—Unfolding Mystery, Cat Charissage, 2014
Hello Dear Friends:
This summer I had the opportunity to take the 10-week online course LEGEND: Awakening the Hidden Stories from Cosmic Cowgirls University, the organization founded by Shiloh Sophia McCloud (and others). Shiloh is my painting teacher online, and this course included 2 sets of instructional painting videos from Shiloh, art journaling prompts and videos, and daily writing prompts, plus the opportunity to write our own Legendary Woman Chronicles. I’ve just recently finished the painting, and wanted to share some of the process with you.
The reason I share these work-in-progress photos is that I want to demystify some aspects of artistic expression, and to encourage others to keep going in their own artistic expression, especially when the piece is in the “kinda ugly, maybe I should just quit now” stage.
This is also the way of daily life, too, isn’t it? In taking on any new project, it’s easier to just give up when it gets to the “kinda ugly” stage, especially when there are so many needs to attend to and voices asking, pleading, demanding us to do all sorts of things for them. I’m really learning that if my self-talk starts a new thought with “I really ought to.. . ” or “you know, I should. . . “, then those words are my clue that I need to examine that thought and question whether it’s true that I really “ought to” or “should”. I’m not denying that there are things in life that ethically we need to do, but those things are a small category of the “I oughtta” thoughts that creep in. It seems that the very idea of doing something fun or creative, or something that doesn’t immediately benefit someone else brings up the socially constructed “but you don’t want to be selfish, do you?” thought. Most of us women don’t even want to be thought of as being selfish, and will willingly squash the creative, fun idea in its tracks. Or maybe, if we’re really brave, and have started on a creative task that doesn’t immediately seem able to benefit anyone else, we’ll definitely squash more attempts when the creative act gets to the “kinda ugly” stage.
It’s a victory for me that most of the time, now, I can differentiate between the ethical “oughtta’s” and the socially constructed “oughtta’s.” I’m definitely not yet doing the writing that I wish to be doing, though, nor am I painting and art journaling as much as I would like. It takes time and inner fortitude to become the person you might be. Yet, a few paintings at a time, a few blog posts at a time. . . .
Here’s what I painted first. I didn’t like it at the time (it was in the “kinda ugly” stage), and so I gessoed it over and started again. In hindsight, I wish I’d stuck with this painting; there’s something about it that I’d like to develop.
Glazing, where you paint over the entire painting (or selected parts) with a darker transparent color, is one of the scariest things I do. If I’m liking the painting so far, I’m afraid that I’ll lose all the work I did. Glazing, though, can harmonize the colors and bring a glowing richness; that’s why I do it:
And how she/I ended up:
She hangs in my bedroom where as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, I see her smiling at me.
Join me in persevering through all the “kinda ugly” moments. What comes next will certainly be interesting!
With love and the kiss of today’s September blue, blue sky,
Hi Cat..your latest painting made me feel so connected to all women in general, and I found my restless feelings were somehow soothed as I studied her serene face. you are so brilliant at capturing the heart of a woman, and I love seeing how your painting develops. I have decided to pursue the hobby I was mentioning, and will fill you in on how it goes. take care, hugs as always, Carol
Carol, I am SO happy for you, and really honored that my painting can help you feel connected with all women. Right now I’m thinking a lot about my ancestors, specifically my women ancestors, and wondering about their lives and trials. I don’t know of any who had any creative pursuits — I mean, they must have had, but there are no stories, no artifacts. So I’m glad that you and I have the opportunity to create beautiful things to hand out and hand on. Love to you, Cat
DEAR! Cat~ I love your wise woman words in your UNFOLDING MYSTERY blog. I enjoyed the companionable way your words took me in as if we were friends and you were sharing with me over a cuppa. Your experience in simply blazing on even when the trail gets rough/ even when we feel we have lost the trail altogether is priceless. Your ability to practice stick-to-it-ive-ness even when we get to the ugly part just begs us to hang on til we encounter the Phoenix /Shenix rising up from the ashes. Self talk plays such an important part in our being and doing. It can be encouraging/discouraging/even stop us dead in our tracks. Your way of persisting on through the ugly parts opens windows and doors rather than closing them and shutting us into locked box places we feel I empowered to get outta. Thank you for showing us another way of being.
Thanks, Flamingo Gypsy! I always think of my spouse as the persevering one in our family, but as you point out, I DO persevere, as well. You know, I’m pretty conscious of my self talk, and can catch if I’m treating myself more poorly than I would treat a beloved child. And that DOES help, a lot. Love to you, Cat
Thank you, Cat, for sharing your process. I am swept into the living myth of this deeply connected woman. I love witnessing the changes, the layers, the building up of meaning and symbol and form. As I think you know, I am devoted to sharing this way as well. It helps me to trust the intuitive process everytime I start to paint and I like to think that when we share, it helps others too. You have inspired me to return to a partially completed painting that’s been patiently waiting for nearly six months. So another big thank you.
Thank you, Deborah, for your kind words. I appreciate feedback so much, and am soooo glad that you’ll be returning to an unfinished painting! Layers, building up of meaning and symbol and form. . . . I love those ideas and phrases. Be well, Cat