Divine Dissatisfaction

My brain is spinning. Or maybe it’s running. Or maybe it’s spinning AND running while also singing and screaming and waving its arms wildly in the air.

Yep folks, I think that’s what they call inspiration. But what they don’t tell you is that lots of inspiration can be overwhelming and difficult to bear and sometimes impossible to organize in your brain. I guess it’s never bad to have an abundance of ideas but right now I feel like the ideas are diving in and out of my consciousness and every time I try to hold on to one, it jumps out of my hands like a slippery fish.

I took a workshop this weekend from the amazing Alisa Burke called “Larger Than Life”. It was so inspiring and fun to learn some new techniques. We worked on raw canvas on the floor and literally dripped, splattered and put our hands right in the paint. I took this workshop because I have been wanting to loosen up and get a little more free with my work. I tend to be very structured and precise about how I paint and I just wanted to infuse some passion into my paintings. Going to workshops and learning new techniques is such a great way to jump start creativity and inspiration.

Here are some shots of the class:

Alisa Burke Giving Us a Demo


Prepping My Canvas With Wild Color


Adding Texture and Visual Interest


Creating a Focal Point


More Detail


One of the Final Pieces Hangs in My Studio As a Reminder to Loosen Up


As I said, I had an amazing time and feel on fire with inspiration. You may remember that I took another workshop in Santa Fe in March so between the two, I have recently learned so many new things and am finding it difficult to organize all my new ideas in the filing cabinet in my head. Inspiration is great but sometimes it can leave you feeling unsure about which road to take. And somehow none of the work seems good enough in this experimental phase. I’ve been journaling a lot and running a lot, both of which help clear my head. Growing pains are never easy and self-doubt can be such an overwhelming, unfortunate feeling when you’re creating art.

There’s a quote from Martha Graham that always comes to mind whenever I start to feel this restlessness and uneasiness with my work:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”

It’s not always easy to embrace divine dissatisfaction but I suppose we can learn to peacefully coexist with it. My plan is just to hurl myself ever forward and try everything. I hope to emerge from this valley with a re-invented style of art and a new excitement about the possibilities that lie ahead.


  1. Elaine on June 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I look forward to what form your devine dissatisfaction takes you!!

  2. sugarleg on June 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    those effing slippery idea fishes. same over here. and then couple it with a dash of ADD and I am thinking about how these kids today have probably never even had a fish slip out of their hands. thank you and Martha Graham. back to saving the world. xoxo

  3. Michele Bergh on June 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I just love these new pieces and can’t wait to see what you bring forth from here.

  4. mariwitch on June 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I undergo the same symptoms of being overwhelmed by ideas and then getting almost paralyzed by the possibilities. In such times I turn to a lot of writing to sort through everything, and by writing I mean long-hand writing, pen on paper, because that is when it seems to be most effective. Only when I have calmed the clamor inside me that I am able to move forward again with my other creative projects. Thank you for sharing that beautiful quote and I am looking forward to more of your creations. 🙂

  5. Diane on June 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Remember you loose nothing by being loose in painting, you can cut in, collage, stamp, pour drip or gesso with any color and start again. I like water paint and blowing with a straw, from a great teacher and founder of Picture Writing and Image Making. You can always pull it in, but going big and loose has to come at the start, it is the energy and intuition.

  6. Marjie Kemper on June 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

    OMG, these are fabulous! I’m so excited for you over all your renewed inspiration!

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