This is from one of my many, many sketchbooks circa 1980s– that space between drawn figures asks to be played with
All through high school I was obsessed with the visual wonders seen in the space between things–known as “negative space”. I didn’t speak of this to anyone, but just watched the beauty of the contour of prople and how the shapes between people or people and things looked. Later, I’d draw people and apply what I had seen and use what I had stored up inside of my mind all day. The gentle gesture of a hand against a chair, with another person leaning beside the chair, for example, could create a wondrous harmony or even indicate a dynamic of emotion (do the figures move away from each other or lean in toward one another comfortably?). And people never knew this about themselves. They might look triumphant standing under a great arch, yet they may have even been having a rotten day, and feel utterly diminished when I’d want to tell them they were royal. The spaces between people and objects helped set up stages where things happened and do happen. My first day in art school, Maria Artemis (sculptor, teacher) spoke of this visual study, “negative space” and I knew I was home, it felt like I was in heaven, finally getting to study in-depth the thing I was interested in and not only that, others out there were also just as interested in this!
My quick study of the moment the Magician swan enters, stirring the tranquility of the sleeping swans
Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
My favorite part of Swan Lake is the dramatically dangerous moment the Magician enters, his dark and powerful wings triumphantly fan out in his menacing approach, fluttering the delicate feathers of the innocent.
Swan Lake is so archetypal, it reminds us and speaks to us of what we know to be true in life: It ain’t Paradise. We live in this world of shadow and light, positive and negative, where sweet guileless trust meets cunning and cruel manipulation.
Swans get ready. Don’t relinquish peace and grace because of evil deeds and intentions. Be a swan in your placid environment, and know that in the end, the magician gets caught in his own brokenness, his wing crushed and his flight permanently damaged ( Swan Lake Part 2: Broken winged Magician is sent to a nature preserve where 3rd graders get to pet him and this rehab softens his sickness and propensity for harming others before he dies a less bitter agent of ruin).
In this intuitive stream drawing for a client, a very poignant and emotionally rich life memory surfaced. In the meditation I did prior to meeting with the client, I created an intuitive stream drawing in her honor. In the meditation while gazing at the drawing I had made (with eyes closed, using non-dominant hand), there appeared a girl petting a baby calf, possibly feeling it with the other hand. The calf looked relaxed and gentle. The girl looked so very attentive. (I colored this part of the image in here so you can see it more clearly). I asked the client if there was any reason why a calf might be present in the stream drawing I had done for her, and shared it with her. It turned out that indeed this client had a great love of animals and had raised a calf when she was quite young. She raised it beautifully, only to have to see it win a prize (for her great grooming and nurturing of it) and then be sold at the fair as a result. The problem is that animals sold at the fair usually end up slaughtered. This was a crushing blow to her, for a young person to be so dedicated as to responsibly raise a tender young animal, only to have to face the shock that it could no longer be under her care and would or did meet a terrible fate.
After doing so many of these intuitive stream drawings over the years for so many, I trust that if an image presents itself, there is a powerful or significant reason for it. During the reading we were able to talk about how much this time in her life (even with the awful reality of losing the life of the animal after raising it so lovingly) meant in terms of her development of her personality and motivations in her own career choice, a people doctor. And how her love of this animal is still felt in some universal way (which I believe the drawing spiritually showed– that a kindness done is never forgotten–it felt like spiritual acknowledgment that this client had been so kind to this innocent beast of burden, and that kindness was not ever a waste!). In fact, the time the client spent with the animal helped shape and mold her dedication and resolve to “do no harm” in her current work, which she does also so lovingly. The calf helped her realize her healing gift, and she helped this little beast of burden to feel loved and cared for as it grew.
This was such a powerful moment in a reading. I can’t stop thinking about it! To learn more about intuitive stream drawing, click here.
How did such a happy, vibrant color end up being the way people describe sadness, as in, “I’m feeling so blue”? For me, blue is peace, calm, cool, heaven, sky, ocean. Blue makes green possible (with the help of yellow). Blue is mystical, a little mysterious, dynamic and makes purple possible (yes, with the help of red). I can never stop loving every subtle shade of blue from cobalt to “Robin’s Egg”–I even love the names of the shades of blue people have given over time. Blue gives me synesthesia sensations, such as, for me the number 5 is blue. It is the color blue in my mind. It triggers the masculine animus within–bold, confident, intelligent yet it triggers the feminine, too–receptive, creative, imaginative. Another synesthesia experience I have though is when I see written, or say the word, “azure” I see the color red in many shades–the word “azure” itself is red to me for some reason, even though it represents a dashing and stunning shade of blue). Blue and getting the blues—maybe ideally blue connects us to a point of spiritual arrival within, and when we feel “blue” we are saying we long for that return to completion, to feeling whole and as though we are where we need to be.
This is one of my sketchbook entries from 1989, when I was teaching at The Paideia School in Atlanta, GA. (a most fantastic progressive, independent school ). I was concerned about a young student who was having a hard time getting going in his creative writing and drawing assignment. Even way, way back then, I was trying to pass on the power of mark-making–drawing as a way to thrive, and it was simple: drawing freely helps break barriers to the self, opens the creative, imaginative flow and unlocks all the potential for discovery, exploration and learning. I know from experience that if this student, Michael, and so many others, did not have that time to create while being relaxed, mindful (that meditative state of the feeling of happy fullness and wellbeing) they would not have blossomed so well as they did. Drawing in an environment that is accepting, enlightening and embraces potential (the unexpected and the innovative) changes young lives.
Stream drawing is drawing with such a feeling of freedom that you begin to be in a dream-like state, you begin to tap into your unconscious while awake. I urge clients and friends to not only stream draw every day (we do a type of stream drawing most commonly referred to by a non-word “doodling”–often while on the phone for example) and to consider keeping a dream journal. What begins to happen is the information, wisdom and insights you can receive in a multitude of ways from your dreams (and if you don’t remember your dreams, you can train yourself to remember them) begin to be on your mind in a very powerful way during the day. And you become more aware, more insightful, more intuitively intelligent–things start to feel whole and aligned. This is a great feeling. The same is true with stream drawing, once you start doing it as a practice, you literally slip into that zone where everything good is possible, and your entire day unfolds with more love for others, more appreciation and alertness to your environment in ways that guide and support.
Now and then, I love to feature the work of other artists and I’m so happy to do that today. In Atlanta, an Uber driver turned out to be the coolest person! We talked and I felt she had a spirit so full of life and promise. She is utterly beautiful, strong and insightful. Hiydaayah Williams, a former college basketball player, has many talents. As she moves forward choosing amongst those to cultivate, one of the things she does is photography.
Of this image, Hiydaayah says, “When I can’t express what I really feel, I practice what I can express, and none of it is equal.” –NG
Hiydaayah’s practice of photography is taking off, and I’m sharing this photograph of hers (which I love for it’s charcoal wintery feel, mixed with a sense of anticipation and a kind of Egyptian magic, the way the building’s windows create a striped motif). You can reach Hiydaayah for photographic work @ 404-518-0362.
This beautiful drawing was done by Varoujan Froundjian, who contacted me after using my new book MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing and has been using the visual-intuitve techniques to explore his creative stream of consciousness. I am so enjoying everything Varoujan draws, and am so delighted he shares it with me. We have a little dialogue going on about drawing, gazing, interpreting and in general feeling ecstatic about drawing, I also love the way Varoujan plays with the background colors and textures, gives a deep, rich feeling to the linear activity on top. Thank you thank you, Varoujan!
This is Sheela Wolford, Reiki Master and teacher currently practicing in El Paso, Texas. I met her in NYC some time ago and can tell you that Sheela is cheerful, delightful and enthusiastic to her core and tells me how she is “so excited to work with anyone needing stress reduction, chakra balancing or attunement.” Contact Sheela at:
Detail of one of my recent paintings Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
Snow changes the acoustics, making a sanctuary of the surroundings. There is a hushed, majestic quality. As I stand on the snow, there is something present within it, spiritually intrinsic and obvious to me–it is an extraordinary something– might be that each flash of light from each crystal snowflake (though we cannot see that beauty without a microscope) reaches the psyche, the heart in winter. After snow has been on the ground for many weeks or months, there is a formidable sense of endurance that comes with each step taken across the cool whiteness. Wanting the bitter cold to subside, the shadows across snowy mounds that have known us for a while whisper that Spring is not too far away.