. When can't do more, it's coffee time and a read-a-loud with dad which helps to revive, then back to it!!! and don't forget to eat and drink lots of water at hand. And that's all I will say about the 'Me Too!' for now (he he).

Anyways, I do feel that mulling is also good. If I had somehow found the wherewithall to get on with the ____ while in the 'stuck' phase, I would have been Most dissatisfied. The ideas that have quietly generated themselves in the intervening time have resulted in what I perceive as much more pleasing to the eye and heart. Sometimes the journey requires breaks, and diversions into completely different areas in order to spark the 'new'.

Daina, next time when you ask for something, could you put a little more sugar on top? I read your novelette out to dad, and we both broke out laughing, and I almost gagged on the buildup, but was left hanging 'cuz I realized you for got to put 'the cherry on top'


you guys have taken up enuf of my time today! got stuff to do ! xoxoxoxoxoxox



  1. Lovely Post Daina! Can't wait to see the paintings, although the descriptions of them alone make me smile big time:-))) and your Mom's response is wonderful- Love it! Congrats on being released!

  2. I admire you Daina. I look forward to seeing your work !
    Janet Couper
    ps I have you on MY list of favorite artists.

  3. I'm so glad your art called you back...your new work is full of joy, perception and playfulness. Art is always there for us, no matter where else our lives take us; it connects us, re-connects us, and renews us.

    All the best for your upcoming show...wish I could be there.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.