Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Interview 6: Chris Zydel

I happily fell into the beautiful world of Chris Zydel a few months ago. I was immediately captured by the depth of her sharing and BAM! my artistic journey changed. Her blog, perfectly named Creative Juices Arts, is absolutely filled to the point of overflowing with wisdom, beauty, and total yummy'ness. If you are interested in the journey of The Artist and/or the idea of Hearting Your Art, Do not miss visiting her blog - even if you're not, don't miss it anyway!

I deeply honor her open and authentic spirit. She is changing lives in ways so magnificent that words cannot fully express it. I know, because she changed mine and I'm only ONE of MANY! She is a thread woven into the tapestry which gave me the courage to open this "Heart Your Art" campaign to others. Thank you Chris!!!!!

Chris asked me to mention a retreat that she will be holding in May in Portland Oregon with sound shaman Fabeku Fatunmise called ARTSOUNDYOU!

Chris adds, In this workshop Fabeku and I will be combining intuitive painting and drumming/working with sound to help people come more alive, connect more deeply with their intuition, become more creatively self expressive and experience the power of art and sound as tools for healing and transformation. Plus it will be all KINDS of fun. Here's a link to the sales page: http://creativejuicesarts.com/3741/
Sounds like a fantastical journey!!!! (heehee - sorry, my silly humor) Only The Universe knows the true impact you're making....but I have a good idea that it's immeasurable!

The past:

How long have you been arting?

I have been in an ongoing process of identifying myself as a creative person which started about 23 years ago when I was in my mid-30's.

Have you always hearted your art or did you struggle to do so?

I have definitely struggled and continue to struggle with accepting my creative expression. When I was younger I was what Julia Cameron in her book the Artist's Way called a "shadow artist." I was attracted to artists and surrounded my self with people who were painters or writers or musicians but it took me a long while to to say "Yes, I too am an artist. I too am a creative person."

If you did struggle, how long did it take for you to heart your art?

I'm much better now, but it's a daily practice to appreciate my own unique artistry and to accept myself as I am creatively.

What was the process you went through?

I did a lot of therapy. And I took classes that were oriented around creative self expression as a healing modality, which is what I now teach and offer to my students and clients. Through that process I realized that there was a big wound in my family around creativity, and that was one of the reasons it was so hard for me to claim my own. And why I am so very PASSIONATE about helping other people become more joyfully creative.

Has there ever been a time when you stopped arting because of this struggle?

I never really stopped in a big way once I got started. But my stopping and starting happens in little ways all the time. I'll get busy with my work or freaked out by some creative project that I've got planned and am afraid to get going on. But I really can't stay away from it too long. My muse is an absolute slave driver!!

I also see my creativity as something that's really reflected in my whole life. It's in my business and the workshops I create . It gets expressed with my clients and how I decorate my home and the way that I dress. I really do feel that my life is my art. Which doesn't mean that I always like what comes out of me. There are certainly some days I'm happier with what I create than others!!

Family and Friends:

Is (or was) your family supportive of you and your art?

I wasn't really in touch with my art when I was younger but now that I'm an adult my family is very supportive of my art. They don't always understand it but they are very proud of me for doing it.

How about friends (past and present)?

I have been very fortunate to have extremely supportive friends in my life both in the past and currently. Like I said I was always drawn to and surrounded myself with other artistic types and they were always happy to have someone to play with creatively!

I was lucky that the people in my life were not threatened by my creativity. However, I've always had an extremely strong commitment to my own healing and personal development, which meant that I participated in things like therapy groups or healing circles or expressive arts communities. Because my friends usually came out of those experiences it meant that we shared values related to supporting each other's growth, being real and prizing authenticity.

Describe the type of support they have provided?

They were genuinely interested in what I was doing and excited for me that I was doing something that I found so meaningful. They listened to me, encouraged me when I was down, gave me and my art positive attention and believed in me, oftentimes more than I could believe in myself at the time.

If you haven’t received support, how do you feel that this has effected you and your creativity?

Because I have received so much support it has really allowed my creativity to flourish. And when I got together with my husband 15 years ago, who is the most creative person I know, his ability to be behind me unconditionally took my creativity to a whole other level of development.

But I have seen what happens when people don't get that kind of no holds barred love and enthusiastic encouragement . And it's not pretty. I saw it in my parents and I see it in my students and clients. The creative process does not thrive very well in a vacuum. It really needs to be witnessed and championed and cheered on. And that is why in my work with my students and clients I continually cultivate circles of creative nurturance where artistic types can come together to fortify and inspire each other to keep on creating.

I think it's also crucial to recognize the difference between supporting someone's creative process as opposed to their creative output. People need to feel that what they create has value, yes, but even more they need to know that what is REALLY important is the fact that they are engaged in the creative process. The creative outcome is just a by-product of someone doing the good and holy work of tapping into and expressing from their creative source.

Outside Influence:

How much influence does ‘the outside’ have on your feelings about your art?

That whole realm of how people respond to my art is just so tricky. And it is complicated for me by the fact that part of my artistic expression is reflected in the classes and workshops that I teach as well as in my writing, which is the artistic form that gets the most visibility. I show my visual art some, but the creative gift I want to give to the world and that I want to be received and valued and found useful is the gift of my words, thoughts and language. I am on a mission to try and teach people about how to have a healthy, satisfying relationship with their creative process and I do that through my writing.

I certainly want people to appreciate and value what I have to offer creatively. And it makes me happy when my art ( writing) is well regarded. But, I also know that if I want my artistic life to stay vital and alive, I need to have my first allegiance be to my own vision and muse.

How does positive feedback effect your feelings?

In some ways it's more dangerous to me than criticism, because I can find myself getting hooked into wanting and craving the approval. A little bit ago I wrote a blog post that got a lot of attention and comments and was passed around on Twitter, etc.... lots of positive feedback. And it kind of drove me crazy because I wanted to figure out why everyone liked it so much so that I could do whatever I did again!! The thing was I couldn't see any objective difference between this post and others I had written. Which meant that I couldn't figure out the secret formula.

I read it to my husband and asked him to help me make some sense of it. He just shook his head at me and said "Honey, you're trying to control the response you're getting here and it's just not possible. You need to let it go. Who knows why it got so much attention? You're job is just to write, no matter what anyone thinks. Maybe they like it, maybe they don't . That's none of your concern."

It was like he threw a bucket of cold water on me in the best possible way. I felt like I woke up out of an approval hungry stupor. I realized that he was right and I was able to let it go. At least that time.

How do you deal with negative comments?

I am pretty lucky in that I don't get very many negative comments on my art. In fact, I can't really remember the last time I got a negative comment on the art itself. I don't like criticism and when I do hear it, it stings a bit at first, but for some reason I'm able to shake it off pretty easily. I figure if someone doesn't like what I do it's really not about me anyway. I just wish I could develop that same detachment around rave reviews!!

How do you deal with your art not selling?

Where I make my money and what I am selling are my classes, workshops and retreats. Which I do consider my art! When they are not filling as much or as quickly as I would like I a.) mope around for a bit feeling sorry for myself b.) complain to my husband who gives me a pep talk to snap me out of my self pity and c.) beef up my marketing efforts. And try to remember that how many people sign up is not always up to me.

Sometimes I have waiting lists for classes sometimes I don't get as many people as I want, but when that happens I have to remember that there's a method to the universe's madness. I just held a retreat where I had two unfilled spots but the people who did attend formed a community that was so amazing and dynamic and perfect in every way. It was obviously the group that needed to happen no matter what other bright ideas or expectations I had on the subject.

The Now:

What is your current experience with hearting your art?

I love my art. I really do. I just read a blog post I had written out loud to my husband and it made me cry! Because I felt touched by my own words. And I love myself for having the courage to continually be creative. Even when I don't always like what I have produced.

Do you still struggle?

Every day!

What do you do?

I just keep going. When I'm struggling it's usually because some version of the inner critic has got me in it's clutches. And I know that the worst thing I can do is to give into the critics fears and insecurities and stop creating.

How do you survive the moment and continue arting?

Sometimes I get mad at the critic and stomp around and yell for a bit. That's always great fun and can help tremendously in breaking it's hold on me. It gets the energy moving and allows me to snap out of the negative critic trance. Sometimes I will call a friend or talk to my husband for moral support and cheering on. It helps to get a good dose of "You can do it, go girl!!" kind of thing. Mostly I just keep my ass in the chair or in front of the easel, writing the next word or painting the next stroke. I know that if I don't abandon myself and my creative project, if I simply I stay with it and keep moving, even when it's frustrating and hard, that I will eventually move through the stuck place and find myself back in the joyful creative flow.

Do you compare your work with the work of other artists?

Oh yes. All the time! Even though I know it's a complete waste of time because I can only do what I do and be who I am creatively. However, sometimes the comparison and envy of someone else's work can be useful because it is showing me a direction that I need to go in or something I want to incorporate. A year or so ago I was comparing myself with bloggers I had encountered who were very open and vulnerable and personally transparent in their blogs. Now that I'm doing that more in my own work I don't feel the same need to compare.

How do you deal with comparison from others?

If someone is comparing themselves unfavorably to me I always remind them that what they are doing is incredibly valuable . And that they have something to offer which I don't because I'm not THEM! That they are just having a hard time seeing that right now. And then I turn it around and appreciate and acknowledge them for who they are creatively.

Do you have a process for your inner critic?

See above.

Do you know the ‘what’s the point’ jerk? How do you deal with him?

A swift kick in the behind. And then I give him a cookie and something to distract him.

In what ways do you feel the struggle to heart your art has manifested itself in your life?

In my classes I talk about how claiming your unique creative process is an exercise in developing radical self acceptance and self love. And that if you can find that level of trust and acceptance in your artwork it will also spill into your life where you will find yourself trusting your intuition and your desires and your choices. So the more I can love my art and my creative self expression the more I can love and accept myself. There is a very direct correlation between those two things for me and I think for most people.

Where do you believe this struggle comes from - what do you believe the root is?

I think the root of the struggle to be creative is inherently a spiritual struggle. Our creativity comes from spirit. It really isn't ours in an ego sense. It's our daemon, our genius, our unique connection to the source of all that is. It comes from our essence, our soul and from something larger than our day to day self. Which means that we can't take credit or blame for how it shows up or comes through us. We get in trouble when we forget that and either try to control it or judge it or think that we are undeserving of it's gifts . Our job is to try to stay open and trust and to surrender to the creative flow. To be it's instrument. To recognize that we are it's humble servant, that it has a job for us and that we will be much happier if we just get out of the way and let it do what it wants and needs to do.

What is your best tip for someone who struggles in this area?

Try not to take yourself so seriously. The muse loves to play and have fun so let her play with you. Try to remember who's really in charge here. Believe me... if you just let her boss you around and have her way with you I GUARANTEE that you will have a much more fulfilling creative life. And a lot less struggle. If you get into a wrestling match with your muse, you are going to lose every time.

Is there anything further that you’d like to add?

Thanks for the opportunity to share some of my experiences with the creative process with you and your blog readers. This was a lot of fun!!


  1. this was a most amazing heartwarming (or should i say artwarming??) interview - thankyou both so so much!

  2. thank you for doing this interview...i truly honor and respect the words that Chris wrote and use the same like minded thinking..when "we" try to live in the "control" it will never ever work, we must surrender to the creative spirit that lives in all of us!


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