This past weekend I was lucky enough to travel to Virginia to do readings and an intuitive stream drawing workshop (based on the intuitive method in my new book, MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing). At one point in the workshop, we broke into teams of two and did stream drawings for one another. I’d like to share what happened in my one-on-one with a partner. I told him I’d hold a concern in my mind and heart, but would not tell him what it was. He promised me he’d close his eyes and using his non-dominant hand, would draw in my honor, to help me (even though he didn’t know my concern, or know me at all). The drawing was very meaningful to me! My partner showed me his drawing and then shared with me what he saw in it, while gazing at it. He saw a mountain peak right away. It immediately spoke to me. He didn’t know it, but the concern I had was that of worry as a mother having a high school senior about to graduate to move on in life. I dreaded the mountain peak, which my partner said, “Has a snowcap.” Could it be that my son would go to a college very far away in the Northwest (I would prefer he not go so far away!)? This had been a worry of mine! see below, upper right snow cap image I validated that he was on the right track. Excited, I began to show him other things that I saw that was validation– we got into a fun and easy-going conversation about his stream drawing. We saw various things such as “a strong arm” and he helped me realize that I’d have to “let go, don’t hold on so tight” to my young adult son. (Wise words!). And then I saw, to my amazement, that the entire stream drawing had a shape of a bear, in a dress. This is significant because my life lesson with my sons was to learn to advocate for them, like a “mother bear”. The bear has a tight grip (gulp–learn to let go now) and seems to have a little surrender flag up near it’s head. see above image Should I surrender control and instead let my son’s life take the course that he wants it to take, rather than holding on so tight? I think so. THANK YOU for the insight! I have learned something. I faced that this was a new time, with new lessons in life and parenting ahead. And that drawing really helped me change my viewpoint, I was not even fully conscious of the need to acknowledge that I was perhaps unwilling to let go. (And these drawings are to be read “multi-dimensionally”, like a dream, they never stop offering new perspectives, new ways of perceiving. There is no absolute here, it’s about discovery and seeing what you see and embracing it, keeping an open mind to possible other views.)
A recent Spirit Painting Elaine Clayton copyright 2014
It is such a privilege to create these paintings for individuals, because going into meditation and painting for an another person (most of whom I have never met or spoken with) with their wellbeing and soul purpose held in my heart, makes me feel connected to something eternal. I feel sort of pulled in a certain direction as images arrive, kind of like going on an excursion without a map but sensing and feeling my way. No two are the same, of course, as each one of us are unique. Somehow, someway, the paintings and the images they depict connect to the individual’s life or hold meaning for them, it is uncanny. I can’t explain it, I just thoroughly enjoy it. There is something great going on here with life, we’re connected in mysterious ways. No matter how hard life can be, there is a stream within each of us that gives us a knowing and a feeling for others, all we have to do is be willing to “go with the flow” as they say, and we find ourselves in anyone we encounter. We find life, longing, loving, joys and sorrows. These paintings remind me to celebrate others and to remember we are One in that we are made in God’s image as powerful creators.
Pomegranates Picking/ ink and watercolor Elaine Clayton copyright 2014
I remember the era of life when I realized that I was not happy and did not have abundance and it was time to choose to change that. Every moment is one to see the love or see the shadows, see the light or get lost in the dark. I don’t always see the love, I am not always bringing love through myself, but for the most part, I learned the hard way to bask in joy instead of cynicism, anger or negative thoughts. I regret negative words I’ve said in my life, and I still work on this, I think being conscious of it has helped me grow.
Sometimes the world we’re in is so polarized, it seems hell-bent toward destruction. How do I keep positive with so much hatred and extremism? I am not sure, but it really is the only choice I have, I’m not going back to choosing (unconsciously or consciously) shadows and darkness. Maimonides taught that the joys we pass up on in life, the good things we could have received but said no to, those are all instances we will have to apologize for in the after-life. Imagine standing in the presence of God, watching a movie of your life, seeing all the negative words, choices and the good things that flowed to us that we rejected. I know I’ll be having to witness some of those, and probably some great stuff that was coming my way that my negative attitude or actions may have kept from coming fully to me–these are all my responsibility. So, I hope I get to see a life-movie that shows some absolutely glorious days of taking this earth time I’ve got, moment by moment, and being filled with LIGHT, in celebration of the good in life, even in these strange, often painful days.
I recently immersed in the mikvah, holy and blessed water, mayyim hayyim. I did this because I love healing rituals and because I think there is something sacred about renewing the body and spirit symbolically–I needed to do that. You can do this in the ocean, I have done it before (just stating the prayer intention to heal, to be renewed as I swam). In Judaism, it is one of the commandments, or mitzvot, to honor God’s wishes by immersing in water. (Not everyone likes some of the sexist-feeling aspects of women having to immerse after their menstruation, for example, because it implies we are “unclean”, but some of that is, I think, due to the fact that commandments were developed centuries ago when that was probably arguably good hygienic advice. Now we know menstruation is not a health threat to anyone, won’t make anyone ill or hurt anyone. And yet, Orthodox Jews still go by the ancient ways and there have been many who say it is a spiritually fulfilling practice.)
I immersed as a way to acknowledge a willingness to heal, to be blessed by God, to surrender to the will of God while consciously choosing life, choosing vitality and empowerment. For me, the mikvah is a symbolic ritual inviting me to see the opportunity to thrive in a way that aligns me with God. I personally can’t feel I am thriving without that alignment. And I need to step out of the ordinary daily routines to make that spiritual connection.
If you are Jewish and have any experience with going to the mikvah, or strong opinions about it, I’d love to hear them. If you are Christian, you will remember in Isaiah the Pool of Siloam, and in the Christian bible, that Jesus healed people and sent them to Siloam, the Jewish mikvah. And some Jewish scholars refer to John the Baptist as “John the Mikvah Man” since he was immersing people in water to renew their spirit and connection with God.
In this recent Spirit Painting, I had feelings of the human personality in contrast (yet in unison) with the soul. In other words, I felt that we get born and develop in a growing body and our personality evolves as we mature. We are all that has conditioned us and contributed to our sense of self. And then there is the soul-essence which, every now and then, we may feel very strongly, a deep inner sense of self. An identity not necessarily like the personality at all. The soul seems to be a force or source informing our sense of ideals and capacity to love, it is above our human responses often, and the more we remember who we truly are “deep down inside” as some would say, we begin to fully integrate, becoming more conscious, of our soul as we respond to the world around as human personalities within a body.
The person who commissioned this painting, I felt during meditation, has strong ideals and desire to go and do good in the world, with archetypal heroes built into the sense of self, and a powerful spiritual motivation to find support and offer support to others.
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/
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.
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.
This is a recent Spirit Painting commission Elaine Clayton copyright 2014
In a recent Spirit Painting commission, while meditating on the one who commissioned it, I felt the sense of deep inner peace commingling with movement and change and felt I was in a realm of the possible. Memories of the past blended with future visions of good days ahead, sunshine and a return to the sea. This painting took me on some adventures, but I still felt at peace inside through the many places and changes the painting the painting took me to. I felt as though the most real adventure is the internal one, and all external experiences are strongly influenced by how we perceive them. I felt a sense of grace and love while painting this, and it made me realize that when we feel grace and love inside, we bring that out into every place we go and to every person we meet. Then that inner peace truly is in our surroundings, as we are the host or vessel of that peace.