Tag Archives: Books

Summer Streaming and Dreaming

IMG_5618

 

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/

 

 

Stream Drawing for Wellbeing and Creative Bliss

 

Processed with VSCOcam

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.

Why is Creativity Connected to Intuition?

9781582704227

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 a Dream: In the Wilderness

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:

streamdream_May19

 

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.

Just Ask an Old Person: Signs and Messages from Carson McCullers

IMG_5177I recently visited the home of one of my favorite authors, Carson McCullers, in Columbus, GA

I read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers around the time my family moved to Georgia. When I found out that she attended my new high school, Columbus High School (a beautiful brick 1890’s building, set on a hill) and had been born and raised in Columbus, I was thrilled. I’d walk the halls of the old school, with it’s solid wooden floors, thinking of how she had also walked on the very same wood, gazed out the very same windows watching the trees  shimmer in the sun.  But one thing kept annoying me. In Heart is a Lonely Hunter, there are Greek characters, and a Greek diner and I never saw anything of that sort in Columbus–nothing Greek anywhere! It bothered me any time I thought of Carson McCullers since high school days. I figured she added the Greek diner part into the novel once she had relocated in her early twenties, to New York City where there are plenty of Greek diners. Then something very interesting happened. Last year, before traveling to see my parents in a retirement community in Columbus, I thought again about the Greek characters in McCuller’s novel and it seemed in-authentic since Columbus is not a magnate for Greek immigrants as far as I know, and never was. I carried on the conversation in my head about how it didn’t fit in, and why did she write something that wasn’t quite truly true to Columbus as a setting for the novel?

When I arrived at my parent’s retirement community, everyone was in the dining hall. It was lunch time. I was seated with my parents beside a quiet, sweet-faced gentleman with a kindly twinkle in his eyes.  It was pleasant enough chatting about nothing in particular with retired strangers and I thought how easy it is in our society to dismiss elderly people. Looking out at all the wheelchairs and gray hair, I thought to myself that I could sit silently, disinterested, but that seemed wrong. So I decided to ask the twinkle-eyed man questions. I asked him where he was from (Alabama was his answer). I asked about his wife, wondering, was she also from Alabama. “My wife was Greek,” he said. I was stunned, but even more so when he said, “Her Greek immigrant father ran the best restaurant in Columbus!” With absolute delight and a serious chill down my neck, with the compelling feeling of the presence of Carson McCullers hovering over us, chuckling, I asked plenty more questions! Yes, the Greek restaurant was in downtown Columbus, and yes his wife’s family knew Carson McCullers, her father’s jewelry shop was nearby, and she grew up coming into the Greek restaurant. Well, blow me down. I was utterly floating on air the rest of the day. I smile now, thinking of McCullers dwelling in the Other Side, straightening out these things for us down here.

Even more recently, reveling in this new found information, telling my sister and brother-in-law about it, we took a drive by the McCullers home, now set up as a museum, in Columbus. As we pulled up to look at the house, we noticed the front door was wide open. And we met a care-taker of the museum who just happened to stop by to check on something, and of course she invited us in. I felt like Carson herself opened that door for me!

IMG_5163My sister in front of the Carson McCullers home in Columbus, Ga. The door was wide open.

 

Making Marks as a Gift to Self and Others

Image

The unfinished galley of my new book due out in May, MAKING MARKS

Whenever I read Near Death Experiences, I think of what a powerful teacher a  “life review” is. Life reviews are common in many of NDEs. This is when you see your entire life as a movie, either every scene or very important ones, and you not only see yourself interacting with others, you feel everything the other people around you were feeling. People who experience this say that they re-emerge (after becoming conscious again) with so much more compassion and concern for others and it helps them love life more. Another thing I often read is that such NDE experiences make people want to live life to the fullest, appreciating each moment.

This new book of mine coming out in May is an expression of so much of what I love about life because the book’s truest message is about empathy for others and living life to the fullest —creative self-expression combined with empathy, for me, is the ultimate way to LOVE each moment of every day!  We make our marks, we live and interact, and if we can create while we support and love others, what could be better?  (I want to have a life-review, when I leave the earth, that I could feel good about, and all that matters is loving others and creating and generating good things, even if learning to be truly loving is not easy, I want to be better as each day goes by.)

My wish for the New Year is to develop more empathy and be more creative, knowing that the creative expression of others is a great gift to me and to celebrate that with every breath I take.

Would You Be a Mary or a Martha?

Mary and Martha/ painted sketch/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2013

I am studying Torah and taking Hebrew and LOVE IT. I recently had an exchange with the very brilliant Jewish scholar and author of several books, including The Jewish Annotated New Testament, Amy-Jill Levine.  Her work helps bridge a gap of misunderstanding between two traditions that spring from the same source, Judaism and Christianity. Her concentration and love of this study has improved how we see and read the New Testament and I am so grateful that she dedicated herself to it for everyone’s benefit. I was recently called a “Bridge Person” myself by a rabbi and I think I am that, actually having had a meditation recently where I am on a bridge that connects the two religions. When I asked Ms. Levine what she liked most in the NT, one was the story of Mary and Martha.  I admit that I have to actually study it myself to see what I think of it, but I enjoyed painting Mary as she is on her way to see Jesus while her sister Martha remains behind preparing food.  I would probably relate more to Mary as I’m not always enthralled with preparing food, but am getting better as time goes by.

If You Have Writer’s or Artist’s Block, Try This!

Sometimes I get into the studio and don’t know what it is I want to do. I may feel very inspired, but just not sure what it is that needs to come forth. Usually, just getting playful with art materials or into a stream-of-consciousness with writing helps get things going, but other days it’s best to do something else. Try these things and see if they help you, I’d love to hear your ideas as well!

Shadows of the Past and Your Perception of Now

This is a recent drawing (gesso and ink on paper, collage and acrylic) I did called “Things of the Past” copyright 2013

Often the light we have within–our essence, our creative potential and our uniqueness, is enshrouded by shadows of the past. In a recent visual-intuitive meditation I did, which I call Intuitive Stream Drawing Readings, using an intuitive method of drawing that I created (the subject of my next book, MAKING MARKS to be published in 2014 by Simon and Schuster/Beyond Words) I saw what came to me as a shrouded shadowy figure holding an image that looked like a “soul scroll” (these soul scrolls often come up in my intuitive readings—an image that looks like a scroll or chart, symbolizing what we contracted to see, do and learn in this life).

This is a detail from an Intuitive Stream Drawing reading I did recently (these visual-intuitive explorations are the subject of my next book, MAKING MARKS, due out in ’14 with Simon and Schuster/Beyond Words)

The idea of a shadow holding my soul’s potential and purpose hit me hard. I recognized it right away as a feeling I have at times that the past holds my “now” and “future” hostage.  Now being this moment and future being my perception of moments unfolding into more moments.  How? Memories of people, places and events that have formed my belief system, and have shaped my perception of myself and others can get fixed in a hard and unchanging way within the mind and emotions. All of these thoughts and emotions which are only mine (as they exist like movies playing over and over or novels being read over and over within) and are not real.  They are possibly aspects of my personal truths, but they are only perceptions I have based on my experiences and knowledge. They are  shadows of what once was, that I accept as real and unchangeable in some way. This is not negative–there is a lot of good that comes from this acceptance of certain thoughts I see as “real” and that is that my brain and heart remembers what I learned so I do not have to go through whatever those things were AGAIN. My brain and heart feel remorse, love, sentiment, nostalgia, respect. Those are good things. But the downside of all this is that at times we (certainly I) hold onto perceptions that no longer serve us, that are like mind-movies of the past dragging us down–yet we still carry them around as though they are real, carved in stone upon the heart, whether we know this consciously or not.  Reflecting on this, I see that such thoughts and memories weigh on me when I have not resolved or forgiven myself or others! When I have not created a new way to use what happened in the past to honor life, I am allowing the past to define me, even though the scenes are dramatic stage-productions, life stories, that are figments and illusions. This can be a miserable way to live–each new moment marring current dispositions and thoughts. Past circumstances can set us up for future disappointments that are similar to those of the past (holding on to things of the past can be like telling the Universe you like those things, “so bring on more!”). It really is like the Shadow of Death holding the future hostage.  That image in my meditation struck a cord so I could revisit in a conscious way, how memories can truly inhibit happiness if I allow them to–and I alone, with my free will, have to be the one to do that adjustment of perception. Nobody else can do that for me.

I love that through drawing, and through intuitively tuning in, discoveries can be made to  set us free, allowing us to use the past for the good that is in it, to love more deeply, forgive more thoroughly and to understand life situations better. But then it is time to create new experiences, using all we’ve seen and heard, felt and participated in or generated (all of it–the good, the bad, the difficult, the easy, etc.). Each moment gives us a chance to create brand-new life episodes–I ask myself, why not create dreams-come-true and generate wonderful relationships, activities, explorations and art? Why not?