Listen to Their Message: Birdsong in Spring

This is a commissioned piece I did for someone’s wedding gift/20120

In spring, the birds wake me up at pre-dawn as though they celebrate the entire universe. Do you hear it, too? Falling back to sleep, I fade into their birdsong as a swimmer through air, through branches with new buds and unfurling tender green leaves. Every moment unfurls, outwardly opening and reaching for sunlight, until the day has arrived and I have arrived with it.

Notes on Astral Travels

from one of my sketchbooks

Astral travel fascinates me. I often feel magnetically pulled to places without knowing why I am there. During these experiences, I’m obviously not in my physical body (and this can feel slightly awkward) but my sight is clearer than ever, almost heightened sight. As I am aware consciously during these episodes, I say things to myself like, “Oh my God, wow,” and “Why am I here?” but all the same, I take it in. One recent astral travel took me to a very high stone wall, and my perspective was from below the wall, looking up into the pleasant light and clear blue sky above. I had and still have no idea where I was. It felt like an ancient place, the rocks making up this wall were ancient looking, but somewhat round in shape. The clarity was stark.

Mostly, I take these travels as they come, rather than seeking out places to venture to, and I think this is good because I am not forcing my will, but allowing a free flow. Keeping a sketchbook journal about these experiences is good because, first of all, these experiences are very thrilling, and I just have to write them down. And also because I believe over time I will come to understand more and more about this.

Find Your Dream (My Letter from Maria Von Trapp)

My letter from Maria Von Trapp, which hangs in my studio

When I was in high school, I sought out mentors by writing them letters. I wrote a letter (and got one back) from Dr. George Ritchie, author of RETURN FROM TOMORROW, describing his Near Death Experience (a term Dr. Raymond Moody used to describe what all this research was showing about people who were pronounced dead and came back with profound stories of what they experienced–the two good doctors knew each other). I even wrote to psychic Jean Dixon and she also wrote me back but I lost it, I think. For ages it was in the dining room of our house in Columbus, Ga., in a drawer with cloth napkins for some reason I can’t explain. I wrote also to Maria Von Trapp, having since early childhood an undiluted determination to make real life be as idealistic as it was in that movie.  Maria Von Trapp wrote me back and I treasure that letter!  I guess in my letter to her I sought her general advice, and you can see for yourself what she said.

A New Day, So Be New

My sketch of Alistair/2010

In the morning, they look like they’ve just hatched.

And it is a new day, everything is new. Yesterday is gone. Each day, even if we’re in the same surroundings, we can alter it all from the inside out by changing inwardly first. It begins, I think, with our perception of self. See yourself living your dream and be in that dream inwardly, because everything first exists as an idea before it becomes “real”.

Expose Yourself (through writing and art)

One of my illustrations in GIRL COMING IN FOR A LANDING by April Halprin Wayland

My favorite poem from this novel I illustrated is the one above, POETRY IS MY UNDERWEAR.  I believe it strikes a cord most everyone can relate to.  And, it is worth it to create, to expose your thoughts and feelings and to make those thoughts and feelings be born into the material world. It is powerful and meaningful to do so as well as healthy (we do not need our emotions and thoughts to remain stuck inside of us). If what you make causes others to feel deeply or to think in a new way, then accept is as part of what comes with having your underwear (your creations) waved all around. Don’t ever let anyone’s response to your creative work keep you from flashing your sword of truth (not to be to warrior-ish about it). If you ever feel vulnerable about what you’ve written or drawn or painted or created, remember that kind of vulnerability is powerful. Think of it like this: If night-time is the period where we flail and thrash through life’s confusions and difficulties, and daytime is our coming to terms in the light with our own truths by creating, then twilight is the hour of peace for having spoken and using our creative empowerment. And twilight is the most mystical time of day, like a reward for all that has come to pass. Creativity is our heritage, we were created into being, and we have the power to create every day of our lives.  So, go ahead and flash your underwear a little!

The book was to be named “POETRY IS MY UNDERWEAR”, so when I was asked to illustrate it by my then editor at Crown/Knopf (a dream job!), I raced off and bought tons of cheap underwear to cut up, to paint and sew, to get creative with (thus the underwear art all over the interior of the book).

Novelist Elizabeth Wein and the Case of the Cake on Fire ( on synchronicity)

Well, the cake never was on fire, but it could have been!

This is what happened. Years ago, in 1990 or around then, I was driving from NYC (where I was meeting editors) back to Boston where I taught at the Atrium School. I was driving along I-95 just coming away from a rest area when I saw ahead of me a car on fire. I was alarmed. Smoke and fire were billowing out of the front of the car. I slowed down and watched as the car pulled over and two young women raced out of it with a determined goal to–I thought–get as far away from danger as possible. But instead they ran to the back of the burning car, opened the trunk and to my great surprise, pulled out a cake. Carrying the cake like a delicate newborn, they trotted away from the burning car.

All the way back to Boston I wondered about what I’d seen, and figured that had to be some very special cake.  Then a few months later, summer arrived and I went to England for a Children’s Literature New England seminar at Keble College, Oxford. I met the wonderful and vibrant Elizabeth Wein, then a young novelist (and a genius, I’m sure of it). Somewhere I have a photo of her in a trench coat and hat, very classy. She took us (myself and another person) to a change-ringing practice in one of the church bell towers, and otherwise we had meals together in the dining hall of Keble, and had lively discussions (I genuinely liked and enjoyed Elizabeth). Once, after lunch, sitting on the floor, Elizabeth said she’d received a letter and read it to herself. But then she began to read it out loud because of the amusing content. The letter was from a friend of hers who described driving on a highway and how the car they were in had caught fire and how they had quickly saved a cake from the trunk of their burning car.  I listened with true astonishment, and said, “I saw this! Were they on I-95 from New York to Boston?” Elizabeth said yes. We laughed and to this day I still think of this as one of those extraordinary synchronistic events in life. How could it be that I saw this unusual thing happen and then months later travel to England only to hear of the same incident via a letter read aloud by a new acquaintance? How likely could that be? I love these kinds of synchronistic events, they seem to say, “You are exactly where you need to be”.

And by the way, Elizabeth has a new young adult novel out, due to be one of the big smash hits of the year, and a book to be cherished for all time from what I hear. Click here to read about CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein.

Live Life Like You’re Being Sketched

My charcoal and pencil study of a boy/Atlanta/1980’s

Drawing and painting children’s portraits has always been so important to me as an artist and it is something I wish I did more than I do.  To capture that essence of life, or of the moment, feels like flying.

Live life like you’re being sketched, and know that you are powerful and beautiful in all your movements today, and in all your moments of being.

I’m Now Offering Reiki and Readings in NYC!

I am so excited to announce I’ll be in NYC practicing Reiki and intuitive/energy work on a regular basis, on 5th Avenue in the Chelsea area. I’m thrilled to have been invited by Jeff Shammah to practice at Fitness Results, an excellent and highly respected holistic, private one-to-one health and wellness studio.

Reiki with Chakra Charts This is a unique and in-depth approach to best serve each of my client’s individual needs.  The Reiki Chakra Charts are created by me for each client as an additional way to discover what and where in the body needs clearing.  This is part of my intuitive process in doing Reiki healing work, and one I’ve developed over time.

–$100.00 per 1 hour session

To schedule an appointment or to get more information, simply email me through this site or call me at my studio, 203-557-3890.

Honor, Courage, Duty

My sketch of the Veteran’s Statue in Westport, CT/2010

I live where Minute Men fought the Red Coats and sometimes when I look at the stone walls and trees I try and picture both Minute Men and Red Coats hiding, marching, standing in the light of day, in the moon-glow darkness of night.  And other times, maybe when I’m on the hammock eating Cheetos, I’m thinking of how I’m sitting here eating Cheetos and all these young people have endured the horrors of war since the beginning of America, and I’m sitting here gazing up at the clouds. It is true, they did their duty to serve when drafted (or enlisted), in the belief that they were doing what must be done for their country and in the name of freedom. My Uncle Howard Haywood, my Uncle C.G. Clayton and Uncle Guy Clayton all served. A Massachusetts young man (Uncle Howard, from Stockbridge) found himself flying over Egypt, and a young Texan found himself diving to the ground when an airplane flew over head. Whether we think a war is wrong or not (like the utter hell of Vietnam or the controversy over Iraq and Afghanistan wars), I don’t think I or any American should be smug or disdainful of those who serve in our armed forces, especially while we wander around casually enjoying utter freedom and even sickening excesses of an easy American life.  So I’m posting this today for all those who fought for an ideal they were willing to die for since the beginning of our country, and for all those young soldiers I see and often talk to coming and going to Fort Benning, via the Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. The ones I’ve seen are practically teens, young and hopeful and scared and courageous.  On my last trip I met a young soldier from New Jersey, a handsome and sweet African American, while being driven in a shuttle van to Columbus, Ga. We talked and I showed him how to play Draw Something. I don’t even know his real name.  When we play Draw Something, I’m not sure where he is–is he in Ft. Benning or in Afghanistan? What if one day he stops playing? Will it mean he’s just tired of Draw Something or that he was injured or died? I worry about him.

Seeing Elves and Fairies: An Interview with Joseph Martin

monoprint and ink/2012

I recently came across Joseph Martin’s books about elves and fairies and asked him some questions.

1. When did you first get a sense that there might be “elementals” (fairies and elves) around us, not just in fairytales?

I first started to realise that ‘Nature’ was trying to talk to me when I was about 10 or 11 years old. The countryside where I lived at the time was simply a beautiful place to escape. I loved all things from nature, the birds, animals and the plants. To me, they were all alive and soon I realised that it was quite easy (albeit innocently) to become One with everything. As I grew older and became a typical teenager, nature never left me, in fact our relationship became more special. Nature would talk to me through the sound of the wind and the rustling of the trees, through bird song and the movement of the insects. Elves, fairies, devas and elementals though never appeared to me until I became a mature adult – they knew that what I was about to ‘see’ was in some cases going to be difficult, both philosophically and psychologically. Nowadays though, Nature and I have the most wonderful relationship; I cannot thank them enough for what they have allowed me to witness – an absolutely different world from their higher, parallel dimension.

2. What is the most extraordinary thing you’ve ever seen spiritually in the way of elves?

This is a fabulous question: One early autumn evening I was sitting at the dining table with my wife having dinner. Suddenly a powerful smell began to infuse through my senses and I knew that I was going to experience a ‘true blue’ clairvoyant encounter; my wife knew it too and she was going to watch it happen.

Several seconds later my third eye opened  and I was peering into another dimension. The unnerving thing however, is that if you can see into another dimension, whoever or whatever is there, can also see you.

I remember being extremely startled and and became afraid because the ‘whoever’ on the other side had moved right up to the portal between us and was now staring at me straight in the face; this seemed no more than say a nose-to-nose encounter. In front of me now was the face of a male elf – striking to say the least. He stared at me very intently with his small dark eyes, turned his head up and to the right in an S-shaped format as if he was studying my energy imprint – no sense or sign of emotion whatsoever.

The elf now began to recede away from me slowly and as he did so his height became smaller – this was when I realised that the elf had dimensionally ‘stretched’ itself to make eye to eye contact with me. The image now panned out further. The elf turned away from me and ‘bounced’ in this strange S-shape pattern over to a further group of six elves waiting motionless in a circle. I noticed there was a gap in this circle waiting for this ‘7th’ elf. The other six elves had their two front arms stretched out in front of them at an angle of approximately 45 degrees, with their two hands touching the shoulders of the respective elf in front. As the 7th elf joined the group, a magical secret now began to unfold right in front of my very eyes.

All seven elves now began to dance. I knew that this was an intrinsic dance of Nature and they were showing me something unearthly and magical if I could just work it out. The seven elves began what I would now best describe as a 3-dimensional dance of nature. They went round and round repeating the same movement in an never ending loop. The intricate mechanism of this dance was something to behold and at the time I described it as a 3-dimensional ‘sine-wave’ dance. I now know that the group of elves were dancing a 3-dimensional trace of the double-helix molecule of DNA – a dance of life itself!

3. How would you describe them?

The main elf allowed me to see most, if not all of his features. In comparison to a typical human face/head the elf had a large protruding chin, at least three times as big as a human. The forehead was also more protruding and flatter relative to a human – the face curved from forehead to chin in the shape of a crescent moon. His eyes were small and dark with a slightly pointed nose, symetrically showing off his two smallish ears. The hair was jet black and was ‘slicked’ back off his forehead as if the elf had used some sort of hair gel! The elf only wore a pair of 3/4 natural green pants – no footwear or top. I could easy see the elf’s chest, feet arms, hands and leg colour – this was what I could best describe at the time as ‘ashen-white’.

About Joseph Martin:

“My name is Joseph Martin, and I am a 49-year -old author of four books.  I have lived all my life in Ireland, and I have always been inspired by the countryside of Ireland. During my student years, I obtained qualifications in Physics and Education, up to MEd and Masters Level. At the age of 33, I had a profound spiritual experience, which has shaped my life ever since. From this time onwards, I was constantly left to ponder existence on earth. Although I continued with everyday life for many years after my initial spiritual experience, I was compelled to re-visit this experience in 2006, when I unexpectedly enjoyed several other spiritual encounters. Spirit instructed me to chart my encounters, and this resulted in the writing of my first book, ‘Encounters with Heaven and the Spirt World’. After this, my ability to connect with other spiritual dimensions intensified, and I went on to write my other three books: I am currently working on my fifth book.

My spiritual experiences have recently led me to pursure courses and qualifications in Reiki ( I am a Reiki Master); Soul Retrieval, Death and Dying and Shamanic healing. I have a particular interest in nature spirits and self-healing, including the use of crystals and other such medium.”