Creative Living {in process} Interview with Kerri Devine

I like to think that your life can be a work of art—the biggest, most expansive thing you will ever make. I do not mean a prim and delicate painting, but more like a big messy process of experimenting, trial and error—kind of like finger painting when you were a kid {a full contact sport}.

Too often, it’s so easy to get bogged down by the business of life—to start spending more time brushing your teeth than creating your own original, wide, unique life. I often find myself getting into these ruts, and then something will wake me up again—remind me that life can be an adventure. One of the biggest things that wakes me up and reminds me of the possibilities is seeing other people who are doing it—people who are building their lives creatively.

In that spirit and in the hopes of inspiring us all to keep going—to keep creating our lives into the vast adventurous expanses they can be—I’ve decided to start inviting to this blog some people who inspire me. I’m calling this series of interviews “Creative Living in Process” because, as these wonderful creative people will show, there is no one way to create an expansive life, and there is no finish line—each life is a process built one day at a time.

Who to invite for my very first interview was a no-brainer—of course I would ask the lovely Kerri Devine. I’ve been following her blog Songs of Light for some time now, and I never leave Kerri’s corner of the internet without dipping my toe into the beauty and infinity of life. She is an everyday inspiration, a looker and a finder—someone who sees and shares the wonder of life. So, pull up a chair and get a little peek into the creative soul and world of Kerri Devine.

The Nitty Gritty:

Name – Kerri Devine
Art Business – Poetry and Cloth

Where do you live in the world?
I live on ten acres in the glorious South Island of New Zealand.

Where do you live online?

Songs of Light blog
Poetry and Cloth Etsy Shop
Poetry and Cloth Felt Shop

Tell us a little bit about yourself—what do you do, and how did you arrive where you are today, both creatively and otherwise?

I am a screen printer and photographer (and sometimes also a very bad painter!) I screen print onto linen, then often wrap the image around a canvas which can either then hang on the wall or stand on a flat surface. I also make screen printed covers for chairs and other small pieces of furniture as well as taking a million photos! I’m sure I must do other things as well, I just can’t think of them at the moment!

It took me a very long time to arrive where I am today, both creatively and emotionally. I think so often when we think of artists we think of the great masters like Monet or Ansel Adams. We forget that there is room for beginners, and that these great artists were once beginners too. I think for me, I was afraid of so many things. Like failing, not being good enough, or having no talent. It’s quite a brave thing to do to announce that you are an artist, because people often expect you to be an artist with a capital A. It’s strange that other professions don’t face these things. No one says, “Oh really, so you think you’re an accountant?! Show me your numbers!” I think in the end you become an artist because you have to, there’s no other option. Unless of course you’re happy to watch your soul shrivel up and die! I think that it takes a long time to learn to be kind to yourself and to know your own truth, no matter what. I think that’s when things start to happen for you.

You work part time in addition to doing your creative work. What type of side-work do you do and how do you find time and balance between your “day-job” and your creative work?

I used to work full time at a preschool. I still work there but I no longer work with the children. Instead I am now the cook, which is actually really fun! I spend four hours every morning making cakes and muffins or whatever I feel like. This is so great for me because I am all finished by 1.30 in the afternoon and can go home and work on my art. Sometimes it can be difficult to get everything done in the few hours I have before it gets dark. Mostly this is because I wash my screens outside after printing and need to be able to see that they are clean. Also the later it gets the more the water from the hose feels like melted ice! In summer it gets dark around 9.30 at night so I have much more time to get things done. I find that what helps most is having a to do list. If you get desperate to look like you’ve accomplished something, write yourself a ta -da list, and put everything on it that you have already done!
This is an idea I got from the artist/author SARK.

What fills you up?

So many things, but just to name a few – the natural world, wild things, seed pods, mossy twigs, autumn leaves, perfectly smooth pebbles, birds, a certain quality of light, shadows, fields of golden grass in summer, clouds, and synchronistic events. I once was making a decision about being true to myself and my creativity; I had just said out loud to the universe, “Ok, I’ll do it” when I looked up to see a blimp floating low over my house. The words on the side said, “Good luck.” It gave me goose bumps. I don’t think these things are random or meaningless.

What is the most wonderful thing about living a creative life?

The joy! I am quite a melancholy person at times, but since I began working part time and doing more art I have so much more joy than I ever had before. Also I think there is this feeling of being in the flow, of not resisting your dreams but going with them which is priceless. The other most wonderful thing about living a creative life is simply feeling that you are finally giving to the world what you were meant to give. And through that process you also give it to yourself. Hope that makes sense!

What is the most challenging thing about living a creative life?

I think being a creative person makes you more sensitive to your environment, whether this is the people in your life or the state of the world, and that can be hard at times. I think creative people feel things more keenly. I remember when I was growing up feeling as though there was no barrier between me and the world. I felt everything and it was very draining. I still sometimes feel drained by all I take in, but this is probably also because I am a Highly Sensitive Person. (You can read more about the trait of being highly sensitive at I think feeling so much is the hardest thing about being creative for me.

What keeps you going/gets you going again when you’re feeling down/uninspired?

What keeps me going? If I’m feeling uninspired I know that what I probably need is some quiet time by myself. I just need to be and not think or do. Also I have books that I tend to turn to when I need encouragement such as Julia Cameron’s ‘Walking in this World’. I also have a lot of encouraging quotes by artists that I’ve written down, such as Harry Callahan talking about his photography, “I guess I’ve shot about 40,000 negatives and of these I have about 800 pictures I like.” I think sometimes when we’re feeling uncreative we’re afraid it’s all over. As if one bad week means you’ll never have a good idea again. I try to remember Anne Morrow Lindberg’s words about the ebb and flow of life. Just because the tide has gone out doesn’t mean it won’t return.

Your creativity is more than just about making things, but about making sense of life—you have written on your blog about how art could be a “spiritual practice.” Why do you make art and how does the process of art-making fit in to your larger life?

I make art because I have to. I make it to remain sane. For me I think that denying the art inside you is denying yourself. Honouring your art also honours your soul. I do find art to be a spiritual practice personally. It was how I first learnt about faith. The thing is, God (or the universe) is an artist, just look around and you can see that. We all have access to the mind that created angels. I find that amazing and terrifying all at once! I have often heard writers say that they just wrote down what they heard, that it came from somewhere else, that they didn’t know how the story was going to end. And I think that’s because we are all vessels for creativity. You either say yes or no to that idea in your head, and if you say no I think it’s likely that someone else will receive that idea, someone who’ll say yes.

I think art has been a long road for me, full of twists and turns, of incredible beauty and deep sadness, of fear and anger and despair. I think it taught me who I really was, and that there was nothing bad there. I’ll always be grateful for that.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to live a more creative life?

I would say quite a few things! I would say learn to be kind to yourself. Let art be play, let yourself be a beginner. I think in order to be more creative you need to cultivate a keen interest in life, you need to wake up and be as conscious as you can. Wherever you are, keep an eye out always for beauty. Eavesdrop on the bus or train, notice how the late afternoon light makes your fellow passengers glow, read graffiti, know which tree on your block holds the most birds nests, pretend you’re a child again seeing it all for the first time. Be interested in everything.

What are you dreaming about right now?

I’m dreaming about a creative self sufficient life in the country. I’m almost there!

What’s your favorite . . .

Colour – a very particular shade of dark dark red
Time of day – dusk, even the word is so wonderful and velvety
Place in your home – my art room
Word – I am a serious word lover, I don’t think I can pick! Although to be honest my favourite word, as far as sound only goes, is snorkel. I just think it’s such a silly sound, and hearing it always makes me smile! I know, weird.
Sound – Dean’s key in the lock, or the sound of his voice calling out to me when he gets home.
Breakfast food – poached eggs with baby spinach and a hash brown. Perfection.

Thanks so much Kerri for inviting us into your creative world! And thanks for being a song of light yourself! Oh, happy creative day to you all!


16 Responses to “Creative Living {in process} Interview with Kerri Devine”

  1. 1 artproject2010 July 16, 2010 at 9:50 am

    How lovely! I really enjoyed reading this interview! Thank you Kerri, for sharing yourself with us! I’m off to become addicted to your blog. And Nicole, you are just such a brilliant person. I love what you do. :)

  2. 2 Susie July 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I love this post. great interview!

  3. 3 Pom Pom July 16, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Oh, I love Kerri Devine. Great interview!

  4. 4 sarah July 16, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    fabulous interview with a fabulous … and deeply inspiring … artist.

  5. 5 Grace July 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Thank you both. Very much.

  6. 6 Jamie July 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    This post/interview really inspired me today, thank you. The questions and answers spoke to my creative soul, and just really hit home… in ways I can’t even explain in words. Thank you both for sharing your creative lives and wisdom. It means so much.

  7. 7 Kadira July 17, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    This is a fantastic interview. Kerri answered all those wonderful questions just as I would have but a great deal more eloquently. I’m going to put a link to this post on my blog, because it resonates so much with the things I talk about. I really want to share with my readers. Thank you so much Nicole, I think you have illuminated so much of what we go through as artists, in this interview.

  8. 8 Juliana July 18, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Yes, such beautiful and inspiring wisdom in Kerri’s words. I love the way art for her is about spirituality as well, the desire to connect with God. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Thank you.

  9. 9 Kat July 18, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Thank you for the interview! I loved reading about how she “has” to do art. Now that I’ve rediscovered my creative self after so many years, I feel the same way!

  10. 10 Geoff M. Pope July 19, 2010 at 3:48 am

    What a beautifully confirming moment for Kerri when she saw that blimp and got those goose bumps.

    Then when I scrolled down and saw her photo of glistening leaves…and your “wonderful” question…and her response, I got not only goose bumps…but sparrow bumps, heron bumps, hawk bumps, and eagle bumps! —

    Nicole: “What is the most wonderful thing about living a creative life?”

    Kerri: “The joy! I am quite a melancholy person at times, but since I began working part time and doing more art I have so much more joy than I ever had before. Also I think there is this feeling of being in the flow, of not resisting your dreams but going with them which is priceless. The other most wonderful thing about living a creative life is simply feeling that you are finally giving to the world what you were meant to give. And through that process you also give it to yourself. Hope that makes sense!”

  11. 11 bluebicicletta July 19, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Yahoo! I’m so excited that you all enjoyed this interview and are feeling as inspired by Kerri as I am! Thank you thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  12. 12 Dawn July 19, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I came over from Kerri’s blog to read this. I’m so inspired! I loved both the questions and the answers. So many things I read, resonated with my own creative journey.

  13. 13 Kerri July 19, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks so much to everyone for all your lovely comments. I am very touched that you enjoyed reading it.

  14. 14 Heart Felt July 21, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Fantastic Kerri….we love you so much! xx

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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