Today I am excited to invite Wendy Cook of Mighty Girl Art to the blog, talking with us about her creative process and the inspiration behind her business! Wendy Cook is a visual artist whose disciplines include painting, photography, book arts, assemblage and jewelry. She has been exhibiting her art since 1986 and has been published in the US, Canada and the UK. Her work has been sold at charity events such as the “Postcards from the Edge” benefit for Visual AIDS of NYC, Northern Virginia Family Service, and The Fund for Women Artists. Wendy is also the founder and facilitator of Mighty Girl Art workshops for girls. Formerly a NYC native, she now resides in beautiful Northern Virginia. Trust me, you want to read what she has to say–her words on creation as a celebration, on leading others in their creative journey, as well as how to feed her soul as an artist and a mother have made my week!
YOU WORK IN A VARIETY OF MEDIUMS, WHAT ARE YOU CHALLENGING YOURSELF WITH THESE DAYS?
Yes, I do work in a variety of mediums because this is my voice and I liken it broadening my vocabulary. These days, I’m challenging myself by learning some new weaving techniques. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to a completely different medium right now but I feel pulled to explore it. I’m also working on a new canvas.
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP THE CONCEPT FOR MIGHTY GIRL ART?
Mighty Girl Art was birthed out of need, really. Over the years I kept hearing myself say, “there needs to be a women’s circle for girls, there needs to be an art retreat for girls, there needs to be a place where they can be themselves and explore the tools that creative women use to express themselves more fully.” I kept hearing myself…and eventually I started listening. That’s pretty much how it began. Mighty Girl Art is the very thing I wished I for as a young girl.
HOW DID YOU DEFINE THE MISSION STATEMENT AND GET STARTED?
Well a mission statement is what you feel in your gut, your bone knowing, what you feel called to do — that thing, though it looks different for everyone, is without question. Putting these feelings into words can be a challenge, particularly when your mode of expression is visual. I often get calls from women who want to work with girls and are looking for advice to get started. I like to direct the conversation to the very root of the yearning — that’s where all the answers lie — the wheres, the whens and the how tos.
A typical counseling session might look like this:
I want to work with girls.
Really! Terrific, what age group?
I think I want to work with teens.
I don’t know.
Ok well what was your teenage years like…
And then the mystery unravels…
That’s the soulful stuff, and once you’ve unraveled what is compelling you, it makes it easier to get started because everything else is just a matter of details and logistics.
In the muddled mess of this world, in the confusion and boredom and amazement, we ought to be able to spot something…an event, a person, a memory, an act, a turning of the soul, the flash of bright wings, the surprise of sweet compassion…somewhere we ought to pick out a glory to celebrate. – Samuel H. Miller
WHAT PUTS YOU INTO A CREATIVE MINDSET?
Ooooh, that’s a good question. I immediately think of the Samuel H. Miller quote — “In the muddled mess of this world, in the confusion and boredom and amazement, we ought to be able to spot something…an event, a person, a memory, an act, a turning of the soul, the flash of bright wings, the surprise of sweet compassion…somewhere we ought to pick out a glory to celebrate.” So to answer your question, the way I get into a creative mindset is I pick a glory and celebrate the eff out of it!
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
Inspiration is easy to find. It’s EVERYWHERE. It’s in the silk of the spiderwebs when the sun is low. It’s in the owl feather that I find near the creek. It’s in the way the light changes with the earth’s tilt. It’s in the laughter, in the touch and even in the tears.
WHAT IS A MAJOR HURDLE YOU HAVE HAD TO OVERCOME RECENTLY?
My major hurdle for me is an ongoing hurdle — it’s just living the life of mother, artist. The way we stretch ourselves as creative women, taking care of the needs of so many others and trying to find the time and energy to still take care of our own needs. I am afraid I still haven’t figured it out. Also, there is this need to create and when that muse strikes it commands our attention in the very same way a child does — it’s very similar — and still there’s dinner to be made and clothes to be washed. It’s a struggle. If one chooses her soul need over say…having dinner ready on time or the floor swept, is she perceived as selfish? I think what I would like people to understand about creating is that it’s not a want, it’s a need. I breathe because I need to breathe, not because I want to breathe. I create because if I don’t I will stop living.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR PERSONAL CREATIVE PROCESS?
My favorite part of my creative process is the very moment when the thing that I see in my head is finished and I’m holding it in my hands. It’s magical and euphoric. I mean, think about it…you have this idea that is not a part of reality and then your hands get working and eventually it is VERY real, very here. There are no words to describe that…it humbling and wondrous.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF TEACHING ART?
My favorite part of teaching…hmmm. Well, first let me say that I’m more like a sherpa than a teacher…I guide the girls safely to their destination, but I try to stay out of their way. I assist them in their explorations, but ultimately, the creative journey they take is all their own and beautifully authentic.
LASTLY, WHAT IS AN ACTIVITY YOU DO TO UNWIND/JUST FOR FUN?
Oh, what a fun question! To unwind, I really, really, really like driving up to the mountains and watching the sunset with a picnic dinner. It’s my absolute favorite thing. It relaxes me. I feel held and at peace.
Thanks, Wendy! It has been a joy hearing about your creative practice and endeavors!
Categorised in: entrepreneurs
Cassie Uhl is the founder and owner of Zenned Out, a jewelry company that handcrafts jewelry with meaning and provides a community that inspires a mindful and spiritual lifestyle. Cassie grew up with a open minded, astrology obsessed grandmother and a father that would take her and her sister star gazing in the wee hours of the night. These experiences shaped Cassie and Zenned Out into what they are today by bringing spirituality and astrology into the forefront. Cassie hopes to give spiritual souls a place to feel at home on the Zenned Out blog and offers handcrafted jewelry with meaningful symbols, powerful gemstones, and mindful quotes to enable people to wear jewelry that aligns with their souls purpose.