Two Lessons Learned – Julia Cameron Was Right All Along

My lessons:

1.  Just because I’m artistic and creative doesn’t mean I can sit down with a new medium and expect to make quality art without practice.  (What arrogance!)

2.  When I start focusing on selling stuff while I’m creating a piece, I don’t create so good.  (Duh!)

My story:  I’m going to be vending Magic Carpet Dance Arts items on August 28th at the D-Note in Arvada, at the Belly Dance Swap and Extravaganza.  This will be my first time ever of live vending, so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my table will look like.  Most of my pieces are rather 2-dimensional, and I wanted to add some 3D to the array.  I decided, hey, it would be simple to paint a couple of mugs with henna motifs at a pottery place.  It wouldn’t matter if they sold — they would just add interest to my table.

I went to paint at a pottery place one Saturday, full of ideas in my head for henna patterns like the ones on my Etsy shop items.  But I haven’t painted pottery for a year or two, and I had forgotten how liquid and runny the paints (glazes) are.  (I’ve been painting a lot with acrylics and thick fabric paints, and they’re totally different to work with.)  And I’d forgotten how you can’t tell what color you’re getting until after the piece has been fired.

I sat there at my table getting more and more frustrated as the runny paints refused to cooperate with my imagination.  I couldn’t draw the delicate lines I wanted.  I couldn’t tell if the colors were coming out how I wanted. But I NEEDED these items to come out.  I NEEDED to be able to add them to the things I will be selling.  And my frustration grew as I tried hard.  Too hard.  I left feeling completely disgruntled.

When you paint pottery at one of those shops, you have to wait a week or so to get your fired pieces back.  And during that time, I thought a lot about the lessons of Klu the Bear and his blog, Get A Klu.  Klu and I have been writing his blog for 5 years now, I think, and it’s been effortless and delightful.

Klu and I started Get A Klu in response to an exercise on playfulness in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.  And the blog has had staying power because it’s always been playing for me.  No pressure.  No thoughts about making money off of it.  I just play in a medium I love:  words.  And have fun with my camera and my little bear friend.

When I sat down in the pottery place that Saturday, though, I forgot all about playing.  I forgot about delight.  I forgot about experimenting.  I forgot to ENJOY making my art.  I was too busy creating a product.  And I didn’t have fun.  I ended up cranky, disgruntled, frustrated.  And it shook my confidence in my abilities.

Thank God for Klu.  Thank God that his little face looks at me with accepting eyes.  Thank God for reminders to live out of a place of freedom and delight and love of life.  Thank God that my inner artist is a forgiving child.  I said a heartfelt apology for my arrogance, for trying too hard, for forgetting to play, and we were reconciled.

And to my complete surprise, when I went back to pick up my pieces, they had actually come out a whole lot better than I expected.


2 Replies to “Two Lessons Learned – Julia Cameron Was Right All Along”

  1. That is such and important lesson for us all to learn…taking oneself less seriously unleashes the true creativity and enjoyment in life. it is great to seel how you have found your niche in the artistic world! Keep up the good work. You love for fun and joy have always been an inspiration to be ever since I met you back in 1990!! Have fun and I love that bear!!

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