I will be leaving the site up for an indefinite period while I move all my pertinent files over, but this blog will no longer be updated here. As soon as my migration is totally finished, the url http://effywild.com will redirect to http://effythewild.com
Whoops! Some of you got a little bonus in your e-mail this morning when I accidentally posted a lesson on Pathworking that was written for Moonshine here on my blog. Consider it a present for being kind enough to actually sign up to get this blog emailed to you. :) The post has been removed, but if you were intrigued by the lesson (a walkthrough of what a typical pathworking with me is like), you can get more details on Moonshine here! There are over 70 of us in the class now, and it is a thing of gorgeous beauty! I hope to see you there.
I had a really good week, no doubt in part due to the excellent session I had on Friday. I went in twisty over some serious envy I was experiencing that I *didn’t want to be experiencing*. It was envy over what can happen when someone’s talent is recognized early and they are given support and encouragement from the get go.
I was feeling a serious lack of confidence ~ a very powerful sense of “Who do you think you are, teaching what you’re teaching!” There was a litany of reasons why I should pack it in and quit doing what I do in favour of slinging coffee at a Tim Horton’s.
Education was huge on that list. I don’t have any training. I am a drop out. I don’t know what I’m talking about. Everything I know, I learned from watching art videos (from some of the best mixed media art teachers out there) and then experimenting with what I learned…
Somehow, in the face of what I was calling ‘real talent’, I was a big loser.
“Tell me more about ‘real talent’.” L said.
Brain splodey followed (along with a few snot bubbles). I had convinced myself that real talent doesn’t have to be taught. Real talent is born knowing how to draw, knowing what to do with art mediums, knowing *everything*, and then getting the education to prove it.
I came out of that session knowing that I, too, have real talent. That I have to tease it out with practice and skills building is *natural*. That my passion and dedication and practice is not something my teachers handed me, and without that passion, dedication and practice, talent doesn’t amount to *anything*.
On my way home from therapy, I stopped in at Curry’s Art Supply and I bought a massive sketchbook to play in. This thing is 14 x 17 inches and it is *mammoth*. The intention was to give myself space to play, experiment, hone my skills the only way they *can be honed* ~ through practice, but it was also a way of signaling to my inner artist that *I SEE HER* and she is worthy of time, space, BIG SKETCH BOOKS, glorious paint, time, nurturing, and support.
I tweaked my living room painting corner so that it was ‘paint central’ instead of art journaling central, thinking that limiting my mediums to the ones I really, genuinely want to master (paint!) would stretch me…
And I painted all weekend. Backgrounds. Etching. Layering. Sketching…
Because real talent needs hours of practice to back it up.
What do you think ‘real talent’ is?
Here are some snapshots of my progression through from background to painting this weekend. The background took about two hours of play. The portrait took about four hours. Many thanks to my painting Mama, Shiloh McCloud, from whom I derive an enormous amount of skills-building & inspiration.
Grace. Work in progress. Acrylic in a 14 x 17 inch sketchbook
There are those threads that tug at you from your past: having felt misunderstood, having felt as though you were discarded without warning or discussion, having felt betrayed, having failed, having felt disappointed, having been a disappointment to others….
…and there are threads of forgiveness emanating towards you from that past and from you towards that past…
…and there are holdovers ~ places where it doesn’t matter what you say or do, you have been cut off, cut out, banished, utterly denied your side of the story, despised, and in a way, dismembered…
And then there is the present moment when you are loved beyond measure and held up by your spiritual and artistic lineage in such a way that there is no doubt that you are on the right path.
I dance with my shadow and because I know how deeply flawed we *all are* in our gorgeous humanity, I find it easy to forgive when someone acknowledges a hurt they have caused, whether the hurt was intentional or not. It can take me a lot longer to come to a place of forgiveness when I am not given the opportunity to say what I feel or why…and especially longer when I am tossed away like used tissue or when your refusal to look at your part incites you to demonize me.
But even so, I come around to forgiveness once I’ve given myself enough time to feel what I really feel. Forgiveness, grace, doesn’t ask your permission. It blooms with or without you. And I’m there today.
I get sucked in sometimes to thinking about what happened last year or the year before and feeling awful about the ways I outright failed or failed to understand…there is always this voice that insists I am to blame for everything that ever went wrong in my life. There is a voice that second guesses my good intentions. That’s a learned behaviour that I struggle with. Old tape. It says “it doesn’t matter that you tried, it matters that you failed…”
But there is a gentler voice that is being echoed back to me by certain supportive members of my tribe, and that voice says “You did your best…you *always* do your best…”
And I believe them because when I look myself in the eye and see myself, shadow and all, I know that my flaws are forgivable (as are we all) and my intentions are solid and I strive to be in integrity every moment of my life. That I fail sometimes is *human* and if I can’t be forgiven by some for being *human*…well.
That’s a pity. And that’s a place I don’t wish to dwell.
I can disentangle myself from those threads that don’t serve my forward movement when I remember the ones that are shot through with the gold and green of love and forgiveness, empathy and honesty…the ones that are tugging on my heart today…
And some of our goddesses are making attempts at doing things that even MASTERS struggle with.
I wrote this for them this morning, but I wanted to share it with you, because I think this is not spoken of enough in our “EVErYTHINg IS sO SHinY” culture. I think we are all hard on ourselves to an abusive degree, and I’d like us to stop.
Gordon Ramsey Vs. Julia Child
Lots of you have taken it upon yourselves to attempt sketching your own neutral faces, and you are expressing dismay with the results. Sketching faces from photographs is hard enough when it is a perfectly sculpted face, or a photoshopped-within-an-inch of reality face. Sketching our own faces?
Really freaking hard.
And hard not just in the skill-building sense, but in the hard-on-our-self-esteem sense. Sketching our neutral faces comes with a double whammy of omg, I suck at this stuff + omg, look at that <insert the flaws you perceive in your face> stuff. Neither is good for the budding artist within us, or the tender five year old self we all carry at the core of our adulthood.
This class is about idealized faces ~ iconic portraits. The faces we will be making are reflections of the divine feminine. There is a very important reason for this:
Idealized faces are *easier to create* than realistic faces. They are ideal for beginners. They are perfect to practice on. They are an excellent exercise in skills-building.
While I would never tell you what to do or not do in terms of your desire to learn, I would suggest that starting with realistic faces, especially photographs of ourselves, is a little like starting with gourmet cooking when we don’t yet know how to turn on the stove. We’ve witnessed our Hell’s Kitchen inspired inner critics going all Gordon Ramsey on our asses in the Facebook Group. Right? And how do you feel when you watch someone bash themselves about the head and face for sucking or having ugly features?
Like crap. Because this is tender territory. Our inner five year old’s are thinking “OH NO! IF SHE’S UGLY THEN I MUST BE REALLY UGLY!” Our budding inner artists are thinking “IF SHE THINKS THAT’S CRAP, HOLY CRAP, I’M REALLY CRAP!”
Now we know:
We need a little Julia Child infusion in our group. Julia Child would never swear at us for breaking an egg. She would just move the class into omelet making with grace and humour. She would never freak out at us or swear at us for burning the filet. She’d throw her hands up and say THERE’S ALWAYS THE SALAD…
So, let’s ease off on ourselves. Let’s save the really hard stuff for when we’ve mastered the basics. Let’s remember that the purview of this class is idealized and iconic portraits and if we’re tempted to try advanced techniques, let’s do so with a sense of fun, of play. Let’s not yell at our budding inner artists for *trying*. Let’s not traumatize our already tender inner five year olds with smack talk about our level of attractiveness. Let’s not label our early attempts as ‘failures’. Let’s not label our beautiful selves as ugly.
Before you do any more sketching, I want you to take this in. Bookmark it. Make it a habit to watch it regularly. I’m down to once a month or so, but when I first started making art, I was watching this *at least* weekly.
I honestly didn’t expect to have to tackle this subject until later on when we began painting, but in the spirit of remaining open and flexible to the group’s energy, I want to offer you the benefit of my experience:
When I first began I *sucked at everything*. I sucked like crazy. I couldn’t draw what I saw (and I still can’t) to save my life. I had to learn every skill I’ve got and then I had to practice. I knew I sucked, but I *was okay with it*. I was lucky enough to know that suckage is inevitable when you are a beginner.
If I’d expected to be perfect or even good out of the gate, I would have quit because perfectionism blocks progress. It sets us up to fail.
Because, listen: Perfect doesn’t exist. Even when we measure every facial feature within an nanometer of its existence, there is going to be something *off* in our final product. And guess what? THAT’S AWESOME! Because it is in the flaws that character shines through. It is in the slight crookedness of a grin or the wonkiness of one eye that our faces achieve their humanity.
Compare, for example, a mannequin to a photograph. Mannequins are perfect. They are also creepy. They are imitations of life, and they feel like imitations.
So, forget perfect. Go for progress. Progress moves us forward. Every time you practice, you are *bound to get better*. A first attempt will suck, but it is also medal-worthy, because DUDE! YOU TRIED! And you are going to keep trying until you are HAPPY with what you produce.
Trying Is Winning
Learning to create faces that make us happy is an exercise in trying. We will produce a lot of crap, but it is COMPOST crap, not shit-on-the-bottom-of-our-shoe crap. It is the kind of crap from whence roses grow. Let us honour that. Making crap leads to making not so crappy leads to making faces we love. Trying is winning. We’re all winners.
The Art Of The Reframe
If you start channeling Gordon Ramsey, try conjuring up Julia Child instead. To Gordon’s “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?” respond with “THERE’S ALWAYS THE SALAD”.
Do Not Do
Try it and see if you don’t find yourself easing up a little bit…or a lot.
You would not expect a five year old to master faces in one sketch. Like a five year old trying something new, you have permission to suck.Sucking leads to not sucking with time, patience, and practice. Humour and kindness.
Humour and kindness.
Love you. See you again soon. xo
P.S. Interested in Moonshine? It’s still open for registration and coupon code effylove gets you $20 off.