One of the best parts of the various workshops, courses, and training programs I am drawn to are the unique and talented individuals that I meet. Shannon Fitzgerald, a fellow SoulCollage® facilitator, is one such person. As you can tell by her work featured here today, she is a supremely gifted and versatile artist. She generously ferried me, a total stranger, around Charlotte, NC during our facilitator training--saving me from having to rent a car for the week. In that time, we shared many wonderful conversations about creativity, spirituality and our future plans over evening meals and our short commute to Catherine Anderson's studio. It is my pleasure to introduce my delightfully warm and soulful friend, Shannon, to you today.
Can you describe when you first began to understand the relationship between creativity and your spiritual life?
After I experienced a period of time where my creative practice and resources to create were limited, I realized the importance of creativity for me. In those years I rarely spent time creating and when I did it was for practical purposes rather than the joy of creating. Honestly, I got a little lost at that point in my life. I felt disconnected, and depressed. When I made my way back to my creative path and practice I realized the impact living creatively has on me. At that point I recognized how my creativity, when practiced regularly, helps me to connect in to that spiritual oneness. I become part of something much larger than myself. My creative practice keeps me balanced, grounded, and helps me to explore more deeply my inner self. Spending time in creative pursuits has that familiar comfort feeling of coming home and being where I belong.
Do you have any creative rituals that you practice on a regular basis?
Creative ritual in my studio looks different every day. It may be painting on a canvas, working with fabric, collaging, writing, creating book illustrations, photography, or experimenting with a new medium. Some days its hours in my painting studio, others its 20 minutes grabbed in the middle of my chaotic schedule, and it may even look like me sitting across the table from four year olds creating a little book or collage while they are engaged in their own creative exploration. Projects are most joyful for me when I rely on my intuition with no blueprint, directions, or idea of what it will end up looking like. The exploration, experimentation, and following of my intuitive voice trigger a level of joy I don’t receive from any other activity. It’s important to me to practice daily; the practicing of creativity is the ritual itself.
Who would you say is the artist or teacher that has influenced you the most?
I’ve been an artist since I was a child, I’m talking about crayons and paper, painting at an easel in school, or experimenting in the garage with my Dad’s scrap metal; but I’m also referring to my first oil painting lessons at age 10 with Mrs. Weaver. There are three teachers that have, thankfully, left their mark on me as an artist; Mrs. Weaver is one of them. She showed me the joy of creating something from nothing using my hands and my creative spirit. She also helped me develop some basic drawing and painting skills. I often joke that its good to know the rules if you want to break them well!
The other two teachers who have affected my personal creative process and practice in my adult life are Flora Bowley and Catherine Anderson. I list them together because even though they each create in different mediums and shared different creative skills with me, they most valuably shared their philosophies with me. Helping me to combat my own limiting perfectionism by teaching me to love what comes from my own creative soul, valuing my art and myself as an artist. Flora taught me to be brave and take leaps using my intuition as my guide in my art and life. Catherine reminded me that whatever I choose to create is wonderful, because I am enough and my creative voice is unique and valuable. They both are incredibly generous women as well, igniting that generosity in me. Every day, these three teachers’ voices echo in my head regardless of what I am creating. I hope to share similar gifts with the children and adults who I teach.
Shannon is a former Elementary school teacher currently in transition from full time child care provider and part time artist, author, blogger, illustrator, photographer, SoulCollage®, and creativity facilitator to full time Creative in June 2017. This is an exciting time in Shannon’s creative journey, a time she is grateful to be in!
She is the author of three picture books: Halloween Night, Test Day, Team Player, and Thanksgiving Weekend. She is also the illustrator for her holiday books. She is the illustrator of Epiphany, written by Bonnie Kaye Kirk, a picture book of transformation, written for adults and available in April 2017.
As I walk my own path of spiritual growth through creativity, I’ve met many kindred spirits along the way. In the Conversation is a series of interviews with these soulful voices who I believe exemplify what it means to be a creative contemplative.