My Prosperity Plan

A letter to Shiloh looking forward to looking backward:

Dear Shiloh:
Dreaming and heart-storming is good for the soul. It helped me to get to where I am today. My studio and teaching space are what I longed for from the beginning. I have a place large enough for storage of supplies and easels and still plenty of room to host 15 students. When I need space for a larger group I rent a local facility that meets my requirements for beauty and hospitality.

sbarbara-jen

On a Santa Barbara Weekend Retreat

I serve 25 students a week normally and once a month I offer a 2-day workshop on a theme or issue dear to my soul. My students always have an opportunity to sign up for the new workshops as well as to work with me individually. Twice a year I plan a weekend retreat at a location that offers a beautiful natural setting that adds to the soul care experience. At these retreats there are up to 15 participants. We share meals and lots of conversation. They don’t want to leave. Spots fill up quickly and some come back for each one.

The breakthroughs happen as we attend to listening within and moving past obstacles that have long held us back. Each workshop confirms my appreciation of the process and your teaching.

 

Financial Planning
Income is made up of many streams. I have fine art prints of many of my paintings, along with greeting cards from cropped images. Some of my original paintings have sold as soon as I have shown them. I’ve been a part of several art openings.

The more predictable revenue comes from teaching classes and workshops:

Weekend retreats on location are 2 1/2 days with registration at $425 per person.
Expense for each person includes materials/location/lodging at $200 per person.
Profit per person is $225. 8 participants=$1800

2-day workshops locally with registration at $250 per person.
Expense for each person includes materials/lunch/location at $75 per person.
Profit per person is $175. 10 participants=@1750

4-week once/week Art Lab classes with registration at $100 per person for 4 classes.
Expense for each person includes extra supplies beyond the supply list they bring and printed materials at approximately $10 per person.
Profit per person is $90. 8 participants=$760 for the 4 week class

Red Thread 1-day group session with registration at $75 per person.
Expense for each person includes materials/location at $25 per person.
Profit per person is $50. 6 participants=$300

Individual IC session at $100 per session.
Expense including materials is $15.
Profit per person is $85. 12 individual sessions per year=$1020

Online classes in collaboration with 2 other facilitators with registration at $100 per person.
Expense is limited to marketing materials and video hosting.
Profit per person is $30.

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My Soul Work Project

hearthandWhat is my sacred work in the world?

Healing and transformation are what I want to facilitate through my soul work.
There must always be two parts for me:

  • Expression of my own personal soul work through creativity born of contemplation and charged up with prayer and intention.
  • Creating experiences for other people that involve contemplative creativity, discovery and action.

What’s in my toolbox so far:
A degree in fine art taught me to see. I am grateful for that. Having an art degree does not mean being taught to think beyond form, technique, or invention for any healing or self-discovery purpose, though. This came to me later as I poured myself into creating experiences for others to facilitate devotion and healing. body-stationI also discovered many online resources for my own art processes like art journaling, mixed media, and creative digital photographic processes that aided me in using creativity to discover and express what was within. I started asking questions that led to contemplation and discovery. I began creating experiences for groups that involve beauty, creativity, reflection, spiritual focus, community, and possibilities for empowerment. Some include challenges to action. Later some were specifically about healing and elevating the feminine.

Without a spiritual practice of contemplation I don’t think it’s easy to tune in to the true authentic self or our connection to the Divine. Both of these are what I want to live from and help others to get in touch with. One principle way to follow a trail inside is to practice noticing. Noticing leads to listening within for association and memory. Information can be gathered which leads to insight and the opportunity to make new choices and responses to life.

AL-rdtbleIntentional Creativity effectively uses this kind of discovery within the 13-step painting method and other Red Thread sessions where inquiry and intention are the means of beginning an art piece and carrying it through to completion.

For years I have dedicated my contemplative and creative practices to wholeness, healing, and transformation. I have been the bringer and promoter of Beauty in my community in order to cultivate an environment and mindset where beauty is sought and embraced as a vital part of what is life-giving. My soul work for a long time has been centered around Beauty, community building, healing art, sacred space, and transformation for both men and women. There is an emphasis on healing, noticing, discovery of who we really are by paying attention to our inner world and becoming tender and open to who we can truly be, finding voice and letting it out, creating what we want to live into, embracing mystery and the higher consciousness and power of Creator. I have been and have seen others being informed, reformed, and transformed by the process which combines contemplation and creativity.


Some examples of some of my previous projects include:

  • Community mosaic table top project depicting our faith community’s shared values
  • Immigration justice prayer/ art installation
  • Contemplative photography workshops
  • Creating contemplative interactive stations for spiritual and personal transformation
  • Stenciling and stamping workshop for pre-teens to reflect on their manifesto to bring change to the world
  • Organizing community open share nights for original works
  • Art workshops in various media using inquiry, prompts, and reflection
  • Creation and facilitation of “Express”, a monthly experience to explore a variety of creative avenues from food to song-writing, to story-telling or image creation
  • Women’s group bra-painting workshop on body image and manifesto
  • Being one of the creators and facilitators of “Voca Femina,” a vehicle to promote women’s voices through local gatherings and share nights to developing a web site and online community
  • Putting together women’s retreat weekends which encourage each to share their gifts in service to one another
  • Event design and sacred space creation using visual and interactive elements
  • Development of multi-week classes called Art Lab, that employ inquiry and reflection as part of the creative process. We discover who we really are and give voice to the dreams of the heart through imagery and language. 
I want participants to think of these classes as a lab where they can experiment, try this kind of creative exploration without needing to produce a perfect product, see what they discover, what they enjoy, and how they can tap into and unleash their own creativity. 
We usually employ painting and mixed media, but in Art Lab Summer Camp we tried wire sculpture, handmade clay beads, and paper weaving as well.

prayerbirds2

prayerbirds3

photo

station-grp

selfies-final

ptg-station

Ajo-kids

I am especially sensitive to the issues that prevent women from finding and using their voices or hold them back from being who they were created to be. maskMany women are ready to give themselves permission to do something creative. I expect to be able now through the training in Intentional Creativity to give more even more time to working with women in a way that brings freedom and healing and empowerment using workshops and Red Thread sessions that are so effective in creating sacred and safe space within which to explore.

I know my soul work also includes being inclusive of all the ethnicities locally. My hometown in GA, where I’m living and working part time is 70% black. There is still a racial divide here that can be transcended through intentional creativity as I collaborate to offer opportunities to do creative exploration together. Red Thread connection is needed here. I look forward to workshops and co-facilitating community art works.

AlabIntentional Creativity offers refinement and focusing of what I want to offer. The training has been rigorous in insisting that my own personal soul work be done so that I can facilitate a healing process for others in the most creative and effective way. It’s exciting that I recognized the training and the IC Method as being absolutely “on my path.” After going through the vision quest and leading a few workshops, I am even more committed to this method as being the path that brings together so many of the things that have been my soul work up until now and on which I can build. I C provides new emphasis and inclusions to the work I have begun.
Three important elements I will incorporate now are:

      • Creating feminine images
      • Including Red Thread ceremonies
      • Listening for messages from the Muse and the work itself

These are quite consistent with the way of the contemplatives and mystics in mind and heart. The weaving of the right and left brain and heart intelligence incorporate intuitive and body knowledge with rational thinking synthesis to encourage “communion” in all its meaning and senses. With compassion as a vital element there is an eye toward service outwardly for the benefit of the larger group and for making a real difference for the planet. I expect my soul work to ultimately be concerned with promoting unitive consciousness as each creative journey for myself and my Beloved participants moves us along toward seeing and processing in a non-dualistic way.

rthread-sm

My soul work is confirmed by my vision quest and Intentional Creativity will definitely deepen and enrich it and continue to inform it. I am excited to bring this method to my Beloveds. I look forward to being a part of the on-going community of Intentional Creatives through the Guild and continuing my involvement with our online Red Thread creative community.

My First 2-Day Workshop

Meant to Be – rediscovering the true self you bring to the world

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.

wristsI invited 3 friends to do this 13-step workshop with me and also a friend of one that I didn’t know. We ended up with three women participating, plus me. I hosted it. I had them bring brushes, paints and a large canvas and I supplied extra paints, brushes and things like paper towels, plates for palettes, etc. and charged them only $45 as an “introductory price.” I provided coffee, chocolate, and snacks and asked them to bring snacks to share. We would bring our lunch or order out for pick up.

The theme and flow were what I designed for the curriculum assignment and I refined it and added readings to it that I felt were appropriate for this group at this time.

They were unfamiliar with Intentional Creativity, but were open to finding their content within. There was no resistance to visioning or ritual. Resistance was more to trusting and going boldly through each step, especially color blocking and darks and lights! This was surprising to me and I couldn’t always tell what step they were on by looking at their painting. We talked quite a bit about the critic, perfectionism, the need to release at each step, etc. They were all rogue enough I couldn’t tell if I was clear on directions. I had it all scripted out with the steps so I felt I was explaining the instructions, and I told them to ask questions or get input whenever they needed to. I did express that I could support them better if they kept boldly doing each layer as we went. They really seemed to be getting a lot from the journaling and inquiry so I felt they were following the steps for what they needed along the way. This was our process, in brief:

I invited them to place an object that spoke of themselves on our altar table which I had set with a painting, candles, ball of red thread, scissors, large flower and other things. (I asked them to bring something for this in an email prior to the workshop.)
rosebowl-smWe sat in circle for an introduction to the Red Thread and our time together. Our opening circle inquiry was: “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?”

Before visioning I read from Shiloh’s Tea with the Midnight Muse: the poem “Not Enough.”

The visioning was down a spiral staircase to a store room to meet the Muse and to notice familiar pieces from our past story and then journal about it.

symbolsWe put our intention for our time together into the canvas and blessed it with rose petals and water before painting a portal and background color. The essential seed of our story was painted and milestone marks and tragedy marks were added around it. Then we painted over the seed and marks, burying the seed in the dark that it may grow new life.

They watched me demo the iconic 20-line face and the face map before practicing it several times.I asked them to write what message each face held for them.

faces

Then they chose one of the faces or a new one to draw on their canvas.

Next was color-blocking shapes between lines. I was hoping to get through the rest of the steps to the integrating glaze, but we stopped a bit short of that to end with a ritual.We wrote what we would like to release and put the strip of paper into the bowl of water with the roses.
julia-color

We started the next morning with some movement to music (Send It Out to the Universe by Samantha James) as we continued to release and open to what was coming.

Our next visioning had two parts with journaling:
-Think 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? Notice anything about the scene. What elements or people were involved? How did it feel?

-Now let yourself identify a time when you felt you were being your best self with others. What were you doing? Who were you helping? How did it feel?

At the canvas we considered symbols that wanted to be added as we are awakening to our true self. We continued on through our steps with more inquiry and listening. I demonstrated illumination with stars, biophotons, rays, etc.jen-muse-dots

Each participant gave her muse the pen and received a message. They titled and signed their work and shared their message and any of their symbols, etc with the rest of the group. There were tears and laughter. It was very touching and everyone was resonating with what was being said. After each person spoke we replied, “You are witnessed.”

Our closing was a beautiful blessing by John O’Donohue. We finished on time and cleaned up, then had toasts with champagne or sparkling water and coconut macaroons. They all hung out to extend the celebration and visiting for another 2 hours!jen-ptgfinal

Testimonials came from a questionnaire that I asked them to fill out after closing.

J.P.- “It was an experience of growth. Not all was easy. I appreciated the self-inquiry the workshop led me through. I had “aha” moments of discovery of what I consider important in my life. For a non-practiced artist putting paint, color, symbol onto canvas is magical. I highly recommend it to everyone!”

M.A. – “Good way to spend the weekend! I’m not sure I would have known where to begin a painting on my own. The format—structure was helpful. It did help me take another look at how I became me. The technique was good for beginners, too. I would recommend it because it’s especially good for people afraid of being creative if they over-judge themselves and art. This is unlike the local beginner’s art experience where everybody paints the same thing, a design by the teacher, It helps break the ice, but I don’t see the value. This was making art!”

final-ptgs

J.D. – “This group, this workshop, and this person, Jenny-made me think of something a friend once said to me, “Be careful, your heart is showing.” So, in our time together to explore ourselves through this process, I did not need to be careful, but my heart was showing me to me. I constantly had many “ahas.” For me, even from the beginning, I knew we were creating a wonderful bundle of memories shared by all of us in our group.”

Reflecting back: I had asked one person to come early to set up the easel she had loaned me and she got lost and came late and then took a long time to set up. This and a couple of other unforeseen glitches caused us to begin late the first day and added to our not getting to the glaze step. It was frustrating, but the next day we made up time somehow.

I learned that hosting and what it required beforehand to get the house ready was a lot of work. To keep dishes washed and ready for the next day’s set up was a bit more than I want to do without a helper since I spent time scrubbing carpet, walls and windows (in my mom’s condo!) from paint splatter the first evening. I also didn’t sleep that night so day two needed to go well!

I was hoping the time would work out if we just kept stepping through on Day 2. I kept an eye on the time and was ready to condense steps if necessary, but we covered it all.

Keeping an attitude and an atmosphere of it being a sacred space helped keep things on track. The people felt honored and like something special was happening. Even though I didn’t always think they were following directions, they were getting a lot out of it, so I am thankful and satisfied. My inner wisdom says the process worked and their paintings are wonderful. I know at least one will continue work on her painting as she thought the whole time together was so amazing and transformative. She told me again a couple of days later she can’t wait to work on it.

Community Service Plan

Serving the community

me-mama

Me with my mom a few years ago.

When I think of what is on my heart at this time that I could share in community service it is related to elder care and care-giving. I am still in the midst of a difficult season where my mom is declining and has moved to assisted living, but still needs extra care. For months it was my responsibility to figure out what was going to be best for her and to make sure her needs were being met 24-hours a day. I felt I needed to be away from my home in CO and present with her in GA to do this, and I’m back in GA again after a few weeks home.

It seems like every 15 minutes something is needed from the caregiver—medications, food, and a myriad of other things. This I know: caregivers have to be careful to take care of themselves, too. In my personal experience the stress was causing physical health issues even though I am committed to mindfulness and intentionality. The most healing times for me were when I was painting for the COW assignments.

In creating my menu of offerings I could see that one population I wanted to serve were the many people who were providing care for elders, and especially family members and those who are not being paid for the job. It is not a situation where there are regular hours and then you get to go home and forget about it for a while. The responsibility may be felt at all times.

There are three organizations I will look at pursuing.

  1. SOWEGA (Southwest GA) Council on Aging has valuable resources for seniors, people with disabilities, family members, caregivers and professionals. They have a beautiful large new facility in my hometown with wonderful teaching space. What I would like to offer is a bit of a retreat for caregivers in the form of a 2-day workshop. The same person has taught art for the organization for 30 years, but doesn’t offer anything like this.
  2. Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving is of course based in Plains, GA (45 minute drive from me), but has services in Albany with a monthly caregivers’ support group. They support caregivers through advocacy, education, research and service. I have met someone who works with Rosalynn Carter who suggested I attend their conference this fall to connect with the organization.
  3. The Refuge, in Broomfield, CO, is a faith community and mission center which advocates for a variety of social justice issues, provides a home for “spiritual orphans” and those who feel disenfranchised from more traditional churches, works to practice the ways of Jesus and provide welcome to all regardless of their resources or orientation. The Refuge promotes and encourages creativity and the arts. I have been leading art workshops there in my role as contemplative arts pastor for 10 years. I would offer this caregiver’s workshop at the Refuge facility to our community and later open it to the larger Denver area.

 

Draft of a letter to SOWEGA Council on Aging:

Debbie Blanton
Executive Director
SOWEGA Council on Aging

Hello Ms. Blanton,

My name is Jennifer Herrick. I grew up in Albany and live here part time. I also live part time in the Denver, CO area, where I raised my family. I have a degree in art and have  combined it with mindfulness for the last 12 years or so. I am interested in offering this combination to provide some soul care for caregivers. I know firsthand how healing it can be to wholly focus on a creative project and feel release from the demands of a difficult situation. It has helped me during a long season of elder care for my mom.

I am trained in the Intentional Creativity method which uses imagery, language, intention, inquiry and symbol as tools for transforming how we see ourselves, our story, and our choices. It also does not require previous experience because it steps through the painting process and focuses on the content of each step. At completion there will be a meaningful painting that people are usually very happy with.

I have a 2-day workshop called “Up for Air! – creative soul care for caregivers.It is long enough to give participants a needed break from routines of caring for others in order to focus on mindfulness of their own health and sustainability while enjoying the creative playfulness of painting.

I would like to talk with you about the possibilities of who could be served by this and other workshops that I can offer.

Thank you!

Jennifer Herrick

myemailinfo@gmail.com
my-phone-4822

Workshop flyer

This is a flyer created in Canva. I am so used to Photoshop and being able to do layers, drop shadows, etc., that it’s not as easy for me to create in a program like this. Many people like using it. I’ve seen some great results by my Color of Woman sisters lately.  I tried it again after using it when it first came out and not liking the limitations it has. Since I am away from home with a new laptop I don’t have a photo program to rely on and am trying different options.

meant-to-be-flyer

Flyer for my actual 2-day 13-step workshop happening this weekend with 3 participants.

Curriculum Design

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.
curriculum-plant-sm 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.

meant-to-be

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.

Session One
-Altar
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.

-Intro
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.

-Intention
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.

-Ritual
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

Session Two
-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.

Artist’s Statement

The benevolent all-encompassing creation by its Divine Creator is my inspiration. I believe I am made in the image of this Divine Creator and take great joy in bringing things into form. The creative process is a transformative one which connects me to so many other parts of myself and my world. It is an alchemical journey to embark on through inquiry and courage to see and learn and create something new. My art embraces the greater mystery and that I cannot know everything. There is always more to discover and more questions that are unanswerable to trust my infinite Divine Source for.

I have been crafting and creating since childhood. I eventually studied art in college and have been employed in the creative field. For me, art is an ongoing quest of discovery that reveals inner knowledge and produces connection and oneness with others and with all of life. Art-making is dynamic and always moving toward something. There is a spark of excitement that arises. Participating in creative expression offers a chance to move toward choices for change and healing, action steps that are aligned with authentic desires, and impact that spirals out for good to the larger community.

An important aspect of my work is its intentionality. Having long been drawn to contemplative thinkers, writers, saints, and mystics, I approach painting and even photography with inquiry, noticing, and listening as a contemplative practice. I believe the work is sacred as it touches that true sacred center of us that holds the essence of who we are and how we are connected to our Divine Source and to others.

Inquiry and reflection are the starting point in my teaching and the creative expression springs from it. Participants employ both their right brain and left brain in service to their heart. They may come to a place of embodiment and presence, or perhaps step into a thin place between the worlds, or explore the cosmic wonders as they follow their intention through to the completion of a creative process. What they end up with will be meaningful to them and may be a turning point toward more authentic life choices.

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Detail of painting: The Energy of the Black Madonna

My hope with my art and with my teaching is to be a torchbearer for Beauty and its power and ability to connect us to the Divine, to ourselves, and to others. I see myself as facilitating sacred space for that to happen. I want my work to be effective in bringing positive change to the world, especially in areas of social justice and equality. My recent paintings feature female iconic and archetypal images that imply the strengths and gifts that women carry to the world. They offer an alternative to cultural imagery often based on surface prettiness or patriarchal values.

Visionary Painting and Message

Soulwork is my greatest work. When I am in alignment with my soul, I create an offering and a pathway to share it with gratitude. I want to live from love. I want all my choices to be based on love. I want my love to be big enough to extend to the soul of the world. I am called to live from my heart. The visionary in me knows how to move from this desire and calling.

My intention/inquiry for this painting is:
May I be open to something that I don’t know about my soul work. Show me how to sustain my soul work. May I discover that which my soul wants to show me.

visionary-portal-sm
I invite the unknown and mystery and make a shape for it.
I then put marks for what I do know about the relationship with my soul. “I am a creative.”
Next I let a 3rd color move around the shapes. I am creating an invitation so I can listen to my soul.

visionary1-sm
In the visioning I ask my wise one to show me my true soul work and how to make the most of my time. Time feels valuable and short at this point in my life.

After a glaze, I begin a stroke, loose and flowing to bring an essence of her to the canvas. It is a single uninterrupted stroke. A ritual follows where I wash my hands in a bowl of water, pour it onto my yard and say a prayer for myself. It is meant to be an end to fragmentation and a resetting. This ritual is done at the transition point from old to new (story.)

visionary2-smI do a glaze of self-initiation, then do color-blocking and turn the canvas in between colors. There is a reminder to call myself back together and listen for what’s coming through. Visioning is done with the painting as the new portal. I’m asking what personal symbols need to be included? What warrior marks? The canvas continues to be a permeable portal. There are marks for things of concern on my heart, a rose for the bowl in her hand, tear drops to fill the bowl, etc.
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Applying shadows offers an invitation to contemplate shadow. Illumination and highlight creates a flow of bio-photons and light. There is energy in motion all around her. There is a whole body experience happening. When I take a shower later I remember to notice and appreciate the blast of warm water that wakes up my senses. I bring this heightened mindfulness of senses through the next days.

visionary5-smThe awakening step is about lighting up from within. I ask the question, “what would it be like to be who I am?”
Some areas of the painting are brought out and some are pushed back. The next steps bring adornment, loving attention, details and highlights. The birds on her eyes were one of the last symbols. They speak of seeing from within. Birds are also a personal symbol for me of freedom. There are rays and stars which speak of the spark of Divine illumination.

My soul archetype has a message for me when I give her the pen:

I am bigger and more powerful than you think. When you don’t trust you limit me.There are lots of colors you haven’t seen yet. Open to them. Make space for them in your consciousness. Keep looking.

You hold something precious. I am trying to show you.

There is a swirling. It is stirring stuff up, stirring you, moving things. There is energy for what is coming and what needs to be done. You don’t have to work it up—just move into it and stay.

Keep seeing with your heart.

visionary-final-sm
She has me excited and a little afraid of what’s ahead!
This is the loosest painting so far in the sense of being less controlled and allowing it to be what it quickly became. I didn’t continue to rework it after the Visionary livestream weekend–just listened to see if anything else needed to come forth or be enhanced or adorned. And I did that after a break to work on a different painting. Is she complete? Will she call me back for further attention? I have to wait and see.

Messages From the Muse

musea-entranceI started the Muse painting at the gathering at Musea Sophia in Sonoma in March. It was such a delightful experience for me to be at the in-person gathering with others on the Red Thread who were beginning the Color of Woman training. I was excited. The room was full of energy. It was a “now” moment to absorb as much of the 13-step process as possible. It was a time to feel my own insecurities, explore my own story and to be stirred in my passion for using creativity for transformation. My original word from the opening circle was “present.” Be present to the now, not the past, not waiting for the future (for when things change.)

studio

The time went by very quickly. I am used to taking the time I need to accomplish each step and this was an accelerated version to get the painting “done” in 2-3 days. I did work through all the steps, yet my painting was unresolved. I took it back to Colorado to flesh out things like symbols and illumination. I was inspired by the variation in the results of all the others there. We all got the same instruction and we each painted something totally different. That is one of the things that confirms that the process works. Each person goes on their own journey for insight and brings a unique expression of it into form.

Stepping through my process
My muse speaks to me within an inquiry about access to my own information and that of the Divine which wants to be revealed. It is an exploration into the hidden domains of my being. The muse empowers me to address each day’s part of the journey and to be able to use alchemical means to be proactive and ready for the unfolding.

Access
From what directions do I detect information coming to me?
Certainly from above or from God, my Divine Source. From my eyes as a primary source, from my ears, my hands, concepts to my mind that shape my thinking. But what about my heart as the main organ of perception? I think my contemplative outlook and practices help me to involve the heart to a greater extent than if I had a non-contemplative lifestyle. I am thankful that I am accustomed to listening within and pausing to notice things. I look forward to becoming much keener in listening as I continue on this deep-diving journey through Intentional Creativity.
Do I know how to decode the things my heart wants to show me? This is what the muse wants to teach me.

Visioning
In the first visioning the cosmos is my portal and spiral stardust is my path. There is an old retro stone building (perhaps made of individual rocks) and it is a studio. It is like a printmaking studio and I know I will work in there. It is clean and ready. Over the door is “Beloved are those who enter.” I enter a warm welcoming space with a smile. My name is called liltingly like Aunt Ida would, “Jenn-ni-fer!” I sit at a very small table for good coffee with cream with my muse. She has dark hair and and her eyes sparkle. She has been waiting for me and looks at me lovingly and at some point takes my hand. She has a resemblance to my friend, Juanita R. She wants to know how I am. I feel loved and that she really wants to hear me. She is dressed in layers and color and jewelry.

Intention
My intention arises and I write it on the canvas in charcoal:

“I hear you call my name and I am here to be known, and to discover what is mine to know.”

Portal
I chose 3 colors for the portal. Yellow, thinking the muse had a yellow jacket on in the visioning, then green and turquoise. One of the new friends I sat with at lunch said maybe my portal was a yellow rose. I hadn’t thought of it looking like that before, but the rose is a symbol that is significant to me.

Her simple form appears
I followed Shiloh’s demo of bringing the simple form with access lines and the iconic face, leaving space for other elements later. My idea is to follow her templates closely to learn them well before I launch out on my own brand of it or take on it. I pay close attention to what she is saying while she is doing the demo. I want to catch it all and absorb it so I am not hung up on getting it right, but just have it downloaded on the inside to work with naturally.

Time to journey. What are my own unique ways of knowing and access?

In this visioning I had an impression of energy flowing and swirling around me. There was a heightened awareness and response (even physically like the hair on the back of my neck standing up and the sides of my neck being brushed. I felt my heart swelling up, having an epiphany. There was a release or letting go intentionally or unintentionally. There was a sense of being loved, both a calming and a quickening.

These are the phrases that I think of about where I find access:
-Inner stories. Deep heart space and realizations that arise from this spacious realm which contains knowing from experience
-Spiritual access linked to clouds and sky and open spaces. Spaciousness of the daytime or nighttime sky which is a reminder of the greater mystery
-Holy Spirit guiding
-So much is happening that I detect, but can’t actually see with my physical eyes
-Listening
-A word or phrase, a sentence, a concept that I hear that strikes me, or that arises and occurs to me
-Reading those who speak to me in their writing
-Pausing—perhaps that’s where that space is created or at least noticed
-The space between 2 hearts (Richard Rohr talks about the space between the Trinity in their circle dance, the space where relationship happens) Maybe space is not all rest and pause and wait. Perhaps it requires a certain energy or contains a certain energy.
Perhaps it’s where the energy exchange takes place—the giving, the receiving, the witnessing, the little adjustments in the path. Perhaps it’s when the deep heart space connects to the really real. Perhaps there’s a space in the heart where there are realms of knowing from experiences contained there.
-Setting aside time for something like a creative practice or spiritual practice
-Showing up to the unknown in a small to a big way
-Even joining a group, signing up for a class or an event, and being all in—making space for it and for the people
-Noticing something, really noticing mindfully
-Prayer and listening
-Reminders like breathing, eating, drinking and physical metaphors
-Gardening, the physicality of it as well as all its metaphors
-Walking the labyrinth—unique each time for a different experience
-Places of wilderness, barrenness in my soul and in the season
-Rituals and experiential reflective stations
-Liturgies
-Symbols
-Colors
-Candles
-The dark rudimentary elements of earth and soil
-Nature in every way, mountains, ocean, trees
-Unexpected occurrences
-A connection with another person or group
-Seeing beauty
-Creating
-Seeing faithfulness or fulfillment after all

Source and Spirit uses every avenue I know of and ways I am not aware of, to connect me, to bring me back to knowing my own preciousness and my simple beingness.

What does this muse embrace?

  • The season
  • The wind (even the wind of change)
  • The present year of age
  • The body
  • The next step
  • Allowing something to happen-not controlling it
  • Inner knowing
  • Flexibility
  • Wherever the moment of sweetness is
  • Light when it breaks through
  • Warmth and its comfort and freedom
  • The buzz of bees that make the honey
  • The earth
  • The trees
  • Inner terrain to be explored
  • The mystery
  • This very moment

What does she want to say to me?
She tells me:

“Things are unlimited. You are unlimited. Keep going. Pause and be present to the space where things happen.”

After the long drive home to CO, I looked at my Muse anew to observe her. She seems to be looking more inwardly than outward. Perhaps there’s an equal focus, but it shifts from one to the other. She is very quiet, noticing, listening, contemplating—waiting for illumination.

I believe she is giving me more of a needed connection to the earth. Her golden rivers go through and over the top of the helmet/hive shape on her head. She wears a beehive full of honeycomb. (There is a pun here about a beehive hairdo. No need to take myself so seriously!) Honey is pouring on her head and face. There is sweetness to be noticed and to be had. There is spaciousness above her head suggesting greater realms to connect to.

Grandmothers appear to help her, along with written words that sink deep into her heart. In her heart is the rose of her own self opening up, and as a symbol of deep revelation happening.

I found that a couple of times I dreamed about paintings and Color of Women stuff. It is so on my mind. I think I dreamed the idea of walking through an alchemical forest. It was a powerful experience. It’s a place that is full of mystery and filtered light. When you come through to the other side change has happened. I wanted to include it in the Muse painting as a symbol of revelation, discovery and transformation.

She is surrounded by the alchemical forest. I wish I could make it (in paint) as powerful of a symbol of potentiality as I see it to be. It is a place you would gasp as you walk into, but soon you are seeing filtered light and following a path. The trunks of the trees have become paint brushes indicating the importance of the 13-step painting process in the alchemical transformation. They drip blue paint, a metaphor of bringing the past story into form.

Winding through the sacred triangles and circles of her earrings there is a line dropping down from her mind into the deep lake of unknowing. Or it could be that it is the lake of what she does know within, but doesn’t realize yet. She must bring inquiry to it. The question mark of inquiry is the hook on the end of the line lowering into the water.

She glows in sunset colors, but she has cool translucent gossamer bee wings. What will it take to lift her up so that she soars? This is almost a sad question for her, as though it is wishful thinking or wistful.

Releasing
One thing she is doing is releasing the house of disappointment and the dancing figure of longing. The wispy smoke rises from the house of disappointment and floats upward in a spiral, part of consciousness, but dissipating. The bare tree limbs reach into her heart as more of a reminder of her story than an active current pain.

Realization
Se has what she needs to feast on the sweetness of life that is all around her— and that comes to her as she dwells in the spaciousness of the places of access to her knowing and her Divine connection. She lives here instead of dwelling in the past hurt of broken relationships and what never happened and the losses She trusts that this journey into the alchemical forest is a special gift—a journey of transformation, even though it can be dark and mysterious and sometimes daunting.

 

muse-final2

I give her the pen and she says:

There is a place of knowing that is part of you and part mystery. It needs to exist in the present for that is where true life happens. The past has shaped you, but it does not shape your future. You do. There is sweetness in this moment.—sweetness to experience, with your soul, your senses, and your mind as your brain is rewired. Have courage to walk through the alchemical forest, knowing there is a shift that will happen by the time you get through to the other side. And know it is not a one-time experience. It can happen over and over as you choose to enter. The path of inquiry will carry you to deeper understanding in all that is yours to know. You have teachers, guides, your collaborators and friends, and there are those you are yet to meet. There are bees busy in your bonnet. They are producing something sweet. Some sweet things come as ideas. Let go of the sadness so that your natural gift of equanimity can assist you in the things you think are too hard. You are designed to lift off the ground and see far distances. Your visioning of the big picture has been a gift in service to your community. You have more than one realm, though. You also deep dive into Source and sometimes dematerialize into spaciousness. You’ve wondered what is real your whole life and how these realms work. They all connect you to the Really Real. Do not grow weary. You need to pace yourself in a sustainable rhythm. Care for yourself so you can keep pace. Your sadness will be transformed as you move through. God is with you. Let yourself go and let the fear go. You are learning to walk with even more intention and focused purpose.

Upon further reflection
I’ve worked more on finishing her now (after months of being away from home while caring for my mom) and I’m ready to let her rest. I have some final reflections:

Most of the time the unseen world is the Really Real. Sometimes the outer world reflects it in a portion or in a metaphor or in a flash of insight or in a sensory impression. Emotion often cannot always be trusted, but can be followed to find the story attached to it. All of the ways of access provide what I need to know to move into more and more freedom. Freedom offers the choice to live from love—and the choice to receive love. I hope to partner with my unlimited Divine Source and my own wisdom to live freer and freer, to partner with my Beloveds in offering a process of access, and to joyfully continue this journey of bitter and sweet and choosing joy in the midst.