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One year ago I started painting again after more than 15 years of only dreaming about my passion for painting. This is the story of how it happened. It is about the freedom of being able to create from connection to good, uplifting things, simply because that is what makes my heart sing. And it is about listening to the dream that has been buried under all the other dreams, the one that seemed too simple and good to be true.
And it is at the same time a celebration of a year with so, so much joy, of creating what I had known for years and years that I would love to do in this world, one day. A celebration of putting dreams into action.
It is a “longer-ish” one, so you may want to read it like listening to your aunt or uncle telling a calming tale whilst you lean back and sip a nice cup of tea.
Ready? Here comes Part 1:
About a year ago my husband Rune suggested a trip together with our two children to his home country, Holland. I said something like “yes, it´s a long time since we went, that would be nice”. His response to that completely caught me by surprise, he said: “I actually thought of going with just me and the children. Thought that maybe you would like to stay home and spend some time alone”. Well, anyone who is a busy mother with lots of dreams and passions for her own life can imagine how I responded: Yes!!!!! Really?!? Oh my, how can I best use this precious time? And then just one big smile.
I instantly knew how I wanted to spend my time at home alone: I would give myself the time and freedom to paint. Buy some canvases and unpack my long hidden color box with all my stuff for painting. And I would carefully take myself by the hand and allow that longing for real paintings on real canvas to be heard. Allow myself to play. Read and listen to inspiring prompts. Move and dance to kick-start the creative process. Have the feeling of “all the time in the world” . Paint again, after more than 15 years where that last remaining painting-box had been moved around from home to home, untouched. And most importantly, I knew I would allow myself to create from a joy of connection with good, uplifting life-filled things, allowing myself to follow the bliss and what worked. As simple as that.
I told almost no one about this. I was already partly self employed as a teacher in different creative expressions, so I simply told everyone I knew that I was staying home to get lots of work done, which was true. But I did not tell anyone exept my husband and a very close artist friend that I was going to paint and just spend the whole week in my own company, exploring. I needed to do this in utter privacy, protecting myself like a young life from the rush and possible insensitivity from other people. We can so easily cause damage in another person when we do not understand their reasons. And small new shoots needs protection to grow stronger before they are ready to meet the world.
During that holiday I entered into a field of passion that I almost couldn´t believe I had put off for so long. I felt a bit like when you first fall in love: happy, but so afraid that it would all go away again and vanish when the holiday was over. Then I made a decision. I decided to dedicate one day every week to painting. One working day, each monday. And to honor it as far as I possibly could. No e-mails, no other business stuff on mondays. Just creative prompts like writing or moving the body, and – painting. This too, I kept as a secret for a while. And I kept my promise of painting mondays this whole year with very few exeptions.
During this week I also discovered that there was a “Do What You Love-retreat” in England in may. A retreat for artists, who want to do what they love – for life. I had seen lots of PR for creative retreats in the US, but not any in europe. So here it was, in England, just a hop from Denmark. I knew I had to go. I could almost fysically feel it. I just didn´t know how, because we litterally had no noney to spend during those months. So I started knocking on doors, way out of my comfort zone, and then some really kind people I work with offered to help with the payment of the course. I had contributed to their company in a faithful way over a long period, teaching season after season without a steady employment, and they already mentioned that they wanted to honor that in some way. They decided to support my trip financially. So amazing! And kind. And totally worth the uncomfortability of knocking!
So off I went to the “Do What You Love-retreat” in England in may 2011. I wrote more about the experience here. I met many lovely creative people there, some of them I still keep contact with, and gained a lot of perspective in terms of what is possible in the creative world. I started this blog shortly after the retreat, and it helped me stay in touch with many wonderful people plus created openings for new creative blog-friends. Completely new world for me!
(Me, during Floras workshop in the retreat)
And then very slowly and organically I was getting ready to show my paintings to the world. My neighbour Mark is a very skilled and talented painter, I especially admire his wonderful portraits and him and his music-wife Birgitte are both generous ideas-people. Both helped me tremendously in boosting my confidence to just get out there and make an exhibition. One day Mark saw some of my paintings and offered to introduce me to some galleries. He saw that I was more ready than I knew. I am so grateful that there are people who don´t hold back their compliments and support. He also helped me put up my first exhibition. I am always nervous about stuff involving something I never tried before, like hanging an exhibition, so that was an enormous help.
(One of Marks beautyful portrait paintings)
This year included so many “first times” for me. I created my own home-page and blog, something very unlikely for me. I learned how to edit photo´s and make prints and cards from my paintings. Had a first show in a local market in august, then an exhibition in a café in october, then in a church in Copenhagen, and on to another church in Havdrup, and from march to december ´12 my paintings will be shown in 3 different galleries in Møn, an island with lots of art and galleries here in Denmark. Many paintings are sold, I have commisions coming up and I continue to be just so utterly inspired about the whole thing. Grateful. Actually grateful. I can´t recall having felt this “quiet-happy-grateful” before in my life. It´s not big bang. It is indeed a quiet, but steady stream of so many small joys. As if life is a bit more vibrant because I do more of what I want the most. And it isn´t hard. But it took a decision and sticking with it. And since making that decision there has been so much help along the way.
I made about 25 paintings this year. Plus some illustrations. I feel proud! Proud that I showed up monday after monday, and did whatever was needed to get into the process of painting. I never think of the painting process itself as something I do alone. I can only paint when I am able to connect to something much wiser and more humerous and brilliant than me. A great source of inspiration that is available whenever we knock on it´s doors with the right intention and speed. And I could not have done this without the loving support from my family and friends. I litterally mean that. I still have much to learn, but I found the freedom to do this, and I know how to find it back whenever I move away from it. That is my strength. That is why I am proud. That is also what I had already been teaching about during the last years in my workshops, but more of that in part 2.
Rune, with Celeste and Vincent, our 2 children
This part is soon coming to a close. But first, here´s to Rune, my wonderful husband, who thought I could use some time on my own! And who believes in my ability to paint and sell my work and keep supporting it in small and big ways. He is a wonderful constructive critic and has that fresh eye that I sometimes lack because I am in the middle of my own creations. Yet he leaves me respectfully alone too. I think that is pretty special. I think that ongoing support and care deserves a toast!
(“Remember to celebrate”, from Creative Quickie book)
Now this was the first part, thank you for sticking with it this far!
The second part will be about the actual beginning. About why I was so ready to start painting again. And about a sweet little song I made, inspired by something beautyful I saw one late evening, sitting behind my computer. And also about finding the way through layers and layers of fog and inspiration. I will post part 2 here soon, keep an eye!