The Nica Artist Way

“Creativity lies in paradox: serious art is born from serious play.” ~Julia Cameron

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Retiring abroad has enabled me to look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different. It is one of the many creative paradoxes in my life on the island. I alternate between imagination and fantasy, yet living in a third world country, I have a rooted sense of reality. So, when my artist friend, Sue, showed me her hand-painted silk scarves and murals she created to liven the streets and hostels in Nicaragua, I hired her on the spot to help me design a 15 ft mural to hang above my kitchen.

The first suitcase I packed when we moved to Ometepe permanently, was overflowing with my art supplies, paper, brushes, wood burning kit, and art books. I envisioned spending most of my time drawing, painting, and writing from the right side of my brain. However, to create one must work hard, but spend time doing nothing. I was spending a lot of time working hard, yet doing nothing to fulfill my passions in the art world.

Side by side with paint brushes swirling, splashing, dripping, and sliding smoothly across a fuchsia background, we meshed with a zen-like quality. I was feeling life, instead of merely being a participant. Sitting in my purple plastic chair, painting twisted leaves and trailing vines, the clouds parted, exposing a clarity and sense of wonderment…if only for a moment. “Is this heaven?” I wondered.

With Sue’s gentle guidance, I was able to see unexpected connections between life and art. I was learning to develop a sophisticated eye, yet see like a child. Eyes without preconceived notions, no abstractions, no stereotypes, no biases. Simple freedom without the price of war, like stripping away the armor…becoming butt naked without self-consciousness.

Creative people tend to be smart, yet naïve at the same time. Sue taught me this paradox without saying a word. Playfulness and discipline were our mantras. We shared good humor and laughed until we cried. We were openly vulnerable, sharing our joys and our sorrows.Then, spans of silence shrouded us with peace and comfort, while we joyfully painted our little hearts out.

“There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.” (G.K.Chesterton) This is art. This is life. I miss Sue. She’s returned to the states. I am so very grateful for her inspiration, her friendship, and her gentle guidance in the learning the Nica artist way.