Burn it Down

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

A timeline of a creative process

  • Start Here* With a beautiful idea/goal/dream. I have received some sort of creative input from [insert cool Instagram artist my neighbor just told me about] and now there are endless possibilities and a kind of optimism that allows me to go out and buy that giant canvas AND despite trying and failing to find that damn email from Michael’s with the 40% off coupon, I don’t feel even a little bit harried, nope! and to the young innocent clerk, I lie and say “no big deal!” All the while holding tightly onto that *bliss* quietly chanting to myself “get it girl, you got this.”

  • A week or so in. There’s a good base coat of paint on the canvas and inhibitions are still miles off shore, best be safe and not stare too intently in that direction tho. Also far adrift is my original idea, what was it really about? It’s all getting kind of hazy. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ll just keep going and see what happens next.

  • WORK. the good sh*$. The ZONE.

  • Burn it down. Like truly, madly, deeply– I hate it. If there was a way to actually burn it without burning down my studio (littered as it is with paint soaked rags-yikes), I think I would have done it. So instead I paint over, or tear up, occasionally snip snipping it into tiny pieces, anything to move past that feeling of revulsion and despair.

  • (Sometimes I don’t, sometimes I just ride the feeling and give the work some space. )

  • (Sometimes I do. And sometimes after it’s all wiped out, including my sense of artist accomplishment and creative identity, there is emptiness.)

  • Reconciliation. There is accounting to be done, now this relationship has experienced conflict. And for that conflict it has depth and well placed holes in it’s jeans.

  • Wrapping it up. The “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” phase, that calls for picking up the pieces and making a bit of sense out of my composition and palette. At this point I am usually feeling proud of the work or at least fond of the direction I am headed, there is an end in sight.

  • The end? Hard to say. Phew, this feels like a lot of steps. In reality they can be all mushed up, out of order and repeating! But there usually is an END, and when I am there I almost always (all jokes aside) find release. A sense of “coming through” and catharsis.

What’s creating like for you?


Not gonna lie- working on setting up this website was a bit of a mental stretch for this elder millennial, part pain, part release, the familiar yet eternally unsettling ritual of trying to turn on the lights without knowing where the switch is mixed with the awkwardness of being the new kid in town.

Speaking of being the new kid in town, if you took a look at my adult life so far and decided to slice into it at any given point you would likely see me feeling like the new kid. For this post and brevity’s sake, I am going to focus on my “new-kid-ness” in the stunning Pacific Northwest.

In 2019 I up and moved from the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona all the way up to another suburb outside of Seattle, WA, where I soon learned it was all too common and none too novel to be “the new kid in town” with it’s influx of tech workers and their families. Since then I have been journeying to find my footing, especially as a professional artist. Is that what I am calling myself these days? I also like to say emerging public artist because it brings to mind creatures coming out of holes and struggling to shake off things.

Way back in “the before times” I worked in mental health as an art therapist, and there was a point in this transition where I had convinced myself that to move forward I was going to have to let go and eschew that designation. While I no longer feel this way, I recognize that there was mourning that needed to happen around letting go of a specific set of goals and dreams that I had been working towards. I feel more confident and comfortable claiming my roots in mental health and embracing my training with all it’s twisty turns and set backs. So, typically in CV’s I say something like: “My name is Tina and I am an artist, I have worked as an art therapist, family counselor, gallery manager, program director, independent artist and art instructor.” It feels like a lot of hats but there is a theme and I suspect it’s not out of the ordinary for my generation.

That’s probably more than enough for introductions, so I’ll let it be for now, on-and-off-again new kid out.

blurry selfie next to a work in progress inside my freezing studio