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.

 

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

Art Is A Portal

I believe with all my heart that art is a portal in to our most tender places.

IMG_1674It is a direct channel to the 'little' in us and this is magic because the little in us has a lot she wants to say but this self is non-verbal, non-linear, and non-logical. She really can't say what she knows. She can only feel it and express it through non-logical means. Art is her jam. The stirrings within us that are inexplicable - the knowing that makes no logical sense, the coincidence that feels like a God Wink, the things we are moved to choose - these can be frustratingly obscure if we have no way 'in' to the place where these stirrings originate. Art is the way in, and when you make 'getting in' a practice like I have, your trust in those stirrings grows and grows and grows (along with your body of work! Yeah!).

Soulful work comes from getting the fuck out of your own way. I really believe this. Our rational minds, our verbal selves, are so full of stories that have very little to do with reality. We can't see what really is with that mind. That mind looks at the sky and immediately labels it BLUE. It sees a tree a immediately labels it TREE and GREEN and LEAF.

It condenses everything into words, and as soon as we've wrangled everything into words, the experience is closed to us. We can't access the magic anymore. It's set in stone. It is what we've called it. There is no opportunity for more.

When the little in us faces a blank canvas and we get the hell out of her way, she will, tentatively at first, emote through colour. We may not even know what is being expressed (and that's totally my experience) but if we let her continue, she will follow colour with shape and shape with symbol and symbol will reveal to us what's going on in our inner landscape.

I trust this. I trust it because this is what I experience every time I face a blank substrate and let the little in me go wild.

I spiral alllllllll the way out with no idea where it's leading me, but I trust that it is leading me somewhere worth going, and so I go. If she wants spirals, I give her spirals. If she wants to pull something forward, we do that. If she wants to let go of a thing, we let go of it, and in time, something that was meant to come through COMES THROUGH.

I never even really have to understand it. I just have to allow it.

Trust it.

Let it be.

I didn't come at art from the perspective of a mystic. I came at it from the perspective of a blocked writer who just needed a way to vent the build up of stuff that she had no way to release. In time, though, the practice (as most practices do) led me to my innards, wherein the little lay in wait, caged by words and conditioning, to be set free with colour and shape and symbol.

I didn't know why I picked the name 'Wild' when I first began this journey, but now I totally get it. Art, for me, is an invocation to the wild child within me - the child who holds all my memories, all my conditioning, all my energy, all my access to wonder, joy, amazement, and reverence. When I found her, the heroine's journey began in earnest and we've been very busy over here slaying dragons and rescuing princes. We've been, hand in hand, writing our story in colour and shape and symbol and by virtue of the trust we have grown between us, we are growing free.

Trust is essential. It is the foundation of everything I am striving for. It allows me to love what is even when I don't understand it. It allows me to push on bravely away from a known shore for an undisclosed location.

It looks from the outside looking in like all I'm doing is playing with paper and glue and paint and glitter, but if you look a little closer, what I'm doing, what we're all doing, is The Great Work of excavating our true selves from the mortar of conditioning.

What we do with our journals and our paintbrushes and our devotion to our craft sets our feet upon the path that will lead us all home.

 

 

 

 

Studio News + A Video Playlist

Hola, sweet taters! First, I want to thank you for your lovely comments on yesterday's post. You all sure do know how to make space for a woman's healing. I appreciate you. <3

This is an 'update' post of the studio variety, by which I mean that I intend to let you know what's going on in my creative network, where I'm teaching, and what's upcoming. In return for your kind and loving attention, I have embedded a mixed tape collection of some of the videos I've created lately. I hope you enjoy it!

Here's the Mixed Tape

Here's a Peek at my latest BOD spread

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STUDIO NEWS

Member Only Classes

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There is a new tab in Artfully Wild entitled 'Member Only Classes'. This is a perk for members of Artfully Wild that allows you to purchase archived classes at a steep discount. Currently, there are two editions of Book Of Days waiting for you to dive in to for as little as $25.00 each. While you *can* pay more if you want to, I have opened these classes up for registration at a 'what you want' rate. Skip your Starbucks for five days and you can take a class. Woot! Click here for details.

Upcoming under this tab is a planner class that I am creating for members only that will walk you through my own Ultimate Planner. I expect to have this done in time for January 2016, if not earlier, so do stay tuned!

Moon Journaling Continues On and On and On...

moonjournalingThis is my favourite free offering at Artfully Wild and it will continue, though with a tweak: Some months, I will want to work with the New Moon. Some months, I will want to work with the Full Moon. Some months, I will want to work with the waxing crescent and sometimes I will want to work with the waning crescent. I will always email you when there is a new lesson up, and there will be one a month. For those who are wondering, Moonshine will be returning in 2016, and previous sessions of moonshine will be released as member only offerings, so stay tuned for that as well.

P.S. Staying tuned means ensure that you are a member in my on line creative community AND that you are subscribed to my newsletter. If you unsubscribe from the newsletter, you will not get updates and you'll miss out and that would suck. :)

Radiant II is coming!

radianttogether300The guest teachers are already uploading their video lessons and, omgsquee, they are amazeballs. I am so looking forward to this class! Please click here for details and if you are a newsletter subscriber, check today's email for your coupon code.

We recently added Wyanne Thompson to the roster, and you all know how much I love her! Dyan just messaged to say that her class has been filmed and it is in the process of edits!

To get the skinny on all the teachers and what you can expect from this class, please click here.

Wildly Inspired is ON HIATUS

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 12.39.52 PMWildly Inspired is one of my 'as-often-as-I-can' free offerings hosted at Artfully Wild (my on line creativity network), and it is ON HIATUS for the summer. HOWEVER, there are twenty episodes just waiting to be enjoyed, so please feel free to join. I will be focusing my attention on Moon Journaling, and a planner offering that I'm currently working on for members only, so I don't know when I'm going to reopen it.

This offering was inspired by Donna Downey Studios Inspiration Wednesday, which she put on temporary sabbatical. It has reopened! YAY!! Such search for it in her shop listings. I am paid a small commission when you purchase the class (or anything else, for that matter) through this link.

The Self Love Retreat is in the works.

selfloveThis class is kicking my butt because it is the one I most need to take right now. Creating it is a labour of love and if you've ever actually BEEN in labour, then you know that there's some blood, sweat, and tears involved. I hope to have it ready before the end of this year, but honestly babes? This thing is going to take time. I am totally NOT INTERESTED in delivering the same old same old 'take a bath and watch what you eat' tired old bullshit. I want to create something that is TRULY useful to you in your endeavour to love yourself as well as you deserve to be loved. Again. Stay tuned.

And that's it for now.

Thank you for your presence in my life. You make me so grateful and happy. <3