My curriculum design is based on the life cycle of a plant. In this metaphor there is first a seed, then roots, a stem, leaves, and finally flowers and/or fruit of some type. There would also be ground and nutrients, water and air to consider. The cycle ends in more seeds being produced for the cycle to begin again.
I first apply it to the process of Intentional Creativity itself.
The seed is the essential beginning. It already contains deep inside what it needs to catalyze into a plant. It is about showing up and being ready to explore with intention. It is the kernel of inquiry that begins the process.
The roots are what extend to support and ground the process. There are numerous roots that develop. They might be things like intention, inquiries, visioning, journaling, sketching, listening.
The stem becomes visible above ground to transport nutrients and provide a framework for the process of growth. This is analogous to bringing form to the canvas with an outline of the Muse herself, suddenly visible, ready to reveal her story or what she wants the painter to know.
Leaves form and give further shape and color to the plant. They are necessary to the process of photosynthesis, as they receive energy and transfer it into production. In the painting process these might be symbols, color, and further design elements derived from listening and observing what is needed on the canvas and defining areas with shadow and highlight.
Flowers appear that decorate the plant and provide beauty. They also offer sustenance for bees which are drawn to them for their pollen. They are evidence that the plant is nearly at the height of its journey. This is a sign of alchemy happening, a transformation from one state to another.
In the painting process, there is illumination and decoration and further tending as the Muse blossoms in illumination after glazing.
Fruit will form on the plant and be produced as a result of the integration of all the other parts of the process happening. It provides sustenance for whoever partakes of it as well as being the new form of life which contains the seed that can start the process again. In the intentional creativity process of the painting journey, here is where a message is received that reflects all that has gone before and all that has been transmuted into consciousness and made useful to our new story. There is something to partake of and be witnessed about.
Outline for a workshop
Here is an idea for a 13-setp painting workshop. The theme for my workshop is Meant to Be, rediscovering the true self you bring to the world.
Imagine a life well lived, where every day you embody the real you. This painting workshop leads you step by step through the Intentional Creativity method to explore who you are meant to be, and what makes you YOU. You’ll bring intention, language and symbol to your canvas in this transformative journey. No previous experience is required.
Theory/Idea: Each person comes into the world with treasures within as well as a purpose. We are like seeds of potential. We lose sight and awareness of this as life happens to us and we listen to negative messages or expectations from others or the over-culture. We conform to something that may not be who we really are meant to be. We may not be in touch with who we really are. This process is a way for people to be reminded to embody the real part of themselves that is inviolate and has purpose. We are making a clearing for mindfulness about the true self. As we make it visual we are integrating our inner and outer life to align more to that original true self.
A sacred space is created for the gathering. An altar is set up with a beautiful vignette on top of a table. It has the stages of a plant’s life: soil, seeds, sprouts, shoots, stems and leaves, a mature plant and flowers. There are candles, seasonal items, fabrics, a bowl of water to receive papers for the ritual, papers and pens. I will also ask participants ahead of time to bring an item that is in some way about themselves to place on the altar table.
This theme itself is like a seed. It contains something deep within to discover. It is what you “came into the world with.” Who you were meant to be contains all your potential and your uniqueness.
-Opening circle Red Thread Inquiry: What’s one thing you came in with? As you think about who you see yourself to be, what’s one word you would say that is representative of who you’ve always been?
-Reading from Tea With the Midnight Muse
1- Visioning: We journey down a spiral staircase to visit a store room with a wise woman who shows us familiar significant parts of our life story, some good and some we don’t need to let define us anymore.
-Journaling about what we saw and what we allowed to recede.
Starting with a quote about embodiment and being fully present.
Then asking, “What is your intention for this time of exploring who you were meant to be?” We write a statement of intention or prayer or request on the canvas and bless the canvas with water and hands.
2- Inviting: Portal: creating an invitation in the middle of the canvas and choosing another color for the outer background.
-Drawing a shape that is the original seed of your story in a third color. It might be heart shaped or geometric or organic. The seed is the essential beginning. It already contains deep inside what it needs to catalyze into a plant. It is the kernel of inquiry that begins the process. It is about showing up and being ready to explore with intention.
-Bringing lines and marks around the seed in a dark color to represent the milestones and markers in your life. Add lines of unavoidable tragedy that were also part of your experience. This is part of the ground in which your seed grows.
-Adding another color on the bottom portion over the seed and lines. You are letting go of the power of these marks on your life and releasing and burying the seed in the dark that it may grow new life.
3- Sourcing: Face and composition demonstration using the iconic 20-line face.
Trying several faces and possibilities on paper and noting what each one says to you.
-Choosing one to bring to the canvas which represents the essence of the strong inner you, the inviolate part of the real you.
Drawing the outline with a paint brush and white paint (or chalk or charcoal first.)
-Talk about the Critic and the Muse and ways to release the critic and invite the Muse to speak up to give you discernment.
-Asking her now if there’s at least one symbol of one of your stored treasures that wants to be represented on the canvas. Writing about it and sketching in your journal. Then drawing it on your canvas in white paint or a color that will show up over the background.
4- Listening: Demo of color blocking into all the shapes that were created leaving glow.
5- Encountering: Bringing dimension to the face with darks in the openings of the face.
-Adding a 2nd layer of color blocking in lights and darks loosely, but not covering over all that’s already there.
-Stepping back from the painting with your journal and listening to what is being said.
6-Connecting: Bringing in more content with a little smaller brush. Adding design elements into the composition, along with marks and symbols, dots, etc.
7- Deepening: shadows, darks, and definition.
8- Dawning: Highlights and accents.
9- Integrating: Adding medium color where there aren’t lights and darks. Demo of glazing methods.
-Letting the painting sit in the shadows as you listen to what comes up now. Journaling about it.
Writing anything you would like to release as we close for the day. “Water” your intention to release it by placing the strip of paper into the bowl on the altar table.
-Close this session with a short share from anyone who wants to about their process and insight so far, and then read a poem from Tea with the Muse.
End of Session One
-Welcome and a reading to open the session
-Sharing of insights since last session if appropriate. Or go straight to visioning after having them stand in front of their canvas to breathe and reconnect with their muse and align with her vibration.
-Visioning to drumming or music. Thinking back at a time when you know you were really being yourself, not what was expected of you from without. How old were you? What were you doing? Noticing anything about the scene. Taking a moment to jot down your thoughts and impressions and how it felt.
Part 2: Now letting yourself identify a time when you felt you were being your best self with others. What were you doing? Who were you helping? Taking a few moments to journal about this scenario and how it felt.
-Bringing her present again with highlights and shadows, pulling her forward and bringing attention to other parts you want to stand out.
10- Awakening: Choose the color palette you want for the rest of the painting. Listening deeply.Glazing and bringing things back as needed.
-Listening and writing about her journey. What is the new story of your true self she wants to show you?
-Other symbols or splashes of color wanting to be added as you bring awakening to your true self? Is there a representation or symbol of the new life of the new story? Is there a particular kind of leaf or plant or flower to include?
-Pausing to journal if needed.
11-Honoring: Bringing attention and nurture with a small brush. Using dots, etc. in a prayerful meditative way as you create pattern.
-Stepping back and asking her what is now needed to bring completion.
12- Illumination: Bringing another layer of darks and lights, stars, light rays, bio-photons of energy, and any other illumination.
-Inquiry: Ask yourself how you would feel if your wishes were granted for living into the best version of yourself, and then allow yourself to internalize that emotional state. Does that have a shape or a color or mark?
13- Receiving and Anointing: -Sitting back and look into the eyes and heart of the painting. Give her the pen as it were and let her speak a message to you. What does she want you to know about the you you were meant to be? You might ask her how to align your outer life with your inner self.
-Anointing her with sparkle and glitter, signing name, and pulling the title from the writing.
-Regather for a time of sharing for each participant. Each shares their painting and title, any of their message from their Muse, insight they gained, and if there is an action step they might take. After each person we reply, “You are witnessed.”
-Closing blessing by John O’Donohue
-Instructions for cleanup.
-Cake! or bubbly if appropriate.