Processing Loss Through Your Art

A gentle warning before you read this. This was supposed to be a celebration article, but things happened that led me in a different direction. You might find it sad.

Stick with me because there is a message here that you might need. Maybe not now, but someday. And I promise that there is a happy ending.

Thank you in advance for allowing me to share this story with you.

©Carol L. Myers, Now. Encaustic monotype on Kitikata paper, 20 x 16 inches. Used with permission.

©Carol L. Myers, Now. Encaustic monotype on Kitikata paper, 20 x 16 inches. Used with permission.

15 Years of Art Biz Coach

This week I celebrate 15 years of writing a weekly email to artists, which I mark as the anniversary of Art Biz Coach. The newsletter is now posted here on the blog where you’re reading it.

It was on March 25, 2002 that I sent my first private email as a sample to artists I found on the Internet.

I remember the reply from one person: “How did you find me?!” She thought it was a little creepy that I found her online – as if her website were supposed to be a secret.

I don’t know of anyone who was sending a weekly newsletter to artists at the time. Many artists appreciated it because it was exciting to get email about the art business and feel connected.

Those were the days! Now we don’t need more email. We don’t want more email.

This is one of the many reasons why I’m extraordinarily grateful that you invite me into your inbox each week.

You’re busy, and now there are many other business tips out there for artists. I don’t take your trust for granted.

I can’t promise this newsletter and corresponding blog post will go on forever. I can’t even promise they will happen next week. But I’m pretty proud that I have never missed a weekly issue. That’s 780 newsletters if you’re counting.

I take this seriously.

I fired my first virtual assistant because she didn’t get my newsletter out on time. By golly, I promise it on this day and it should be delivered on this day!

This week’s newsletter – the very one you’re reading now on the blog – was a close call. Here’s what happened.

You Have Something To Say

My delightful father-in-law passed last weekend. He wasn’t well, but it wasn’t imminent. His passing capped off a week in which I said goodbye to my sweet kitty, Dharma, and – I can’t make this up – had my first car wreck in recent memory.

©Pattie Byron, The Journey Within. Copper, stainless steel, steel, and powder coat, 16.25 x 10.25 inches. Used with permission.

©Pattie Byron, The Journey Within. Copper, stainless steel, steel, and powder coat, 16.25 x 10.25 inches. Used with permission.

If bad things happen in threes, circumstances can only get better, right?

You surely wouldn’t blame me if I skipped my weekly missive, and I am not writing this to prove a point or to maintain a perfect record.

I’m writing in the middle of this turmoil because I have something to say.

I watch many of my clients deal with illnesses and deaths of loved ones. Several in the last few weeks alone.

We need to know that it’s okay to grieve. Everyone deals and heals at his or her own pace. Take as much time as you need, and don’t let anyone tell you how to mourn.

Me? I needed to work this week. I’m processing these major life events by writing about them.

I wrote in my journal about the joy I got from both Dharma and John. It was important to do so before it was too late – before I forgot why they took up such a big space in my heart.

You might need to make art to process loss. The art might be about your loss, but it might be about something else entirely.

In an undergraduate painting class, I started a canvas about a scene that I wanted to remember with my older cousin. He had just been killed in a private plane crash.

The painting, in a word, sucked. Come critique time my wise professor said that it might be too soon. I was probably too close to what had happened.

Life Happens, But The Daffodils Will Still Be Here

Life happens while you are busy making other plans. – John Lennon

Life happens, and the world moves on. But, man!, it has changed. It’s a different world than it was before your loss.

©Robin Herst Rose, Fire Water. Photograph. Used with permission.

©Robin Herst Rose, Fire Water. Photograph. Used with permission.

It feels like a crueler world – until you accept the generosity of those around you. Posting a photo and small story of Dharma on Facebook helped with my healing. I was home alone while my husband was away with his sick father, so I soaked in the kindness of my friends and “friends.”

Knock social media all you want, but feeling this love was such a comfort.

It might also seem like a darker world. Until you open the door and walk onto your front porch immediately after your beloved furry friend  dies and – I can’t make this up, either – witness the first daffodil of spring open right before your eyes.

Your Turn

If you have a story about processing grief, tips for those who are grieving, or would just like a warm-and-fuzzy virtual hug, please leave a comment.

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187 comments to Processing Loss Through Your Art

  • Dear Alyson,
    Sending you hugs and prayers! I have noticed that life events of loss tend to cluster together. Then suddenly we experience many experiences of heightened awareness of love and beauty. Just like the daffodils that came into your view, just when you needed them! You have the self-awareness to take care of yourself in response. I love the work that you do. Peace to you and your family as you deal with these significant losses. ❤️

  • Diane Pool

    It seems like you have been part of my life, my link to validating my creative self, since forever. I just checked olde emails and though cannot find any since you began starting The Art Biz Coach, since 2006 your support has given so much valued continued strength–in spite of my being a ‘hanger-on’, not myself as a mainstream producing artist–now, in particular, my heart goes out to you.

    Since 2002 my work has been with rural Filipino children, introducing them to art, literature, their own creativity, while doggedly hanging on to my own. My husband (22years older) died after 34 years of deeply rewarding marriage, and left me in a foreign country built aboard the sailboat for a home/way of life. I do still love where and how I live (aboard since 1984-here in the Philippines since 1999) but am, still, essentially, alone in more ways than one.

    My grieving process has been long and confusing but your connection has been a large part of the healing process. This is what is important to tell you:

    You give so very much of yourself, Alyson…so now, so much love is being returned, as you deserve to reap.

    I bless and and am eternally grateful for all you have given to me during my own dark hours when I have had nothing to return to you. In those hours, art has healed my soul, piece by piece.

    Art is the answer to healing all our wounds and celebrating our humanity.

    Please pass on my sincere condolences to your beloved husband in his grief, also. Love is Love, equally precious where ever life form we find or pour ourselves into.

    sincerely, much love,

    • Diane: I cry as I read this. You give me a great deal in return just by being here and reading this. Thank you so much for being here with me all of these years.

      We don’t have to do this alone.

  • Dema

    When my Aunt and cousin passed away, they were like the family rock of the family because they were always there. I started a painting in pastel to express my grief with the intention of burying the picture with them. But strange things happened as other family members viewed the paintings other members also opened up to recall the better times. needless to say the paintings are hanging on the wall of the son-in- law. They brought comfort to many.

  • Dear Alyson,
    I am so sorry for your losses. Nurture yourself gently in this time. Thank you for sharing your grief. We lost our gal Luna late in 2015. I am creating in prose and paintings who she’s been with us. Often it is painful and and cathartic even joyful. She was a white shepherd. Our loved ones will remain alive by sharing our beloved memories of them. Blessings to you in this sad time.

  • Alyson
    I am sorry to hear of your father-in-law’s passing and the events that followed. It is true that things usually happen in three’s. So things should settle down a bit for you. Take time for you and your family. I truly understand
    The last few months have been extremely stressful and busy for me. Life comes to us in gentle waves as well as tumultuous ones. It builds our strengths and helps us to be more pliable and resilient.
    So take care and grow in understanding. Accept and grieve until the beauty seeps in through the fog.
    It will.

  • My heart feels your pain, Alyson, and I’m so sorry. I hope I can share this little story… we lost our big Goldendoodle, Charlie, two months ago. While we knew he had Canine Lymphoma, it had been in complete remission – until very suddenly it wasn’t. We have always had kids and dogs, and lots of love for all of them; in no way am I comparing losing kids and dogs – but losing this big boy devastated me. Then, not a week had passed, and we were kneeling at the Communion rail at church, in prayer – and suddenly beside me, kissing my cheek and putting her paws on the rail was a lovely big service dog, who had left her master’s side – something she would never do. At first I was laughing and horrified at myself – laughing (to myself) at the Communion rail! Then it quickly became tears; it really was a God thing. The owner was appalled; the congregation, most of whom know us, was almost as touched as we were. It really made a difference, that little moment…and thanks, Alyson, for all you do and who you are.

  • Also I am sorry for your losses. I noticed a long time ago that they come in threes: losses, appliance breakdowns, accidents – not necessarily three of the same thing, but three things that are difficult.

  • I am sorry for your losses. There are those times in life where the challenges just keep coming! Four years ago, I taught a workshop the week after my daughter died. Friends who came to the funeral from out of town helped me to prep for the workshop. If I worked in a full time corporate job, I would have had to be back to work at that time, so why should it be any different if I am self employed? I’ve tried to do art around the subject of my daughter’s death but have not been able to. I wrote about her here”

  • Grieving is unique to each person. When my parents passed three years apart, I enjoyed looking at their photos, hearing and telling stories about them. I couldn’t get anything done in the studio. I hope you take whatever time you need.

  • Marsha Halper

    Dear Alyson,
    I am sorry for the loss of your dear father-in-law and your beloved Dharma.
    Sharing your experience through words, creating art, talks with friends and family, walks outdoors… all can be ways to be kind to yourself as you work through the grief.
    In the moments when you feel that the sadness will never end, gently remind yourself there is ebb and flow. As there is with creativity — which you so ably coach us through.
    I wish the best to you and yours as you heal from your losses.

  • Karen Leso Hegglin

    Good Morning Alyson,

    My heart is grieving with you, yes, let yourself take as much time as you need. Grief is a journey, sometimes long and sometimes shorter. You have a wise grasp of where you are and what you need to do, blessings upon you and your family.
    Karen Leso Hegglin

  • I’m so sorry for your losses, Alyson, and I admire your determination to reach out for support from those of us who you’ve helped so much. Death of loved ones is just about the toughest thing we’re called upon to bear and we all deal with it in different ways.
    When my beloved cat died you’d have thought i lost a child. One thing that helped was collecting the best photos I had of him and making a little Blurb book to memorialize him. I dealt with some of the grief over a family members alcoholism by journaling about it, then shredding the journal pages and making a set of unbound collaged pages into a book. Art heals. Looking at beautiful art can provide solace and making art can provide a way to get the emotions out.
    We are so blessed to be artists!

  • My condolences and appreciation for the wonderful work you do. Thank you and bless you!

  • Deborah Watson

    Dear Alyson,
    Sending prayers for you and for your husband as you go through the process of letting go. May many fond memories help to fill the empty places in your hearts. As others have said, be sure to take care of you in whatever way helps you get through the days.

    My sister passed away as a result of a devastating, wretched, rare disease the day after Christmas this past December and I know how very emotional one becomes when you lose someone very dear. It took me a couple or so months to feel creative again after much, much time feeling sad. Part of my time grieving involved putting off some projects I knew I should have worked on, but just couldn’t bring myself to begin ~ one being something I didn’t feel very confident to undertake. Unfortunately, that client was not very understanding and she became angry and belligerent, telling me I was being very unprofessional. After much thought – and a few more tears – over the situation, I thanked her for her past kindness, told her I doubted that our paths would cross again and wished her all the best. It was after I sent that message that I realized a great weight had been lifted from me. Some clients are very demanding and needy, and at this time, my own emotional state and healing were most important. Right or wrong, I lost a client, but perhaps gained a little more confidence in knowing that I don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every request – I don’t have to be a ‘pleaser’; that saying ‘no, thank you’ is okay and is better to do sooner, rather than later. So, while you find comfort in writing and carrying on, please know that ‘no, thank you, not right now…’ is an option if you need to step back.

    I’ve been one of your followers from almost the very beginning of your Art Biz journey and feel protective of you although we’ve only met once and talked on the phone a few times…
    Take care, dear Alyson.

  • kate

    You have to say what happened to the community you have built, we do feel for you. And it echoes, I was poking around on the computer about to go visit my Dad who has advancing Parkinson’s. It’s been like an ongoing loss for 10 years which began on the tail of losing my little sister and my own breast cancer in which I lost my breasts and pre-menopausal hormone life. Art has been the constant and as people, relationships, years have been lost my art has gained and bloomed and crystalized.
    Your article made me think, When I visit my Dad, I am going to see what I can do to help him process. He can still talk and has a beautiful turn of phrase and riches of the heart. Ultimately we all lose our self as we know it. It’s so clear to me now. The art need not be directly “about” the loss to help us. It helps us because it’s fun to do and it’s ours.

  • My condolences on your losses. Loss is always a shock, even when it’s expected. You have to do what feel right for you at the time. There are no right or wrong ways to grieve, just your way.

    Art can help immensely. I made the mistake of stopping creating art after my father died. I was 17 and in the middle of A levels (Final school exams). I was doing my art and had struggled with the preparatory work while he was ill. It all seemed so futile. I failed the exam and didn’t try anything for about 4 1/5 years, by then I was “rusty” and lacked the motivation, so my efforts were sporadic and consequently I never felt they were any good. 23 years later, I was struggling with working, young family and a special needs diagnosis on my son. I quit the work I was doing with the intention of returning when things were more settled at home. In that time I started drawing again and realised what a mistake I’d made giving up earlier. Creating art helped me to process all the emotions. It also helped me to face the emotions.

  • My mother-in-law died beginning of February. I still haven’t processed it.

  • You are brave to say this. We all benefit. I am deepened to read and feel the deep truth of your life that you share unflinchingly. Thank you, AS. I will create a little more bravely today as a result.

  • Greif and Loss

    Grief and loss are part of me
    Creative companions who have come with a fee

    They take me down to a kind of numbness
    Confusion and anger and eventually kindness

    Compassion and forgiveness are the keys
    But you can’t arrive at that without sailing the seas

    Leaving home at the age of twelve
    Losing more family than books on the shelf

    Making new friends in a strange new place
    Losing more family and forced to save face

    Leaving there too and lost for a long time
    Distractions a wanting working hard for a dime

    Climbing out of this despair by doing the work
    Curling in sometimes because it really hurts

    Finding no one who could possibly understand
    Looking and not finding a concrete plan

    Breathing and thinking and getting clear
    Writing and painting about what I hold dear

    Finding the ladder out of the neurological grand canyon
    Finding my way with myself as companion

    It comes and goes this grief and loss
    Here with me now but no longer the boss

    It’s a new day and a new way to think
    Time for some warm coffee my favorite morning drink.

  • Alyson,
    I am so sorry for your losses. May the warmth and beauty of spring comfort and heal you.

    When my father died I created a whole series of clay sculpture about our relationship which had been difficult. I was a single mom at the time and teaching 24/7 at a boarding school. My studio was in a dark basement. I would go down there and cry while I was working on the art. It helped a lot to turn my sorrow into something visible.

    Now with this daunting challenge of ovarian cancer making art has been almost impossible. It’s been as if there was no creative energy left for me because all of my energy was consumed by the disease. Oddly I was much more worried about my complete lack of creativity than about the cancer. Finally in the last three weeks I’ve been able to paint some. It feels like renewal. And according to my last CAT scan a week ago there is no residual disease.

    But a HUGE sustaining aspect of the healing process has been the support I have received online. Even if all someone did was click ‘like’ on Facebook it was a connection and acknowledgment. A hug across the cyber world. I’m so grateful.

    And if things come in threes which I also pay attention to, then I’m done! In the last two years I’ve had three major surgeries. Both shoulders and the cancer. So now I can get on with the rest of my life!!!

    Sending you love, strength and healing as you cope with your sadness.

    Hugs to you,

    • Liza: You’re so incredibly amazing. I know what you’ve been going through, and that you took the time to reach out and care for someone else is … as I said … amazing. And exactly like the Liza I know and love.

      I am so looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks. Xoxo

  • Everyone says “I’m sorry” I’m sorry Im sorry…what really does that mean?
    Is it just lip service to an event?…so I’m NOT sorry , I’m gratetful that we can all learn from your story and those of other and here is mine.
    I lost my brother in law a few weeks ago and my sister who was 10 yrs younger than him, always knew he would go before her. She did NOT grieve, cry, feel bad etc etc. she was relieved, she needed to fly , laugh and be happy that he went without more suffering and thus started her new life right away. I”m sure that after 30 yrs of happy togetherness, tried might sneak its way into her life but for now I found much inspiration in her attitude to grab life and move on…it was a relief to me not to have to “feel sorry” but enjoy things with her, have fun with her and keep on living….part of that might be to do some watercoloring together soon, who knows, she might inspire me again…

  • I’m so sorry for your losses. Several years ago I had both parents, best friend, favorite aunt and uncle all die with 18 months. Working was the only thing I could do to feel better. And, yes, the art I did about it was too soon and will not be for sale, but it helped me to process the losses.

  • Hugs. <3 You speak to us so directly. |Even at this time of loss your words are falling on open ears. You are helping others to make it through. <3

  • Alyson, I’m so sorry about your family’s losses this week. Your post is so timely. Our children’s pastor and also a musician on our church’s worship team, was killed in a fluke, one-car rollover accident on Monday. He was 29, a husband and father of two very young children…a great young man taken before his time. I teach art on Wednesday nights to these same kids who just lost their pastor and friend. They were devastated, too and I really didn’t know how I would handle the class so soon after his death. We made multi-color handprints on several large papers which we will give as a tribute to our church and gifts to the family, but it was our conversations that were so rich and hopefully, cathartic. I had an impulse to ask them to share about their favorite memory of him and if given another opportunity to say one more thing to him, what would that be? One 4th-grader replied, “I will carry you in my heart forever.” We shared laughter and tears and I let them know it was okay to grieve and safe to cry. Wow, they blessed my socks off.

  • Jacqueline Perreault Gonzales

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your loved ones! I couldn’t believe the topic you chose this week, because my own father passed away two days ago! Not unexpected, but heartbreaking nonetheless. Thank you for those words of hope and the reminder that it’s ok to get through these days in my own way. Hugs to you!!!

  • Oh Alyson, I’m so sorry! Why do these losses have to pile on in a short period of time??

    Most people, specifically older adults, have experienced a lot of loss in their lives. Death of parents, in-laws, many beloved pets. The loss of my left breast to cancer; the loss of love several times. I am so very very grateful that all of my siblings are still living, and none of us has experienced the loss of a child.

    My father died when I was in college; he was 48. I was the oldest child and a Daddy’s girl, but it was complicated and we had unfinished business. His death was extremely hard for me and my grieving lasted a couple of years. My mother was 68, which I used to think was pretty old, but not anymore! We didn’t have unfinished business…the worst part was I just missed her so damn much everyday, and still do…it was 20 years this month. We mark these anniversaries.

    What I have learned is that every loss makes us stronger, and presumably better equipped to handle the next. It is so so sad, but yes, there are daffodils still; parents die but new generations of babies are born. Not so easy to be philosophical when it happens!

    My art has been one of the few constants in my life. Change is guaranteed…people and pets die; you have to leave and move on from homes, friends, lovers, jobs and places; you get older and feel like the same person inside but can no longer recognize your own body. I’ve been making art the whole time, sometimes expressly to deal with loss, like portraits I have done of both of my parents, but mostly not. My art tells the story of my journey and leaves tangible proof that I was here on earth.

    Big cyber-hug for you Alyson! It gets easier.
    XO Cynthia

  • Alyson, I am so thankful for the gift of your emails, in my mailbox. They are focused, challenging and nurture in me the joy and excitement of discovering and being the artist I am born to be. I was truly saddened to hear of your recent losses… As much as grief is a part of life, it is still difficult to process and accept loss. I just lost my Mom in November. What a hole she left in my heart and all who knew her. My Mom was my cheer leader and inspired so much of my venturing into the unknown with my art. It was a long hard road of illness for her and we cared for her at home until we went to live in hospice with her. We hardly left her side as she waited to wake in the awaiting arms of her Lord and King. There were many times we wanted to ask “why?” and Mom would say, “Trials will either make us bitter or better.” She fought her illness so bravely. I will miss her terribly. We need the tears to water our inner garden of gratefulness. When life gets hard, we ache for what’s real and embrace, remember and see anew that which we do have. Gratefulness then grows and takes over our garden making it virtually impossible for us to miss the gift of a Daffodil opening before our very eyes. Thank you for sharing that story! Anyway…back to the painting before me. 🙂

  • I totally get it. I’ve always used creating art – either painting or writing – to process grief of different types, recent or distant. It helps you move on and pushes your art forward too.

  • My most popular art print and card I sell most often is from artwork I made to honor the loss of my Dad. It reminds me each time how fragile life is and how sometimes art or a quote can say what we cannot say in that moment. I am incredibly sorry for your loss of both your family members. Xo

  • Keep a green tree in your heart and the singing bird will come. Author unknown.

  • Dear Alyson, I’ve been taking your courses and reading your newsletters for many years now, we’ve never actually met, but you feel like an old friend. I feel for you, the passing of your kitty, and your father in law, and your car! and love that you noticed the Daffodil.

    I have one story to share. I had a week of sadness about 4 years ago, my most beloved horse passed on, and then a few days later my most beloved kitty. The horse, Illustrate, Illy for short had been with me from her first breath to her last, 27 years. I’m a trained Hospice worker, but this week was almost more than I could bare. I was standing in front of her grave, the dirt newly turned over, (horses graves are huge) and a loud but nice inner voice said to me, “Let’s see if we can make something out of this.” So I looked up, and noticed there were many large rounded rocks that were now scattered around, I got a rake, and began sculpting the ground, and used the rocks to out line the image of a running horse, larger than life sized. It took about an hour, but instead of a messy site, I now had something to see that made me happy. When visitors came by, it helped lift them up as well.
    Lots of Love -p

  • Virtual hugs. We have all been where you are – and words often do not take the right shape. Journaling is an excellent tool, and mnemonic device. Know you are buoyed up by us all – near and far.

  • Condolences and hugs on your loss. Being a parent to many furry creatures over the years, I get how much that loss hurts. You never forget them and always love them.

  • Cardinals. They always show up just when I least expect them and most need them.
    Love, Gwen

  • Kathy Johnson

    My heart goes out to you for the loss of your father-in-law and Dharma – both were family. It takes time to heal and as time goes on the memories become intermittent. Yet they can be devastating when they appear. It just takes time.

    My Mom was a gardener all her life. When she moved from the last house she told everyone to take all the plants that we wanted because they would be ripped out anyway. I filled up the bed of my truck, to overflowing, six times and my five other siblings did the same.

    In her last few weeks – it was March, and she kept asking “are the daffodils blooming yet?”

    She passed early in the morning. When I stepped out my door I noticed that the daffodils had opened that morning!

    I was doing 30 paintings in 30 days that month. I painted the daffodil and titled the painting “This One’s for Mom.” It will remain on my wall.

  • Hi Alyson
    I am sorry to hear of your loss. One cannot time such happenings and losses in ones life…… and one just has to allow oneself to feel the pain and accept the situation that you don’t have any control on. I have had my share of losses- of a child, parents and a very loving husband……..each and every time my journal and my art has helped me to release my emotions and immerse myself in another world.
    May you have the strength to bear the losses and May your father- in -law’s soul Rest In Peace.

  • Loss on top of loss, and then a car accident! BTW, are you physically okay from the accident? I don’t see anyone asking about that.
    In 2003, we lost my Mother-in-law, then my mother exactly a month apart. Two months later, we had to “put down” our cat after a long illness which we tried in vain to control with medication. The second day of the month, which was when all these happened, became a day to dread. But the days when you can barely get going, or spend time crying, gradually get fewer, and the memories of your loved ones become something to smile about rather than shed tears over. It takes time. Right now, work helps you cope, but grief can be weird. After a couple of months, it may cease to be effective, and you may need to take some time off. No shame in that. Do what you need to when you need to. Don’t let anyone tell you when you should be “over it,” because we all grieve in different ways, and at different rates.

  • Thank you for your post.

    I am a sound artist (aka musician, specifically a professional flutist), so not the typical audience for the blog, yet I find many of the posts can be transferred to my work in the professional music world.

    In September 2015, I miscarried my second child, Robert Jerome, at 18 weeks and 1 day. Pouring myself into projects has kept me sane in the year and a half since RJ’s passing. In May, I will be recording an album of music that has been my particular expression of the emotions I have experienced around the loss of my son. It has been an incredibly powerful, healing process.

  • Alyson, may the new season of Spring wrap her arms around you and comfort.

  • Hi, Alyson:

    I’m sorry you’ve had a week that gives you such sorrow. I love, however, that the little beauties of life can still catch your attention. That seems to be the way I’ve lived my life too – so that a chickadee’s song can lift a mood.

    I retired from 50 years of office work at the end of December and settled myself to enjoying painting. That May, our oldest son was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer, and he died last September. I had started selling prints and paintings at our largest local farmers market, and my son said,the day before he died, “Don’t stop going, Mom; you need the distraction.” So I kept right on going.

    In January, it must have been delayed stress which literally and figurately caused my intestinal fortitude to fail. I’ve taken three months off, partly to get my physical health back on track, and partly to process his loss. I even stopped painting for two months, but I’m getting back to it, and am feeling better.

    Thanks for your posts and the valuable ideas you offer. I really appreciate them.

    Sending love.

    Barb Holmes
    Barbara Pottie Holmes Art

  • Aurene Wilford

    Thank you for your mails firstly. I really enjoy reading them. We have just moved countries and I feel like I have left my life behind. Thus has derailed my art as I know no one in the USA and have no idea how to get myself out there. Regardless, I wanted to share with you how I fully empathize with loss and you art. My daughter has recently suffered a terrible trauma and I painted the worst painting ever trying to deal with my emotions. Sadly, it’s of tulips which I love, but even my sweet husband says they are ugly…. ! Like you, I think it’s too soon to paint the experience, I’m still too close to the raw rivolting facts.

  • Magdalena

    Dear Alyson,

    My heartfelt thoughts for you, your husband and family after the loss of your father-in-law, and your Dharma. How are you from your car accident? I know you may be shaken, but hope you are physically alright.

    Alyson, I’ve received your newsletter since 2005? And it was a grounding for me within a reality that was well…My Beloved of 20 years was fighting gallantly an illness that ultimately took her life in 2007. This past week I marked the 10th year of her leaving this dimension. And am completing her portrait for her birthday next month. I could not bear to begin it until now. It does take time for the pain to change enough to look/see again.

    Time, I found changes. There is the time/life before and the after time as I had to create new bearings in this life. And the painting? Yes, it has helped me, supported me, creating a space for my tears, and pain.

    So, what has helped? In the beginning simply breathing…in…out…and drinking water definitely helped as well as gentle massage from a safe, and gentle massage therapist. Others have said this, and it is saying “no” to anything that feels overwhelming or that you simply do not want to do right now.

    Thank you for being who you are to our community, and for reaching out now and letting us know what your going through, sending you a warm hug, Peace to you dear Alyson.


  • Our condolences to you, Alyson. We lost a very Dear family member a few years back and our silly ol’ lovable cat petunia not long after. They are missed! We know you miss your loved ones as well. John and Mary Prout

  • I so feel your pain and understand your need to work. My husband went through a series of health issues a while back, some of which were very serious & scary. I needed to work, yet I could not focus enough to work in my typical realism. That was a breakthrough point for me as I ventured into abstraction. I had no preconceived ideas, I just needed to be getting paint on the canvas. I worked until I felt the pieces were visually complete. Then I stepped back and immediately realized what the imagery meant. I was somewhat stunned. This continued for close to a year. Piece after piece, just painted from the gut, yet I could tell you what each image meant AFTER it was complete. It was healing and helped me through a difficult time.

  • Caroline Cutler

    Thank you for sharing, in spite of grief and pain. Blessings and God’s peace be with you. A sad day, indeed. My friend lost her 25 year old daughter today. It’s cruel and cold, but it is. We must believe there’s a better place on the other side.
    My daughter lives in Golden. I’ll look you up on one of my visits to your darling town.

  • Leslie Stewart

    Sending love and comfort to all who grieve. While my husband was in the hospital battling cancer in November, our 42-year-old son died, leaving behind a loving wife and 6-year-old son. She sent a photo last night of a drawing the little boy had done at a children’s museum given the prompt “What does bravery look like to you?” He wrote “Living in somebodies <3" and then drew a picture of him and his Mom before a dark slab that he said was "The door to I-don't-know." Both figures were smiling. XOXOXOXOXO

  • Peace to you and your family as you grieve. My experience is that grieving shuts down my creativity. Took me months to get back into painting after my Mom passed in December 2014. Now I can feel her cheering me on while I create and get serious about the business side of being an artist.

  • Dear Alyson, Peace and healing to you and your husband and your family. Thank you for sharing your story. I have lost both parents as well as beloved four-leggeds, and I am deeply grateful to share that they visit me in my dreams, so I have a chance to give them a hug. It’s not virtual, it’s real. I am blessed.


  • This is the perfect occasion to let you know Alyson that you have been an important part of our lives for a good while.

    Your influence has been strong and will be durable. You have united many of us artists a in ways that you can’t imagine. I am still in contact with friends I made after signing up to one of your camps on line and also in Colorado.

    As I read all all these expressions of love and compassion I realize how important it is that we as artists support each other. I also have been going through difficult times health wise, 10 major surgeries in the last 20 years… at the moment I am learning to live with something I have never heard of before, “Foot Drop” (both feet )which brings major life changes and challenges… finally like you I had to put my loved cat Chloe to sleep a couple of months ago! Life has a way to hinder the goals we set ourselves to achieve, but art is our antidote, the one thing that entices us to keep going.

    I am sorry for your losses and the accident Alyson, hopefully time will help you heal from those unfortunate incidents.

    Please forgive me dear readers if this writing is not as grammatically correct as I wish as I still working to do a good job at writing in a lenguaje that is not Spanish.


  • Roz Strauss

    Alyson, I join the many other artists who are sending love and comfort to you, and hope that you find lots of uplifting signs along your way to recovering. I have found that in the most difficult of times, somehow the Universe lets you know you are being supported – whether it’s a white feather in a strange place, or a song on the radio that has special meaning…
    I also want to thank you for your dedication to the weekly email which I value immensely, and which has seen me through 3 major losses. Please take extra care of yourself after all these shocks you have had.

    And while you honour your grief, keep noticing those “daffodil” moments. They will be there for you.

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