What is the difference between messy and RAW? guest post by Amanda Grace

Hi Pilgrim!

Know what I love? A good question. Especially when it’s a question so simple, it may otherwise never have had the opportunity to be asked.

So often we use words in the abstract sense, without laying down a concrete definition, as if everyone is on the same page in relation to meaning.

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I’m a definition person and a frequent visitor to online dictionaries and thesauruses. I’m also a question person so I was delighted recently, when the Art is Magic Instagram account announced  my RAW workshop and the question was posed:

What is the difference between messy and RAW?

I love this, so let’s dive in.

I’ve been sharing my artwork online for a number of years. At first, I was really just exploring and learning materials and kind of imitating a certain aesthetic in what I was painting. Everything I sat down to create, was kind of sweet. I painted angels and birds and flowers and dogs. I sometimes stamped or collaged inspirational quotes, messages and mantras into finished pieces

Also, I was creating finished pieces.

Amanda Grace Mixed Media


I was aware that what was coming out of me, wasn’t necessarily my own voice. It was more like an echo chamber for the voices of the online mixed media artists I had started following and who were influencing me.

And while it never ‘felt’ like me on the page, I somehow instinctively knew that this was part of the learning process. That trying on the voices of others, would somehow, perhaps even by a process of elimination, reveal to me, my own. And so, I was ok with the ever present but patient frustration that is inherent in the process of finally meeting oneself on the page.

I showed up and I did it anyway.

After all, I had spent years suppressing this side of me. The very virtue of my allowing myself to officially (and by officially, I mean, without the need to qualify) come out of the artist closet at 39 years of age to begin with, was me winning at life.

I had opened the gates and become one with the flood. I did not need for it to become an ocean or a lake or a river. My creativity was flowing and that was all that mattered for me. I knew with time, the rest would come.

I began selling my artwork online and in markets. People ‘liked it’, that was a bonus. I liked it. I always, in spite of knowing it’s potential for development, have liked my art. And it’s less about loving it from a purely aesthetic place, I just love that it exists.

Expressing my creativity, is a conduit for my being capable of loving that *I* exist.

Some might call it a celebration, others their proof of life. Having a physical, concrete, visual, representation of my existence and expression in the world, is my way of declaring ‘I AM HERE’.

And I think that’s important.|

In saying this, because I began depending on the selling of my art, I did fall into the trap of ‘trying too hard’ to paint pieces that were sellable. I fell into the trap of outcome and product over process.

I was chasing something.

I was also running away from something. I was running away from the 9-5, a world that has taught me that I am not for it nor it, for me. I have known for a long time that the work I’m doing now, is my sacred contract, my soul’s calling, my north star. I suppose you could say, it’s a sense of vocation.

At this stage I had taken the leap, committed to and invested in my creative self, fully. I believed in possibility and I put all my faith, heart and soul into making it happen.

It was also a lot of pressure to put on my creativity.

In 2016, I was 2 years in when grief came calling at my door. I was engaged and about to be married for the second time, when I discovered at 40 years of age that I was pregnant, for the first time.

Our happiness was short lived as 5 weeks before our ‘wedding day with bump’, I lost the pregnancy.

And that’s where the quality of what had been flowing out of me, changed.

I was angry. I was hurt. I was confused. I felt incredibly vulnerable. I became the proverbial storm in the tea cup and painting ‘nice’ was simply no longer a thing I could do.

It was at this point I realised that what I had been doing all along, was painting for you. Not me. You.

Those flood gates I mentioned earlier? The force of emotion that visited itself upon me, tore them clean off and my waters, raged.

This was an emergency. I needed to contain it. So I abandoned ‘nice’ in service to NOW.

I got on my pages and I began tending to the flood. I let it come. I wrote with it. Furiously. I scribbled. I tore. I threw paint at my pages from across the room and didn’t care where it landed.

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Because of the nature of my loss, I felt I didn’t have ‘the right’ to be so upset. So I stuffed it down but as always, it came out sideways. Fortunately, I had learned at this stage, what all these supplies at my disposal could do. So I let them do the talking and become my voice.

I scribbled where I wanted to scream. Tore, where I was hurting. I splashed and dripped and dropped ink where I felt powerless and confused and denied and lost. I revealed on paper, the internal drama of my experience, betraying any facade of outwardly poise.

And in doing so, I facilitated myself through the mess that is grief.

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And grief is messy. As much as my intellect might try to bypass that truth with a philosophical slant, my creative self knows better. And she’s not afraid to dive in.

After a couple of months, I re emerged from my social media and marketplace withdrawal. I began sharing what I was up to. I started journaling at the markets. I realise now, what happened is that I was cracked open and was now letting you in.

I was no longer ‘trying to be’ this artist with her shit together. I was just me, with all this emotion, doing my best to contain it and myself and what mattered more now than to sell, was to be seen.

And I was.

Suddenly, I began making contact. It seemed the art I was making now, was like a flare going up into the ether and signalling to the pilgrims out there, that ‘Here be Dragons’. And they came and said ‘we see’. And next thing I know, I’m not slaying my dragons alone anymore. There was an ‘us’ and because I had finally allowed myself be unmasked and imperfect and willing to be me.

RAW is what they said. “Your pages are RAW”.  Your words are RAW”. “Your blogs, your vlogs, your letters, YOU.”

RAW: This is the feedback I got and I knew what they meant.

It meant I was being emotionally honest. I was telling the truth. Finally, I could admit that where I am, is where I’m at and not twelve years down the road, chasing the ‘better version’ of myself.


I am me and what you see now, is what you get, now.

So, when I felt ready to teach, I was wondering what I might call my workshop and here was this word. RAW. Emotional honesty. Truth telling. This is what I mean, when I use the word RAW.

If you’re a devotee of definition, RAW is defined as strong and undisguised. Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes, calls it the unsanitized version of events.

But wait, revealing such intimate truths is a terrifying prospect, is it not?

It might be and that’s why us artists are the fortunate ones. Because we have our creativity, the perfect vehicle in which to ‘go there’. Nowhere does it say that emotional honesty, must be a literal endeavour. We have our journals and communities as the containers in which to hold our stories, as we learn to masterfully transcend detail with symbolic expression.

In RAW, we abstract the concrete. It’s immensely liberating and it also feels safe. Like, we get to be rebels, without risking our psychic lives.

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As for messy, well to borrow a famous tagline from Ronseal paint: Messy simply does what it says on the tin. It means making art that is messy, loose and free.

But even more than that, what messy means to me, is creating from a place that is UNconcerned with 'getting it right'.

What I teach, is an understanding of process and how it is composed of certain elements, the RAW materials that make up your practice.

So many people are overwhelmed at the thought of having a practice because they’re focussed on the outcome as representing the whole. What I help you do, is to break it down so that you’re only ever tending to the individual elements and once you show up for that, then art can’t help but be made in the process.

So, I want to ask you a question now Pilgrim and maybe you’ll share with me in the comments, what stops you from being RAW on the page?

Guest Post by Amanda Grace

Join us for Amanda’s upcoming online mixed media workshop RAW

A Chance to Win a place in RAW

Raw with Amanda Grace- aRt Journal Workshop

This Giveaway is now closed.


Thank you to all who shared about this course, we are so grateful for all the wonderful shares and thought into what RAW means to you!! 💕🌸
The winner: Sabyne who said:
To me, RAW is meeting my deepest inner self and finding my true way through art.”T


We have some truly amazing workshops here on Art is Magic Online, and RAW is no exception. Amanda Grace has been teaching this workshop live for several years now in several countries to many people and we are lucky enough to be able to dive into her process from our own homes where ever in the world they are. To celebrate we are giving away a place in this course. Follow the instructions below to enter.

To Enter just share this Giveaway (this page) on Facebook- Just hit the Facebook button below :)

 
 

& be sure to tell me in the comments here on the blog

We will announce the winners on the 29th of October

For extra entries (be sure to let us know in the comments):

     ☆ share this competition on other social media places such as your blog, twitter, pinterest, google, or other social network platform & leave me a comment.

    ☆ comment on this post HERE (and like our facebook page while you are there :) ).

☆Tell us what RAW means to you.

 Good luck- the winner will be drawn on the 29th of October ☆☆

Nurturing our Creative Cycles

Nothing grows without nourishment and replenishment.

Nurturing your Creative Cycles- Art is Magic

Somebody asked me the other day how I handle creative blocks.

Naturally the synchronicity of this question ties in beautifully with what I’ve been contemplating lately as we’ve been diving into the Creative Cycle and processes this month in Sacred Arts, 13 mOOns. I’ve been thinking about creative cycles a lot. I think creative blocks are for the most part misunderstood. Absolutely there are times and circumstances when creativity can really be blocked or stifled by something deeper, perhaps a careless comment from a parent or teacher, or maybe some trauma or wounding. Yet this isn’t usually what people are referring to when talking about creative blocks, usually they are referring to the natural ebb and flow of the creative cycle.

 
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Like any natural cycle of growth, which creativity surely is, it goes through many phases, from inception and gestation, to birth, growth, decline, release, death and rebirth (not unlike the phases that Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes in Creative Fire)- there are times and phases for all. It is the expansion (inhalation), contraction (exhalation) and the beautiful pause between. When people are lamenting their creative blocks they are usually referring to these times when the process needs to rest, to replenish, to gestate- so much creative work is done when externally it seems like nothing is happening-

in the darkness,

in the stillness,

in the quiet,

in the dream time.

It is part of the creative flow, and as artists, as creatives, as earth angels, we get to choose to flow with it, to ride the currents of its gifts, or push against it.

I’ve learnt to ride the currents as best I can. It takes practice. Our culture indoctrinates us into this idea of forward movement, of linear progress, of producing, of work ethic. And yet I know how “productive” my down time is, my rest, my fallow time. It feeds the part of the cycle that is more visibly “productive”. It primes me to be ready for inspiration. So I practice listening and allowing the fallowness to be. It is a practice which requires so much space and permission.

 
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In Sacred Arts we are making a creative oracle deck, a portal into the process when we are “stuck” with prompts that might help us nudge the cycle or sink into it. Sometimes what is needed is to step away. They say the muses like to find you at work when they visit but creative work can look like many things. For me stepping away while still working might look like doing something different, perhaps working in a different medium, learning something new, organising my materials, sometimes it might look like taking a nap.

Don’t get me wrong- I still have to work when I don’t feel like it, when I’m spent and tired, or when the muses are pulling in different directions- there’s bills to pay, children to raise, deadlines to meet and life to take care of, but I don’t show up to my “work” from this place.

I invite you to sink in to gracious space and permission around your own creative practice, I invite you to allow it to flow as it will, I invite you to ride the natural ebb and flow and I offer you these suggestions to support your own creative cycle and process.

Tips for working with Creative Cycles

  • Take a nap- some times we are just tired. I look to Mistress Willow Sage Locket, my master teacher in all things curious and restful for this- she shows me how to drop and rest, not drop and fret, not drop and toss and turn, not drop and worry over this or that, not drop and feel guilty about not being “productive” just drop and rest in any position. Even a 20 minute sleep is said to really lift your overall energy for the day.

 
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  • Rest, Dream, allow the quiet nothing- it is amazing what shows up when we create space. So many of my paintings or ideas come to me in dreams or when I’m just sitting in the garden staring into space. Trust this time.

  • Try a different medium. I’ve been delighting myself by playing with both ceramics and silversmithing the last few months. Trying something new has inspired and energised me and I know that each medium I work in cross-pollinates with the others influencing expansion in all.

 
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  • Shake things up- add some spice to your process, do things in a different way somehow, take a risk, do something bold, create an opportunity for happy accidents or new things. Even just take your office outside for a change, anything to interupt the usual.

 
 My office for in the garden for I N THE GARDEN- FLOWER STUDIES WITH THE MASTERS

My office for in the garden for IN THE GARDEN- FLOWER STUDIES WITH THE MASTERS

 
  • Draw for the meditative pleasure of it. You don’t have to be good at drawing to do this (although practice will certainly change that) or have an agenda- just draw for the pure contemplative pleasure f drawing- it will switch off certain parts of your brain, focus others and allow your subconscious to work on other things ready for intuitive creative practice.

 
 My piece created from Jeanne Marie Webb’s lesson in the  CREATIVE RETREAT

My piece created from Jeanne Marie Webb’s lesson in the CREATIVE RETREAT

 
  • Learn something new- Perhaps a new technique or a new process, either in your medium or another.

  • Go on an artists date. Visit a museum, take your sketchbook to a cafe or wander your surrounds with your camera.

  • Be with nature. Ahhhh Pacha Mama is full of such gifts for our creative process from modelling the cycles of ebb and flow to inspiring us with her wonder and variety to recharging us with ions, sunlight and beauty.

 
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  • Watch a movie or documentary about an artist. I love to do this when my energy is low but I still wish to be inspired, to learn, to stay engaged. And I get to curl up and rest at the same time. Perhaps this one, or this or maybe this.

  • Follow you curiousities. There is so much energy in what piques your own personal curiosities and following these can feel effortless at times and completely engaging and who knows how they might feed into your future practices.

  • Follow your energy. Listen in, check in with yourself, what do you need, which cycle are you in, how can you support yourself?

  • Take a nap :)- see 1, it is a cycle after all.

Exploring the Down Deep

As I’ve talked about the Down Deep I keep referring to it as the Beloved Down Deep because truly to hear what past participants are saying about it is to really know how beloved it is. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself, we made a short video:

Best online class I’ve ever taken!!! I can’t say enough about Fonda and her classes. Her Down Deep class not only was full of yummy techniques, but as a teacher she is one of the most nurturing and supportive and really gives so much of herself not only on her art but in the students journey in her classes. She is able to tap into places in your art that you may have never explored and she helps you push it even further. I can’t say enough about how much her class meant to me.
— Leslie Wood

And here is a little glimpse into the over 2000 pieces of art that were created during the first session of The Down Deep ( you can find more HERE)

Join us, the next session begins on the 24th of September (learn more HERE)

 
 

Giveaway- the Down Deep

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This Giveaway is now closed.


Thank you to all who shared about this course, we are so grateful that we have chosen two winners!! 💕🌸"Rose Ketring and Charissa van der Vlies who said “Thank you for this opportunity. Deep Down for me means delving deep into that hidden part of ourselves. That part we may not even be aware of. Our deep subconscious or that part that we have swept under the carpet. Those parts of us that need to be seen and loved. Creativity is a beautiful and healing way to nudge this part to show itself, to be seen and felt. To be balanced with the whole. Time to become whole, and get rid of the carpet. Let us paint on bare floors! Thank you for this inspiration.”


Woot woot- it's Give Away Time- and this time it is a place in the beloved class the Down Deep- take a look at these testimonials from past participants to see just how beloved it is.

To Enter just share this Giveaway on Facebook

& be sure to tell me in the comments here on the blog

We will announce the winners on the 15th of September

For extra entries (be sure to let us know in the comments):

     ☆ share this competition on other social media places such as your blog, twitter, pinterest, google, or other social network platform & leave me a comment.

    ☆ comment on this post HERE (and like our facebook page while you are there :) ).

☆Tell us what the Down Deep means to you.

 Good luck ☆☆

Freedom lies in BOLDNESS

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Emma Petitt's lesson in the Creative Retreat was such a fabulous and loved lesson that we've been chatting about her creating her own workshop and, Woot Woot, she has not only agreed but is so excited to do so.

If you want to go on the waiting list for when her workshop is ready you can do so HERE

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It will take Emma a bit of time to weave together her magic, a lot of work goes into these workshops behind the scenes but it will be well worth the wait. In the meantime there are two lesson's by Emma in the Creative Retreat, along with 17 other artists and here is a video where you get to watch one of her paintings come to life- it might look easy, but this is hours of painting condensed down to less than 4 minutes.

The Creative Practice- always exploring, always learning

I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.
— Vincent van Gogh
 Galia Alena's take on the lessons by Micki Wilde, Andrea Gomoll, Toni Burt, Jeanne-Marie Webb and Mystele Kirkeeng

Galia Alena's take on the lessons by Micki Wilde, Andrea Gomoll, Toni Burt, Jeanne-Marie Webb and Mystele Kirkeeng

One of the joys of a creative practice is exploring new ideas and trying new things, especially as a mixed media artist. So, of course, I'm was not surprised to see many of the teachers from the Creative Retreat weekend, also showing up as students and diving into the lessons from the other artists. Its part of the practice- taking inspiration, learning new things and incoroporating new things into your own practice and style.

 Kimberley Heil's take on the lessons by Shiloh Sophia, Mystele Kirkeeng and Micki Wilde

Kimberley Heil's take on the lessons by Shiloh Sophia, Mystele Kirkeeng and Micki Wilde

Naturally I couldn't resist sharing some of those here- perhaps they'll inspire you to continue to always be a student, perhaps they'll inspire you to continue again with the lessons, perhaps they'll inspire you to show up to your own creative practice, after all, it is a practice, and it requires practicing :)

 Fonda Clark Haight's take on a few lessons combined, Jeanette House and Pia Rom

Fonda Clark Haight's take on a few lessons combined, Jeanette House and Pia Rom

And I've loved seeing all the work that continues to be shared in our Facebook group, along with the wonderful aha moments, the break throughs- its so good when something you've been struggling with finally falls into place, or you discover something new that opens up new avenues to explore in your practice, or that creative block is smashed. Lots of these moments were shared in our group and we applauded each one.

 Jeanette House's take on lessons by Fonda Clark Haight, Galia Alena and Toni Burt

Jeanette House's take on lessons by Fonda Clark Haight, Galia Alena and Toni Burt

You can also check out some of the other work created by students over HERE & HERE  on Instagram.

 Pia Rom's take on the lessons by Mystele Kirkeeng, Galia Alena, Fonda Clark Haight and Kimberley Heil

Pia Rom's take on the lessons by Mystele Kirkeeng, Galia Alena, Fonda Clark Haight and Kimberley Heil

& you can still join us for the Ongoing Retreat if you wish to keep going with this creative practice.

Give Away Time

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Woot woot- it's Give Away Time- we are less than 2 weeks out from the {Free} Online Creative Retreat Weekend and to celebrate I'm giving away 2 spaces in the Ongoing Creative Retreat!!

To Enter just share this Giveaway on Facebook

& be sure to tell me in the comments here on the blog

I will announce the winners on the 3rd of July

For extra entries (be sure to let me know in the comments):

     ☆ share this competition on other social media places such as your blog, twitter, pinterest, google, or other social network platform & leave me a comment.

    ☆ comment on this post HERE (and like our facebook page while you are there :) ).

 Good luck ☆☆

And don't forget to join us for the

Free Online Creative Retreat Weekend Event