Spring Musings

Sunflower, 2023

Happy Spring, everyone! In the Northeast United States, spring brings more sunny skies, trees blooming, and green grass. Many people celebrate when they start seeing the first bulbs poking up through the soil, with their colorful blooms not far behind. We shake off our winter doldrums and smile upon each blossom.

I have always connected with flowers and gardens and nature. And it seems so does everyone else!  Scientists have studied the human-flower relationship and found flowers bring happiness, mood elevation and connections to humans. Thank you, Rutgers researchers for confirming our innate sense of connection to flowers.

And flowers are appearing once again in my artwork – all types including the summer bloomer – the sunflower. Not only do I appreciate blooms outdoors or in my house (although this is limited due to cats), I also love to paint flowers, leaves, trees, whether real or imaginary. I think the connection continues even in art.

Exploring My Vision

During the winter months, I had been thinking about how I create a compelling vision for my art practice. I was listening to a talk on “Zheng Healing” by Qigong Instructor and Acupuncturist Jeffery Chand, and thought I could take another approach to my creation of a vision. (Here’s his YouTube Channel for huis Qigong practice.”) Anyway, “Zheng” translates as correct, honest, upright, or authentic. I really resonate with “authentic.”

Jeffery explained how and why the body naturally heals and talked about nurturing one’s energy first, and focusing on healing later.

How does this relate to art? The connection is that feeling I had of “needing to” find a “creative vision” and establish my “artistic voice.” It’s very Western of me to think that way. The project manager in me wants to create a defined plan, set up spreadsheets and deadlines. But my thinking changed. Perhaps I would be better served by nurturing my artistic energy, creating regularly, and allowing the creative vision to grow from there

. It’s kind of like the Joseph Campbell quote:

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”

Joseph Campbell, author

While I struggle with this concept as I don’t feel comfortable not knowing the path – I want a darn map! – I feel the deep authenticity of this idea. And it’s similar to making a piece of art…sometimes forcing the next step creates frustration rather than a finished idea…It’s much better to take a step back, let it sit, and return later. Letting the work tell you what it “needs” – while sometimes challenging – is a more helpful path to take.

Another related idea, especially for artists’ trying to sell their work, is the concept of focusing on “what people want to buy.” Heading in that direction leads to a decline of creativity, IMHO. Howard Thurman said:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman, philosopher

Definitely, the world needs people who come alive. And flowers and trees make me feel more alive, particularly in spring!

So that’s where I am this season of life. Coming alive again, enjoying the flowers and painting them. Nurturing the energy!

Be well, Colleen

PS. Apologies for delay since last blog post, perhaps I will be able to post more this spring!

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