Detail of a recent painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
Majestic, sensitive, powerful. Horses seem to know what you’re thinking, they pick up on how you feel. There is a quality of spiritual opportunity about them. Riding them makes you feel closer to the sky, taller than human and grounded in your power. This horse just appeared–the head and neck were something I “found” when looking at random brush strokes, so I filled in the rest. I love it when horses show up.
Detail of a recent Spirit Painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
Memories like to cling to us, or we cling to them. Next time you find yourself stuck in a moment of remembering something painful from the past (often it is the not-so-good memories that surface, maybe because we are holding on to something unresolved in them), try to imagine yourself holding a beautiful bird. Sift through the memory and allow yourself to feel the emotion and review your thoughts of the memory while gently holding this beautiful bird. Picture it however you like, long or short feathers, exotic or ordinary colors, etc.. Then tell the bird you’re holding in your mind to carry this memory into the sky so you don’t have to carry it anymore. Imagine the pain of the memory transforming you, taking flight to become something else within you–maybe a new strength for having endured something difficult, maybe an acceptance of that which you cannot fix or control. Whatever it is, release it with this magnificent bird and follow the bird if you like, in your meditation. Tell me what happens!
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.
Hiydaayah Williams copyright 2015
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.
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.
“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.
Detail 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.
This is one of the 40 Illuminara Intuitive Journal cards. I painted it thinking of my birth place and the Texas landscape that was to be my idea of what the world was in my first decade of life. I think of going home when I choose it randomly, it brings up many thoughts and feelings for me. This is what it looks like in the Texas Panhandle where I was born and lived until about 10 years old. It hits me hard to realize that at the most foundational level within me, is this place, this extreme flat land with characteristics unlike any place I’ve lived since. I remember being myself in the most unconscious way, I had not thought about who I was, I just WAS “me”. Once we moved, I began to be very self-conscious and noticing drastic differences in people and places. So when I see this card, I am struck by that true, authentic cowgirl/tomboy “me” that I was, from a long line of Texans on my dad’s side, and how I had 10 years to live in that totally present self. After that time, I have visited many places, lived in many, and have been exposed to all kinds of life lessons, yet I have never felt “at home” in that same way. What does “at home” mean to me now? It means finding my soul, connecting with my heart, being myself and genuine, true to who I am. It means expressing myself and respecting others. I am at home in my own skin.
Right now, I am totally immersed in Judaism with all its ancient wisdom and mystical richness. I “came home” to myself in many ways when I finally started studying Hebrew and chanting the prayers in the Siddur. This would seem to have taken me far from home, but instead it feels like going back home. Maybe it was that menorah Mom had or all the Levy family who we were so close to, and who my dad and all of us grew up with in Texas, or Jesus who I knew to be a Jew, wondering why everyone wasn’t then just Jewish if he was? Maybe it was past lives. All I know is that I love being home within, in that way I cannot verbalize.
What is “being home” for you?
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.
A recent commissioned Spirit Painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2014
In this recent commissioned Spirit Painting, I felt the feeling of great creative energy, a sense of the new based on past knowledge gained, and of working with a spiritual openness. The gift of nature bringing a wisdom and feeling of security, in that life renews time and time again, also came forth in this one.