The Generative Power of Creativity

Although my intention is to set aside time on the weekend for creating art in my little makeshift studio, I've also been spending most every weekday evening  in the space making mandalas for the Creating Brave Mindful Mandalas e-course.

After wasting a good about of money on e-courses in the past, I was a little unsure whether I wanted to sign up for yet another one. My schedule is already packed with a full-time job, and the requirements of the  Haden Institute Dream Leader Training program.    But, the price was reasonable and they had me at mandalas.  I decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did.  This e-course is extremely well done, and reasonably priced.  It is engaging, rich in content, but not overwhelming.

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."- Thomas Merton

I was surprised to find within myself the energy at the end of a long day to spend an hour immersed in this practice. Not only did I tap into reserves I didn't know were available, I was rewarded with better energy throughout the week. I was more focused and productive at work and at home.

My studio routine on the weekends is beginning to take shape as well.  First thing on Saturday morning, I draw a SoulCollage® card from my deck. Last weekend, creative mystic and monk  Thomas Merton showed up. Of course he did.

So, I decided that I would invite Father Louis into the studio with me for the weekend.  Merton was known to be a fan of Kansas City Jazz, so we jammed to Count Basie, Charlie Parker and friends while I painted.

It was a refreshing change from the "woo woo" music I have been playing lately.  I remembered as a little girl loving  big band music, and it was great fun dancing in front of the canvas and slinging paint. Pure bliss.

I'll admit that showing my work in progress feels vulnerable.  I'm new to painting and I'm trying (not always successfully) to leave my own plans and ideas behind and let the work come through me.

"Creativity becomes possible insofar as man can forget his limitations and his selfhood and lose himself in abandonment to the immense creative power of a love too great to be seen or comprehended." Thomas Merton

I sensed all week that I needed to start with white on my 2017 canvas. So when I broke the paints out Saturday morning, I added a  little white washing which evoked in my mind's eye images of the white exterior of Merton's hermitage at Gethsemane.  I actually liked this look and sort of hated to paint further, but the goal is to work this canvas all year long.  Maybe this is just a little inspiration for a future painting.


Saturday afternoon, I visited my parents and while driving to their home I noticed the side of a warehouse that looked sort of like the painting above but with rust stripes that I decided to incorporate into the painting.

Then it came to this. I don't know how I feel about it. I don't hate it. I don't love it. I have to remind myself that this is about process and not perfection, and there will be many layers as the year progresses.

I sat for a moment in the wicker chair I placed in the space to contemplate the day's work, and remembered a story from my childhood that I'd actually been ruminating on all week. I didn't intend for it to come out in the painting, and I laughed at myself when I realized that it had.

In sixth grade I was becoming interested in expressing myself through my clothing choices. Pants tucked into boots was popular at that time and I loved the look. I didn't have any boots, but I was getting close enough in size to my mom that I could raid her closet from time to time. She had these magnificent red patent leather knee-high boots with big gold buckles on them. From my own closet I found a complimentary pair of red, yellow and blue plaid pants and a red scoop neck body suit. The ensemble was topped off with perhaps the first visible indication of my Enneagram four personality type, a long dramatic scarf tied around my neck with one end thrown over my shoulder. Too bad no one in the home owned a beret.

As soon as my mother laid eyes on me she did everything she could to dissuade me from going out into the world like that, but I was convinced she just didn't understand modern fashion. She gave in, and as soon as I stepped into the classroom the immediate and vicious reaction from my classmates proved my mother was right - although I wouldn't have admitted it to her or myself at that time.

The painting above captures the color palette of my fashion faux pas that day in all its unforgettable glory.

I had been pondering this story the week prior as I've been reading Suzanne Zuecher's study of Thomas Merton as an Enneagram type four.  (Yes, the synchronicity of pulling Merton's card is not lost on me.)

“There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves.” Thomas Merton

The four type is labeled as the "artist," "individualist," or "romantic" depending on which Enneagram expert you happen to be consulting.  Although every Enneagram test I've ever taken identifies me clearly as a type four, I've always been curious that my "fourness" never really manifested itself in the dramatic, edgy style typical of this type.   Perhaps Merton joined me that day to help me pinpoint the exact moment when I chose, as a result of the pain of rejection from others,  to reject an essential part of my being  - a part of me that needs to be reborn.

Until next time, much love.