Pinching the flow of creativity

In Julia Cameron’s book: The Artist’s Way, I find a compelling chapter that covers the importance of recovering a sense of self-protection when it comes to one’s creative potential.   This protection is against the blocks that each artist employs to pinch the flow of creativity.   It’s as if once we have really gotten going, it’s the natural order of things to try to squelch it. To sabotage the wide range of possibilities that exists within each of us.


The various methods of blocking we employ range from food abuse, sex abuse, liquor or drug abuse, distracting ourselves with busyness – and other addictions in general.

Why is it that we do this pinching off of creative flow on purpose?




It’s plain and simple fear.


It’s as if the hunger for the high that comes from the wave we ride is too much to handle.


Or, perhaps it’s that the small snapshot of hope that this life is extraordinary is dampened by the reality that life is hard.   We reach dramatically for the high only knowing that the high is really just outside our grasp and even if we push ourselves to reach even higher, we will never truly grasp the golden egg.   Not really. It’s there within reach, but something always forces us back down to earth and we must start over again.


And that is exhausting.


So, after time, perhaps we reach less fervently.


We barely extend the arm and we still climb, but we don’t climb as high.   For then, the drop is less painful.


And then one day, we look up and once again we wish and hope that we were wrong.


And, we try again. And we push ourselves to go to heights we never reached before and then, we fall. Again.   And, we’re not sure why we tried again in the first place.


Did we forgot what the fall would feel like? The disappointment. The disgust. The fear of failure. All over again.   The cycle. Again.


Perhaps it is a matter of reaching this time for some help.


To not climb on our own.   To rely on a circle of like minding individuals who can cheer us on and remind us of our full potential. To not isolate ourselves in our art. But to reach for other artists, in whatever discipline that art form yields.   And to listen to their stories, their motivations, their hopes.


Where are these people?     They can be found at (perhaps) an Artist’s Way Group near you. Search for it on the internet- you’d be surprised. I found one and I am headed there later today.   I have only attended one session back on a cold February night at a local library when a storm was brewing. Many  made it that night, despite the horrible ice and snow crusted road conditions. And we spoke, each one of us, about what our creativity outlets were and how are creativity flowed.   And, it was a marvelous evening.  The memory of it dances around my mind as one of the most delightful times I have spent with other human company.     Tonight, we will discuss what makes for Authentic Creativity- and the focus is on Julia Cameron’s book- week 10 (chapter 10).


Cameron shares in in this chapter:

“The choice to block is a creative U-Turn. We turn back on ourselves. Like water forced to a standstill, we turn stagnant. The self-honesty lurking in us all always knows when we choose against our greater good. It marks a little jot on our spiritual blackboard: “Did it again.”.   And then: “It takes grace and courage to admit and surrender our blocking devices.”   And also: “As we become aware of our blocking devices – food, busyness, alcohol, sex, other drugs- we can feel our U-turn as we make them. The blocks no longer work effectively. Over time, we will try – perhaps slowly at first and erratically – to ride out the anxiety and see where we emerge. Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with and worth with.”



As I consider the years and years of wasted time. Finding distractions. Not following through. Reaching but not grasping. Shutting off the flow.   Dulling the ache with food and binge TV watching. Putting off creativity.   I realize how much truth lies in Cameron’s words.   And how marvelous it is that she wrote this book to reach the many who would pick up the book in an effort to reach deep inside and find the creative well that exists within each one of us, and tap it.


So grateful for these moments of discovery and awareness – and hope.

Unlimited Potential



In the early 60s, something amazing happened to a young early twenty something woman that drew her to the United States of America from Norway. Up until that time, her claim is that self esteem was lacking and that she never felt special. Born just two years prior to the Nazi occupation of Norway and ending three days shy of her 7th birthday, Mom’s world as a very young girl was filled with fear. She lived through air raids and their requisit black curtains, sheltering in the basement laundry room of her apartment with the other tenants, Nazi soldiers pacing the hallways of her kindergarten with their german shepherds, the strict rules of forbidden music and radios and then there is the celebration parades that followed once Norway was liberated. From the time she was this young girl – she loved America. America saved everyone- in her view. In today’s world, where controversy exists on whether America should be the world’s big brother, Mom’s response is that the world forgets. And, she feels that younger generations that have not lived through an actual war or occupation, have no idea what they are talking about- they are arrogant in their naivete. Easy to judge. The truth is, in her view, that we (since she is now an American Citizen) must be involved- when we are not, things fall apart. Of course, intelligence and pragmatism must be employed- but in some fashion, yes- we must be involved.

The plan for Mom was to come for one year. She was sponsored by family members who had gone before her to the “Great Land”, and she initially lived with those relatives in Wisconsin. She eventually made her way to the Twin Cities, and met Dad at a social gathering of friends that were acquainted through a local Ski Club. It was an after work party and Dad was in from out of town on business- a regular occurance as Minnesota was part of his territory back then. Through mutual friends, they connected at an after work cocktail hour. And, the rest is history. They fell in love, Mom couldn’t imagine life without Jack and Jack supported Karin in her pursuits- one of which was becoming an accomplished artist. From the beginning, Dad saw her talent for what it was- amazing. Truly- her abilities were aparant in those early days.
After their wedding, she settled into life with Jack in Michigan- his home at the time. After a couple of years, they moved to Washington DC for another job transfer; it was here that both of their chlidren were born. Dad set Mom up with her own atelier right from the beginning- usually an unused area of the laundry room. She spent hours each day dabbling in oils in between laundry, cooking and caring for her family. She took art very seriously; since childhood she had always had a passion for drawing and painting. Her small florals were beautiful- delicate pansies were a favorite. This passion grew over the year, and during the family’s period living in France- she took classes from accomplished teachers. She learned many vital techniques employed by the masters and she developed her own style in portraiture. John Singer Sargent a favorite of hers, many of her portraits have the same elegance and the glazing techniques that bring skin tone, fabrics and light to a realistic conclusion. One of her frequent exercises was copying a master – it’s what they did as well.  The only way to really learn is to copy a master- she would say.   So in our home, one could find an amazing likeness of Corot, Bougeraux, Renoir or John Singer Sargent hanging on the walls.

image image

The likeness she renders is breathtaking and I always have a gallery page of her work on my iPhone to show- my brag book. Over the years, she has gifted many a piece to friends and family- and has sold a number on consignment; however, she has never had her own show and her focus has never been on the business side of things. Rather, painting for her has been her solace, her meditation and what has kept her grounded. Everyone must have a passion- something that gives her purpose. For Karin, it is painting masterpieces (my words, not hers). Mom is for the most part humble with her art. As is comomon with many artists, she is not ever truly satisfied and she is not generally confident enough to show off her work. Still, it gives her pleasure. Lately, with Dad’s illnesses and her own aging- her canvases, brushes and oils have sat idle. She often says she will take it up again, perhaps when it gets colder out again. I truly hope so because when she puts brush to canvas- magic happens.