What Working with my Hands Have Taught Me

Being an artist is literally a hands on job. Using my hands to create something useful and valuable is one of the best things ever. The creative process of placing my hands on the work has taught me a few things.

It has taught me about my own power and limitlessness. If I can take a blank canvas and turn it into a product of value, then I have a certain kind of power. This reminds me that my only limit is myself. My hands are tools that engages my mind to my vast potential. The possibilities are endless.

The mastery of anything comes with practice. The repetitive motion of my hands connects with my brain and brings a synergy that nothing else can. There is power in action; in sitting down and getting the work done time and time again. After doing this for a while the process becomes intuitive. My hands know what to do; my brain tells me where to go.

Working with my hands have also taught me patience. Practice has taught me not to rush the process; to enjoy it step by step. I have waited for paint to dry, for colours to take root, and for my mind to distill an idea. Practice and patience go hand in hand and both assist in mastery.

I become close to my projects. I have touched them; and they have touched me. It is impossible to create art without becoming affected by what you are creating. In the final analysis, my work and I will be touching and connecting with someone else as well. At least, that is what I hope for.

Finding Inspiration in the Grind

As an artist, I am asked questions about inspiration all the time. What inspires you? Are you inspired all the time? What happens if you are not inspired? I will use this post to talk about two different kinds of inspiration.

Inspiration can come like a bolt of lightning. Its those moments when an idea is crystal clear and so fantastic that it can easily be transferred to canvas – or whatever your medium is. These moments are genius and can feel especially great. We all love these moments because everything flows. It all comes together perfectly.Waiting in Vain

Waiting in Vain, 2016

But inspiration does not work that way all the time. Inspiration can also be found within the grind. In the lightning bolt scenario, inspiration comes, then you create. With the grind, you must do the work for inspiration to appear.

If you do not have that bolt every time you want to create a work of art, what will you do? I cannot sit and wait for the next bolt to come or I would have significantly fewer pieces in my portfolio. What I do in times when lightning does not strike, is approach the canvas, my paints, my brushes, my thoughts. I stand face to face with my creative nemesis, I sketch, I design, I begin painting to see what comes, struggling through. In the process of creating, I am also chasing inspiration and I know that I will find it. The evidence will be in the finished product.

Finding inspiration in the grind is not just about artists or creative people, its for anyone who wants to accomplish anything. I am a creative so I use creative references. If you are a writer, you will have to sit down in front of a computer even if you have no clue what you will write. You will have to hit those keys. Write a line. Delete it. Write another. Starting your process is an invitation to inspiration to come in. It wants to come in. Sometimes it is reluctant but if you stick with the process long enough it will come.

Today I wish for you all the lightning bolts of inspiration you can get. However, when those fade, I wish for you the patience and tenacity to sit down and start working so that inspiration may come.

Nature and Youth

I got lost in the woods once – in Tobermory to be exact. It had a happy ending but it was not a great feeling. I did learn some things about myself being lost at the Bruce Peninsula. I learnt that I got irritated and impatient with myself and others; I tended to think of the worse things like being mauled by a three hundred pound black bear and that even the most innocent sound and movement became ominous. Perhaps I knew these things about myself already. But placed in a heightened situation, we come face to face with who we are and perhaps who we want to be.

I also learnt other things too. Irritation and impatience will not get you found any faster; there are ways to combat fear like making noise to keep the bears away; and things will work out if you keep your head.

Nature can teach everyone something and this is true for teens and young adults. You do not have to be lost to learn from nature. It offers lessons without that added challenge. Today’s teens and young adults have many challenges and issues. Most of these issues have to do with self – meaning they are not necessarily external. There are issues of low self-esteem, anger, impatience etc. There are external things too – like peer pressure. Some of the things we do in nature is walk, hike, camp and fish. All of these require some amount of patience and the mindset to stick to the task at hand. They all take up time – sometimes large amounts of it. You have to find patience if you do not have it. But how does nature helps with other things? For one, it takes you away from the regular day – away from it all to take a step back. Maybe this will help you to view things with greater objectivity.

The distractions of every day life are stripped away and for the most part, you are left with yourself, vast open spaces and the quiet to think. Teens and young adults can think through their angst, peer pressure low self-esteem and whatever else they have going on in their lives. What are you going to to do about any of these issues?

If you do come across the challenges of being lost, confronting a bear, or even crossing a large body of water, how will you proceed? Your character is being called into play here. Stand and fight or take flight. Now you can choose to build that weak self-esteem, bolster your patience, channel your anger, feel the pressure of that situation and know that peer pressure will always be around you but in the end it is you who are going to give in or stand up.

Ultimately, any confrontation with nature is a confrontation with the self. Instinctively, you’ll respond from who you are but you can be guided by nature into responding differently.

Nature is a beautiful and challenging place to be and so is youth.



Journaling About Patience

They say patience is a virtue. It is. Patience is necessary to get us through those trying times that we will all face throughout our lives. When we find ourselves in these situations oftentimes we lose it. Sometimes we lose it big time. So how can we build patience? There is probably no easy way. It’s best to choose an activity that requires patience and slowly develop this virtue.

While we are developing this desirable quality and in essence developing ourselves, we can record our progress in our journals. We may choose to use fishing as the occupation of interest. It’s a good pastime for learning because most times, it is a waiting game and waiting is a big part of patience. How do we feel while this waiting is going on? How do we keep ourselves still from one moment to the next? How is our breathing? These are some of the questions that we will answer in our journals.

Someone once said we are how we breathe. It’s possible that we are also how patient we are. When we lose patience, our ability to breathe sometimes suffers. If we are waiting on a fish to bite our baits, we have to be still, we have to be aware and we have to be patient while waiting for that tug. We also have to be willing to still remain patient even when there is no tug, knowing that we can try again later. Patience helps us to remain cool.

Of course, fishing is just one activity that is used here as an example. There are many others that can assist us with our goal. We can all choose one that we like and hopefully what we learn from one of these activities can be transferred to our everyday lives. If we write down the insights that we have gained, we can review them from time to time.

Remember there is nothing like words in black and white to help you see where you are and where you are going.

Sheryl A. Keen
Author “Journal According to John.”