In the past I’ve entered this expression of blogging because something was gnawing deep inside to get out and be shared. A specific experience, story or “ah-ha” accompanied with an urge to be acknowledged through words. Today, it’s as if my heart is clogged up with so many occurrences swirling around in my mad mind I only can be clear that I’m here because of my need for time with the written word. The writer in me yearns to take center stage as I work through and assimilate not the month or season but just the last 10 days.
Serendipity, chance, luck maybe a large serving of them all generously given by some source outside of myself. I attribute this moment to how a baseball player must feel after throwing the perfect game. As if velocity, speed, endurance, focus and the perfect zone has come over my artist and in just a few moments in time years of work have been translated into an exchange of resources, acknowledgment seeing my labor expand away from me, this dream becomes my reality and then grows past me into the lives of others.
I contemplate this strange feeling of emptiness and abundance. This last week I delivered a large part of my personal work to new clients.
Loading up hours of brush strokes that had attached to them pieces of my soul. Each work had a story of a time and place to which life was brining me inspiration to which I grew. Some of the pieces reminded me of past love, my children when they were younger and needed me more, hard lessons and mental obstacles I’ve face but mostly these pieces where created in a time before I had choose this work as my full time profession. These works expressed a simpler more naive version of myself. When being an artist was a way I spent my time just for me.
Back then my studio was a sanctuary I would hide myself away from the world and be in private conversations with the quiet voice within. It was a time before my physical body showed signs of dis-ease when I was free and unmasked to use any material to express the rawness of my emotions.
I was naive to what the future held for me, the journey I would take and the courage that would one day reveal itself through this dynamic world of living ones greatest dream. Seeing the new home to which these pieces a long time ago were created and realizing that what seemed like individual works created over the space of years where strangely a full collection and would stay together, would privately live together and seeing them bring joy to the new owners ironically built from some of the toughest of life lessons yet today bringing color and excitement to their personal space. Witnessing the energy of alchemy; my intention to take that which was dark and translate the energy into lightness! My individual expression is acknowledged as I find the courage to let these works go with the faith I will be inspired once again and my studio walls will not be barren but the emptiness is actually a sign for a new reality. Space now opens to express again!
After making the emotional journey of releasing so much of myself in a moment I quickly shift gears into the part of me that shares my artist with others. The conceptual artist moves in as I design and prepare to facilitate one of the largest projects I realized in the past 24 months. Working with what has become one of my favorite clients feeling the energy build up to pull off this feat as life tosses me curve balls. After years of swinging at whatever ball is thrown, I realize the depths of the very message I speak in my work, about the importance of the creative mind and the powerful tool it can be utilizing it in more ways than designing my work. Needing to be in ultra focused mode and hit each mark I’m reminded life has it’s own designs. The hours and days become messy. My motherhood is called forth to parent a sick child, the weather becomes damp and humid delaying each stage as I yearn for the hot Texas sun to help in the drying process. Time reminds me of the continuation of each moment and lack of control I have over space without a bull pen behind me life shows me that my conviction alone will be the driving force which will accomplish a victory. The only choice to make is to believe. Believe I am exactly where I’m supposed to be and everything is perfectly orchestrated, that my intention has sourced every moment for my benefit and the future will show me how perfect each obstacle is as a stepping stone for success. My intuition takes over as it guides me through and speaks calmness into my actions with the message to show up in every moment fully engaged and in some mystical way, sometimes illogical, even life will reveal a better plan than the best plan of the past.
The job is delivered, 450 people have been touched by my work. A new headquarters piece is now in full swing as the large expression is now moved into the finalization process in the only space I have large enough to house it. I’m back to where I began 11 years ago…my living room! I should have seen this moment coming as my current studio space tiny and mighty is being shared with the young artist of beARTsee and the open door policy for the community pushes my work back home in the private spaces to which I need to dance with this canvas.
In only a few days I’ve lived in both these scenarios as I barley have time to catch a deep breath before heading back to my real studio to host Fort Worth’s Bi Annual Gallery night. Revealing what 250 hours of summer art camp looks like, changing uniforms from individual artist, to facilitator artist and now standing on the mound of the outreach program Non-Profit beARTsee to reveal the works of the young artist who I’ve grown to love not just for their work but all of their messy little lives!
Together the community peaks their head in to measure and judge our work together. Seeing how art can be used in a therapeutic, fun, educational, emotional and inspiring way to touch the lives of young people and breath life into their personal journeys. There are days that the young artist inside me, the one that revealed 11 years ago, sees the same artist in these young people. The naive silly younger woman who thirsted to feel life. Who willed herself to muster the courage to take the journey into herself. Who fashioned a lifestyle unique to her greatest desires. The original desire was to feel life seemed simple. Intending to use art as a way to heal and develop myself. I didn’t see myself living out the reality I have today. Back then I couldn’t imagine my works leaving my own walls without an inkling someday my work would live in New York, LA and many places between that the canvas and paint would be the bridge for me to work with people all over the world sometimes involving translators to share my ideas. Looking back I thought what I wanted was simple. Just to know my heART. To be a contribution to myself and that my life would make a difference for others. I didn’t sense it was a dynamic dream because my sub-conscious hid that away from my logic. Knowing that I needed to emotional mature before realizing the expansiveness my dreamer was being. Maybe this moment is not about selling work, facilitating group team building, or sharing the mission of a grassroots Non Profit. Possibly, it’s about realizing I’ve grown to be able to consciously see the vastness of my dreams. The balance between my logic and creative minds have surrendered to each other, no longer vying for more attention, but willing to work together to understand more fully who and what I came her to be.
This week was like the perfect game. Every aspect of my artist; my individual canvas work, my corporate work and my non profit work not only was realized, each one captured it’s greatest victories. All in what feels like one moment in time. The past 11 years converged, opened up and received the fruits of many years of labor.
I write these final words feeling odd emptiness almost like the one that first spiraled me into this journey. I’m comforted by the wisdom I’ve collected knowing that the emptiness is not hollowness. It’s actually the expansion of my consciousness, the new space to which the next game will be played. My logic is on my side these days measuring and judging what all this means. It tells me that then next 11 years will be built from all the experiences of the previous. New work is bubbling up inside each new piece will also be a reflection of every brush stroke that escorted me into this moment. Every tear will be represented in new joyful experiences. This blankness in my heart is a sign not of disconnect but of new beginnings; an open sign to be more of who I’ve been. Knowing that not every time on the field is a perfect game, which is not where success lies, but in the continuation of tossing out that next expression and always swinging beyond the fence!
Heres to Expressing Outside the Box!
Always in Love & Laugher-
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Brandi Cottingham Lives in Fort Worth, TX she is a mother, facilitator, speaker, writer and artist with a focus on using the creative mind as a powerful tool for creating the life of ones greatest dreams. Brandi travels across the United States designing Corporate team building, Community Art Projects, Weddings, Parties and individual consulting using Art as a metaphor for her powerful messages. To book Brandi for your event contact her at brandicottingham@me. com.
BeArtSee is a Non Profit organization using the labor of art for social change. BeArtSee Studio is located in the Crockett Row Development at 827 Currie St., Fort Worth, TX 76107 through the collaboration of local Fort Worth Artist Brandi Cottingham & Vestar Development for Carlyle/Cypress West 7th LP.