Archive for Cathy Hutchison

Gut Check | Did You Divorce Your Muse?

Posted in Love with tags , on June 11, 2012 by artlovemagic

Gutcheck Image by Michael LagockiEver wonder why some amazing singer-songwriters stop producing once they make it to the top?

I’m curious if sometimes it is because they divorced their muse.  Or maybe success simply pulls them away from those who once inspired and encouraged them.  Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum and as much individualism as there is to our art, none of us become great on our own.

What if in our quest for reinvention we sometimes divorce ourselves from the very people, background, or circumstance that drives the creator in us?  What if the loss of that connection costs us?  This isn’t about embracing unhealthy things that tear us down; it is about being conscious that we are not a solo act.  There are people around us who make us better. Who focus us, inspire us….make us who we are.

So gut check…Have you created distance between yourself and your muse?

Maybe it is time for a reconciliation.

Gut Check | What if this is all there ever is?

Posted in Love with tags , on May 14, 2012 by artlovemagic

Gutcheck Image by Michael LagockiWhat if this is all there ever is? If this is as much “success” as you’ll ever see, is your art still important?

You see, there is a gap between the market and the things that really matter. And while a few people are “discovered” (that is the market comes to their door and finds them), it is a bit like winning the artistic lottery. No matter how much you dream it, it might not happen.

So, check your gut. If this is all there ever is, will you stay in? Is your art important enough to keep producing it?

Margaret Wheatly, has a chapter called Fruition in her book Perseverance. It begins with: “Where does all our hard work get us? What’s left when our work hasn’t shown any tangible results, when we’ve failed to achieve anything noteworthy, when we’ve been disappointed by people, leaders, friends, ideals? A life of discipline and awareness, where we’ve exercised choice, served others as best we could, learned as much as we could bear–such a life yields a very rich harvest. The fruits of our labors are not to be found in the world, however. They’re inside us,in how we feel about self, the world, life and others…We’ve lived fully, we’ve experienced joy, we’ve had some fun, and we’d do it all over again.”

Is your art important enough to you that you would do it even if no one was watching? Would you still create?

We can become so focused on the end result that we forget that the art is part of who we are. Success never seems to look exactly as we thought it might. Every once in a while, we have to change our perspective, and figure out if we can release what we thought this would look like and embrace what is as enough.

Gut Check | What can’t you erase?

Posted in Love with tags , on April 9, 2012 by artlovemagic

Gutcheck Image by Michael Lagocki In the early days of my day job, we purchased the most expensive piece of equipment we’d ever invested in–a huge, beautiful teak conference room table.

Three weeks after it arrived, a pizza delivery man came with food for our office and as we awkwardly danced with pizzas, the receipt and a credit card, the delivery man set the piping hot stack of boxes on the table. The resulting scar mocked me at every meeting for the next 10 years. It was permanent.

Some things can’t be erased.

There is an art to accepting the unfixable–to assimilating it and making it part of you. (In the case of our company, the scar became a bit of company legend and a moral tale for putting too much stock in appearances.)

So, do a gut check. What is it that you simply can’t erase? Is it a physical limitation, mistake that you’ve made, life circumstance that you wish were different?

One of the most important things in your growth as an artist–or for that matter as a person–is to learn acceptance of the things that cannot be erased. And while you can often create “in spite” of them, there is power to embracing them and making them part of your art.

Anne Lamott writes that: “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.” Some things can’t be erased, and it occurs to me that artists are better equipped than most to take the flaws and make them into something beautiful.

Gut Check | What feeds you as an artist?

Posted in Love with tags , on March 12, 2012 by artlovemagic

Gutcheck Image by Michael LagockiSo much of our lives are spent on auto-pilot that we can get pretty far down the road and without realizing we are out of gas. We often don’t know we are in trouble until our gauges are below empty and that fateful spluttering of the motor takes us to a point we can’t ignore.

In your “gut check” you may find that as a “starving artist” you are truly starving. How long has it been since you fueled up? Chances are whatever fuels you is unique, but there are clues within your soul by looking for the things that give you joy.

Do you need a more steady diet of the small stuff like getting a new set of paints, the company of friends, time in nature, time spent alone in your home, browsing titles at the comic books store, soaking up pop culture on a couch in front of your TV?

Or is your gauge so low that you need a major infusion? Do you need to take some time off from your day-to-day to reconnect with the things you love so you can be energized again?

Feeding yourself as an artist isn’t something that you can relegate to the margins. Like food, you have to make it part of your daily life.

–Cathy Hutchison

Gut Check | What are you afraid of?

Posted in Love with tags , on February 13, 2012 by artlovemagic

Gutcheck Image by Michael Lagocki
Fear is the enemy of art and it comes in different flavors.

And no matter how tough we appear on the outside, we’re all afraid of something. Yet most often, we pretend as if we aren’t. Because it would seem if we acknowledge it, it might swallow us whole. (And it is much more fun to pretend in our heads that we’re Chuck Norris.)

As an artist, fear and the doubt that it produces, create daily battles. We fear failure, exposure, rejection. That if we were to admit it…we aren’t really good enough.

If we truly love our art…if it matters to us…then we have a lot to lose. And each time we put ourselves out there, there is the possibility that someone might think, “This is terrible.”

Hafiz–a Sufi teacher and poet in the 14th century–writes: “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.”

The best artists are courageous. They take risks in how much they reveal of themselves. Not because they banish all traces of fear, but because they “desire better living conditions.”

So do a “gut check.” (There is a reason we have the phrase “gut-wrenching fear.”) Can you identify your fear?  Expose it?  Fear likes to hide in the bushes trying to make itself bigger than it is.

Margaret Wheatley writes, “It is our curiosity that transforms fear. Most often it dissolves into energy that we can work with. And all because we were willing to develop a relationship with what at first, appeared so frightening.”

If you can learn to acknowledge your own fear and work alongside it, you aren’t guaranteed freedom from rejection, but you can be sure you have a better chance of creating something that matters.

–Cathy Hutchison

Gut Check | How true is your art?

Posted in Love with tags , on January 16, 2012 by artlovemagic

Gutcheck Image by Michael LagockiI have a friend who is an interior designer who paints. Most of her pieces are designs produced to draw rooms together, and while visually interesting, they don’t evoke an emotional response. That is until she fought cancer. After all of the surgeries and chemo, she picked up her brush and a collage of mixed media and began to pour it all onto canvas. The work captured the polarities of how the experience made her feel about who she was. When she showed it to her oncologist, the piece was hung in the lobby. As people began to talk about it, my friend realized something important was happening with the work and began teaching others how to use the healing power of creating art to fight their own battles with cancer.

Art can go straight from the eye to connect with something deep inside of us. And because we as people–quirky, brilliant, flawed, twitchy things that we are–are all a collection of different life experiences, art connects differently with each one of us. But one thing is for sure, like the pieces done for interior design, nothing connects unless there is something true in the piece.

Author, Anne Lamott, admonishes people to “stop writing as if your mother is looking over your shoulder.” This is true not just for writers but for visual artists and musicians. We can get into a rhythm of creating what we think we “should” create or what is easy for us rather than allowing our human selves–the deep stuff–to be revealed. And there is something about the deep stuff…our hopes, dreams, fears, pain and insecurities–all of the stuff that makes us vulnerable–that is universally true.

So do a “gut check.” Are there things keeping your work from being “true”? Get quiet enough for a moment to explore on the inside and see if you are giving your art total access to your soul. Are the barriers what others might think? Are we hiding behind walls that keep us safe?

True art always goes for the connection. And only what is real is able to connect.

The Night Art & Coffee Stole Christmas

Posted in Artists, Deep Ellum, Love, Magic, photography, PR, Shows with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2011 by artlovemagic

We had an amazing night on Saturday 12/17/11. We celebrated Christmas with the artlovemagic fam and about 150 our of closest friends.

Thankfully, event photographer Robert Hold documented all facets of the evening and took some beautiful photos while doing so. And photo booth photographer Kelsey Paine set up one of the most amazing booths we’ve ever had, complete with winter snowflakes shooting at the attendees from a canon-like-object.

We mixed up some of the best photos from both photographers here, and have links to the full sets at the bottom of this post. Enjoy.

The full set of Robert Hold’s event photography can be seen, downloaded, and ordered here:

The full set of Kelsey Paine’s winter photobooth photography can be seen, downloaded and ordered here:

A special thanks to the good people at Life In Deep Ellum & Mokah Lounge for providing space for this event.

Getting Unstuck | Fight the fear

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 14, 2011 by artlovemagic
Image by Cathy Hutchison

The thing about art is that it is bi-directional.  Musicians need an audience, writers need readers, and visual artists need eyes to see what they’ve created and hearts to be moved by it. This bi-directional nature of art is terrifying for the artist.  Your art is deeply personal, and rejection of it is by extension a rejection of you.

Our friends celebrate our art. They see the beauty of our lyrics, our paintings, and our poetry because they love us.  But reaching across to connect with those who don’t know us is a different thing entirely.  What do we do when the recipient isn’t safe? The odds of rejection are high.  And that scares us.
For those of us designed to create, we have to fight a daily war on fear.  I love what Steven Pressfield writes in his book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

 Do it or don’t do it.

 It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution.

Give us what you’ve got.

The battle against fear is worth it because at our core this desire to create isn’t just a hobby it is a calling.  And there is purpose to that calling.  Will people reject you?  Of course. Because it is always easier to criticize than to look at a blank sheet of paper and pour yourself onto it. Critique without contribution should be measured as it is: a bid for power by those who refuse to create.  Critique by those who love us has value, because they know our capacity and want us to reach that. Don’t fear the critique.  Assess where it is coming from.

More importantly remember that you have a gift to offer that is uniquely you.  If you don’t create, something important goes missing.  And that is something we should all fear.

:::Read more of Cathy Hutchison’s posts in the Getting Unstuck series.:::

Getting Unstuck | Do things you know are good for you

Posted in Love with tags , on November 14, 2011 by artlovemagic

I was at a conference this week with a popular speaker who talked about how vulnerable you get when you are tired.  He said that suddenly exercise, eating right and sleeping–things he had once thought were overrated–were now a big part of his life so that he was healthy enough to live his dream.

There is something to that.

While most of us would never write a $10,000 check when our bank account has $2 in it, we regularly write emotional checks and time checks that our souls and bodies can’t cash.

Artists are especially vulnerable to this.  We resent routine and all that it implies. We love to break the rules and push the boundaries.  That streak of resisting the ordinary and ignoring the “should” is part of what makes us great.  It allows us to say things that others leave unsaid and engage the soul at levels others can’t touch.

But when it comes to our most important asset…our physical being…we need to fight our nature and get better at the “should.” Self-destructive patterns will ultimately destroy our art.  And we know what they are–because they are uniquely personal to us. It can be as simple as running on a diet of coffee and nicotine or as complex as engaging in harmful relationships.

The “unhealthy” can leave us stuck.  And quite frankly, it is easier to ignore the patterns and pretend like we don’t have control. That it is happening to us rather than a situation we are creating.

We control what we put in our mouths, if we carve out time to rest, if we find a physical activity we love. It is up to us to get help with our addictions, to choose healthy friendships and to embrace the small things that create joy.

There is a romance to Van Gogh cutting off his ear and there is no doubt that the Kurt Cobain’s of the world produced powerful music.  But for every great artist with a tragic story there are a thousand the world never hears of because they self-destruct before they have the opportunity to truly become great.

Engage the strength of will that creates your art as a positive force for your well-being and find out where that takes you. You may unlock things you didn’t think possible.

:::Read more of Cathy Hutchison’s posts in the Getting Unstuck series.:::

Getting Unstuck | Show up

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 10, 2011 by artlovemagic

It’s embarassing really.  Sometimes our “stuckness” is our own fault. For as much as we talk about our dreams and aspirations, if we were really, truly honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that most of the time we don’t even show up. We get trapped in our heads with all of the the reasons we can’t do our art.  So we fail to create.

I was reminded of this recently while reading a review of Jon Acuff’s book, Quitter: Closing the Gap between your Day Job and Dream Job.  I WISH someone had given me this book in my 20’s. The advice is all the stuff I learned to be true the hard way instead of having it gift wrapped and handed to me between two covers.  Here is what the reviewer had to say:

I feel like a jerk telling you to read this book. I loved reading it but hated the implications. Jon Acuff cuts right through all the crappy excuses that we put between us and our dreams. This book haunts me a month after I finished it. I can’t fritter away time on the internet anymore with a clear conscience. I wake up earlier so I can take time to write and focus my thoughts for the day. I find myself trying harder and doing more work at work. It sucks. I miss my life as a slacker.

Acuff writes from his own experiences not in a show off way but in a clever way that gives him credibility. I laughed and cried a little, but in a cool way, not an overly emotional wreck kind of way. Acuff is ridiculously likable which is probably best for him because if I didn’t like him, I might try to kick him in the shins for suggesting that a work ethic in your current job will help you prepare for your future dream job.

If you’re taking time to read this review, you obviously have time to read something more substantial like a book. Go ahead and buy Quitter. Read it yourself. Give it to your whiny friends who can’t figure out why they’re not living their dreams. Call your brother or sister and read it to them over the phone. Give it to your kid in the basement who thinks it’s normal to live with parents 10 years after graduating from college. You could also do what I did and give this book away with a break up note to your boyfriend, gently implying the relationship is doomed because he won’t put away the X Box and become a grownup. So yeah, buy Quitter once, buy it twice, buy an entire case of books. I know you know people who should read it. My guess is you might be one of them, too.

I agree with the review.  If you find there is a gap between your day job and your dream job…or if you find you aren’t creating simply because you are failing to show up, this book is a healthy dose of laughing at ourselves and a great interjection of advice to be able to move forward.

:::Read more of Cathy Hutchison’s posts in the Getting Unstuck series.:::