This painting was, I do believe, my first-ever Spirit Painting. It was commissioned by a person I had and still have never met, for her grand-daughter. I remember feeling such compassion and healing energy while I painted it for her. Seven years or more have gone by since this first one.
I think each of us has a small sphere of sunlight radiating from within, which is our soul. Recognizing the dignity in each other makes our souls glow. Loving our surroundings, feeling close to nature, brings me to a feeling of being close to God.
This morning, the second day of school, a teenage high school girl was being dropped off and was getting out of the car while there was a line of cars behind her. She was taking a little bit of time, gathering her things. I was directly behind her waiting to pull up and let my sons and a friend of theirs get out. My sons and their friend got out and walked the few extra steps up to the entrance of the building, rather than waiting for me to be able to pull up a bit closer to the school entrance. But the people in the car behind me honked at the girl for taking too long. It was a harsh and unfriendly sound to hear on an otherwise calm and sun-filled morning. This girl thought I had done it, and gave me a hurt and annoyed look. I opened my window and said, “I didn’t honk at you, it wasn’t me!” I should have stepped out of my car and asked the driver behind me to consider whether or not honking at a (most likely) nervous teenager on the second day of school is really going to help the world at all. Where was the warmth and care? How do we teach our kids to have warmth and care if we don’t show it? Everyone loses patience at times, but we don’t have to get hasty and mean.
It could be that every moment is an opportunity to chose warmth and care over the shadow side of life. I’d rather try to keep my soul glowing and see the flicker of that light in the eyes of others, especially children.
I recently immersed in the mikvah, holy and blessed water, mayyim hayyim. I did this because I love healing rituals and because I think there is something sacred about renewing the body and spirit symbolically–I needed to do that. You can do this in the ocean, I have done it before (just stating the prayer intention to heal, to be renewed as I swam). In Judaism, it is one of the commandments, or mitzvot, to honor God’s wishes by immersing in water. (Not everyone likes some of the sexist-feeling aspects of women having to immerse after their menstruation, for example, because it implies we are “unclean”, but some of that is, I think, due to the fact that commandments were developed centuries ago when that was probably arguably good hygienic advice. Now we know menstruation is not a health threat to anyone, won’t make anyone ill or hurt anyone. And yet, Orthodox Jews still go by the ancient ways and there have been many who say it is a spiritually fulfilling practice.)
I immersed as a way to acknowledge a willingness to heal, to be blessed by God, to surrender to the will of God while consciously choosing life, choosing vitality and empowerment. For me, the mikvah is a symbolic ritual inviting me to see the opportunity to thrive in a way that aligns me with God. I personally can’t feel I am thriving without that alignment. And I need to step out of the ordinary daily routines to make that spiritual connection.
If you are Jewish and have any experience with going to the mikvah, or strong opinions about it, I’d love to hear them. If you are Christian, you will remember in Isaiah the Pool of Siloam, and in the Christian bible, that Jesus healed people and sent them to Siloam, the Jewish mikvah. And some Jewish scholars refer to John the Baptist as “John the Mikvah Man” since he was immersing people in water to renew their spirit and connection with God.
In this recent Spirit Painting, I had feelings of the human personality in contrast (yet in unison) with the soul. In other words, I felt that we get born and develop in a growing body and our personality evolves as we mature. We are all that has conditioned us and contributed to our sense of self. And then there is the soul-essence which, every now and then, we may feel very strongly, a deep inner sense of self. An identity not necessarily like the personality at all. The soul seems to be a force or source informing our sense of ideals and capacity to love, it is above our human responses often, and the more we remember who we truly are “deep down inside” as some would say, we begin to fully integrate, becoming more conscious, of our soul as we respond to the world around as human personalities within a body.
The person who commissioned this painting, I felt during meditation, has strong ideals and desire to go and do good in the world, with archetypal heroes built into the sense of self, and a powerful spiritual motivation to find support and offer support to others.
I had a synchronistic event this morning, posting this detail from a painted stream drawing, I saw a rabbit there with a carrot (rabbit symbolizing for me fears and getting over fears, as well as a sense of prolific fertility) and one of the first messages I received in my email as I was posting was a message from a much beloved friend with a work of art depicting a rabbit with a crown of carrot, parsnip and turnip. I was very delighted also to look out my studio window to see a RABBIT hopping up the hill! I love life when things connect like this!
Summer time is good for dreaming and streaming. Start keeping a dream journal if you have not, or pick up the habit of journaling if you’ve stopped (I tend to go in and out of cycles where I record every morning and then stop for some reason, getting back to it as soon as I can). The value in stream drawing during the day, is it 1.) Gets you into a stream of consciousness flow so that you can tap into the knowings you have but may not be aware of, and 2.) Gets you into a playful place where dreams, aspirations and a sense of joy can be cultivated. As sculptor Maria Artemis says, it can shift you into the “realm of the possible”. Go there! Just take a few moments to close your eyes and draw with the non-dominant hand and then gaze it the drawing to see what it may hold for you in terms of meaning, associations, etc. For more info on how to do this, get a copy of MAKING MARKS and let me know what you discover! http://www.illuminara.com/books/making-marks-discover-the-art-of-intuitive-drawing/
At my recent book event for MAKING MARKS at Barnes and Noble, participants practiced intuitive stream drawing
Stream drawing is a great way to relax and create all at once, to be passive yet active, to receive yet give. Drawing, mark making, is so naturally compelling for humans, it feels good. The techniques in MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing help get to that place we used to go to with complete joy. As children we didn’t have to be reminded to experiment and express, we just did it. Gradually, our mark making became centered on created letters, numbers, words and the occasional work of art for an assignment. We need to make marks freely and reclaim that natural, exciting form of expression that we literally have just at our fingertips.
Have you noticed that when you get a great idea, there is this enthralling feeling of, “How did I get that idea?” We often even have such a great idea, that we say, “It’s so obvious, why didn’t I think of a long time ago?” or something similar.
I have found that the same feeling of elation comes to me when I open myself up to my intuitive impressions. There is a sense of wonder, even in the moment of feeling a “gut feeling” that something isn’t right, or having a hunch to try something one way or another. Usually when I do not follow those gut feelings or hunches, I have some regret. I have read that the vagus vein in the stomach has a way of sending signals to the brain, so often we do have literally a gut feeling that has something figured out before our rational and logical mind has it figured out. With intuitive sensing, as well as with creative sensing, things arrive in the way of knowings or ideas without our truly being able to necessarily establish how or why we got the information. We can retrace all the steps leading up to the moment an idea came, but we still cannot totally explain how it came to be.
With this book, MAKING MARKS, I have put together drawing freely, in a stream of consciousness way, something I call “intuitive stream drawing” or simply “stream drawing” along with intuitive sensing–exploring the knowings that we get seemingly out of the blue. We can use stream drawing to open up to creative inspiration, to intuitive, empathic sensing, and we can make great shifts in our lives while experiencing the joy of imagination and the feeling that all good things are possible!
This week at Westport Barnes and Noble I am having a book event 7-8 pm and I hope you’ll join me for some drawing (with eyes closed–totally freely!) and discussion.
Stream drawing after a compelling dream has some interesting benefits. I noticed the first time I tried it (read about it MAKING MARKS in the Streaming and Dreaming chapter) I did the drawing thinking about the dream, and discovered upon gazing afterward, that the drawing highlighted a particular incident that was the catalyst for changes in my life. Both the dream and the stream drawing with the dream in mind showed me elements of this life change, but from very different angles. This fascinated me as I had not connected things that way and the stream drawing helped me to more fully understand.
Last night I dreamed we were in a kind of wilderness land, and met people I’d consider guides (kind, patient, thoughtful, good advisors). The dream won’t leave me, it lingers like a movie continually playing, so I decided to create a stream drawing to see if I can learn more from or about the dream. Here it is, with my interpretations:
Detail from a stream drawing based on a dream/May 2014
I gazed at this drawing and was struck by what the word “wilderness” means to me in terms of this dream. A wilderness can be emotional or physical. In the dream it was both at once, kind of. I thought of lack of love and sense of goodness or ease as a good definition of wilderness as it relates to the dream and the stream drawing about the dream. I realize that the feelings I had in the dream were a kind of sadness I have or a hint of disappointment. This derives from parenting sons who are more young men than children now, and poignant memories of when they were still vulnerable babies and young children linger in my heart–you can’t get those years back. The “Little Red Riding Hood” image, facing the past (left) and a large bird (spiritual messenger) facing future (right) are significant to me. The fact that our earth walk seems to be perfectly captured by the story of Little Red. She is asked to step into the wilderness (forest with all it’s unknowns) and trust that she’ll get to her grandmother’s house safely. In the story, the wolf almost got her, but didn’t. She trusted herself and questioned the wolf. This Little Red here faces the bird/spiritual messenger, who has a body shaped like one big heart. Love is the key–and love is the simple message. Further to the right a child clings to a heart with a tear (love, sadness) and the number 2 there for me symbolizes being a daughter–just as I am a parent who wishes I could do it all over again, and perfectly this time, I am also a child never wanting to lose my own parents. The wilderness dream and the stream drawing helped me see that we are caught on a journey where time takes us through stages of life and grief, but here we are. The only way through it seems to be to focus on love, on being a loving person.
A recent intuitive stream drawing done for a client
I discovered that making a book requires months of going inward; inward to write, to draw to rewrite and redraw. Then after being thoroughly caved-in for a few years, you have to go out squinting in the light again and push the book out there. So it’s a really strange feeling. But talking about the book comes easy because it’s everything I love and it is what I have spent the last several years creating. I especially love the radio interviews, which is kind of funny when you think about it since the book is so much about visuals, but conversations about drawing and intuition make me very happy! Here are a few recent interviews you might like to tune into if you’re interested in MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing. I hope these talks and the book help you make your own unique marks in this world!
Conversations Live with host Vicki St. Clairhttp://conversationslive.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=428&Itemid=29
Savvy Central Radio with Christina Nitschmann http://www.blogtalkradio.com/savvycentral/2014/05/10/elaine-clayton-author-of-making-marks-discover-the-art-of-intuitive-drawing
I originally wanted to do this book to bring drawing back for many who no longer draw (either because they feel they’re not good at it or because they forgot how good it felt to draw when they were young) and to show how truly valuable drawing is on the human psyche.
Drawing is relaxing while at the same time wondrous, it can help us get into a creative flow. Drawing can get us into a space and time where solutions to problems more easily arrive into our consciousness, or bring forth deep feelings we were not aware of that may have held us back in some way.
My deep wish as I write, is for this to book serve the world in the way I intended: to celebrate life, to celebrate YOU being YOU, and making your mark, unique and magnificent! I hope all who try it out find some new way of thinking and feeling, intuiting and knowing, through drawing. I do believe this book seeks to celebrate the creative spirit in each of us!
On this publication day, I thank you for being a part of this drawing and intuitive exploration with me!