Poetry. I used to have a deep love of writing it when I was a little girl. I remember when I wrote and illustrated some for gifts one year for family Christmas gifts. My Nana and Grandaddy still have one of them framed, my childlike writing and illustration lovingly preserved and on display.
I wrote and gave them so freely, totally unconcerned with critique and without one worry over whether or not they were good enough.
I created. I gave.
It was that simple.
Of course, I gave knowing my little scribblings would be loved and accepted by the hands I’d place them in. That helps a ton, huh? *chuckling*
Not too long ago I participated in a write-in and I was surprised when my responses to the prompts we writers were given came tumbling out in the form of poetry.
Below is my first response. I’m extremely nervous about sharing it publicly, but I can’t encourage others to create their way through fear if I can’t do the same for myself.
So here it is in all its imperfect glory.
And, yes, there is an expletive. This is your salty language warning, y’all.
“Be like Elsa and let it go,” I tell my boys.
Maybe I should hold a mirror up and say the same.
Stand there and watch the same mouth that too often says yes
when I know I should say no
utter a lesson I’ve yet to grasp but still tell my boys to mind.
Stand there and let go of the guilt of not doing enough for those I give all I can to.
Stand there and let go of the things that spend my time and energy so frivolously when I know both are so f*cking precious.
Let go and watch the same hands that release
They wait having always understood
that the upward rise of release
is always followed by a
that ends in open readiness.
If only I would be like Elsa.
I hope to write more poetry and maybe, just maybe, share more here, too.
Thanks for sharing in this moment of crazy-big vulnerability with me.
Now, I’m off to breathe into a paper bag or something…
I knew from the very first figure I made that I was hooked and would be creating in paper clay for some time to come. I’m completely serious!
Jeanne-Marie’s instruction was thorough and presented in a way which really allowed me to relax and enjoy the process of bringing each figure to life. She went out of her way to create additional content after the class was live to answer questions from students in the private class Facebook group.
Okay, now let me rewind a bit and explain what paper clay is.
There are many DIY recipes to be found on the interwebs. I plan to eventually try one out for myself but for now I’m using pre-made packages of ACTIVA Plus Natural Self-Hardening Clay. It comes in white, terra cotta, and black. It’s available on Amazon and in my local Michaels store. I tried a couple other brands, but I liked the consistency of this brand the most. It felt like actual clay. That consistency and the the fact that it’s readily available without being terribly expensive and I had a winner.
So, I started.
Self Love was my very first paper clay figure. Her creation marked the beginning of a love of creating with paper clay. To me she’s gloriously and quirkily imperfect.
Evening Stillness was my ode to Jeanne-Marie’s figures who are sometimes bedecked with small houses and buildings. And, okay, it was also my ode to the evening and nighttime hours when I’m most creative.
Wise Woman was a fun figure to watch come to life. She has this intriguingly awkward shape, full and low, which gave me the idea for her to look like she was growing out of the ground. Her legs are tree trunks and her hair becomes vines that trail down her figure. There is an owl on her back and a sleeping fox at her feet. She’s waiting to get her final touches of paint right now.
I created Shattered // Restoration in response to a call for art at a local art show whose focus was on dealing with hurt, trauma, and the (hopefully) ensuing journey of recovery. I’d read about the Japanese art of Kintsukoroi (kintsugi), mending broken pottery with a lacquer mixed with the dust of precious metals like gold. As a result, the mended pieces were often more beautiful than the original unblemished pieces. It highlighted something’s brokenness and made it a part of its history rather than hiding it.
My recent love of making paper clay figures merged with my deep admiration of the kintsugi philosophy to become Shattered // Restoration. I kept the shape of the figures very simple to allow the message of the brokenness and the healing of each respective figure to take center stage.
My latest paper clay creation doesn’t have a title yet. I wanted to see if I could create a female figure that went from head to just below her shoulders. My aim wasn’t to create with a sense of realism but, at the same time, I did want to focus on proportion while paying more attention to facial details and overall form.
She’s quite a bit more substantial than most of my previous figures. Last I checked, she’s 7″ x 7″ and she feels like she weighs a pound, maybe two.
She’s currently sitting on my table waiting for me to finish her. She needs a finished underside to her base then she needs to dry out. After that, she’ll be painted and sealed. I’m excited to see how she’ll look once she’s completed. 🙂
Creating each of these figures taught me many lessons in technique, in patience, in play, and in finding my own voice in this new-to-me medium. I’m so thankful for artists who share their knowledge!
** There are no affiliate links in this post. I’m just sharing good stuff, y’all.
SHIFT <- This word has been following me and finding me for the last few months.
I’ve let go of some things in my life in order to have open hands for others. I’ve never been great at juggling, y’all. Overwhelm is not something I handle well, if at all, and I’ve come to know and accept this about myself. Prioritizing activities and things to which I devote my time and energy has become a way of being for me. It helps me be better for me and for others.
Another shift that’s happened – and is still happening – is in my spiritual life. I’ve come to the hard realization that though I love God, I’m conflicted about what I’ve begun to think of as American Christianity. – And before anyone tries to toss a #notallchristians my way or argue with me that I’m beating up on church people, I kindly but firmly invite you to have a seat. I’m not doing either thing. I do see evidence of those working within the church to move forward in love by admitting to, apologizing for, and, through education, prevent further hate from having a place within their hearts.May it continue. – I have deep reservations about how a huge amount of “Christian” people can be okay with overt hate then turn around and tell those left most vulnerable to be quiet and instead seek unity.
“Good people” being complicit in hate is not a new concept, I know. My personal awakening to the reality of this has left me…lost, angry, hurt, despondent, embarrassed, and ashamed.
Why embarrassed and ashamed?
Because it wasn’t very long ago that I would have agreed with those “good people”. It wasn’t too long ago that I wouldn’t have bothered to look deeper into those calls for unity to see privilege and indifference at work.
It wasn’t too long ago that I wouldn’t have seen and understood that many of those calls for peace were really a call for peace and quiet.
And I would have been one of the mouths spouting and firmly believing this hateful and willfully ignorant rhetoric.
Ignorance, in this case, isn’t bliss. It’s a negligent form of hate.
I don’t want to be ignorant anymore.
I’m in no way trying to share with y’all that I have it all figured out or that I will never make a mistake as I clumsily step forward into this new awareness I have. The opposite is true on both counts.
But I’ll keep stepping (and learning, and listening, and creating, speaking, and sharing…).
Right now I’m feeling a lot of intense emotions and thinking big, heavy thoughts. I’m asking myself questions about what I’m doing to push towards – and have open hands for – a peace founded on justice and, honestly, my answers are letting me know I’ve got a LOT of work to do. I’m weak. The convenience of cloaking myself in white privilege and turning away from facts and from others’ pain is tempting…but love won’t let me.