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Georgia O’Keeffe and various “Duh” moments

March 22, 2010

The day I first truly SAW a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, I was sitting in an art class in a school planted in the middle of cornfields and cow pastures learning about shading and contour. My eye was always drawn toward the colorful calendar cut-outs and posters that lined the cinder block walls. I happened to read the description on the vivid flower picture, blushed, looked around, and wondered if anyone else knew exactly what was on the wall.

Years and years later, I have been reacquainted with Georgia. (Georgia, we might as well be on a first-name basis at this point. You rock). I recently acquired a book called Georgia O’Keeffe by Britta Benke and started flipping through it regularly. When she met Arthur Dove and realized there was more to art than just copying the Old Masters, she began to really look at her personal experiences and transform them into art. She started with a series of charcoal drawings. My book tells me:

“I said to myself, ‘I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me-shapes and ideas so near to me-so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down.””

I can’t help but be a little freaked out, since recently I’ve been using techniques from art therapy to help me explore these images I’ve had in my head forever. I just sit down with some of my current craft supplies an art journal I started. I have made a list of all the emotions that have been dug up or are bothering me. (Here comes hippie dippie) I sit with some meditative or soft music and set an intention to help visualize the images around the feelings. Then I just start sketching. I put my images on paper, in felt, on the canvas, through fabric, etc., paying attention to colors, textures, etc.

Here’s the revolutionary part that I feel I’ve got to write about–I have eliminated a lot of my anxiety. By setting the intention that I have created a SAFE and JUDGMENT-FREE space to just “do art,” I’ve in turn eliminated all doubts about it being “good enough,” or worrying about how it will turn out. I use “it” without a clear antecedent because “it” refers to anything I’m going through at the moment as well as the tangible art itself.

And through this process, I have found out some truly amazing things about myself.

Once I realized I can be free and create the colors or even images associated with certain feelings, experiences, or memories, it’s like everything snapped into place, and all my synapses let out a sigh of relief. I feel like MYSELF 100%. Everything feels aligned. I don’t feel responsible for those emotions clouding up my mind. By putting them in a tangible form, I literally work through them to come to a satisfying conclusion or understanding of some sort.

When I make felt, I have to either agitate the wool with hot and cold water, roll it, pound it, or stab it repeatedly with long, barbed needles. Talk about therapy! I get to beat or stab the mess out of this natural fiber, make it do what I want it to do, make it stay where I want to put it. When I am done being violent with it, I have a beautiful creation that is still wool.

I really encourage everyone to try art therapy. Think of the most stressful thing that makes you sad, or perhaps you want to try representing the happiest time in your life. What images and colors do you see swirling around in your mind’s eye? Try to create that image somehow using whatever supplies you have on hand. The key is to not start whining about how you are not creative or you are not an artist. Whatevs. Eat some cheese with your whiiine and get started.

I discovered wool at the beginning of February. At almost 2 months into the fabulous fiber arts world, I can’t believe it’s taken me nearly 30 years to find out that I feel the most myself when I am creating. Talk about a DUH moment.

Thanks, Georgia!

For inspiration, I leave you a few of Georgia’s Charcoal drawings.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2010 4:48 pm

    OH my gosh! Those are stunning! I’m currently in love with spirals as they have impacted my life recently. Thanks for sharing these!

  2. March 23, 2010 7:46 pm

    Check out Suzi Blu’s art journals.

  3. March 24, 2010 2:48 pm

    Love this! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your new pieces! Here is the awesome lady & Touch Drawing system I was telling you about, it’s all about emotional creative freedom & expression, so awesome!

  4. April 3, 2010 7:27 am

    will you be my friend?? haha! seriously- YOU rock!

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