In March 2019, we spent the weekend exploring what it takes to be balanced as a women in today’s busy world. Breakdowns were had, breakthroughs were achieved. Good food, tea and chocolate was a plenty! It was a pleasure to run this workshop, to see the shifts in the sisters and experience their transformation throughout the weekend.
I was joined by 4 powerful sisters. A mix of creatives; some of whom had not picked up a brush for years and others who had never approached a canvas before. We journeyed deeply into our own stories using Intentional Creativity. In meditation we met our internal guide of balance and bought her through onto the canvas.
On day 1 of our journey we looked at commitments that didn’t serve us, were holding us back or were imposed on us by society and/or family (without any real meaning for us personally) and made a conscious choice to lay some of that down. In doing this, we created space to bring forth things that had meaning to us, gave us joy or bought pleasure into our lives and then wove them into our canvases as a reminder of what to focus on.
Day 2 of our journey brought us to really connect with our visual work and receive a message from our painting that would guide us going forward. The sisters received powerful wisdom from their inner selves and felt excitement for bringing this into their lives. The workshop concluded with a sharing experience of the journey and an honouring of their paintings.
Jacquie is a Color of Women 2018 Graduate and a Priestess of Transformation through the Creative Arts. She has been painting for therapy and her own healing since experiencing a breakdown in her late 20’s. Hundreds of paintings and images later she still believes it is one of the best ways to move stuck energy or thought patterns and connect with the inner world. On a mission to create wholeness in her own being, Jacquie serves women who wish to reconnect to their creative essence, remember passion and discover the freedom of self expression.
Find out more about Jacquie’s work in the world www.harmoniousbeing.co.uk
I was contacted by Farah Alaradi, a fifteen year old Art Student, about interning with me for her work-study assignment. Farah said that she had always been told how to create art in school, and was curious about Intentional Creativity. She was pleased with the opportunity to work with me, learning to create in a more intentional way and think differently about art.
My Medicine Basket Workshop was held prior to the Work study with Farah. I invited her to join to experience the Intentional Creativity process first hand and get a feel for the sort of work I do.
I’m starting to offer Red Thread Circles here in Bahrain- for sharing Intentional Creativity and creating community. While interning for the week, Farah helped me create ads and organize materials for my upcoming Gratitude workshop.
She also spent some time researching IC and doing a Q&A with me in the end. Farah got a taste of creating an intentional workshop by planning out a class for teens who are getting ready to go off to university. She said she never thought art could be used like this, to heal and work through school stress. I told her she may want to consider becoming an IC teacher one day!
Come find Rien’s workshops, art and more : www.riencassidy.com
I am a 2018 graduate of the Color of Woman School of Intentional Creativity, led by Shiloh Sophia and her band of Cosmic Cowgirls. As a newly minted teacher, I am reflecting back on how I was able to FLOW through this program, and I wanted to lend some advice to those who are starting their Vision Quest, particularly with little ones at home.
In July 2017, I remember applying to the Color of Woman School, while having no idea why, or what I wanted to do afterwards. I was a stay-at-home mom of two small children at the time, but like Shiloh says, my heart felt the calling to proceed with my application. My heart also had the gentle nudging of my husband, who made sure I didn’t forget to push the submit button. And I remember during my initial interview, having all the fear in the world about how I would complete this WITH children to tend to on a daily basis. This is how I did it.
For those who don’t know Color of Woman is an Intentional Creativity teacher training certification that takes place over the course of a year. It begins with prerequisite assignments, then students complete 5 major paintings, along with teaching workshops, leading circles, and working on things like a website, promotional materials, and business plan. It is really a comprehensive deep dive into being a creative entrepreneur who is able to then teach others the IC skills to access their own internal information.
As a non-artist myself, it was a huge leap to even apply to COW. When I applied, I had never ever painted on a canvas before. I didn’t have an easel or paints or brushes. I painted with my kids, or in my teeny tiny sketchbook, and called that art. And I should also mention that a month before I was scheduled to begin COW, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with my THIRD child. Being pregnant, homeschooling my kids, AND doing COW, I had a few moments of “How in the Heck Will I Do THIS??” But amazingly, I did. And it can happen for you.
My tips are what worked for ME, but I am sharing them in the hopes to calm anyone’s fears about taking on a big art program, or personal project, with children underfoot. This is how I did it.
Surround Yourself with Support
I will start of the bat by saying, my husband is the most supportive person in my life. He is my biggest cheerleader and were it not for him, I would not have been able to manage all of it. He watched the kids, gave me space for painting and brainstorming, and to fully immerse myself in this work. He let me process all the things and it was a huge gift for me.
One of the things Shiloh Sophia asked me during my interview was: How is your support system? And I know not everyone is so lucky to have a supportive spouse or partner, but just surrounding yourself with people who believe in you will make a huge difference. Tell your friends or family members, who you trust, who can lift you up. The ones who truly care, who will ask you how it’s going, and who will be genuinely interested in your progress. Share with THOSE people only, if you feel inclined. The rest are on a need-to-know basis.
This is an extremely personal time for you and your own thoughts and revelations need to be cared for and tended to like little babies of their own. You are growing your own ideas and information and folks aren’t quite ready for what’s happening just yet. Because you barely will understand yourself.
Set Up Your Space for Success
During my prerequisite work, I used the time leading up to COW to set up my studio. This was a work in progress, but my family was very supportive. We moved our bedrooms all around so that instead of a tiny closet, I could use an entire room. Having this sacred space WITH A DOOR was absolutely key for me. I was able to close the door during my art time. I had music or a sound machine playing so I didn’t have to hear the kids screaming or arguing downstairs (while under the gentle supervision of their dad). And my family knew, when I was painting, I was WORKING. The 2-year-old still didn’t care, so she was allowed to visit. But she didn’t derail my process.
Let them Interrupt You
I know this is counterintuitive to what you would think. But letting them interrupt you lets them see you in process. In flow. And my kids really enjoyed seeing what I was up to behind closed doors. My daughter (2 years old at the time) was infamous for coming in and GASPING at whatever I had been working on, like she was seeing each painting for the first time ever. It made me feel like the best artist in the world.
My son (5 years old at the time) would come in and name my paintings. He came up with the most beautiful and original names. They were his interpretations, and his own way of connecting to my process. I welcomed his imagination and thoughts, and his indirect love and support of my work.
Paint with Them
One of the best side effects of letting your kids see you paint is that THEY WANT TO PAINT TOO! My son was never a creative kid in terms of actually creating something. He would use his imagination, but give him paper and paint and he was uninterested. I found that letting them use some of my grown-up supplies made a difference for them. Real canvases, real watercolor paints, real Tombow markers. The creativity most definitely rubbed off on them. Kids mirror what they see and seeing me paint in quiet introspection was one of the biggest gifts I gave them through COW.
Include their Friends!
As part of my Initiate Book, I knew I wanted to do a workshop with my children and their friends. We are part of a very active homeschool group and I was able to offer an IC Workshop to them as part of my training. My son LOVED practicing the workshop ahead of time with me, but his most favorite part was doing a Red Thread Circle with his friends. To this day, he still wears a Red Thread on his wrist to signify his connection to his friends – six months later. He knows it’s a powerful tool for connection and he remembers that day every time he tugs on it.
Block Off The Time
As soon as I received the schedule of calls for the year, I put every single one on my calendar and I did NOT miss them. (Well, I actually missed one, but that was a crazy circumstance!)
I attended these calls NO MATTER WHAT was going on. I was lucky my husband arrived home from work around the time the calls would start in my time zone, so I would literally hand the cherubs off to him and shut the door. If I was feeling really loving, I prepped dinner ahead of time. But sometimes, he was on his own for dinner, during calls that would last around 2 hours. Sometimes it meant having a child in my lap for a few minutes during the calls.
But I knew the connections I was making, though quantum and cosmic, were important. My energy was needed in the circle, and my own self was restored, so the calls were non-negotiable for me. And I did not cut them short.
I also made sure to have a day set aside where everyone knew it was my painting time. Each Sunday morning, my husband would take the kids out for breakfast at 7 am, and when they came home they would play outside, or quietly downstairs, until I emerged. I was guaranteed from 7-11 am every weekend where I could catch up, paint, do whatever I needed to do. Sometimes I would squeeze in a second session after lunch, or during quiet time/movie time. But I USED the time I had and did not try to clean, do laundry, make grocery lists, or get sidetracked, like it would have been easy to do. I SHOWED up and STUCK to it.
Beyond that, I would fit in painting as I could. Sometimes during the week, I would paint if I had time, but mostly my set hours on the weekend were enough for me to stay on track.
Let Go of the Guilt
One of the biggest things I had to do was let go of guilt. There were MANY TIMES it would have been easy for me to cut my painting short on account of something else. I could have easily felt bad that my husband was stuck with two grumpy children who needed dinner, while I was upstairs “finding myself.” But I didn’t. I knew that this process would be beneficial for EVERYONE if I completed it. And my husband saw such a difference in me when I painted.
I would emerge like a butterfly coming out of her cocoon. Some days, after painting, I felt like Mary Poppins! It truly replenished my soul. And it would not be safe for me to trade that for the sake of others. My self-care and painting had become so intertwined that I needed it to be a better mom.
It’s ok to be PROUD of what you are doing! I am SO PROUD I am of what I have accomplished. Completing Color of Woman was NO easy task. It was a lot of work – emotionally and mentally – to walk through this Vision Quest. And to do it WHILE pregnant and raising/homeschooling two kids. I am as proud of this as I am about my college degrees. It’s that big of a deal to me.
I want others to know it’s feasible. It’s possible. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. And once you’re done, it’s ok to take a few moments to bask in the glory of what you accomplished and where you are.
I hope some of these tips resonate or help, or at least reaffirm your own Vision Quest reasons.
I wish you so much joy and happiness. Best of luck.
Discover Amanda Abreu’s art, offerings and writings www.creatingher.com
What is Muse Medicine? First of all it is story. Our own personal story that need to shift or heal, making space for new possibilities How do we do we do that? We alchemize the old story, transform it into the energy of potential. Then we bring it into form via the emergence of the inner Muse.
In my recent Muse Medicine class, we examined our limiting stories, alchemizing them into potentiality through writing and painting! The class was filmed by a student at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida and will be part of her senior thesis on art and healing.
We all introduced ourselves within the Red Thread Circle and each person received a piece of red thread as a symbol of connection. The Filmmaker decided to join the class, while her partner filmed. I led inquiry prompts for the painting process, which were to name the story they needed to heal in one word, and their favorite fairy tale. We tied off our red thread around our wrists and moved to the painting room.
We used the idea of alchemy to change the ‘lead’ of their old story into the ‘gold’ of a new one. Creating an ‘alchemical soup’ we sprayed our paper with water and painted 3 colors. Then we activated it by shooting a golden arrow into it using gold paint. Next I talked about Bezoars, an idea I borrowed from Jenafer Joy. Bezoars are a sort of knot of old energy we want to dissolve, creating space for something new. Un-writing our old story into our bubbling alchemical soup did the trick, and as we stirred these in with our magic wand paint brushes, they disappeared making way for transformation!
As our paper dried, I invited them to write, imagining a fairy tale, a possible new story in which they were the heroine potentially filled with witches and ogres, princes and villains.
When we gathered, I asked them to choose one scene from the story to illustrate. It could be done in the Muse and her symbols style or using a simple figure or figures and necessary environment. I demonstrated a 20 line face and a simple full figure. Then were off and painting! I guided them in several loose painting steps and color application. Finally I gave them the option of glazing or not, since time was short. They chose to put their paintings under the veil of glaze after I demonstrated. After the glaze, we added final color and highlights and biophoton highlights and other embellishment. We paused and received the Muse Message (Medicine) in our journals.
We took our paintings and writings to a closing circle and shared portions of our stories (optional, but everyone did), the titles of our painting, and the name of our Muse. This was so powerful. We needed to go for the Kleenex! Even those who had dealt with the same stories before found new levels of healing. Even I, who didn’t dare to go deeply into the process, found surprise insight during the writing which brought chuckles and profound depth and insight into my story and my identity.
Afterward the participants were slow to leave as they continued to share. The Filmmaker told me how complete she felt the process was and how deeply she was affected. She will take what was filmed and other material and create a full length feature for her dissertation. She hopes to share it on our local public access TV station and in the Sarasota International Film Festival.
My love of making and teaching art burned deeply inside, from the time I decorated the stairwell in our home with grease pencil at age 3, to majoring in Art Education at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. In 2015 my path led me to Shiloh Sophia and Intentional Creativity.
Now I continue to explore the landscape of inner space in both its individual and its transpersonal nature as well as continue in the ministry of teaching others to awaken to their own creativity through sharing the Intentional Creativity Philosophy in classes held at Expressive Arts Florida in Sarasota, FL and other venues.
In January, I had the extraordinary opportunity of collaborating on the creation of a mural with international muralist Benjamin Swatez. He visited Teotihuacan with a group that came to experience the energies and wisdom teachings held within the indigenous tradition of the 2000 year old pyramids and surrounding archaeological site.
The leaders of the group had asked me to suggest a place in the area to create a mural beneficial to the local community. Despite some initial doubts, I chose to see this as a beautiful opportunity for me to learn from an expert, a great artist, and to stretch beyond my own artistic limitations. I presented the idea to the principal where my son Marco attends, “Escuela Ignacio Manuel Altamirano” in the village of San Sebastian Xolalpa. She loved the idea, with a request to include an anti-vandalism message in the theme of the mural. The village, especially its schools, has seen a surge in vandalism and graffiti recently, so this message, which became, The Voice of Respect, seemed perfect.
I asked the principal to select about 20 kids, but not just the “good” students. Given the theme, it seemed especially important to include the kids who are the “problem” students, the ones who are overlooked and never chosen for something special, the kids who are perhaps most likely to commit acts of vandalism down the line. She chose the children accordingly, two or three from each grade, 1st through 6th.
While on the way to Mexico from a project in Uganda, Benjamin had sent me a list of supplies to gather. This consisted of 1 gallon of white latex house paint, 2 liters of black, 1 liter each of red, blue, yellow, green and magenta. From my studio, I collected brushes, red oxide acrylic paint, jars, a bucket, masking tape and plastic drop cloth.
Upon arrival, my mother-in-law walked him over to my house, and when I opened the door to meet him, all my worries fell away. It was like meeting an old friend! He came into my studio and we immediately started pouring through books and magazines of Teotihuacano murals and symbols. We talked about the history and mythology and mystery of the images created by the ancestral masters of the pyramids, and how important it was for the children here today to understand and respect their own heritage. Then we began brainstorming the visual elements we wanted to include in our mural and sketching the basic composition. It was a true collaboration that flowed easily and effortlessly.
The principal gave us the thumbs up on our design, and we begin plotting it out on the wall with charcoal using a small digital projector. The projector was brilliant – it fit in the palm of a hand, had about 2 hours of battery life, and connected to a phone. We took pictures of the drawings on the phone and projected them on a much larger scale onto the wall and traced the lines in charcoal and then with black paint.
It was an epic task to complete in just a few hours. Benjamin also painted a large-scale face of a beautiful little girl in his trademark realist style at lightning speed. I was fascinated to see how quickly he worked. By the time the kids came out to help us at 1 p.m., we had our lines, we had paint mixed into cups for them, and we had marked a dot of color in each space so that the kids could essentially “paint by number.” The American adults from the visiting spiritual group that had initiated the project joined us shortly thereafter, coming straight from the pyramids to the school to help.
We included a typical Teotihuacana figure in the mural with a “noble speech” symbol coming from her mouth and holding an aerosol paint can directed at a huge eye, to convey this idea that respectful expression, vision and creation lies at the center of a unified harmonious community.
Benjamin speaks Spanish so he introduced himself to the kids (and their parents who had come to watch), and I gave them a brief motivational talk about the theme of the mural – about the vandalism problem and how reconnecting to their ancestral roots and taking pride in their heritage can help the youth learn to express themselves creatively in a way that is positive, beneficial and beautiful in their community.
The hour and a half with the kids was wild, exciting, and chaotic, as we had kids of all ages and in any given second I had a little boy or girl tugging at my apron asking me for more paint or a new color. I was relieved when our time was up just to take a breather but also in love with what the kids had so earnestly painted. We had a lovely surprise then – the parents of the kids who had participated had prepared a meal for us! They invited us all into the school yard where they had set up tables and they served us a typical regional meal of chicken mixiotes, rice and beans, with the intention that we “break bread” with the kids. So beautiful. Luc, a friend and colleague of Benjamin’s on his “Goodness Tour,” a global community mural and music mission, shared some songs with the group, and both Benjamin and I had the opportunity to talk in more depth to the kids and parents about the message of the mural.
When the meal wrapped up and the kids went home, Benjamin and I stayed to continue working on the mural. There was a huge amount of work to be done still, and time was running short. We spent much of the rest of the afternoon making adjustments to the areas that the kids had painted. In their enthusiasm, they had covered over many of the outlines we had marked and made their own unique, albeit abstract, creation out of our carefully plotted corn. We chose what to keep and what to adjust, and the end result has some crooked but clear corn stalks made by the kids. We painted until late that day.
I love the metaphor of the crooked corn stalk symbol – like a child’s life, it may have gone astray but righted itself again into alignment and positive growth toward the light of the sun!
The following day, Tuesday, we both arrived early in the morning, knowing that we had to paint like the wind to wrap it all up that day, as Benjamin had a flight to catch at 5 pm. I have never painted so fast in my life. We battled with the rough uneven surface of the wall, trying to get clean lines and clarity in all of the bumps in the porous surface. There were moments when I struggled with technical things, how to portray a shadow correctly, or a hand, and Benjamin never hesitated to take a moment to help me, in spite of the time pressure. In fact, he remained calm and tranquil throughout our hasty painting, never letting on if he was stressed or nervous, never losing his patience. His friend Kosar, an Iranian woman and immigrant to the U.S., helped us out with retouching lines all day, which was a huge support. My son Marco also stayed for hours after school each day to help out with the lines and retouching. Benjamin reminded me frequently to go stand across the street to get a better perspective on our work. So funny, because I often tell my own students this in the studio, to stand back from the canvas for a better view, but I forgot all about that sage advice with the huge scale of the mural.
We added in the title of the mural “Voz del Respeto” – “Voice of Respect” and signed it with our names and the name of the group that dreamed the project into being – High Vibe Tribe. We painted right up to the very moment that Benjamin had to go hop in a taxi to get to the airport. He literally went running down the street with the longer of the ladders we had used, hoisted on his shoulder like a true soldier of Intentional Creativity, to deliver it back to its lender before racing to the airport. I stayed at the school with my son plodding along on the finishing touches till late. On Wednesday, I felt rather lonely without Benjamin as I returned for a final day of completing the mural. This involved cleaning up any more lines and details, applying some final symbols to the sky, filling in some uneven color, and finally, applying a coat of sealant to the entire mural to protect it from the elements, the sun, and from potential graffiti from anyone who might not have understood the message – we hope that never turns out to be the case, but we wanted to protect it nonetheless.
It was fascinating throughout the painting process to be so fully in the public eye, with many members of the community stopping to observe us and ask questions. It was a beautiful opportunity to share intentional creativity and the importance of teaching especially children and young people that there is a way for them to find outlets for expression that are grounded in respect and honor of their own history and cultural heritage. Creative expression can allow them to make positive contributions to their community, beautifying their village, raising consciousness, and unifying the people. The very final touch on the mural was a little banner honoring the children themselves and their participation. It is my prayer that those kids see the mural in ten or twenty years and remember how they are a part of “Voz del Respeto.”
Emily K. Grieves received a BFA degree in art from the University of Montana in 1993, followed by study of art history in Berlin, Germany, as a Fulbright scholar. She lived in San Francisco, California, for 10 years where she began exploring symbolism, mythology, and ritual in her artwork, drawing inspiration from the celebrations and mysteries of life. She has been a practitioner of shamanic healing and hands-on energy work since 1997.
As of 2004, she makes her home in Teotihuacan, Mexico, where she has painted murals at the Dreaming House spiritual retreat center and has created a body of artwork influenced by the cosmological imagery left in the ancient pyramids and by her relationship with her Muse and the Divine Feminine. In 2014, she opened her studio Taller de Arte El Refugio, in Teotihuacan.
Emily is a certified Intentional Creativity Teacher in the Color of Woman Method developed by Shiloh Sophia. She is also a member of the Intentional Creativity Guild, an international organization that promotes intuitive artistic expression as a way to make positive change in the world. Visit her at www.EmilyKGrievesArt.com
Olivia Oso shares her teaching journey of remembering our innate beauty and wisdom.
We gathered together in Eugene for the Sacred Tree Workshop and had an amazing time together. In the beginning of this painting process, all the elements where brought in to create the background. I asked the group to consciously listen to how each force lives within, earth, air, water and fire. A mark for a seed was added, representing the beginning of each person’s inner Tree of Life. We brought in the unavoidable tragedy line, as well as consciously acknowledging all the blessings and triumphs of our lives as well. A symbol to the Indigenous nature we EACH carry in own lineage and/or from the place where WE now live was added.
I brought in ritual each day using Palo Santo, sage and rose quartz, with each participant receiving a gift of their own stick of Palo Santo along with a journal. I offered other oils from the plant nations to bless their canvases, lavender, cedar, and sage. Each person was also invited to bring a symbol of their sacred intention and we created a community altar together.
My teachings involved information from the different spiritual traditions and I shared different perspectives as they connected to what it represented for them personally. I also used the symbol and parts of the Tree as aspects of our own body such as, roots, truck, core, branches, leaves, flowers, inviting inquiry into what they represented in their own lives. Poetry was also used along the way.
In a guided visualization, I took them down into the roots of the tree to the core of Mother earth and up their spine with the chakra points, to a connection with Her, a woman who was a spiritual presence for them.
When I illustrated my Composition, I was guided to bring both the Feminine form and the Tree of Life. Attendees could choose whatever they wished or were guided to do, specifically a tree or a Being, along with the Sacred Tree.
Over the course of 2 1⁄2 days, my Beloveds were so wonderful to be with. As feelings of fear, grief, being stuck or blocked and being terrified were expressed, in spite of these emotions, there was such trust and openness to the process. As a facilitator of the Intentional Creativity process, It was a wonderful gift and blessing to witness the break-downs, breakthroughs, aha moments, celebration and expression of Creativity. It is always so amazing to remember why I do this work. It makes such a difference in the world. We all got to witness as the energy of the group shifted, as things got released, new stories created and joy expressed.
My passion is to guide others toward their inherent gifts in creative process. I love witnessing the Beauty of the earth in all Her many forms. I facilitate workshops and classes using Intentional Creativity in Portland, OR and beyond.
Find out about Olivia’s upcoming workshops and art at www.gypsyheartstudio.com
The Empress symbolizes humankind’s ability to extend and receive love.
A beautiful day spent with amazing women. Oh, how I love when women gather, good things happen. We had it all… laugher, story, heart tears, wisdom, homemade soup, gluten-free cake, painting, painting and more painting!
Using Intentional Creativity, we spent the day painting and exploring our personal Empress, who represents Love with Wisdom. In the Tarot, the year 2019 is the year of the Empress. She symbolizes humankind’s ability to extend and receive love. She is Demeter, the Earth Mother and Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Creative Power. We layered our paintings with personal symbols, planted seeds of desires, acknowledged and bowed to the story of our past, and envisioned and moved in the direction of our Empress.
The Empress knows the importance of, as Shiloh often says, giving from our overflow. She is a benevolent leader. She is feminine, sensual and passion. She is the creative spark, and to me a beautiful balance of the right and left brain, with the action to bring her ideas and desires to fruition.
As a teacher, I felt more freedom when I let go of the internal expectation of having to be the expert on the empress, and it was even more magical. I still held the space and held each woman, but inside I was able to let go of inner thoughts that I had to know it all. Instead I shared with the group WHY I was interested in the Empress. Just as the tarot has other symbols on each card, students explored symbols important to their own lives. I led them on a visualization thru the underworld gathering their gifts and knowings, then up to the upper world and eventually to their own throne on the mountain top surrounded with pomegranate and blooming flowers.
I loved how the women supported one another. It was a beautiful class. At the end I had each woman introduce their empress to each other. I wanted to cry from the wisdom they shared and I felt such deep love for myself knowing that I was brave enough to create and hold this space for these women to explore their inner Empress.
What is a story you’ve held onto, that is no longer serving you about your body and beauty?
With this potent question came Ally Markotich’s vision to introduce an Intentional Creativity process to a community of intergenerational women. So it was, that this powerful group of women came together for Ally’s Body Embrace Workshop. Attendees ranged in age from 14 to over 60, including a mother and daughter, all ready and hungry to explore their narratives around body & beauty.
“I gave permission for people not to filter themselves and to be as honest as they needed to be.”
Each person wrote an intention to hold for themselves, and the level of sharing during the circle was intimate and deep.
This work is about the process, not the end result.
Ally explains, how part of her job as a Color of Woman Teacher is to help guide students to recognize the voices of the Muse and the Inner Critic. Activating the voice of the Muse, helps diminish the voice of the inner critic.
A gallery style walk in closing, allowed each person the space to speak powerfully about their creations and what they were awakened to after connecting deeply with themselves through this work.
I feel incredibly honored to be doing this work in the world. I’m very grateful to be able to share Intentional Creativity in the community where I live. I firmly believe this is revolutionary and very needed for all the weight people carry.
I offer a creative spark of word and image where beauty is noticed, space is honored and inquiries are asked. Join me on my quest to live with loving intention!
Color of Woman Teacher in-training, Milagros Suriano-Rivera, held her first Tea with the Muse Workshop with her daughter-in-law and her mom in San Antonio, Texas. Inspired by Shiloh Sophia McCloud’s Unleashed Feminine Flow exercise, the steps weave together intention-setting and paint to hone in on taking action towards that which we are passionate about. Milagros shares, “I just love talking about Intentional Creativity and how women respond when I explain how it works. I can attest to the magic and opportunities that present themselves for me and others. I witness the universe responding to me, when I show up and let my Muse show up as she desires.”
We are woven out of the fabric of Her robes,
and she embroiders us like millions of fibers of light
and glowing threads into the stars on her cloak.
We are always intertwined, and She gives birth to our true spiritual essence ~Hobby Parent
Just over a year ago, I began a journey in painting called The Black Madonna Pilgrimage. This study was centered around the indigenous images of the Black Madonna, inspired by her legends throughout the world, teachings about her, and music dedicated to her. Stories and her traditions throughout the world were part of the curriculum, having been passed from generation to generation, some hidden in mystery and others changed in history.
For 33 days we held a container through an online circle listening for her message to each of us. Our paintings expressed the unfolding of our relationship with the Black Madonna in a process of discovery. We explored the symbols of her image throughout the world, and were guided on a sacred pilgrimage of the heart as we heard her voice within us. Sue Monk Kidd wrote of a Black Madonna her in book, The Secret Life of Bees, as well as her memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates. It was a journey in seeking the Divine Feminine for each of us as well.
As I began this painting of Mary, a churning of turmoil and violence arrived in our city of Charlottesville, VA. I wrote these words on my canvas as I listened to headlines of racial strife and civil unrest erupting in the streets of the small college town where I listen to music on Fridays, eat lunch with colleagues on the Downtown Mall, and raised my children. As the day progressed, the chaos increased, and I tearfully painted 19 prayers in red for the people who were injured in the clash of white nationalists and counter protesters on the streets of this historical place I’ve called home for many years. More trauma and an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” ensued as the hours passed, and the progress of the painting captured my impressions of the happenings that day.
I was not a brave person in so many ways. I was not prepared to be present in a situation of that magnitude. My heart went out to the people much more valorous than I, who showed up and were witness to what was happening. My activism was expressed on my canvas, in the brush strokes that held the prayers for those who came to represent their beliefs and values, as well as those whose hearts were filled with anger and rage.
In reading and research, I found words by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author and activist: The Black Mother lights the treasure forward from the dark… dark that others might call chaos…And further, to strengthen ourselves to push back in ways within our reach… …that Our People, Our Nations on Earth Be Not Divided, Rather Be United.
So I continued to paint. Symbols of my spiritual journey, a line in connection to Infinite Wisdom, marks representing the Divine Feminine, and more prayers. Processing what was happening in our town, our country, our future. I painted more prayers in white for healing, love and compassion, and the grace to be able live in diverse harmony. And one, in reverence to the memory of Heather Heyer, who lost her life in the chaos. The days and weeks passed. I would paint for hours on some days and other days, my painting languished. I would look at the strokes and feel a sense of loss, of change.
She wanted to be a composite of color and light, symbolic of diversity and connection.
This method of painting I’ve studied is called Intentional Creativity, developed and taught by my teacher and mentor, Shiloh Sophia. There are many steps associated in this process, each layer a representation of the conversation between spirit and mind, painting and writing. As I write words on the canvas or in my journal, I listen to what comes up in my thoughts, and then I use paint, color and brush strokes to represent what I have pondered. It is a dance between Divine Intelligence through my consciousness to the brush onto the painting. A process of being mindful, listening to what shows up, and paying attention to the brush as it moves through me onto the canvas.
The next impression I received was a medicine wheel. A symbol in ancient cultures of balance and harmony. Contemporary representations of the medicine wheel emphasize the quest for harmony and balance, both within ourselves and with all communities and creatures on earth. The wheel also symbolizes a graphic reminder that change is inevitable, that development is a life process, and completing a circle of wholeness is a goal worthy of our attention. It seemed to be an answer to the many prayers and intentions that I had painted onto this canvas, for myself and for our community. And then the shape of the Madonna wanted to appear. I saw her image filling the circle and began to make the sacred marks that would bring her into presence. I’ve painted faces over the past few years, learning to shape the nose, brows, lips, neck, hair, and eyes, and her lines began to take form. More than that, her expression began to develop as I worked. It was a surprise and I was curious as the color and lines revealed her presence. The medicine wheel became a circle of light illuminating her from behind. Her spirit became more apparent as I progressed and she began to come to life. I typically don’t paint images in a realistic way, my interpretations tend to be more abstract and symbolic. But she wanted her expression to represent the sadness, the pain the Charlottesville community experienced in August of 2017 and the aftermath of changes that followed.
She wanted to be a composite of color and light, symbolic of diversity and connection. A blue eyed woman of color. My intention was to be mindful of the strength she embodied, her vulnerability in this madness, and the pain that has continued to divide people from fear, long held beliefs, and the misuse of power, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, heaven, and intelligence. She was making her presence and intent in protecting the people Charlottesville with wisdom and loyalty in response to the negative media surrounding the events that happened. Her message was also telling me that she wanted to hold all the people, ones were injured, as well as ones who spread violence and separation, those who were harmed, the ones who stayed home, and especially, the woman and men who died. And I listened to her voice, painted all who came, with differing intentions, who she holds in her embrace.
This process has motivated me to use my art for social justice and positive activism. In addition, I am very honored and humbled to have Marianne Williamson share my painting, Black Madonna of Charlottesville, on Instagram!
Hobby Parent is an artist, Intentional Creativity Coach and Teacher. She lives and works in her home & studio West of Charlottesville, Virginia, in view of her beloved Blue Ridge Mountains, enjoying nature and its vast sources of artistic inspiration. She works in acrylics, watercolor and mixed media, as well as graphic design. She began painting, drawing and illustrating in high school, although she has been an artist for as long as she can remember.