Alabama Tornado and Tornado Symbolism

My illustration of a story in Al Carusone’s THE BOY WITH DINOSAUR HANDS

Tornadoes have done so much destruction in Alabama (and the other day, in Arkansas), I send out prayers to all who have been personally involved in the violence. There is nothing we can do in the aftermath of this kind of destruction but wonder at the ominous ruination and gather ourselves up to rebuild.

I grew up seeing tornadoes and running for shelter, and felt terrified of them. But at one point when my dad was a psychiatrist at Menninger’s Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, I faced my fears and I watched out for tornadoes, and later even earned the name “Twisting Winds” from my Cherokee mentor who appreciated how tornadoes helped me develop awareness. In Topeka, we lived far enough from town that we could not hear warning sirens. I learned a lot watching the sky and studying cloud activity, feeling the wind change when a storm moves in and the air pressure drop. The eerie silence before the tornadoes hit always seemed other-worldly. Not a bird or twig moves. For a while as a child, I had the sensation that a tornado somehow knew where it was going, as though it had a will and conscience.  What they teach us is powerful: they represent change, clearing and cleaning, destruction of old and an opening to new experiences (if your home is destroyed, what choice do you have but to begin anew?).  I remember once my mother calling me into her room where she stood in front of a picture window. “Look,” she said, “some poor farmer’s field.” In the distance across the wide, golden plain, was a twister spinning, carving ruination. It almost danced, the way it moved. We stood quietly watching it, far away enough to look small on the horizon.

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Garden Dreaming

Last night I dreamed of a garden, it was a surprise garden. We came outside and there were enormous onions that had sprouted overnight, on tall stalks. One was large and flat, and someone said it looked like a pizza. I thought flying saucer. The energy of potential and of good things to come, unusual and surprising nurturing from seemingly out of nowhere was what it all felt like. Looking around, there is so much around that offers life and nurturing, and we don’t personally have to generate everything. That’s a relief!

Flying saucer onions grew overnight

Have Shoes, Will Travel

One of my drawings from a 1980’s sketchbook

In my sketchbook, even when I was young,  I liked playing with ordinary, everyday moments such as choosing shoes and putting them on. There is beauty in these gestures and whimsy in the most dull moments. I think it has to do with the contrast between allegorical artwork or historical art work we studied in art history and being alive here and now, and seeing this here and now as just as artful as those historical works.  We’re creating our own painting moment by moment with our life choices, and we’re just as worthy as any character, idea or theme ever edified by paint or pen. Even the small moves we make are fun to observe and draw, notice and appreciate.

Barely There: Remembering Dreams

This art of mine fell out of a large old sketchbook from early 1980’s

This is a Greco-Roman boy, with a bird on his shoulder. I’m not sure how I made him. It looks like a faded print on card stock, but I have no memory of the technique I used to create this dreamy, barely-there quality. I like that it is faded, reminds me of those times when you first wake up and the dreams you’ve had are still visible in your mind, but the veil is lowering and you cannot be sure exactly how to fully recapture the dream imagery, as though it is fading away before you can fully remember it (yet the emotional energy of the dream still spins within the heart).

When Did Jesus Ascend? (And How I love Saint Veronica)

Saint Veronica/sketchbook entry Easter 2011

I remember as a child loving the story of St. Veronica. As she saw Jesus struggle in agony, carrying the cross, she stepped forward in the crowd to wipe his bloody face with a cloth. When she looked down at the cloth, to her great surprise, there was a perfect impression of his face imprinted there.  It was St. Veronica’s empathy and compassion that made me love the story, and the magical “He’s real!” aspect of the facial imprint that captured my own sense of what it is to feel passion. Passion for life. Passion for a supreme being amongst us. Passion for the wish for someone to save humanity.

I’ve thought about and even dreamed of other aspects of the Easter story, and recently dreamed that when Jesus died, finally and at last (feeling forsaken) calling out to commend his spirit to heaven, that he instantly felt weightless and as if he’d come straight down from the cross. For a split second, he tried to get his balance. Then realized he was free. The dream surprised me, I had always imagined his soul simply rose straight up, away from this place. As the story goes, though (and there are many versions), he appeared before his disciples after death, and to Mary at the empty tomb, telling her not to touch him because he was “not yet ascended”.

Spirit Painting: The Giant On The Hill

My recent Spirit Painting commission: Janey’s Giant 2011

Imagine you have your own Spiritual Giant.  This giant is towering over you, wherever you live or go, advocating for and protecting you and seeing far into the future for you, far into your past as well. What does your giant look like? What color is he/she? What clothes (if any) does he/she wear?

In this recent Spirit Painting, the first thing that came to mind was a giant near the house of the subject for whom it was created. What surprised me while I painted is that the giant was Native American. I have seen giants in my mind before and they are like a gentle, calm, silent version of Jack and the Beanstalk’s terrifying giant (“Fee, fie, foe, fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!”), so when this one seemed alert as he emerged in paint, with hair like tree branches and chief-like, I must admit I was delightfully surprised.  Now I am going to meditate more deeply on what my giant looks like.

Imagination and Intuition

“Imagination is the playscape of the intuitive self” from ILLUMINARA INTUITIVE JOURNAL WIHT CARDS (page 21)

Play in the realm where intuition and imagination work together to help us create solutions and to see new ways to perceive!  This is a sketchbook entry where I took print matter from junk mail and tore it, then completed the line work, making a person where before there was not one (and had so much fun doing it)!


My advance copy of my new book arrived today (with a bottle of wine in the box, too) and I was so happy I cried. It looks more amazing than I ever imagined, and I cannot believe it. When you picture a book in the making, you hope it will all come together, it is a humbling experience to work toward a finished product. The publishers went totally totally all-out with this and made it more beautiful than I could have dreamed. I hear the shipment of all the rest of the books are nearly here, to arrive toward the end of the month. Thanks to EVERYONE who has worked with me on and Illuminara on Facebook to generate and create visual imagery toward the expression and development of intuitive intelligence. I am grateful!  This book is available for pre-orders, just click here. Love to everyone!

Winter Fairy and The Red Bird

In the fall I was commissioned by Heather Strauch, PT who is an amazing healer, to do a winter scene. She has AUTUMN (which is my Illuminara image) and just yesterday she came to the studio to pick up WINTER. I can’t wait to work on SUMMER and SPRING. What made this painting interesting is it seemed to start snowing as soon as I worked on it and then what a winter we had. I think of winter as a sleeping child, connected to innocence and renewal. When we wake up, we are new again. Now that it’s spring time, we have a chance to recreate our world, to celebrate ourselves and others in a new way. (and I added a man carrying wood from an orb image I saw years ago that felt so magical, so full of promise.) The red bird is our warmth and aspirations, our vitality and life blood, our flight into the new.

Creative Visualization: Your Dreamscape Gallery

Walking through the Frick Collection, always with my sketchbook, I’d pretend I lived there. What would that feel like, to live in such a place? In my own imaginary gallery, I close my eyes and envision/create some areas to feel just like the Frick, or my other favorite, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston (I especially loved knowing Isabella was related to Gov. John Endecott as am I). The indoor-outdoor feeling of the courtyard is so thrilling, so holy in some way, I cannot describe. I guess it is the feeling of being with nature, but safe and sound from the harshness of weather. I have such a courtyard in my dreamscape gallery. You can create a spectacular space in your mind and heart, a place to go to before you fall asleep (or whenever, wherever!). You just see everything the way you’d want it; feel the temperature, sense the smell and the see the quality of color and light there. Maybe you can fly in your gallery, in and around columns, out great windows overlooking the sea, the mountains, forest or plains (or all of these). I started doing serious creative visualization in the early 1980’s when I was a nanny for the children of two African American families in Atlanta. The wise moms of those children told me about Shakti Gawain’s books. Learning how to visualize with a sense of self direction changed my life, my idea of myself and helped me create what I truly wanted in life.