Do what you know.
These were the words that were stuck in my head when I embarked on my art-making endeavors after 30 years of being a commercial creative director. There were thousands of directions my art could take but what did I really know? And what did I want to know more about?
I knew about creating media and communicating thoughts, ideas and concepts. I also knew myself after spending that same 30 years exploring my personal history, psychology and “issues”. I wondered, “Could I turn art-making into a vehicle for continued psychological self-discovery and learning?”
My unique experience over my lifetime had caused me to ponder this question. In my early 30’s I recognized that my father’s mental illness and alcoholism had a dramatic impact on my psychology and emotional health. I spent the next few decades on a path of self-discovery and healing with the help of many talented, insightful and generous teachers. My natural instincts and personality led me to teachers who have worked in the blurred lines between life, creative process and therapy. It was a natural place for my art practice — exploring the creative process, artmaking, and its effect on my psychology, my emotions and ultimately the choices I make in life.
The journey has not always been easy. I “broke” myself after moving too quickly and finding myself overwhelmed by the demons of my childhood. I frightened and risked alienating myself from those closest to me by regurgitating the past. I also produced some pretty bad art as I struggled to find tools and techniques to turn the personal into the universal.
The challenges have been worth the risk. In countless ways, I have been changed for the better by the 30 years of creative process. I am more outgoing and confident, more connected to those around me, and more likely to make decisions that are freed from the patterns of the past.
I am grateful to have found a receptive community for my work. There are many artists who have proceeded me in using creative process as a psychological tool. The works and personal journeys of Charlie Chaplin, John Cage, Marina Abramovic, Freud, Jung, and others have created an environment where the melding of personal psychology, creative process, and art now has a place in the mainstream. There are now organized groups of people who explore and develop creative process as a healing tool. I was even surprised to find there was a term to describe my work — therapeutic photography — before I knew what to call it myself.
Blurring the line between the art, creative process and my life is about continuous learning. Learning about art making, learning about the creative process, learning about myself, and, step by step, learning what it really means to be free and at peace.