Mirrors Of The Soul

When I started art journaling back in late 2009, I went straight for faces as one of the first things I wanted to learn how to do.

I didn't come right out of gate making faces I liked. Most of the faces I made initially made me quite frustrated. Proportions were always wonky. There was always (still is) one eye bigger than the other. I wasn't happy with how similarly my faces were turning out to the ones being demonstrated by my chosen artist teachers (Tamara Laporte, Shiloh McCloud). I wanted to make faces that felt like *mine*. I didn't want people to tell me how much my faces reminded them of someone else.

But when you are a beginner, the only way to learn is to mimic. That's how we *all* learn. You copy. And as you continue to practice, your own voice begins to shine through.

I might have given up if I didn't know that. I might have thrown in the towel if I didn't have a very intrinsic understanding that practice makes progress. I knew that from my writing practice and I very much approached journaling in much the same way as I had formerly approached writing. If you write, and keep writing, you will improve. If you art, and keep arting, you will improve. As you practice, as you approach *anything* as a practice, you will make progress toward (eventual) mastery. It is *inevitable*.

It wasn't faith. It was awareness that came from experience.

But WHY faces? What was it about them?

Because, when I work with faces, especially intuitively, like I tend to do, my art journals become mirrors of my soul. I can't help but express through a face what is happening in the deeper parts of myself. If I stay open and I let the face communicate with me by way of the lift of the brow or the up or down turn of the mouth as I create, I can get glimpses into where I'm at and what I'm *really* feeling.

Faces in my journals = mirrors of my soul.

Yesterday, I needed a bit of a boost so I went looking through all the art I'd created since I began to document my journey. I used my Flickr account for this trip down memory lane, and you know what I found?

A metric butt tonne of faces.

I started to collect them in chronological order in a file on my computer because I wanted that ever present reminder that I *did* this, and though there have been many times that I have thought to myself that I'm not getting anywhere with my practice, this is proof that I *am* getting somewhere. I am moving towards creating what I want to create. I am moving towards (eventual) mastery.

I left out the faces that were done with paint over photographs & transfers (and I was amazed that I remembered which ones they were!) and collected the ones that I'd done on my own, and even though I skipped a few that I really didn't like, I found one hundred and eleven faces.

111.

Crazy.

Here's a gallery I created of all 111 so you can see how practice has led me to creating the things I'm really proud of. You'll be able to clearly see that I did not start out of the gate with either great skills or my own obvious style. That developed over time.

Wow...

One of the things I value about doing what I do is that it puts me in a position where I have no choice but to practice what I preach. If you want to improve, you gotta practice. Thankfully, art journaling does not require the kind of 'by rote', monotonous 'scales playing', or 'painting the fence' style muscle memory exercises. Art journaling as a practice requires only that you show up to the page and play.

If you want to get good at faces because faces are one of the ways you like to express yourself, you gotta make 'em. Lots of them. You gotta ignore that voice in your head that says you can't, you gotta let yourself suck for as long as you suck, and you gotta remind yourself that you will not suck forever if only you practice.

Let's practice together.

On September 4th, I'm starting a six week journey into the art of including faces in your art journal. It is a 'mini-session' of my signature offering, "Book Of Days", which I do multiple times each year to keep us all in the practice of meeting ourselves on the page. Though it is only six weeks, we will dive into the front facing portrait as a means of self expression, and I will be demonstrating face after face after face using a variety of media and technique, including graphite transfer & paint over collage (great ways to build muscle memory in your face practice!).

While the session is short, it is meant as a jumping off point for your own faces practice. You will take what you learn in this class and carry on without me for weeks, months, and years afterward, confident in your ability to *grow* as an artist. You will see progress from week one to week six and that will inspire you to keep going.

We will also be creating a journal specifically for our faces practice - a lesson that will come to you as a bonus in week one. Learning how to bind your own journal is empowering because you will *never* have to settle for a size or type of paper that isn't doing it for you again. You will always have a way to create exactly what you want when you want it.

The best part?

bod2015v3This class is yours for as little as $25, since it is a members only class in my creativity network. You can choose to pay more if you like, but if you are new to me and you want to 'sample the goods' before you go in whole hog for a full length class, this is a fantastic opportunity to do that at a seriously discounted rate.

Click here for details and I hope to see you on September 4th.

 

 

This One Was Just For Me

This one was just for me, and it was epic.

IMG_2821Last week was all about everyone else. There was a birthday party to prepare for (my step-daughter's 19th) and family in from out of town. There was stuff with one of my kids - big stuff that is still unresolved! There's big stuff with another one of my kids - not as bat shit inducing, but still big. There were all the feels about beginning the process of reclaiming my former home out from under a year of neglect. There were all the feels about what it will mean when we move back into together (slowly, slowly, slowly). There was my own work and needing to show up for that despite feeling like I needed to find a cave somewhere to hide out in for a few years.

So, on Monday, I begged off my evening plans with the Manfingy and I opted to relish my solitude.

Not just relish it. Mark it as territory, as sacred.

I will fail to express how epic this was, but dudes. It was epic.

I built myself a fire.

I know. It sounds so simple. It's so not a big deal, right? Except that in all the years I've lived, I've never built a fire *just for me*. I have always needed to justify the indulgence of a crackling fire by including other people. Otherwise, a fire was a 'waste of wood' because, apparently, I am not worthy of the time or effort. Building a fire was up there with busting out the fine china and linens. It was reserved, in my own unspoken rule book, for special occasions involving other people *only*.

Picture this:

I'm exhausted. The week completely depleted me. I don't want to talk to another living being for a hundred years. I am spent. The night is coming on strong. There is a chill in the air that carries autumnal promise. I have options that include Aimlessly Surfing The Internet and Six Hours Of Netflix. I could art. I could do the dishes and the laundry.

A little voice inside my head said "I wanna fire". Fire as a thing, and also fire as a verb as art is a verb in my lexicon. I don't just 'have' a fire. I *fire*. Prepare it, light it, tend it. I love to fire.

But an insidious voice responded, as it always has, "What a waste of wood."

And you know? I have always listened to that voice. I have always shrugged and said "Yeah, I guess so..." and abandoned my desire to fire and wandered off to do other, far less satisfying things.

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Monday night, though? I stamped my foot. I said "EXCUSE ME? I am NOT a waste of wood!" and I spent a good half hour and at least a dozen matches trying to get a fire going with damp wood and too little kindling. I almost gave up, but dudes.

It took, and I took it, and we burned long into the wee hours together, that fire and I, through wind and rain and the voices in my head that said I should not use all the wood, I should save some, I should wait until I had company, I should go to bed.

That fire was the best fire I've ever had.

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You think of these things,
candle,
smudge bowl,
the fire
you think
you might like to tend
by yourself,
for yourself,

As some kind of tragedy,

As though your hand,
striking the match,
your eyes,
your own senses,
are not enough.

And then a night comes on
as strong as nights do
when the earth turns toward autumn
and you stamp your foot against the damp earth
and say to the dew soaked gloaming

'The mist is as much mine
to bear
as anyone's,
and so is mine
the power to banish it
with match,
and candle,
and light, and heat.

So, there.'

You strike the match
and maybe it takes a while,
and maybe it takes
a hundred matches,
but you take
that night
in your hands,
and for once,

you make it
your own.

 In Other News

These classes are open for registration. It would be grand to see you in either of them. <3

radianttogether300

16 guest teachers, 32 lessons, art journaling immersion - starts October 1st. $99

bod2015v3

Six weeks of FACES. Members only (all you have to do is join my NING). Pay What You Can. Starts September 4th.

Learning To Let Go

Last Wednesday, I spent an entire day cleaning the kitchen in the house I lived in for eleven years. After I moved out, the remaining inhabitants, all very busy with full lives, kind of let it go. For a year.

Yeah.

And in the meantime, there have been renovations happening which meant plaster dust EVERYWHERE. Like, everywhere. IN the drawers. ON everything.

It sounds horrible, but it wasn't.

Let me explain.

This house has been the first house I have ever felt at home in. I was rooted so deeply in this house that I swear, if I died and you wanted to invoke my spirit, all you would have to do is stand in a particular spot in the livingroom and say my name three times and POOF. I'd appear.

I started my business in this house. I loved and lost fiercely in this house. I grew balls in this house.

I found myself in this house.

And then I had to leave because staying was no longer tenable, so I packed up a small portion of my belongings and I settled in here on Old Carriage Drive. My cocoon. My sanctuary. My hobbit hole.

The house I left behind did not change at all while I was away. All the things I left remained exactly where I'd left them. Though people were living in the house, it was like a museum to the death of my marriage. It was like time stood still. Things got added to the various piles (especially dust and dog hair), but it was like a tomb. No one disturbed my leavings.

In April of this year, my beloved went to India and it completely shifted everything for him. It was as though he retrieved an essential piece of his soul that he'd left behind in the land of his birth. When he came back, we renewed our commitment to one another, reasserted our willingness to honour the intense bond that we've always had, and we began to plan to fix it.

First step, fix the house.

"Fix" is actually too mild a term.

Gut the house. Walls, floors, furniture, fixtures. Gut it and start over with a *plan*. Instead of letting the house (and life) happen to us, we vowed to act *upon* the house and create a home.

The process began and so far, two rooms have been stripped bare of ceilings, walls, and floors. One room is actually, finally finished and the other just needs a few finishing touches and some paint. Next on the agenda is the kitchen, which has been the bane of my existence for as long as I've lived there. Then, the bathroom, and then one of two bedrooms - the other, my former attic studio, is in good shape since we fixed it up a few years ago.

I can't tell you how redemptive this has been. It is as though everything that was wrong is being set right. It is as though we are letting go of how things didn't work so we can make room for how things do work.

***

After I exhausted myself with a tornado of cleaning on Wednesday, we bought a case of beer, turned on the tunes and proceeded to burn some of the lathe and hardwood that we'd torn out of the house. It was fucking glorious. For a while there, I sat alone, tending the fire. I felt moved to talk to the divine, and so I let my body fall into a state of total relaxation, and I addressed the earth, my mother.

"Holy Mother,
In You we live, move, and have our being.
From You all things emerge.
And unto You all things return."

As I chanted, it began to rain and it felt like a blessing. Like the elements themselves - the wind in the trees, the rain, the earth beneath my bare feet, and the fire before me - were coming together to bless the process of letting go.

My son and the Manfingy soon joined me and we sat and talked in the heat of the fire and the cooling kiss of the rain for hours as we tossed pile after pile of wood into the fire.

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James

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Manfingy

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Burning down the house

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Letting go...

I just wanted to share this with you because this process of letting old things go and making room for new things is impacting me very powerfully. I am spiritually energized in a way I haven't felt in a very long time. It feels like a death and rebirth. It feels like a whole new phase of my life is beginning.

I turn 47 at the end of September and while the house won't be completely done by then, it will be well on its way.

I don't know why that feels significant to me, but it does.

In Other News

These classes are open for registration. It would be grand to see you in either of them. <3

radianttogether300

16 guest teachers, 32 lessons, art journaling immersion - starts October 1st. $99

bod2015v3

Six weeks of FACES. Members only (all you have to do is join my NING). Pay What You Can. Starts September 4th.

Remembering Your Edges

teal - 1

After a night of the 'other kind' of painting. My new studio has teal walls because TEAL!

The house I lived in for eleven years is in the process of being renovated. Everything is being torn out and replaced - walls, floors, furniture, fixtures. It is getting a complete overhaul, and once it is complete, I will begin a slow return to this house, bit by bit, easing myself back into sharing space with the Manfingy and his daughter (mine have all moved out) and the dogs.

These renovations are long overdue and I'm very grateful that it's happening. The dining room that once served as my home studio, dining room, dog room, etc. is now completely self-contained - walls, a door - and no longer attached to the living room by way of an open archway. It has edges, which means that when I move back in and start to work in that space, I will never have to worry about whether or not someone else wants to watch t.v. or have friends over or do their own thing in the formerly adjoining space. I can work at will without having to accommodate my schedule to someone else's schedule.

This is massively important to me. I need my work life to have edges so that I can slip into and out of it. I need to open the door to 'work' and then close it again behind me when I want to enter 'not work'.

I suck at this. The way I live right now, four living spaces are contained within one small room. My bedroom is in the east corner. My 'office' is in the south corner. My temple/canvas space is in the west corner, and my living room is in the north corner. My filming studio is along one wall of the tiny cabin kitchen. There is no truly delineated space for *anything*. The edges are fuzzy. The boundaries are unclear.

What this means is that if I'm in my 'bedroom' corner and I hear a ping from my 'office' corner, it is very difficult to ignore. If I'm in my temple corner, same thing. This means I'm always struggling to turn work off. I'm constantly battling with 'work' edge and 'life' edge. When am I 'off'? When am I at 'rest'?

Lately, never. Even when I was away at a festival, I was answering emails and administrating my NING network, processing sales, doing social media, ping ping ping ping yes no there here let me fix that for you...

Which is a really good problem to have if you're an entrepreneur, and I am honestly NOT whining, but I am saying I need edges.

I need hours of operation.

I need dedicated space to work.

I need to detach myself from work related outcomes for a few hours a day so I can remember my *own* edges.

That's what I'm working on right now.

***

Since I do art for a living, that brings up an interesting dilemma. How much of the art I do is 'work'. When I'm noodling in front of Netflix on a new spread that isn't for a class, that isn't really working. Unless I'm stopping every ten minutes to take a progress shot so I can blog it or share it on Instagram. Then that *is* working, right? Even when I share for the pleasure of sharing, there is also the whole 'sharing is marketing' aspect of sharing that I can't get away from no matter what my intentions.

So, what. Stop sharing?

Not going to happen.

But what if I snapped the progress shots and *didn't* immediately share. What if I shot them and then shared them *later* in a more organized way on my blog instead of sending them out into the world immediately? Then I could probably more easily find the edge between this is my playtime and this is work time.

Yup. Working on it.

***

Speaking of working on things, I've been playing catch up with a couple of the classes that I'm taking, and here is a gallery of resulting spreads + some spreads that were inspired by the lessons without being derivative of them:

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You can click on them to enlarge if you'd like a better look.

These paintings were all created in the first 20 days of August. I was working very hard on remembering my edges - making time for my own practice, foregoing creation for the purpose of leveraging it for work. I was *playing*. I was learning and growing, but mostly, I was *playing*.

 

Sweet surrender to the practice I preach. Make art. Do it daily. Do it from a place of curiosity about what is happening within you.

lovepowermemory - 1

Remembering...

***

In Other News

These classes are open for registration. It would be grand to see you in either of them. <3

radianttogether300

16 guest teachers, 32 lessons, art journaling immersion - starts October 1st. $99

bod2015v3

Six weeks of FACES. Members only (all you have to do is join my NING). Pay What You Can. Starts September 4th.

The Ugly Duckling – A Post Fest Write Up

There are footnotes in this post because I am a nerd.

If you've ever read "Women Who Run With The Wolves" you will remember that the book includes an exploration of The Ugly Duckling, whose story is essentially that she was a swan who was accidentally hatched to a family of ducks, and because she didn't look like or act like or sound like her family, she was considered ugly.

It wasn't until she found her own kind that she recognized her own beauty.

This week was about that.

So much of what I experienced this week is ineffable; words will not come, and even when I try to eke them out of a bubbling soup of emotions and memories, they don't do the experience any kind of justice.

Fest experiences are very often this way. It takes days to integrate what it meant to be out of what we pagans lovingly call 'the muggle world' for a while and immersed in a world in which we are surrounded and supported by our own kind, and once the wisdom, the experiences, the energy is integrated, it can be very difficult to say exactly what happened.

I danced.

I drummed.

I bartered tarot readings for lovely things.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 11.19.04 AM

I hung out with fantastic people in my enclave*

I floated in the Bonnechere river for hours and did not check my phone.

I ate breakfast poutine* at the YAG*.

I wandered. And wandered. And loved on the land and let it love on me.

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My ankles swelled up to 3x their size and I didn't care.

I spent an outrageous amount of money on trinkets and sarongs and a beautiful Djembe I've named Constance - Connie being her less formal name.

I sat in the drummer's pit with Connie (the drum) nestled between my thighs, her mouth open wide to sing, her body quivering beneath my hands as I mimicked the beat being played out by the lovely man* who knelt opposite me so he could pound out a rhythm for me to copy. We played together that way until I got in the groove, and then I found the groove and then I bruised my hands all to hell and drummed and drummed with a few dozen other drummers for a hundred happy dancing pagans as they turned the wheel around the sacred fire.

I soaked in the glory that was the last blue moon until 2018

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I fested my face off. :)

***

In an environment where there are enclaves dedicated to those who resonate with labels like vikings, pirates, gypsies, faeries, and even zombies, I camped in an enclave called Shang-ri-la - an enclave made up of an hilariously eclectic bunch of folks who melded perfectly together despite all the obvious ways we are different - spiritual affiliations, walks of life, sexual orientations, age. No difference was too great to be overcome by the energy of our group mind, which was pure, unadulterated, open-armed acceptance and love.

I belonged there.

I'm just going to let those words sit here for a moment while you feel what that feels like with me.

I.

belonged.

there.

***

Coming home last night to my little hobbit hole, my dog, a week's worth of unpacking and laundry to do, was lovely. I missed my own space, my solitude, and my gentle routine. But I miss Raven's Knoll, too. Already. I am longing for it like a lover longs for a kiss. I am so infused with the land itself - pagan owned and maintained, mind you - that I'm sure my spiritual batteries will remain charged for a good long time, but I am also chomping at the bit to get back there already. Soon! SOON! Please!

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I know this doesn't really cut it as a post-fest write up. I mean, I didn't even come close to capturing the essence of the experience at all, and as I read over my words here before I hit post, all I can think is 'This post describes a candle. The experience was a supernova.' But I tried. I did. And I hope you can sense even a teensy speck of the spiritual renewal, love, and joy I carried home with me after a week of pure, sheer, ineffable belonging.

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I bring this into my world. I will bring it into my work. I will let it spill over into all I do and when I have emptied myself, I know exactly where to go to get some more.

Special thanks go out to my enclave, Heather, Josh, Eagle Eyes, Ellie, Sharon, Dood, Wynter, Sue, Mike, Juliana, Heidi, Wendy, and anyone else I may have forgotten.

Hail the Stag King! Hail the Huntress! Hail The Drummers! Hail The Dancers! Hail the FOLK!

Hail these two dudes!

11217808_881046188611326_1627297058529921991_nFest Hubby

For getting me there. For helping me set up camp in the dark with a flashlight. For the drum lessons. For the walks back to camp in the wee hours of the morning. For being so generous with your time. For carrying ALL THE THINGS. For letting me feed you. For being my friend.

11800231_883676768348268_2769613649089016416_nMuggle Hubby

For coming up for the weekend. For putting up with all the woo woo. For holding my hand. For letting me cry on your shoulder when shit got real. For helping me break camp and stuff it all into the Fiesta. For the way we drove the winding country roads home in awe together the way we always do. For hearing me. For loving me fiercely.

Thanks, menfolk!! xo

Ye Aulde Foote Notes

*This festival is so big that there are enclaves of campers who get together every year to enjoy the experience with one another. You *could* camp singularly, but in a crowd of over 900 people, it's good for those of us who need this sort of thing to have a fest family that you can come together with at the end of each day, to process, to touch base, to look after one another, feed one another, ensure that you're all getting hydrated, etc.

*deep fried home fries, hollandaise sauce, cheese curds and scrambled eggs

*Ye Aulde Grubbe - The on site food truck that serves up an amazing variety of food to hungry festers

*My fest hubby, Scott, a dear friend that I've fested with for years who drove me up on Tuesday, helped me set up camp in the dark with a flashlight, and looked out for me until my lovely muggle hubby could come up after work on Friday. This same guy is helping Sultan renovate our house! Yes! My fest hubby and my muggle hubby are working together to make my house a home!