Ep 28 Featured Image Podcast

The Art of Living – Margaret Christison – Ep 28 

May 4, 2022


The process of art-making is one of waking up. I believe this is its big draw for so many of us. Making art provides a way to feel more alive and this is made evident in our improving art. We are all in different stages of awareness, of course. The experiences we encounter in life can grow us if we are willing. All of it matters. All of the challenges that felt insurmountable, count. 

The day you opened a book of poetry to just the right page. That chance meeting with a perfect stranger. Making or seeing that particular piece of art. Falling in love. The indescribable times when everything felt so perfectly right and, of course, the heartbreaks. What comes to grow our souls is a mystery, but whatever the gift or peril that arrives, we have some choice in how we receive the learning that ultimately brings change and transformation to our door. Not just for ourselves but for those with whom we share our life and art.

 Recently, I received a note from Margaret Christison, an artist who has gone through several of our programs. Although understandably one of the darkest and most challenging experiences of her life, her current life-threatening battle with cancer has also become one of startling beauty and grace. Margaret’s unstoppable creative spirit and how it informs her world, due in part to her diagnosis, has become an incredible invitation for her to become more and more alive. Her positivity, creativity, and joy reminded me that I already have what I value most. Margaret’s insights and breathtaking clarity opened my heart and helped shift how I think about my art. This conversation is simply a gift to all who may be fortunate enough to listen. 

Listen if you are interested in…

  • Catching up with Margaret and learning to wake up [3:03]
  • Exploring different concepts of time [13:23]
  • How Nick met Margaret and the role art plays in her life [18:59]
  • Margaret’s thoughts on taking risks with limited time [26:36]
  • Serving others, finding truth, and choosing happiness in the midst of struggle [31:19]

Not so fast

One of life’s greatest ironies is that we spend so much of it waiting for the next thing. The next painting. The next art show. The next milestone. The next year. Even the next day. So much of our time on earth is spent wishing it was going by faster until we wake up and realize how limited our time actually is. This is the place Margaret Christison finds herself these days. The cancer in her body is no longer responding to chemotherapy and the doctors are telling her that it’s ONLY a matter of time. And while we are believing that she will defy the odds, Margret seems to have made peace with the fact that the journey is quickly running out of road. 

It’s odd and often unfair that life’s greatest wake-up calls seem to go hand-in-hand with life’s greatest challenges. But Margaret is grateful for the perspective her mortality has brought her. She recalls reading Lord of the Rings in a Caledonian forest as a girl, becoming ever so fascinated with the large, slow-speaking, tree-beings from the book called Ents that resembled the foliage around her. Margaret echoes their words to Tolkien’s travelers as she remarks that humans (and Hobbits) move too fast. We need to slow down and take a second to appreciate our life and hear the song in the forest.

It’s about time

Time is a funny thing. We either have too much or not enough. Sir Isaac Newton understood time to be a flat, unchanging, and rather boring concept with a definite beginning, middle, and end. And while most people would agree with that assessment, Albert Einstein had a completely different view of time. He saw time as extremely dynamic and subjective. He referred to it as an illusion that moves relative to the observer. Plainly put, time is a human-made concept and one’s perception of time defines their reality.

Admittedly for both of us, this non-traditional view of time feels unnatural. Like it defies logic, and yet, it makes perfect sense. Think about it: why does an hour at work feel long, but an hour with friends feels like they showed up five minutes ago? Since embracing her latest prognosis, Margaret has experienced her own flux in time. She notes that everything seems to have slowed down compared to the blistering pace of treatment over the last few years. I find it inspiring that this acceptance has given her not only a new perspective on the world around her but also renewed purpose and a greater appreciation for life itself.

Making magic

The manifestation of our thoughts and emotions onto a canvas is nothing short of magic. It’s why we do this thing called art. But somewhere along the way, someone decided that the most important thing about art is the technique you use and the prestige a painting can get you. Listeners of this podcast know that I think technique is important, but it pales in comparison to the art itself. How we make art is far less important than actually making it. We could make art with our feet and it would still be just as significant as anything else we’ve done.

This lesson is what brought Margaret and me together. Her mother died while she was in art school, and while she finished her courses, she lost direction and heart when it came to her art, even though she continued to create. Decades later, Margaret joined Art2Life’s programs through the recommendation of a friend and was able to reconnect with the joy of art-making again. After all, art-making is about freedom of expression and creating deep connections with your work that connects with others as well, not the limitations we put on it. I believe Margaret’s greatest and most beautiful work of art is the life she is living right now. It is a privilege for all of us to experience it.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Margaret Christison

Connect with Nicholas Wilton


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Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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