An incredible three-day Group Show show featuring Intentional Creativity Teachers and Artists, was held at Mirada ART, a gorgeous gallery space in Half Moon Bay, California.
Color of Woman Teachers, Neesa Mills and Jane Sanguinetti curated their show as a way to introduce their local community to both their Intentional Creativity paintings and Art as Medicine classes.
To complete their group, the two then invited Color of Woman Teacher Erica Starks, long-time Intentional Creativity student Paige Sawyer, and local student Karenna Lynn. Neesa shares that Karenna, an accomplished painter, is loving the personally transformative approach taught in our classes.
Creating everything as a team was a wonderful experience. The event was a huge success, with streams of people moving through over the weekend, both invited guests as well as public viewers. Visitors appeared to truly enjoy the powerful and integrated show. We grew the interest for our Art as Medicine classes due to the positive response to the transformative work we showed.
Check out more art and class offerings from Neesa Ginger Mills, Jane Sanguinetti and Erica Starks in the Intentional Creativity Foundation’s Teacher Listings
I responded to a call for Hungarian Artists and submitted 5 of my Color of Woman 2017 paintings (Legend, Artist, Alchemist, Visionary and Black Madonna) to participate in an art exhibit at the Baltimore Washington International Marshall Airport. I felt very excited about this opportunity. The exhibit is organized the BWI Marshall Static Arts Program and the Arts Council of Anne the Arundel.
People can immerse themselves in art while waiting before their flight departure.
Many American airports display artwork, but the level of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport commitment to making their customers travel experience more memorable and less stressful through its art displays is unparalleled.
The BWI airport features local, regional, and even international art year round in its art galleries located throughout the facility .
On May 9 a very festive artist reception was held at the airport and remarks were delivered by Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan, Adjunct Faculty, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and Ricky Smith, the Executive director of the BWI airport. Other dignitaries from the Hungarian Embassy and Kossuth Foundation also attended.
It was very lovely to meet other Hungarian artists living in the area and to share the healing energy of my sacred paintings with potentially millions of weary passengers.
The show is hanging in the International Art Gallery (Concourse D/E Delta Departures) April 23-July 23.
In May, I ran my first Intentional Creativity residential retreat in the south western region of Western Australia at a lovely airbnb. I have been teaching my Inner Wise Woman Workshop in day classes for nearly a year now and it is very popular. The theme of it being that we connect with our own voice of inner wisdom for guidance in our lives.
Why do we need this?
You may spend most of the time second guessing yourself. Or perhaps you see things quite clearly for everyone else, but not so much for yourself. If there’s a loud internal voice telling you all that you’re not doing right, while faintly in the background you hear a soft voice, your inner wisdom, calling you, pointing towards adventure, I think it’s time to make a change.
The retreat was absolutely wonderful. Having a whole weekend with the ladies gave lots of time for unwinding and relaxing as well as learning. We had home cooked meals and two cosy wood fires. There was time to meditate, do some Chi Kung and we even had a belly dancing class to get us all moving. In the evenings we did tea leaf reading and played with oracle cards to keep working at listening to that inner voice.
All the ladies loved the process of Intentional Creativity. None of them had painted before. ‘ I never thought I could paint, but I can!” Selva said to me.
I am racing to gather my thoughts for you before the words fall away. I have just returned home from a week in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I co-facilitated the “Awaken the Great Mother Within” journey, and I am so filled with images and impressions, colors and sensations, that I wonder how I can gather them all to share with you. I will begin by saying that Oaxaca is a blessed land, a rich fertile land, a land of art and an innate creativity that seems to grow from the soil itself like corn for tortillas or agave for mezcal. It is a powerful but sweet energetic vortex. The people are noble, proud indigenous people who dignify their roots, their traditions, their languages, their beliefs, their ecology, their culture and their artwork. I have never seen a people so peacefully and lovingly present and grounded in their identity. The lilting sounds of Zapotec sing through the market place as braided women in embroidered aprons and woven huipil dresses sell their creations and negotiate their wares.
As we sat in our opening circle for the journey, and the women who had gathered shared stories of their lives and what had called them to journey to Oaxaca to explore their connection with the “Mother” (physical, real, earthly, imagined, divine), I listened to my own story. I heard myself say that I struggle with the discipline of a practice. I have trouble keeping up with a regular way of maintaining my devotion. All my best efforts to pray the rosary or to meditate or to chant mantras end up falling by the wayside after a few days or weeks. Even as those words fell from my mouth, I realized the frequency with which I call a deep circle of women together to pray and explore Life and the Divine Mother. Every three months or so, I create a journey or retreat like this, and I realized that this is my practice. This is my body of work as an artist. This is my way of keeping my connection alive, of reconnecting, of cultivating my devotion and fulfilling the Mother’s mandate for me, the mission She has given me – to live in Her embrace and to help other women find their way home into Her arms.
We entered into the dark underground chambers of the 2000 year old Zapotec temples at Mitla. Mitla was created as a representation of the Underworld, where the Lord and Lady of Mictlan ruled over death and the afterlife. I had never been to Mitla before, and my co-facilitator had told me that one of the chambers was tomblike and had a dark heavy energy that was hard to shake. As I entered the tunnel leading to the chamber, I was struck by the fetid odor and the pressure of the air. My friend was choking on her breath, and whispered “isn’t it so heavy, like death?” I felt into the energy and while it took me a moment to put my finger on it, I suddenly had a sense of recognition and certainty. This was the energy of birth. This was the stain of amniotic fluid, blood, labor pain, tears, piss and shit, placenta, the pushing of life through a dark passageway toward a point of light. The energy of birth and death are essentially the same. I looked at the symbols carved into stone all around me on the walls. They were all symbols of water. Water, the stuff of life. We are born into it. And when we die, water flows in the tears that are shed for us.
The ancient peoples of Mesoamerica seem to have universally held the belief that death is but a birth into the next life. They often buried their dead in the fetal position. They buried babies and small children in clay pots as if returning them to the womb. Symbols abound representing the death gateway as a birth gateway. When we emerged from the “tomb” chamber at Mitla back into the blasting sunlight, we moved to another set of downward stairs that led into another chamber in the middle of which rose a great pillar of rounded stone known as the “Column of Life.” This was a place that held an energy of joy and light, almost ecstatic as it rippled across my skin. I realized that this column of life was a phallus, rounded at the tip as if penetrating the vulva of the subterranean chamber itself, entering into the Earth herself and inseminating the spark of new growth, a new life. I felt as if the cosmic ovum choosing cosmic sperm could be each one of us taking part in a greater whole. The integrity of life depends on our choosing, on our saying yes to life. Ultimately it doesn’t matter on what side of the life/death coin our experience falls, but rather on our answer to the question that always is: are you saying yes?
After our visit to Mitla, we visited a natural wonder of petrified waterfalls called Hierve El Agua. If our excursion at Mitla took us into the Underworld, Hierve El Agua took us into the Upper World, into celestial realms, but with the continued experience of water as the primary symbol and reminder of life. Imagine waterfalls that have flowed laden with minerals for millions of years, slowly calcifying into hard rock formations that look like boiling water. Imagine this place honored as sacred in pre-Hispanic times. Imagine that at the top of the cascade, rivulets of water still bubble through cracks in the hard surface, pooling and flowing in a million year old urge to birth from the inside of a dark Earth into the Light. I stood in soft water at the ledge where a vast expanse of valley and mountain opened before me and felt the sky hold me at the meeting place.
One of the highlights of our visit to Oaxaca was a journey to Teotitlan del Valle, a village famous for its indigenous rug weavers. We had the opportunity to visit the home of one of its most illustrious families who have maintained the art form throughout generations. They still make all their own natural dyes.
They still card and spin the wool by hand, and labor for months over a single rug woven with an understanding of the meaning of each symbol. Learning about the plants, flowers, minerals, and insects that gift their color to the dyes and watching the working of the shuttle through the loom made me realize that the people here on this land literally weave the Middle World, our experience in this physical reality, into being. They stand at the passageway from the Underworld to the Upper world, and make their existence by hand, investing their time and labor and expertise and knowledge into the tapestry of life … not just for themselves, but for all of us. They live a life of careful attention.
They live a life of intention. They honor the magic in their work and understand the privilege of alchemy. They live a life of devotion to the tradition that binds them to the elements of the Earth. They pulled strings of white yarn from a metal pot of sickly greenish-yellow liquid with a big two-pronged wooden fork, telling me that the dye was indigo, from a plant grown on the Isthmus. With the glee of little boys, they told me to watch carefully, that as soon as the air hits the yarn, an oxidation process would begin to affect the dye. I noticed a color change, as the yellow turned to green, the green to turquoise, and the turquoise then began to darken and take on bluish hues. In a matter of just a couple of magical minutes, the color settled into the beautiful rich dark blue we know as indigo.
All things come full circle. I had dreamed the idea of painting on shawls, called rebozos, months beforehand for this circle of women in inquiry of the Mother. The rebozo is a quintessentially female garment. It is a multi-faceted garment that accompanies women throughout their entire life – it rocks babies, carries children, warms the shoulders in winter, covers the hair at mass, and wraps the masks of the dead. It is useful and beautiful and inextricably linked with femininity. The first time I wrapped one around my shoulders many years ago, I immediately felt like a goddess, and I felt like my female ancestors must have felt, sitting around the fire telling stories or stitching the hem of a dress or moving the soup in the pot. I felt a connection to the ancient world, to traditions that had been forgotten, and the shawl was there for my remembering. I felt like Mary. I felt Biblical, as if I could sit in an olive grove and hear my sisters talk of God. I felt indigenous, as if my Celtic and Germanic foremothers whispered into the weft of the fibers across centuries of tilling the soil and brewing herbs into medicine that I was one of them. I was of the Earth.
As I dreamed the painting of rebozos into reality, I thought of Mari, an indigenous Nahuatl-speaking woman from Atla, Puebla, who I had bought some blouses from a few years ago. She makes gorgeous hand-embroidered blouses from natural woven muslin and come down from her village to sell them around the pyramids here. I remembered her having some lovely rebozos, too, thinking their simple cream color would provide the perfect blank “canvas” for our painting project. I imagined that if the women gathering for the journey could paint an image or symbols of the Mother on a rebozo, then wrap it around their shoulders, it would feel like the Mother Herself was enfolding them in an embrace. I hadn’t seen Mari in a long time, but as soon as I thought of her, it was as if I conjured her up by magic and she soon crossed my path. I ordered a bunch of rebozos without embroidery from her, just woven natural cotton with the hand-knotted fringe, and she had them ready a month later.
As soon as I had the rebozos, I started playing around with painting them to see if the project would work with my group. I quickly realized how difficult of a task it would be. The open weave and natural cotton absorbed too much paint, in spite of the special textile paint I had gotten. Painting an image of the Mother would be beyond technically challenging for beginners as I myself struggled as a seasoned painter with decades of experience. I dreamed back into the idea that had sparked the project and remembered that what was important was the sensation of being held by the Mother when we wrapped the rebozo around our shoulders. I realized that if the shawl was a color other than white, then it would be easier to make intentional marks and symbols representing the Mother as we experienced Her presence.
I decided to dye the rebozos indigo, a process that took me weeks. I felt the rebozos should be blue as this color is so often associated with the Divine Mother’s mantle, visible in painting after painting of Mary in particular. In the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, her dress is red to represent the earth, and her mantle is blue as symbolic of the heavens. We seek all our lives for connection between heaven and earth, and I felt that indigo blue rebozos would help us bring that connection a little closer. This was long before I ever imagined that I would see the actual process of natural indigo dye in Teotitlan. I bought indigo dye at the fabric store and carefully dyed each rebozo individually, boiling big pots of water, rinsing the starch out of the fabric that Mari had used to keep the fabric crisp and smooth. I stirred the dye and moved the bubbles. When I finally pulled each rebozo from the indigo water to rinse and hang them, I was horrified that the hand-knotted fringe had become a tangled mess. I worked for a long time to slowly and carefully unravel the tangles on each garment. Once the freshly-dyed rebozos were dry, I painstakingly ironed them as best I could.
As I reflected on the entire process of creation, from Mari’s efforts of weaving and my work to dye and iron and prepare them, then the work of the gathering women to paint them, I was reminded of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ writing on the handmade life. “The handcrafted life is very much like this. It takes a lifetime to accomplish. It emerges from a small and infinitely exquisite piecing together of one’s inner and outer lives, these being crafted, played, woven together every day, every week, every month, come summer, come winter, the same. The overall magnificence takes many years. It cannot be fast-forwarded. So, when there is a hunger in the psyche because not enough love or nourishment is forthcoming from the outer world, then there is a temptation to seize at things that might relieve some of the suffering. But the shortcut, the easy way, always falls apart. Then one returns to the handmade life. One has to pick it up painfully, and piece it back together, holding the overall pattern in one’s mind, but working patiently, piece by piece.”
The day before we were to paint the rebozos in the garden of our host casa in Oaxaca, I was out exploring the city. I tried to withdraw money from an ATM, but the bank system didn’t work. As I walked the streets hunting for another bank, synchronicity led me to see a sign on a building ahead of me. It was the Museum of Oaxacan Painters advertising an exhibit called “Arte Empoderando a las Mujeres” – “Art Empowering Women.” For 23 pesos, I had to see what it was all about. My jaw dropped to the floor when I climbed the marble staircase and peered into a gallery of 100 rebozos, all painted by women with images of women’s experience, of women’s life. The dreaming thread that led me to the painting of rebozos in Oaxaca had woven us into a common tapestry of life and of the land, a Mother who welcomed us all into the colorful folds of Her shawl. I sent my circle of women to see the show for inspiration right before we painted our own rebozos. We gathered then at rented table under the bougainvillea blossoms and meditated deep into the sensation of the Mother’s arms wrapped around us. Each woman painted her symbols quietly onto the indigo fabric, listening to the singing birds nestling around the terrace, pulling needle and thread into simple embroidered shapes of stars and roses, moons and suns, and even the words “Amor.” We sat by candlelight that evening, hugging our shawls close and feeling loved.
On my final morning in Oaxaca, I visited a church down the street. I walked into a hand-carved ornately adorned sanctuary, bathed in gold and light. A woman patiently worked on restoring relief sculptures and columns high on a scaffolding to the left. I turned to the right into a chapel that called me and found myself standing in front of the Virgin of the Rosary. A shaft of sunlight beamed through a side window, illuminating my hands as I raised them in reflection of the Virgin’s hands, delicately holding Her mysterious circle of beads. Every time I stray from devotional practice, I find my way back to Her. She calls me back into Her devotion and reminds me that the rosary is not about how diligently or how frequently I say specific words of prayer to Her. The rosary is the circle of Her heart. The rosary is the pillar of light that runs from Underworld to Heaven, wrapping our Earth into a round embrace. The rosary is the circle of women that I called to remind myself, to remember collectively, that we are Her daughters. The rosary is the circle of birth, life, death and rebirth that is Her greatest gift to us. The rosary is an art form, a thread of color, a woven tapestry, a prayer spun on our every heartbeat and beyond. My rosary, my body of work, my devotion, my art, is to connect to Life, to be in and of its Creation.
I receive the knowing
that I am part of all things in this world.
My direction is toward the doorway
in between all things. My experience is to allow
myself to stand in certainty
in that doorway between worlds,
to be as present as I can. The doorway
is a gate to dreaming the in between.
How do I stand there firmly? I am a pillar.
A pillar of light. I consume the darkness.
The shadow is my meal. I offer the plate
served with soil and worms and gravel and clay.
I offer the dish of divine compost into the fields.
May they grow ripe corn, glittering like citrine
on the stalks. May the leaves lie cupped like hands
against the shaft, holding nourishment
to the light. May we walk together with eyes
open to the gleam of sky above, sun raining
kernels of light into our cells. May our cells open
like embryos to the insemination of life
into our souls. I stand on the brink of skyward
shores, leaping into vast landscapes of Sierra Madre
mountains, my mountains that have bound me
to the heavens all my life. But here they have sprung
waters for millions of years that run laden
with minerals, turning flow to stone, so that I may walk
on water in my final days. I am doing this not
only for myself but for you, for your mother, and all
the mothers who came before us. Mother, may you
feel the healing I am becoming. I remember
the time before the land formed, before
the ancestors walked upon it, and I remember
the end, when all was released back into water
and fire and powder of earth, dissolving into air.
The end is at the beginning. I have always said, death
is a birth, the passage the same, the rush of water, the pressing
of matter, the bursting of breath. There is air at the end.
Respiration. Inspiration. Spirit.
Nothing and All.
Copyright 2019 Emily K. Grieves
As of 2004, Emily K. Grieves 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 fy the cosmological imagery left in the ancient murals 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 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
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