Personal Spring: The New You from Inside Out


IMG_7646This is a New Spirit Painting commission, created for Heather Strauch for A Different Approach PT / Elaine Clayton copyright 2015

How often do you have a personal springtime, a time of conscious renewal or even unwanted change which forces new ways and different approaches?  I found Heather Strauch years ago when I was in a process of change both physically and spiritually. I sought help healing and found that “a different approach” was available, thank God.  I had previously received excellent treatment, but then relocated and found a new practice that seemed unconcerned with the whole body, or with meaningful alignment and treatment which reflects true care. I searched alternatives hoping I’d find what was “right” for me and found it. Heather’s practice, A Different Approach PT, is “the real deal”, she is a true healer and I have trusted her for almost a decade with myself and my family members.

I have found often that in the process of seeking healing, we align with people and situations that are optimal for us as we unfold anew, creating the life we seek. At our core we are spiritually renewed even as we age and even as we experience illness.  A personal spring time is necessary now and then, time for brining in the new, to heal and re-emerge with a different vision and healthy start. Spring into action, spring cleaning, spring has sprung. Eternal spring–our true essence!

Come Stream Draw with Me at Fairfield University Bookstore


Come recapture drawing in a free-style way I call ” stream drawing” and allow your unconscious, creative, imagination flow into your hands and onto paper. This drawing event is at Fairfield University Bookstore on April 25th at 11 a.m.

Stream Drawing for Wellbeing and Creative Bliss


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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.

Post Traumatic Stress and Art

Elaine Clayton copyright 2011

You can relieve symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress through creating art. I don’t say that as an authority on PTSD, but as an artist and person. I’ve experienced first hand the healing power of creative play, drawing and art making in general, as a way to “just be” and to feel calm.

It is a year after Hurricane Sandy and one of my sons and I still get a physically ill feeling when we drive anywhere near the house we had to rent briefly during the hurricane (we were safe there, and luckily didn’t get the rental BY THE BEACH which would have made it all much worse since all those homes flooded, but we still loathed the place we were in–think moth balls and too much porcelain and glass—and were freezing for the entire week after the hurricane). My only answer is to create. My son instinctively longed for and started building models this weekend, saying he loved, “peace and quiet” while putting the models together. I am in the studio making art to let the ptsd of that time drift away. Bless all those who still do not have their home life or housing resolved, and bless those who valiantly advocate for them!

Line Crews at Work

Since I’ve spent the last few weeks watching trucks with people fixing power lines, I started thinking about how I’ve sketched line crews but have no idea how they do what they do. It seems dangerous. I’ll never forget how happy we were when the lights finally came back on after Sandy!

These are 2 from my Westport Sketchbook

Send Thoughts of Warmth to NY and NJ

  Spirit Painting for Mena/2010
About a month ago when we moved into a temporary rental, I noticed the shower was elegant but the hot water ran out so fast, that I thought it was miserable. I said out loud, “Uh-oh, God wants me NOT to relax into great comfort for some reason.” After a few weeks, I discovered the reason, and her name was Sandy.

Sandy made us cold, so I decided to post this total sun-scape this morning. This art is a reprint of one of my first Spirit Paintings for a young girl and the colors and light in it seem right for me today because I am sending thoughts of warmth to areas hit by hurricane Sandy. It is sheer hell to freeze (we did for a week when Westport had lost power). It is severely beyond reasonable to shiver, literally, for more than 15 days as the people in parts of NY and NJ have done.  What about infants and young children, elderly people or those who are unwell? What about standing around freezing, remembering what warm felt like so long ago (15 days is a long time to be cold)?

I hear that people are losing composure as they get more and more desperate (and that a guy pulled up in a BMW, got out and punched a young power and light volunteer lineman from Florida so hard that the young man has to now have reconstructive surgery).  Why would you punch the person who is trying to help you get warm again??? Let’s give the workers who are trying to restore power, many voluntarily traveling here from out-of-state, a thank you when we see them.  It’s better than trying to injure or kill them while they’re trying to help you get your power back on. We had Hydro Quebec and Po’Boys from Louisiana and some crews from Massachusetts here when our power was out and I felt teary every time I saw them. I was constantly pulling over the car (my Prius kept me warm during the day, at intervals) to thank them. I’ll never forget that cold week after Sandy and before the nor’easter that brought snow.

We’re entitled to be warm in winter, especially if we are paying for it, but losing power in a storm does not entitle us to get violent and lash out at the workers for these companies or toward anyone.  I say this knowing that all of this chaos is only the beginning, there is more to come and we need to be ready to expect the unexpected–not out of fear, but out of grace. I tell myself and others to be ready to not lose your inner core, even when things get extreme.  And preparing otherwise in every way seems really smart, because what if the entire grid goes out, what then? Will we all be lining up or fighting for gas for the generator as many have had to do, or what?  Asking cold and hungry people to be full of grace or peace in their hour of need is not fair because when surviving becomes that edgy, the primitive nature in us takes over.  So being prepared seems like the best thing to at least try to do. I have repeatedly had dreams of solar ingenuity during hard times and using the sun for basic needs. I have to educate myself and the minute I can, I’m going to have solar panels. For now, I’m drinking up the sun and the warmth I’m lucky to have. Each drop of hot water or soothing sunlight is a true gift.


Hurricane Sandy

My water color and pencil sketch of Canal Beach in Saugatuck Shores in peaceful weather/2010. This is an area that would have suffered some damage from Sandy.

I am sorry I have not posted or sent out newsletters from in a while. We live along the coast just outside of NYC and have had a real adventure with the superstorm and the aftermath. However, I have felt completely protected in this interlude, even if we were uncomfortable (no heat, no power, etc).  We are closing on a house and had to secure a temporary rental while waiting, and I almost signed a lease on a beach house in the area, but didn’t feel quite right about it.  Standing in it with the realtor, I simply felt ill-at-ease, yet I was pressed for time so decided to go with the flow and agree to take the house for the month.  Then another family rented this beach house out from under us (they planned to rent for longer and were better candidates for the owners). I did not get angry, but inwardly felt it “wasn’t meant to be”, and scurried around to find another house to rent, this one in a more bucolic suburban setting, with small fields and meadows.

As news of the hurricane came in, I began to prepare the family. What I realized after the storm is that I am sure that the beach house we nearly rented was flooded (or at least had to be evacuated) while the house we ended up renting had not one single tree that would fall on it during a wind storm. It has beautiful trees of all sizes and types surrounding it,  yet not one was positioned close enough to worry me or endanger us. I feel blessed by this.

For a while, I have been focused on how imagination, creativity and intuition are all in the same category of presence and am writing about this in my new book (due out in 2014). What I realized in this situation of feeling protected, is that the same feeling of enchantment that I feel while creating or while intuiting or feeling empathy for another, is the same feeling I had upon feeling protected during the storm. As though magically surrounded by something out of the ordinary, something divine and good.

I look around, though at all those who suffered so much through this storm (and still are suffering terribly) and know that if my family was fortunate enough to dodge the severe misery and devastation wrought by this storm, then I have to concentrate on those who have not been as fortunate. This time, we were only inconvenienced as a family, and that hurt enough–I cannot imagine what those feel who have lost everything and are freezing and alone, or with babies to feed and keep warm.

These are the days of the”earth changes” that we’ve been talking about for quite a while, and extremes are what we must expect. All we can do is (to the best of our ability) be prepared to live without power, and/or to evacuate.  More than ever, I use my  intuitive sensing and listen to that inner voice, that for me, is our connection to the Source of Life. I pray every day for protection and strength for what comes.

I am typing this from the Westport Public Library PC (and I’m a Mac user) because there is no internet at home, so I will not post as regularly as I would under normal circumstances until I get cable restored. But I miss my daily Illuminara posts because creating art, expressing through color, light and form is my purpose. Now I am reminded that it is a beautiful luxury.  I create these posts because I want to engage and interact with others using art to explore dreams,  intuition, spirituality and healing.  These explorations can carry us through hard times but hard times can mean we have to focus on the basics of survival.  After shivering for a week and benefitting from the kindness of good friends who took us in and fed us, I am grateful for every last good thing in this world.

Sketching on the Saugutuck with Children at the Westport Library

It was a glorious day to be by the river with 20 children, drawing the light and shadows, the trees and water. I was so taken by the depth of sincerity of each child, the genuine seriousness that they held for drawing.

Everyone took places under the trees to get the view they wanted. It was a serene and satisfying thing to behold, several children in so many places, intently studying the scenery and the marks they were making.

We had time to talk about the different discoveries of each individual child, and to appreciate the many unique approaches to drawing and problem solving. One in particular: how to draw sparkling water with charcoal? Another was capturing movement. There were paddle boarders going by and people walking, cars moving on the bridge, etc. The only thing I regret about the drawing session is that the time went by so very fast! We’ll do this again at the library, I’m sure!

Ghost of the Tree at Compo Beach

Sketch of my favorite tree at Compo (that is no longer there)

Rounding the corner on Compo Road South as it turns left just where the jetty is, I always hold my breath a little as I notice how my favorite tree in the beach area is no longer there. The ghost of that tree lingers, there is a blankness where it once stood.  Have you ever felt the absence of a tree? It is a stark empty feeling. A bald kind of deprivation (of shade, of shadow, of greenery). I suppose I’ll get over it, but I’m glad I drew it. Trees mean more to us than we are conscious of in our daily routines, I think. They sustain us as they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. And breath is life, life is breath. Looking at this sketch, I remember to breathe deeply.