THE LUCKY 13!
What is something new you have learned about creativity by observing children?
I love the unbridled, enthusiastic use of color that flows in children's art. Children do not think about color theory; they use the colors that they love. It's not being fearless because it would only be that if they knew the rules and were intentionally breaking them. It is more that their perception of what is right is based solely on what they love. I've been taking that approach lately because life is too short to not wear the color your love or to not surround yourself with audacious color, patterns, and texture.
*In Mad Hatter terms* In a time when you lost your "much-iness,” what did you do to get your much muchier back?
I lose my much-iness when I consume too much and produce too little. When I spend more time reading the words of others and not writing and listening to my own words, I lose knowing who I am. When I spend more time taking workshops or watching tutorials rather than playing and experimenting with my own explorations, I lose knowing that I have something to offer that is uniquely me. When I get discouraged and numb myself with story, I lose the sense of my own story.
In those moments, it is important for me to turn down the noise, to step away from the cacophony that rings through the bits and bytes, to put blinders on and focus on my joy. I turn on the music that makes me move, I stand in front of my easel, and I listen to what is rumbling inside of me. Nothing brings me back to myself like moving paint. It creates the portal that I must step through to be transported back to my much-iness.
How does a regular creative practice infuse other parts of your life?
My creative practice is the center of a spiral that calls for me to travel in and out, around and about, in and out again. When I am consistently nurturing my creative soul, all of that energy travels with me. It makes me more aware of beauty and desire. It creates a longing and an attraction for more. When I feel that I am fully exploring my creative curiosity, I am more likely to have the energy to make beautiful, nourishing foods. I overflow with ideas for creating beauty in my home. I see color and light and shadow in the world that takes my breath away with the simple, ordinary, magic of being. I recognize patterns and see truth more clearly. When that practice gets ignored, my world is dimmed with a gray filter.
Do you practice any moon rituals? If so, please share.
I try to practice moon rituals. I like to pay attention to the moon energy and set intentions during the new moon and release what needs to go during the full moon. However, I usually forget until late the day of so my ritual tends to be simply a pause at the end of the day to acknowledge the moon phase.
When I remember, during the new moon, I will write out a few intentions, giving some attention to what I want to focus on during the waxing phase. I have grand intentions of having one journal to hold all of my new moon words but I have never made that into reality.
I am probably more faithful with my full moon practice which always involves fire, big or small. I prefer to sit around a fire and burn whatever I need to release. In the past, I have kept a burn box for papers where I've written things or for anything that represents what needs to be burned. If I can't have a full fire, I at least sit in front of a candle flame and visualize burning away what needs to go.
In the same way that I practice shabby hospitality, giving myself permission to be less than perfect, I practice shabby ritual. For me, the magic is in the intention, in the showing up, flawed and unsure, creating my own way of honoring.
What truth do you whisper to yourself just before you go to sleep?
This is MY life and tomorrow I get to do it all again. How lucky I am.
What do you consider to be home and how do you get there?
The immediate answers that come to mind when asked about home involve people and places, external things. That can be problematic. What if I can't get to those people or to those places? What if a marriage struggles or locations change or friendships end? At the center of those people and places is the feeling that I belong.
What does it mean to belong? I want to feel accepted yet challenged. I want to be welcomed yet released to wander. I want to be free yet tethered to a strong foundation. The feeling of belonging begins internally. Home is within.
I make my way home through the soul work of my spiritual, creative practice. This is my making art for the purpose of knowing myself, of listening to my inner wisdom, of nurturing trust in my own knowing. This is my art journal where I create and listen and collage and listen and write and listen. Listen. Trust. Breathe. Create the way home.
Is there a ritual you use to invoke your creative Muse?
I always begin with tidying up the studio. Taking the time to put all the things away, wipe down the tables, and sweep gives me the feeling of a fresh start, a blank canvas, creating space for creative energy to show up.
Then I set up supplies for whatever project is on the agenda. Making sure that I have all the things I need within arm's reach eliminates the distraction of searching for what I need and getting sidetracked with exploring a different brilliant idea.
The last thing and the most important thing is to choose my listening material. It all depends on the project and my mood. If I am spending time with the less creative work of prepping pages during journal making, for instance, I will listen to podcasts or audio books or watch instructional videos. If I am involved in the deeper soul work in my art journal, I will play something instrumental and less distracting. When I am at the easel, I am blasting music. I have a playlist for painting that is constantly shifting and evolving.
Name an artist that is currently inspiring you and share why.
I have recently been following the website, Bleaq, which curates artwork of a darker nature. It is the dark and twisty that is calling to me. It feels vulnerable to admit that and I don't know that my work is reflecting it but it is what feels right for now.
Specifically, these artists that have been featured there are stirring my imagination. Two are photographers capturing images that feel mythical and magical to me. The third is a painter who paints fierce warriors. These are all elements that I long to capture in my own artwork. I am being inspired to study the human body, to practice my drawing skills, to explore ways of seeing dark and light and to depict them well with paint.
Tell us about something beautiful you saw this week.
Instead of something I saw, I will share something I heard. My husband and I went to our local theater in our beautiful downtown to see Twelfth Night. As we left the theater, I heard echoing across the night sky the hoot of a Barred Owl. From there, the chase was on as we tracked down the tree and stood below it listening. It is one of the most beautiful nighttime sounds and feels as if something ancient is calling me from beyond.
Write us the opening lines to your next week.
In a world of unknowns, she sweeps up her hopes and dreams, collecting the remnants of what could be to use in creating what will be.
What color means something to you currently and why?
Turquoise. I have been in love with this color for years now and I never tire of it. I am constantly trying to figure out how to incorporate it into my home, into my life. Thankfully, when we bought our house, the walls are a beautiful pear green and a warm color-shifting butter yellow that in the evening light changes to a darker tone of pear green. Both colors look amazing with turquoise accents. Yay me!
Do you collect anything?
Other than art supplies? LOL!
No, I don't collect anything.
What’s the last great book you read?
In the rating five star rating system, I give very few five stars but one book I read at the beginning of this year captured my heart. A Wild Swan: and Other Tales by Michael Cunningham is a book of re-imagined fairytales. It is beautifully illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. The book allows an exploration of motive and understanding of the beautiful darkness of fairytales. I wept over it, I copied down quotes, and when I finished it, I held it to my chest with love.
Cynthia Lee is unapologetically a spirit uncaged, a perfectly fierce crone woman on a quest to abide in rhythm with her Spirit wisdom. Celebrating a convergence of paradox, she curates and weaves words, asking the deep questions. As an intuitive artist, she allows her inner wisdom to guide her through the creative and healing process of becoming a whole-hearted spirit creature.
Ultimately, all of her work is about calling forth women to reclaim their wild spirits and to proclaim themselves with an individual yet collective howl because the world is waiting for the wild woman wisdom to return.
In real life, you can find her living as wild and free as she can in the suburbs of her hometown in South Carolina. In sometimes more real life, you can hear her howl at her online home, cynthia-lee.com. Most often, you will catch glimpses of her wild spirit on IG @spirituncaged.
Thanks for reading this artist interview! These interview questions were written collectively by the 2016 Centerfold Artists. The Secret Message Society Centerfold Artist featured here also designed the centerfold pages for the current zine. The centerfold pages are one sheet of full colour, tear out guerilla art. You can cut them up and leave the individual secret messages around your community for others to find. Sign up to become a member of the Secret Message Society HERE.