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Art is Your Happy Place

In creative writing classes, teachers often starts with asking novice writers to imagine their "happy place" and write about it. Close your eyes right now and imagine your own private happy place.

I'll bet 90% of you are picturing the beach. The other 10% are probably at your easel. Since I live near a beach, my happy place is closer to my easel. I'm lucky enough to have a studio in my home with a small closet I upholstered to be a teensy "she shed.

Many people I teach are just starting to take their painting seriously and don't really have a space to paint yet. Some live in small houses and have no room to call their own. Others are primarily plein air and spend more time painting outside than inside.

Whatever your calling, make space in your life and living area for it. Art is our happy place. It's where we can shut out the horror of the world, family drama, and other nightmares and connect with the primal source.

Creativity flows through all people in equal measure. You do not have to deserve it, or do anything special to get it, just be open to the flow. We have the power to open ourselves up to it, or shut ourselves down from it. Much of that depends on our state of mind.

When I am all invested in the outside world, like the tragedy of police brutality, the rage that fills the streets, and the damage to small business and neighborhoods thats happening around me, piled on top of the ravages of COVID 19, I am hardly in the mood to paint.

Who would be? We live in highly dramatic times. I'm sure in 20 years we will look back on this year in the same way that war veterans look back on war years.

My partner and I live very close to the bone. We chose to live simply and have a small, sustainable living space which means my studio has to be 10x10 (indoors) with some outdoor lanai (what people in Florida call a Florida Room) space for an easel and storage.

outdoor studio:

When you live in Florida, much of your living space is indoor/outdoor which leaves you subject to weather, heat, and neighbors.

indoor studio:

I carved out a small nook in our house, actually a closet, that I retrofitted with a comfy chair, all my awards, photos of my family and other things that give me quiet comfort and reassurance. This is a meditation space, and is my happy place. There is a thin curtain that separates me from the cold, cruel world.

The meditation space is small, but it is here that I regroup, connect with God, and let go of the angst that any feeling person would be experiencing right now. It is this tiny space that I start may day in by reading a morning meditation, and retreat in throughout the day when I need a moment to recover from a shock, lick a wound, or connect to family members I can't touch right now.

happy place:

It's important that you paint during times of high drama.

Drama steals your peace. Painting restores your peace of mind. When I don't feel particularly motivated to "make a painting" (like now) I'll often do studies. Studies are ways of learning how to do something outside your comfort zone. They are one-hour or less activities that help you disconnect from the drama, still your mind, and concentrate on light, color, form, and other principles of art.

I'm not saying to turn a blind eye to the horrors of the world, or ignore injustice. Quite the contrary. We must speak out, act out, and not go down without a fight. But, we also must have a safe place to retreat and regroup.

I urge you to make that safe space for yourself, somewhere in your living space. If you can't have a physical safe space, make a mental safe space-a certain chair you sit in to calm your soul and visit with God, or a closet you can shut the kids out of long enough to read a meditation.

It's more about the quality of the time than the quantity. Many people who join me for classes, even online classes that they participate in from their own home, express to me how much better they feel after painting. Painting is a meditative act, and can be as calming and soothing as yoga and prayer.

Make time for it in your life, and space for it in your home. We all deserve to feel safe, at least for a little while, no matter what else happens in the world.

Love and peace,


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