Unnecessary Violence- random archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 1: Oct 21, 1992

My Journals:

I was born in 1962 and have kept some form of diary/sketchbook since age 6, but experienced a transformative relationship to my journaling in 1986 when I took Kitty Mykka‘s Creative Process class at Emily Carr College of Art and Design. She called our journals Image/Idea Files – that made sense to me. I now have a ludicrous collection of these files. Their purpose? They are not just for sketching, for keeping a record of life unfolding. A mother’s diary. They are a repository of anxiety. A safe place I can vomit out my despair, my observations, my joys, my doodles, quotes, my ideas, my trivial to-do’s, my bull-shit, my dark side, my anger directed at others and myself, my longing, my self-flagellation. I have always found journaling therapeutic. I realized the other day that they are actually my SHADOW WORK.

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Why “Unnecessary Violence”?

There is no greater bully who has victimized me more than me. I want to tell that bully that it is time to retire and shut the hell up. To tap the head of the bully and with an understanding smile, give it a stuffed animal and a comfortable place to rest for all eternity. Thanks for the lessons, but that’s enough now.

Shadow Work:

Taking it in its deepest sense, the shadow is the invisible saurian tail that man still drags behind him. Carefully amputated, it becomes the healing serpent of the mysteries. Only monkeys parade with it. Carl Jung, The Integration of the Personality. (1939).

The archiving is about acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work. Processing my projections and darkness.

The purpose of this daily project:

I am archiving the journals. Going through each one to remove excess bits and to wrap each one in a paper band and label them with the date. I am 58 now. Entering the (hopefully) wise chapter of my life. There are big personal shifts happening in how I work, how I create, how I am in the world in relation to others and to myself. To move forward, I will acknowledge the past. Once they are dated, I can see what my heart says about their legacy.

Are they letters to my kids?

Journal Start Date Oct 21, 1992

Cover

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Sample Page

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Sample Drawing

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Sample Writing

October 24, 1992

Took the kids up to Hollyburn Ridge for a picnic lunch. Wonderful! They complained just a little. No car sickness. Just a healthy, happy family! Growing up together.

I feel bad about things I think about my friends. I have such a critical mind. And I don’t feel good about myself in their company as a result, But I am consciously reforming, sort of. SORRY EVERYONE. Why am I being polite in my own fucking journal? Avoiding I___. She pisses me off.

October 25, 1992

Is there any hope for living artists? Who can possibly be original, an influence, a driving force? It is all pablum, chewed over and over and finally regurgitated out in desperate attempt to recapture the original thought. 

November 20, 1992

I feel such a spiritual connection to this house and those who have lived in it. And certainly when people enter it, they enter my life… Maybe that’s why certain visits exhaust me. T___’s visits never exhaust me. I___’s wipe me right out. What is it? Maybe a sense of tension on my part? On hers? My body trembles and feels violated. I recall her in the summer looking around my kitchen and at ____ saying, “At least I have everything.” Why did I not speak up, scream, demand to know what she meant? Didn’t I___ deserve my honesty? I didn’t confront or question. Did cowardice stifle me? 

Sample quote

“I’d see the bearded white man in the clouds. I tried to talk to him, but the clouds would just dissipate. He was unreasonable. He’d never answer me. In rage, I’d climb on top of the house and stand defiantly with a clenched fist raised in anger, shaking and screaming inside my head, “I’ll get you, you motherfucker, one day I’ll whip you.”

– Luisah Teish

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“She drank alone…” Journal entry

She walks– arms crossed, cold hands tucked into armpits, chin tucked into chest.

The familiar dark ink pool spreads around her feet.

She bends down this time. Curious?

Her reflection- just fragmented spirals.

She slips! lurching upward and backward, around.

The black ink fills her mouth.

Hog-tied, she lets out a fluid-filled silent scream.

A violent blow to the back of her head.

The angel sings

Do I hear 21, 21, 21…

I’ll give you 21, 21, 21…

Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub.

She floats now… in a soft pool of light, enclosed in a red tomb, bathed in an oxygenated salted sea,

Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub.

A shadow moves across the the field.

She inserts her thumb into her mouth and sleeps.

For Kajsa

 

The Sparrow’s Nest

Behold, within the leavy shade,

Those bright blue eggs together laid !

On me the chance-discovered sight

Gleamed like a vision of delight.

– William Wordsworth, The Sparrow’s Nest, 1807

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Chinamarker, ink, acrylic, watercolour, embroidery on newsprint (12” x 12”, 30cm x 30cm)

Ut Pictura Poesis- the narrative potential of the drawing

I draw pictures.

I imagine storylines.

I imagine a narrative, a comic, a screenplay…

There is nothing quite as on target as the prose I write in my mind when on the bus- whilst staring out the window to deal with motion sickness, taking in the landscape. But alas, those musings instantly disappear as soon as I pull the cord for my stop.

The difference between what I imagine for the narrative and what I actually create is… indescribable. I am incapable of bringing it to life. Yet, the passion continues, the ideas simmer.

I draw pictures. I draw voraciously. I don’t care if it is shit. I breathe. I draw.

Yet, I want to write. To write well. To tell a proper story. I want to write then illustrate to it. But instead, I am stuck in the visual- I seem to always illustrate first. Then the writing tries to appear. But the result is an unsatisfactory mishmashed scrapbook.

Is drawing a type of writing? If writing on paper is mark making, and drawing is mark making- perhaps I am writing when I draw? Is the narrative I seek actually embedded in the image, unfolding if you follow the line?

It is the business of the dramatist to make good pictures, and whether it be done by the players or the painter, what matter, so they be effective, and the story worth telling; and how shall they be better told than as the author intended they should be represented?

… the eye is to behold, and the mind to be moved… ut pictura poesis. – John Eagle

One must not be too romantic about madness…

Feeling burned out today from my bread and butter work, I decided to ignore my entire to-do list this evening, decided to not to catch up on things, to ignore prepping for the rest of the week.

Instead– I got my hands dirty, dove back into my research into mental health treatment 1940’s to 60’s and finished a sketch.

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Electroshock therapy unit

This current exploration is a natural sequel to my ever-evolving project: Molly- a true crime analysis.  

Molly’s younger brother, Joseph, was admitted to the Provincial Mental Hospital, in Essondale BC, on November 25, 1948 at 1:15 PM.  He was institutionalized until his death in 1963.

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DEATH CERTIFICATE CLOSEUP 2

Joseph’s 270+ page file and my historical research into his treatment is being developed into a visual thesis of some sorts.  How it will all look in the end is a mystery.  I remain passionate and mesmerized and grateful for “being chosen” to tell their story.

 

 

One must not be too romantic about madness, or the madhouses in which the insane were confined.  There is, under the manias and grandiosities and fantasies and hallucinations, an immeasurably deep sadness about mental illness, a sadness that is reflected in the often grandiose but melancholy architecture of the old state hospitals. – Oliver Sacks

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Visual notes: Patient No. 6, Psychiatric Diagnosis, 1959

As part of my research for a current project into mental health treatment in BC 1940’s to 60’s, I came across vintage psychiatric videos recently.

One particular interviewee has completely captured my heart.

Psychiatric interview series. Patient no. 6 : evaluation for treatment

Publisher: Los Angeles : University of California at Los Angeles, 1959.
Edition/Format:  Film : Film : State or province government publication  Visual material : English
Summary: A spontaneous psychiatric interview of a young lady presenting herself for diagnosis and psychiatric treatment. Camera placement emphasizes the patient and puts view in the interviewer’s chair. Produced for research purposes directed at the viewer’s communications.
Material Type: Government publication, Film, State or province government publication
Document Type: Visual material
OCLC Number: 7476159
Description: 1 film reel (30 min.) : sound, black and white ; 16 mm
Responsibility: produced for the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, by the Motion Picture Division, Theater Arts Department, University of California, Los Angeles.

Patient No. 6, age 21, is engaging, intelligent, alarmingly modern, and– though I don’t know them and their actual circumstance– I can’t help but feel they are a victim of their times.

The interview takes place in 1959, and the therapist/interviewer is gentle and is good at holding a safe space.  In the interview, Patient No. 6 seems reserved, honest, with a dry sense of humour.  They wear Levis, rolled up t-shirt sleeves, rockabilly hair.  They sit with legs spread, elbows on the arms of the chair and they lean forward.  They have an awesome style.

They have however been in and out of treatment and psychiatric hospitals since age 14, labelled with difficulties that include:

Antisocial and impulsive behaviour, promiscuity, lesbianism, illegitimate children (2 stillborn, 1 adopted, twins adopted, 2 in grandmother’s care), multiple marriages, drug and alcohol addiction, psychosis, runaway, theft, bad cheques, car theft…

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Treatments have included hospitalization, detox, medication, shock treatments and psychotherapy.

I created a mind map of dialogue snippets…

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4 years later, in 1963, Patient No. 6 and the therapist/interviewer meet again.  And again– though I don’t know them and their actual circumstance– I can’t help but see a person who cannot fully express their individuality and identity.

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My heart breaks for them as they reach for the handbag.  May I smoke?

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They do express the benefits of talk therapy and they seem to have found an understanding life partner and they are committed to their children.

I have two children that have to be raised.  I want them to be emotionally stable.

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I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this beautiful human being– so open and engaging.

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I do hope they continued to ride motorcycles and wear Levis. I do hope they had a happy life.

The sparrow is mightier than the machine

This morning, at the 23 bus stop in the West End, I heard the overwhelming LOUDNESS of humanity– cars, buses, construction, garbage container being dumped into a truck, a plane overhead, motorcycles.

Cutting through all that noise was the song of one little sparrow. One little sparrow with a song so much mightier and awe-inspiring than the machines surrounding us.

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China marker, watercolor, acrylic on newsprint, April 8, 2019

And at that moment, a lilting melody lifts to the moon as a single sparrow sings.
Lisa Ann Sandell, Song of the Sparrow

Drawing 3-D eyes and the human face.

Last Wednesday, I was invited by Susan Clements-Vivian to be guest speaker at SFU for the course IAT 208 Introduction to Drawing in SIAT.  The course is “an overview of the various forms and languages of drawing as both a critical and creative research tool.”

I did two follow-me exercises: 3-D eyes (using charcoal), human face (china marker).

 

 

The entire class was recorded and Susan gave me permission to share the raw footage here!  To follow along, you will need some paper, charcoal, a sharp edged eraser, a crayon and a china marker.  Enjoy!

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Huge thank you to Susan and all the participants!

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SOLD: “I saw the angel in the marble.” (Drawing on marbled paper)

ART SALE:

I received some gorgeous Italian paper from Terry and Kevin Cowan recently.  I let the marbled sheet guide my mark-making. No planning. Just unfolding. It’s my form of meditation.

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I saw the angel in the marble. (Katarina Thorsen, 2019)

20″ x 27″

China marker, acrylic, water colour on Italian marbled paper

ART SALE: $85.00 CAD (including shipping)

To purchase:

PayPal or e-transfer to britakatarina@gmail.com

(include mailing address)

 

Give yourself the opportunity to discover your own imagery

Dreams of my art being attached to some kind of imaginary romantic self-sustaining monetary outcome no longer serve me.  If my creative process is to continue to be my sacred practice, continue to develop, if my creative process is where I let go of attachment, let go of comparing myself to others, let go of control, then I also let go of those dreams.

Let

Them

Go.

And instead embrace the simple and healing journey of process.  Of self-discovery.

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From Revolution From Within- a book of self-esteem, by Gloria Steinem (1992, Little Brown and Company, New York, NY):

… But the point of the journey is not just the healing.  It’s also recovering the truest, most spontaneous, joyful, and creative core of ourselves.  If any of the stories you have just read strikes an emotional chord, that’s a possible signal from your inner self.  If anything in the present brings you unreasonable pleasure or sadness, that’s a clue, too.  The important thing is to make the connections between past and present.  And, of course, not everything is in our power to know.  We need faith in a future that will redeem the past…

… Any one of our human capacities, if unused out of fear or shame, leaves a small hole in the fabric of our self-esteem.  Think of the times you have said: “I can’t write,” “I can’t paint,” “I can’t run,” “I can’t shout,” “I can’t dance,” “I can’t sing.”  Since this was not literally true, you were really saying: “I can’t meet some outside standard. I’m not acceptable as I am.

… Give yourself the opportunity to discover your own imagery… your true self made visible.

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It’s not that I don’t know what to do.

Regarding my passion project Molly- a true crime analysis2003-2016 was all about researching, drawing, accumulating, writing, collecting.  2017 was all about creating an online weekly draft, telling the story with images, words and music in whatever way it unfolded, sharing it openly, publicly.  2018 has been all about allowing others in, and letting go of control, and hiding the project and process away so that those others could take a run at it.  The outcome of all this is still unknown.  I admit it feels odd and strange.  

But what has been brewing inside me is another version of the story– one that only I know how to tell.  And I keep pacing about it.  It’s not that I don’t know what to do.  It’s that I  KNOW what I am supposed to do and it somehow scares the shit out of me.

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2019– I am ready.

Keeping a “don’t know mind” is important during this time as you may be somewhat confused and in a state of not knowing. Let spirit and your inner truth, wisdom and intuition sort it for you. Let go of any attachment to how it is supposed to look, who should be in the picture and how it needs to unfold.

There is freedom in trusting that everything will land where it should so take some time and enjoy your life, enjoy your community, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy your unique talents and creativity. Worry and obsession about whether or not you are “doing it right” will only rob you of your sleep. Let the energy of TRUTH assimilate into your being without any effort or hyper-vigilance. The word of the week is TRUST.

The Power Path November 2018 Forecast

 

Tuesday November 6, 1947

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Jocelyn Louise as illustration source for Molly.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 6, 1947

MOLLY, A GRAPHIC NOVEL– my now 15+ years passion project– continues at the drawing board and at the writing desk and in my heart, with new developments, insights and directions behind the scenes.  Some announcements in the new year.

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NOTE: this is a work of creative non-fiction inspired by true facts, evidence and events.  It is an artistic interpretation and no more than that.

© Katarina Thorsen 2018

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Potato Nose Diaries (1977): Instalment 7- Grad and the Party

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Previously on PND:

Instalment 1: Introduction

Instalment 2: The First Entries

Instalment 3: Do Tendu Jetés en Balance

Instalment 4: Sex Education

Instalment 5: They Don’t Know What It Is

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: I am 15 now

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: The Audition

Instalment 6: The Trip to Paris

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: Steven

Instalment 7:

This instalment is enhanced when accompanied by:

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© Katarina Thorsen 2018

Come back to me.

Come back to me, Molly.  It’s been a strange time- hiding you from the world in order to explore new ways of telling your story.   I’m not sure I like this anymore.

You chose me.  Remember?  At the library?  15 years ago.  As your spirit wandered restlessly on the  viaduct, you passed through me with a surprised breath and your soul snagged on mine.  Tell my story, you whispered.

And for 15 years, you and I have explored so many ways to tell it.  But of late, I feel like I’ve lost you.  I miss the unpeeling of the onion, the uncovering of truths, teasing out the knots to reveal the thread, the connections.  Your slow reveals.

I miss the smell of old newsprint, the texture of old flannel, the moss on the forest floor.

I miss you walking on Pender, you at the end of my lane, you sitting in my living room.

Have I let you down?  Did I fail to trust that you are guiding?  Have you met my mom and dad?  Are you safe?

Come back to me, Molly.  Let’s start again.  From the beginning.  I have paper and pen in hand.  Tell me what’s next.

Mamma- a portrait.

“If You Forget Me”

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists:
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Pablo Neruda

Karin Thorsen  Sept. 17, 1936 – Nov. 8, 2008

It is hard to imagine that it is ten years since she passed.  I wanted to write a letter to my mother on her birthday.  The letter became a portrait, inspired from a photo my father took during their honeymoon.  I chose to surround Mamma with her favorites: daisies, lily of the valley and chantarelles.

Mind mapping this month’s Power Path as personal therapy.

When I read something that really needs to sink in- I mind map it out.  My whole brain is engaged and I can then look at the mind map throughout the month and be instantly reminded of the lessons.

This morning was all about the Power Path- taking some quiet personal time for a coffee, house to myself (except the ladies of course) and a therapeutic check-in.

 Thank you to my soul sister, Patti Henderson, who first connected me to this powerful resource.

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Evaluate all the structures that have formed your foundation and restructure what is needed.

My biggest takeaway from this month’s forecast:

Allow a new project to fit you rather than you trying to fit the project.

“As you approach your life with creative pragmatism, you may need to cut something loose that has been holding you back. Attachments to patterns that keep you small and hold you hostage to old ways of thinking as well as outdated perceptions about what is possible will only get in the way of you moving forward. If you find yourself saying “I can’t possibly do that”, question this belief. Practice saying “I could do that”. This gives you the choice and the possibility of something new instead of shutting the door before you give yourself the chance to see what is on the other side.” – The Power Path August 2018 Forecast

Bird School: The first rule

I am obsessed with birds.  I have this strange belief that I will not uncover truths that I seek in my art without first understanding birds fully.  So I am taking myself through my own Bird School– developing my own rudimentary curriculum and drawing out the answers and stitching together the truths.

Recall:

Parts of a Songbird

Head Feather Groups

Today’s lesson: The First Rule

Sketching and taking notes in the field are exercises that will force you to look more closely, reinforce your memory, and greatly increase the rate at which you learn.  The joy of small discoveries is part of the great appeal of birding, and patient study is always rewarded. 

– David Sibley

The first rule is simple: LOOK AT THE BIRD… Watch what the bird does, watch it fly away, and only then try to find it in your book. 

 

Resource:

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Bird School- Head feather groups

I am obsessed with birds.  I have this strange belief that I will not uncover truths that I seek in my art without first understanding birds fully.  So I am taking myself through my own Bird School– developing my own rudimentary curriculum and drawing out the answers and stitching together the truths.

Recall:

Part- Parts of a Songbird

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Today’s lesson: Head Feather Groups

The head feathers can be divided into five main groups:

Other subdivisions of head feathers:

Resource:

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Bird School- Parts of a Songbird

I am obsessed with birds.  I have this strange belief that I will not uncover truths that I seek in my art without first understanding birds fully.  So I am taking myself through my own Bird School– developing my own rudimentary curriculum and drawing out the answers and stitching together the truths.

Today’s lesson: Parts of a Songbird

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Resource:

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