The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Born Artist

 

I initially met Phyllis Elizabeth Wright  (a.k.a. Liz) nearly 6 years ago and she has become a dear friend and creative Muse. She and I are part of a group of women who meet annually for a Goddess Retreat at which we honor the Divine Feminine. At the retreats, she has guided us in co-creating a group mandala and has led classes in body casting (making a mold of various body parts that we would allow to dry and then decorate.) Her work is ever evolving and inspiring.


How do you live your bliss?


I teach students to love their own creativity for one thing. I am an artist as well. I can relate to the feelings of frustration and ineptitude. I know being an artist is a process not a destination. I hope I model that for my students. I also live my bliss by creating, exhibiting and selling my work. Being an artist is never boring. There is always something to make, design, or share with someone.

 

What led you to become an artist?

I feel I was born an artist. I just said yes at an early age when I accepted the CALL. I have never looked back to be honest. I Am an artist. It is who I am.

 

Who have your influences been?


Well. I recall my art teacher in elementary school who used his weimaraner “Smoky” as a model. I remember a relaxed setting where drawing was central. My favorite artists are numerous but standouts are Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Cezanne, Joseph Albers, Jennifer Bartlett, Hokusai, and Mark Tobey.


There are legions of artists who are unknown yet represent the art of ancient, native cultures. I love the works of Aboriginal people in Australia. The Buddhist mandalas of Tibet and China, the fabric of Japan, Nigeria and Indonesia. I am never at a loss for inspiration.

 

As an art teacher, how would you suggest that people who feel that they have no talent, get past that?


I have a favorite phrase that I feel encompasses my philosophy on creative blocks. “When in Doubt, Doodle!” Just begin to jot down visual notes. Draw from your own experience. Good drawing is really good hand/eye coordination. This is what I teach in my foundation classes. I teach students how to really see what they are looking at.

 

What is your creative process?


Believe it or not I rely on my doodles. I often begin with a square, a red square often, and I work with warm and cool colors and patterns and textures. I look for a balanced composition, and follow my instincts, training and intuition. I am not usually looking for a specific end result. I trust myself. I surrender.


Do you have a favorite style or medium that calls to you?


I love to draw, paint and use printmaking mediums. I love mixed media and working in clay. I feel it is important to choose the medium that best expresses the concept I am working with. For a long time I have considered myself a printmaker because this was the “instrument” with which I feel most expressed. Work flows through me while I am printing.

 

Can you share about your exquisite mandala work and what their significance is?


According to the scholar Joseph Campbell the mandala is a means to align our personal center or circle with the universal circle. In the process of making a mandala, you become one with it, becoming more centered and achieving a sense of unification.1


My relationship with the mandala began around 1990 while investigating geometric forms as a point of departure in my prints. Working with geometric forms lead me to sacred geometry and the mandala. Ever since I have found great pleasure and joy working with the mandala, circle, or cosmic wheel as a starting point for my printmaking and painting. It is meditative and contemplative.


I feel as if I am finding my roots, participating in a ritual many cultures have participated in over millennium. Drawing a circle and beginning to design, draw, or paint is as much a spiritual practice as an aesthetic journey for me. At times I do not know where the “doodling” meditation will take me and much like when taking a Sunday drive, I enjoy the scenery and new discoveries while feeling as if I have my hands on the wheel (pun intended).


The discovery process that nourishes the mandala making has allowed me to spend a weekend observing and participating in a healing Sand Mandala constructed by Tibetan Monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery. This mandala was created over two weeks at the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001.


The pieces of work in this exhibit are particularly similar to each other because I started an image and made subtle changes to create new threads to the original idea or theme. This way of working is experimental and very convenient. As a printmaker, I am accustomed to making editions of prints: the same image printed multiple times by hand from a matrix such as a woodblock, linoleum, etching plate, or silkscreen. While printing an edition I may “pull out” a few on which to paint or draw as experiments. This process of retaining prints in various stages of development lends itself to suites of images with a common thread.



www.phylliswrightart.com

Control Freak

Ever feel like your life is a roller coaster ride and some days all you can do is sit tight, buckle your seat belt and hang on? If you are like most people, the answer would be an unqualified YESSSSS~! 

Each day, we awaken to uncertainty; not knowing what awaits around the next corner. Things are constantly shifting and changing; the nature of life. My friend Jody Kessler has a song called No Solid Ground in which she sings about the idea that the sands are always shifting and that nothing lasts forever in the same form; the essence of Buddhist principles. At every turn, I have found, there is a choice to be made. Do I succumb to the ‘fates’ or take charge of my own response to them? 

While, according to my son, I can be a control freak at times, more often than not, I am letting go of the incessant need to control and instead, allow myself to go with the flow. I ask myself how much I really believe that a Divine Power/Energy has my back.  In 12 step parlance, the word God is translated to the acronym Good Orderly Direction. When I pay attention to the guidance, there is no need for me to control anything or anyone.

I question what it is that I truly can control and then I need to do it. I know that I am responsible for my thoughts, feelings and actions. While on the elliptical at the gym, I pondered this question. I decide how much I work out and for how long. I choose what to put into my body. I choose my attitude and intention for each day, not knowing what I might face at work on any given day, since it such an unpredictable setting. A Course In Miracles refers to miracles as “a shift in perception” and so I shift them moment by moment. Not always easy, but ultimately rewarding.

I live by the Serenity Prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr as well

 

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

And then there are times when I used a shorter version:  “It is what it is.”  My Mother had a Que Sera Sera attitude which served her until her final breath this past November 26th  “What will be, will be.” was her sage answer when asked what was happening with her at the end of her life.

I find that as frightening as it might feel, letting go into God gives me permission to relinquish the need to control and paradoxically, allows for better outcome, which is what I desire in the first place.  Why didn’t I think of that before?  Oh, right, I did, but then I forgot that I did; which is what I call ‘spiritual amnesia’ and then I have to remember it all over again. Kind of life that roller coaster ride; only this time, I am able to raise my hands above my head, rather than white knuckling it as I grab ahold of the safety bar….WHEEEE!

 

www.jodykessler.com

 

 

Gracefully Aging Hippie

I was born in 1958, an autumnal arriving mid-October Libra child whose passion is collaboration. My husband  Michael (who is now in Spirit) used to refer to me as a ‘second generation hippie’, since I was 11 when Woodstock graced the hills of rural New York. He, born in 1950, considered himself part of the first wave of hippies who dressed in tie die and fringe and flashed the two fingered peace sign and tossed around words like “groovy” and “cool”  as if they were so many flower petals scattered to the winds. He attended (as Mother Teresa would have called them) pro-peace rallies and was a conscientous objector during the Viet Nam war, so I guess that would have qualified him.

Even in my 50’s, I still live the part, dressing colorfully, speaking out about injustice and encouraging cooperation. My rally history includes alternative energy protests, marching for the ERA (Equal Rights Ammendment for those too young to recall the silliness of  those who were against it on the grounds that they thought it would mean uni-sex bathrooms, when what it really about was equal pay for equal work.) Some of my favorite music harkens back from those halcyon days. 

I heard one of my favorites on the way back from the gym tonight. Get Together by Jesse Colin Young and The Youngbloods, wafted through my car as I wound my way down Bucks County, PA back roads.

 

Get Together http://youtu.be/NbQ5rHzrhVw

and as a bonus  Sunlight….. a sweet sensual love song

 

Peace, man <3

 

Dancing Star

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Last week, I engaged in a ritual in which I invited angels into my home and asked for their support in bringing about positive change in my life. There were three particular areas for which I requested guidance and before I named them and commited them to paper, I set wheels in motion for what you will be reading shortly. I asked for the chaos in my life to be cleared out so that I could experience greater peace.  Be careful what you ask for.

At the time this occurred, I was in the midst of a challenging situation with someone I had hired to do some work in my home. His work ethic left a great deal to be desired, but as a recovering co-dependent, I wasn’t initially as assertive as I needed to be to direct the project.  Add to it, feeling overwhelmed in most other areas of my life, but doing my typical keep on keepin’ on dance, and you have a recipe for even more chaos…YIKES! 

I consider myself a pacifist who appreciates peace and quiet at times; nicely blended with moments of music and color, high energy and spontaneous interaction. Never would I say that I thrive on chaos.  And yet…..

My 23 year old wise man son pointed out to me last weekend, as we were sitting in the parking lot of our local K-mart about to go inside to pick up a filter for our heater:  “Mom, as much as you say you don’t, you love chaos.”  Shocked…who me?  Conflict averse me?  Yupper.  He continued: “You say that you get what you think about. You work at a job with people in crisis and chaos. Our house has been in chaos.”  He even admitted that sometimes his actions have contributed to the drama in our lives. “Just admit it. You also like being in control too and you can’t control chaos.”  How did he get to be so insightful, this kid who thrives on that energy and relishes every opportunity to stir some up?

What a wake-up-call-aha-moment for me. So, how can I manage chaos, other than removing it from my life?  “What if”, I pondered, “I could embrace it?”  My friend Greg had told me years ago about a professor he had in grad school that would encourage the students to “follow the chaos”, only it came out sounding like “follow the cows”.  We laugh about that occasionally. My view of cows is that they are not particulary chaotic critters, but rather passive.  Paradoxically, struggling to quell chaos only adds fuel to the fire.  So, what if I knew that like Rumi’s poem The Guest House; all of this tumultuous stuff was merely “clearing me out for some new delight.” ? If I ‘followed the chaos/cows’, where might it lead me? What eagerly awaited dance would I do?   I am eager to discover….Moooooo ~

 

 

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