Sunday, April 14, 2013

Finding Flow as an Artist

My Creativity Muse "Flo"

Detail of Flo's Teacups

Drawing with Associations (my invention) Style Mind-map

I suppose some might have wondered about the drawing of a genie that I use as my profile picture on facebook.
She came out of a creativity coaching training I have been in since July 11, 2012.  I worked on this training every
week until around September, then got distracted by changes in my job, a move, life in general.  Have decided this
week to finish up the training and go for certification as an ARTbundance Coach and Practitioner.  

I am actually already an art therapist (got my master's in 1989) but, after spending years working with women and
 children struggling with PTSD and other effects of childhood abuse, I realized I was struggling with my own
depression and secondary traumatization (also called compassion fatigue).  So I closed my art therapy office and
went to college teaching to support myself and my son.  It is now 11 or so years later and I am aching to return to
using creativity and art as an agent of healing and my primary source of income.  I kept my hand in as an artist
by making artsy scrapbooks, then artist cards (ATC).  Slowly, but surely art making has become central to my
life again.  I've taught botanical art classes for the last two years and as an art teacher and artist, in any spare
moment I have continued to connect to healing through self expression.

Back to the image of my inner creativity muse.  In the first weeks of the ARTbundance training we were
asked to "Create and converse with an ARTbundance Muse".  I was no stranger to connecting with inner
resources and the idea of an artist's muse but was eager to create a personal image related to this idea.
That's how "Flo" was born.  Of course my subconscious sprang into action to provide me with cues and 
clues for connecting with the source of my creative expression.  I love Flo because she reminds me of so
many things, one that the genie appears to manifest wishes when the tea pot is properly warmed and tea is
correctly brewed.  For me this represents mindfulness meditation, like a tea ceremony, serving others
and myself through contemplative steps.  

Once the genie appeared, in my image, I could see what she is holding in her right hand.  It is an artist's 
palette, and from it grows a body of work related to nature.  I was surprised that the books I want to write
and my ability to "fill my cup" and the cups of others comes from my work as an artist.  Many art therapists
and artists know this well, although it is easy to forget, that authentic creativity is the source of creative
expression, inspiration and healing.  

I lost my steam (ha, that's a pun) before the training ended in October of 2012.  Now I am picking up the 
missing pieces and finishing assignments.  I started with reviewing notes and making a list of tasks to complete.
In week 13 I was supposed to create a way to gauge connection to my source of core motivation. 
Marney Markridakis (founder of ARTbundance) calls this your "ultimate motivator" or "OH!" or One Hunger.
Guess one could also call it your purpose or source of passion.  The "OH!dometer" I was to create gauges how
 connected you are to the way you want to feel everyday.  

I decided that the way I want to feel every day is in FLOW.  You may also know it as being "in the zone".
I am a great supporter of Positive Psychology, the psychological approach that focuses on what works, the
gifts of individuals, and how happy and successful people respond to life.  One proponent of this approach is
Mihaly Csikszentmicalyi who writes about Finding Flow.   The assignment asked me to brainstorm the
things I can do when I don't feel connected to my OH!.  So I asked "What fills my cup"?  

I ended up enlarging the tea cup portion of my muse drawing and making it into a "drawing with associations".
I found a reminder of the activities that are essential to keep me in my flow.  They are: meditation, time in the studio 
making art, time in nature, exercise and healthful eating, seeing beauty in the world, being grateful and staying
connected to my wild heart.  I was surprised that writing turned out to be an activity right up there with
mediation in terms of fueling flow.  So I'm writing to you tonight.


  1. Wow, I believe in the value of art therapy and that is why I have come back to drawing and painting and using an art journal. It has helped be so much and kept my head above water! I will not let art out of my life again!! Some days I don't do it and then others I can't stop lol! Thank you for sharing your journey with us and I am going to become a follower. Have a great day :-).

  2. Thanks Janene! I am with you with your statement "I will not let art out of my life again", and I'm also determined to keep putting more art and art making in!

  3. Beautiful blog post, my dear Gayle - so glad that you have reconnected with art as such a powerful healing and playfull process! I am so blessed to have met you through ARTbundance!

  4. Thanks Callie, I am so grateful to have met you as well!