(Adapted from my column, Dare to Bloom, at Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine.)
A Creative Journey
Throughout the last month I have been intentionally asking new questions and making new connections about my creative practice and how it has supported and reflected my journey. As I’ve read and talked with others, I have become especially excited about the way that creativity stirs and moves each of us in very unique and personal ways.
For as long as I can remember I have been creative, and though it’s taken many forms through the years, one thing has always remained true: my creative expression reveals deep soul truths and sustains me like nothing else.
Cloth Doll by Isabella
There was a time I made myriad cloth dolls, angels, and bunnies. I gave each of them names and presented them as gifts and filled endless custom orders. It was a soft, sweet and creatively productive time. My little cottage business was called “All Our Children,” and it nourished and sustained me while I longed for a child of my own yet struggled to become pregnant. Another phase was muffins. I used to make muffins ALL the time. I had so many muffin cookbooks and continually collected and tried new recipes. I took them everywhere and shared them with everyone. I even imagined having a book and muffin store, “Muffins & Tomes.” Okay, so the name was kind of goofy, but again, it sustained me bringing warm, sweetness to my life and to those with whom I shared.
Then there was piano…sigh…my long and soulfully passionate relationship with piano. From age 6, all the way through my undergraduate work and beyond, my soul sang through the notes of my piano. All the way through adolescence and well into adulthood, playing the piano gave voice to the deepest feelings and truths in my soul. Those things for which there were no words. Those places that could only be reached by the plaintive melody of a Chopin Nocturne or the energy of a Beethoven Sonata.
Photo by Isabella Vickers
For quite some time I had a private piano studio and taught children and adults of all ages to express themselves musically. Then I moved on and directed the symphony’s music education program bringing the creative expression of music to thousands and thousands of children. Eventually after a very long wait, my daughter was born, and I created another small business called “Childsong Music,” which provided children’s small group music lessons. Now, as a psychotherapist, I work regularly with clients utilizing their favorite music as a soundtrack of their inner processes, considering the messages contained within the melodies and lyrics and between the notes. Music holds and carries soul for us, gives sound and shape to our emotions, and provides a very real structure for our lives whether we make our own or enjoy another’s compositions.
Love is Always the Key © Isabella Vickers
Since I had followed Shiloh Sophia McCloud’s artwork for more than a decade, it is not surprising that I eventually found my way to Cosmic Cowgirls University and signed up for my first online painting course in 2010. I knew immediately painting would change my life, and indeed it has! Last summer, before I began the incredible training journey of Shiloh’s Color of Woman Method, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to meet the challenge of painting in group, that my process would go silent, that my Muse would refuse to participate “in public.” However, through a great deal of reflection and processing, I realized that if I could just remember how much I love the creative process of painting – the way the colors look and feel as they meet the canvas and blend together, the way the brush glides or drags across the surface, the way the images seem to emerge through the painted portal and come to life before my eyes and under my hand – I could move beyond the fear and quiet the voice of the inner critic. If I could remember the words of my Muse: “Love is the Key to Creative Expression,” I could paint myself into truer being. For me, painting is nothing short of pure magic! I love it beyond words and in this moment realize that perhaps the most accurate description would only come if I could paint the way I feel about painting!
Compassion’s Bloom © Isabella Vickers
At last, as an artist, I have found my soul’s truest voice and my most authentic creative expression at the canvas. With paintbrush in hand I am discovering color, form, texture, light and shadow in the most personal way ever. I am no longer following someone else’s pattern, recipe, or composition. With the tools and techniques I have learned through Shiloh’s teaching, I am able to bring my unique inner images to life. I have learned, and continue to be amazed every time I prove to myself again, that I can paint my way through every experience and in doing so be transformed along with my canvas. I am not the same person having painted my way through grief and anger, frustration and confusion, ecstasy and joy, and into Love. Always Love. Each time I step back, each time I pause, each time I complete a painting, I am filled with more Love. In painting, I feel Love and Loved, and I believe that is what is communicated.
It has been so meaningful to remember and consider how my creative journey is such an accurate and personal portrayal of my life and growth, my unique process. I can see now with amazing clarity how the dolls and muffins made so much sense and carried so much more with them than they appeared in their simple forms. It is clear to me now that the piano and the safety and security of musical forms contained my soulful, creative expression when words were not enough. And now, I’m ready for the freedom painting provides my own clear, creative voice!
How does your creative journey hold and reflect your growth and process? How has it changed as you have changed? And what insights do you realize now as you consider it from this vantage point? Leave a comment below – I’d truly love to hear about your creative journey and how your creativity reflects and supports your journey.