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Daily Art Practice © Shelley Klammer
Shelley Klammer : The Art Habit

The Art Habit

By Shelley Klammer

I am enamoured with creativity as a daily spiritual practice. When my daughter was little I wanted to take a break from painting. I felt blocked as an artist so I decided to write a small poem everyday for a year. The little black journal that I filled during that time still surprises me. It was the first time I had committed to practicing something everyday, even when I did not feel like it.

I devised rituals around writing. I made cinnamon tea. I ate an oatmeal cookie. I dozed by the fire, waiting for the poetry to come. I wrote winter poems about bare trees and frozen feelings. I wrote summer poems. I "watched time". I contemplated fruit and the "spell of mountains". I reflected on motherhood, love, anger and confusion. It was my first taste of going deeply into the creative process.

I was finding my way back to my original mind that was ever below all the shoulds in my life. I was becoming at one with the movement of my own heart. This was not always easy. I would often reach or grasp for something to express so I just let myself say anything so as to have some sort of poem for the day. I wrote lots of "bad" poetry. Yet looking back, some of it is actually quite good. Crackling with raw feeling and heart aching shadows.

It is a relief to realize that I cannot be great at what I do all the time. Creating everyday wears down my cherished image of myself. Sometimes what I create is awkward or ugly. That is a good thing. It humbles me. I am alive. I am messy. I have to express something. It can be good or bad. There is a freedom in that. At some point I become a spiritual artist, and life moves through me in it's imperfect, perfect way.

I love to devise all sorts of creative practices and then commit to them for a period of time to see how they will deepen my life. I might record my dreams for six months, or write a page in my journal each day, or draw my hands for a month. It enlarges self-trust when I keep my commitments to myself. Through each time period of creative practice I digest the truth of my life a little bit more.

I follow my curiosities to see where they will lead me. For the past several years I have been doing meditative intuitive drawings. I am curious to see what I will draw when I empty my mind and let the pen move freely. It is a sort of daily doodling practice. Collage is another daily practice. When my life feels too busy I try to touch into my collage or art journal. Even if I only have time to add one small thing to the page, a torn image, a few poignant words, a splatter of pink, it builds richness over time and speaks to what I am feeling, thinking and longing for.

Oh the art life. It is a good life. Much of my art as a daily practice is not shown to anyone. Yet when I read my art journals I see that even during the darkest times I have chosen to live my life vibrantly. I have made my mark. I have moved through that which oppresses me into a fresh and original life that I can truly call my own. •

© Shelley Klammer, 2006. All rights reserved.

Shelley KlammerShelley Klammer is a Registered Professional Counselor and an Expressive Art Facilitator. More »

9/8/06