Updated: Jun 29, 2021
I am an artist. I always have been and always will be. But just because I was born to create art...doesn’t necessarily mean that I am creating a piece of art at all times in my life or able to sit down at any point in time and produce work that I like right out the gate. I require a creative space for my work, both physically and mentally. Every artist finds their own creative space where they can flow which manifests differently for everyone. Over time, I have learned exactly what I need to create the headspace in which my artistic expression and energy can flourish; I have discovered these necessities by pinpointing recurring common denominators throughout various life experiences.
When I lived in Seattle, I used to drive across the one mile long, Lake Washington floating bridge. Whenever I was driving over the water on these floating bridges, the creativity in my head would explode with a million ideas but when I got to work...they would just seem to fade and dissipate. This experience made me think back to what first attracted me to rowing, which was being on the water. I realized that just being on the water greatly spurs my creativity; and not only this, but being in and around any nature fuels my desire to create and express on an entirely off the charts level. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have found that different types of natural lighting really brings me into my creative headspace. This is one of the reasons why plein air and life drawing have been such a game changer for me-they have allowed me to immerse myself in the world of art without having to go to a studio to create. The feeling of nature’s simplicity, just allowing it to unfold around you, comforts me in so many ways. I need the freedom to be in the open for my creativity to thrive and beautiful landscapes satiate this need for me. I often feel like I’m drunk with visual stimulus when I’m in my mode-my happy places.
One of the many incredible gifts that come from making art within nature, is the organic peace and order that accompanies the process. Throughout the course of my life, I always struggled with the chaos that surrounded me and it became evident that I cannot create unless things are peaceful and in order. Even when it came to school, I had to clean my room before I wrote my papers in college. When my space is organized, I am able to be creative and keep my thoughts and mindspace organized too. I turn my phone off and am not social when I’m in my creating mode-just completely immersed in the piece or pieces I am working on.
When I first started painting, my physical creative space was the kitchen table, then it migrated into the back bedroom, and once I moved to a bigger house, it became the attic. This attic really made me realize how amazing it is to just have a space that’s all mine. When I have a lot of space, my head can think-especially if this space includes high ceilings. The incredible studio I have now and am so grateful to call mine, has the high ceilings I love. I get to work in this incredible studio with huge windows, a Portland view, and abundant light. The building is very old so the light comes through the windows in distorted ways that look absolutely magnificent-I love the effect of it. I got the studio in 2019 and it is no surprise that 2019 turned out to be an artistically prolific year for me. There are so many things I adore about what this studio has to offer. One of these is that the space allows me to have several tables set up so I can walk around and paint something else on a different table if I get stuck on one. Other times, when I am elsewhere and feel creatively stuck, I just go and sit in the studio and look at what I’ve made so far and go from there. I feel safe and free in my studio, safe and free to dance, jam out to music, and express myself however I like - it is the one place I can go to make complete sense of what goes on in my head.
Now, even though I still have the space and love it just as much, my studio is very often the outside world of plein air. I have merged my past drives across the floating highways with my life now because I live in a houseboat and am on the water always-such a dream. When I moved to the houseboat, my creativity went absolutely wild. Nature has always felt like home deep in my soul and now my home is literally right smack dab in the middle of nature, on the water. My worlds have collided into this symphony of gorgeous sights and sounds to wake up to every single day. So now that I’m at a place in life where I’m at peace, feel safe, have loving people surrounding me...I feel like things are finally in their place and I can create now, no matter what. It truly is spectacular that I’m able to take the time, look, decide what to paint, and just enjoy the environment of spaces that I’ve built to surround me.
A lot of my creative time starts by giving myself the permission to create, and being okay with not having some kind of brilliant moment of creativity but instead, just observing and absorbing. These moments of observation have been fertile ground for some of my best work in the past. So now, I don’t wait around for a streak of magical creativity; I just sit, observe, and take it all in. Things are in order, I am one with nature, I am at peace, and I am safe.