We all come from different backgrounds, but what is the story behind art? How can creativity together with the search for a greater meaning be formulated into conscious art? We sat down with Amy Louise Saha, and she shared her story and artistic background for giving an inner calmness to life. Awakening art is just one of many examples of how to create meaning in life.
What is your background and story?
This is a great question, because part of my creative quest right now is to objectively see the story I am telling myself about my life and who I am. My name is Amy, and I'm a 36-year-old Caucasian female from the suburbs of Portland, Oregon in the USA. I am married and have the coolest and smartest daughter in the world. I grew up with an abnormally supportive family; however, I became my own worst enemy in spite of it. My inner critic began chipping away at my confidence starting around age 13. I developed many different ways to distract myself from my critic including a long list of soft addictions. I am creative and tenderhearted and at the same time selfish and impatient. I started higher education at an art college and ended up with a degree in communication studies, which is actually hilarious because communication, especially written, is my biggest challenge. I began getting commissions for charcoal drawings in high school and continued doing them sporadically throughout the years until after 36 jobs (36 jobs!) at the age of 30 I quit jobs altogether to draw charcoal portraits for a living, mostly of pets. Two years of drawing for a living left me feeling drained and discontent. I sought work as a nanny for the man that would become my current husband. Suddenly, I didn't have to create for a living and I didn't know what to do with myself. My critic had been appeased by the level of mastery I achieved in my drawing, and as I began dabbling in new territory, she was reawakened and angry. I believed all the nasty things she said about me and my art. So I silenced her with the newly legal marijuana that became readily available. It was during a month-long Artist in Residence and yoga retreat at the Ananda Center Laurelwood that I was introduced to Awakening Arts. I loved it so much that I flew to Italy two months later and stayed for three months, taking the Awakening Arts Academy's 'Transformative Arts Certification' program. I returned from Italy six months ago and am excited to teach my first Awakening Arts elective class next month.
What was your conscious aspiration to work with your creativity?
I took Artist Way (a course in removing creative blocks) in high school that helped me to choose art as a career choice, but two years into a BFA, I took a U-turn and decided that art wasn't practical or valuable. I was afraid that if I did art for money, it would take the fun away. Creativity had become a challenge rather than the joyful, carefree play I had enjoyed as a child and teenager. Additionally, I thought, who was I to do art when people were out there starving or in the grips of war?! I didn't realize that I had to do art. Even when I was creating with a screaming inner critic, and when I was creating for a living, I was happier than when I did none at all. As I got silent and sober, I began creating and listening to my critic, but with detachment from her, even gratitude at times. She just wanted to be heard, so I gave her some attention and she got increasingly quieter as I created. After one class with Awakening Arts founder, Dana Andersen, I was feeling immensely creative and totally free. I knew I had found my next path. I am experiencing new spiritual and artistic energy that joyfully flows through me with ease and I can't wait to start sharing that joy.
What makes you keep going with your work?
This work is the hardest and easiest I have ever had. Art is inner work, which is why I found it so indulgent in the beginning. Some days it feels like work and the other things in life drown out the muse, but more often than not I have a deliciously connected, deeply spiritual experience. I am taking the time to develop a relationship to my Self so that I can become a better listener, friend, teacher, mother, and person. When I take care of myself and love myself I can give infinitely more than when my critic's in charge. I am constantly finding new ways to get in my own way, but this work gives the drama I attach to a form. The Transformative Arts process allows me to learn what I truly want and need. I am grateful for all of my weaknesses because they help me to see and the more I can see the more I can help others to see.
How have your creativity developed during time?
I have consciously cultivated creativity at various times in my life, but most specifically while leading Artist Way groups. I knew that I wasn't alone in feeling blocked and creatively frustrated, and I learned something new every time a retook the course. Since I started out with a natural aptitude for drawing it came to me easily, and I thought that's how creativity worked. I was "good" at it, so I internalized that as the source of my value. Unfortunately, that translated to "I'm not valuable if I'm not 'good'". The groups I lead were pivotal in my understand of where these beliefs came from, but I still wasn't authentically creating. It wasn't until I found Awakening Arts that I learned to get out of my head, get away from beliefs and judgements and just move. As I physically move my body, with or without music, I am moving energy and that same energy is either going to bounce around inside me or I can let it out with color on paper, singing and movement or building a sculpture. I have taken another U-turn back to the core of creativity, to the place where I am not the creator, simply a channel.
If you could give advice to young artists, what would it be?
Art is a practice, not a product. It is a beautiful adventure, a personal relationship that you get to cultivate with your own precious self. It's a way to notice what words can't express, to see what feelings look like and most importantly, it's a way to connect to the Divine.