Tag Archives: drawing

Negative Space: Create Something in the Space Between

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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!

Intuitive Stream Drawing: Love for an Animal in Childhood

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Elaine Clayton copyright 2015 Intuitive Stream Drawing

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.

Are You Blue? Synesthesia and the Color Blue

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mono print Elaine Clayton copyright 2015

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.

Making Marks with Children Changes Lives (sketchbook entry from 1989)

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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 and Dream Journaling for Happiness

IMG_7047Recent paitning  Elaine Clayton copyright 2015

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.

 

Stream Drawing Companions

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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!

Remember the Future: Dreaming Forward


IMG_7116Detail of a recent painting series Midrash Painting: Eve’s Dreams

Often, memories of the past surface; small or quick scenes of all kinds of past events or experiences flash into the mind’s eye (accompanied with a lot of emotion, too, if we notice). A fun thing to do is to try to flash on future events–it is a mind game in a way, of course, because the future has not happened yet and therefore we have no knowledge of it stored in the subconscious. But what if it were possible to see the future in flickers of awareness just as it is possible to experience the past? It too, is no more–only an illusion. All we have is “now”, but if you feel like seeing yourself in new ways, if you have wishes or dreams you’d like to realize, why not picture them into being?  There are all kinds of dreams: dreams we have when we sleep, where we process all we have unconsciously absorbed and dreams that are day dreams, where we imagine what might be.

 

Eve’s Dreams

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“Eve in a Shift Dress”,  from my new series, Painting Midrash: Eve’s Dreams

This weekend at Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, CT, we are having an art show. Tomorrow we have a reception and conversation with the artists, if you’re local, please come by around 4:30! 
Tonight is a Shabbat dinner with special guest, Bella Meyer, the granddaughter of Marc Chagall, one of my absolute favorite artists. I am thrilled about it. 

I have been working on a series, Painting Midrash: Eve’s Dreams. Dreams and intuitive sensing are such major themes in my life, and I have been learning to chant Jacob’s Ladder in Hebrew. It got me wondering what about the dreams of women, and are there any in Torah? I imagined the first woman, Eve, and thought about what her dreams would be. I had a sudden realization that her dreams are the same as ours: longing for Paradise. We long for something we cannot quite capture, or we do in glimpses, but there is always “trouble in Paradise” in one way or another. We live in a world of shadows and light, it is not perfect, it can be very painful. These paintings in this series represent that longing for harmony, self fulfillment, love and bliss in general, or even just basic safety and comfort.

An Angel with You in Your Grief

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This is a section of a recent intuitive stream drawing reading I did for a client. At the root chakra, from hips to feet in this case, I saw an image of one doubled over in grief, holding a heart, wearing a turban. An angel below holds all of this emotional activity, safely. It turned out that the client had a lot of grief, two deaths in one 3 month period, and one was unexpected and devastating. Yet, this turban with a dripping jewel (a tear?) seemed to me to say that this person will have many dreams come true. And love is so big, her ability to love, her desire to keep on loving life even during such sadness, is worthy of angels. I really do feel that we each have our spiritual protectors to help us through all the emotions we go through in life. The emotions teach us, shape us. I don’t think we go through life struggles alone.

Dimension of Being

IMG_6865Detail from a recent painting

I had a dream where there was a very frightened woman, so much so that she jumped face-up into a creek, shrieking as she looked up at something very terrifying in the sky. But when I looked up, all I saw was a shower of yellow-gold leaves streaming down into my hands, all over my head and filling me with a feeling of love. At that moment I woke up, and still in the hypnogogic state, I saw the face of a spooky ghost. Eyes seething, teeth rotten and gnashing. I felt sorry for him and said, “God bless you.” I repeated this several times. Then, as though this image of the spooky ghost were on a screen, the screen tilted back and I saw that it was only paper-thin. This negative apparition was only a projection, it was not “real”. I then seemed filled with an understanding that all of our emotions, thoughts and intentions are also like projections which we send out, and each one is like an area or plane of existence that are all stacked up like paper in the Universe: the angry area, the fear-filled area, the revenge area, the love area, the joy area, etc.. We play out or actions and reactions based on life events. If the negative ghost which seemed to be angry, mean, full of fear, was  actually on a paper-thin type of area or screen or plane, then there would be many more such areas, all filled with other kinds of emotions and thoughts and intentions. Which one are you in right now? I’m at this moment feeling a mixture (can we be in more than one area at a time?). I feel expectation of a big blizzard coming, I feel creative bliss, I feel slightly uncomfortable in my body because I am sore from painting for so many hours.

So what dimension would we want to be in? We all know what it is like to have emotions like anger and fear, to feel as though we cannot forgive one who wronged and hurt us. These are human emotions. But we also know that when consumed by those, it feels like we are “in a bad place” as they say. And we want out of it. I think it is true, the only way out of those emotions is to be conscious of them and our response to them, and to practice compassion where we are able to, to love in each moment as best we are able to. Forgiveness often comes in time. Being free of anger is such a great feeling. When we hold positive feelings, thoughts and intentions, cultivating love and calmness, we must then be in an area or dimension of being. I want to stay under the shower of light-filled leaves, catching them in my hands.