The fine art group exhibit LAYERS featuring members of the Women’s Caucus for Art, Peninsula Chapter, will be on display at the Los Altos Hills Town Hall from September 2019 through March 2020. The expression of this exhibit proves that works of art have many layers: layers of interpretation, meaning, emotion and sometimes layers of color and materials. The women who create these works have underlying layers of understanding that are revealed in the process.
One of the artists in this exhibit is our very own Annette Wagner. Annette is an IC Teacher as well as one of our Art Doctors in the Color of Woman Training. She teaches Earth Prayers – a mix of Intentional Creativity with the ink practice of sumi-e. Sue Hoya Sellars first put a sumi-e brush in her hands and she continued to deepen this thread by working with Taiwan artist May Shei. Annette has three paintings in the show, two of which are from her Grandmother Ocean series.
The artists’ reception, free and open to the public, will be held on Sunday, September 15, 2019, from 2:00 – 5:00 pm at Town Hall, featuring live music by Rebecca and Gary Lee Parks. Refreshments and wine will be available.
An art walk-and-talk tour of the exhibit, also free and open to the public, will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at Town Hall.
Los Altos Hills Town Hall 26379 Fremont Road Los Altos Hills, CA, 94022
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
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.
Intentional creativity is ancient and belongs to all beings.
Creating with intentional symbolism to communicate and tell story has happened all over the world by all peoples in every medium. From the Red Hand Cave paintings of Aboriginal peoples of Australia, to the Japanese Tea Ceremony, Egyptian glyph and myths, Russian icons coded with teachings, Shaman’s drums painted with personal medicine in Asia and Scandinavia, skin story tattoos of the Hawaiian Islands, Native American beadwork, baskets and garments, Hebrew temples and altars, marks on Mexican pottery, African symbols for death and rebirth in paintings. The references are truly everywhere, in both spiritual ritual contexts, as well as in food recipes, the design of gardens, books of poetry, and sacred architecture. All people make forms with specific intent. We get to be a part of the great unfolding of the story of earth through imagery and language with mindfulness.
Today, the legacy of art making with mindful intention, continues in conscious communities, including the Intentional Creativity movement, where tens of thousands of women creating alchemical images of the feminine and bringing their stories to the canvas for healing, transformation and liberation. This is a story worth telling, a legend to be a part of, and the weave of the future we together are creating. Women empowered to serve themselves, their families and communities.
What will future people say about who we are, when they see our creations in 1,000 years? What will they say we focused on, loved and cared for? What will they say we stood for or against? Who will our art show us to be, as a people? Artists have always told the story of humanity in matter based creations – what part of the story are you choosing to tell?
At the Intentional Creativity Foundation, our focus group has been working on the development, philosophy and access to the emergent discipline of creativity for the past twenty-five years. Yet our specific lineage of study goes back to the 1930ies during the Roosevelt administration’s call to artists during the New Deal. This work has been passed from hand to hand for over 80 years as each of us learns the power of putting intention to use, while being conscious of what we are creating, how it feels, and what we discover during and after the process.
By 2018 there will be close to 200 Intentional Creativity Guild Members who are graduates of our Intentional Creativity Training, around the world bringing this technology to the people they serve. We know that all beings are creative, and that the kind of creativity we are offering isn’t based in talent, but a desire to be awake to one’s self and one’s own path. From there, we can answer the call.
May we be of service to awakening consciousness through intentional creativity.
~ Shiloh Sophia
Co-Founder, Intentional Creativity Foundation
It is with a grateful heart that I officially announce that the Intentional Creativity Foundation, our not-for-profit is active, approved, online and ready to rock. Thank you Jonathan Lewis for believing in the vision and making it happen and being the Co-Founder of the foundation. Thank you to all Color of Woman staff and graduates for 8 years of training. Thank you to Cosmic Cowgirls for being the community we first explored this in with depth in circles. Thank you to those who made it possible through their teachings, Sue Sellars, Lenore Thomas Straus, Caron McCloud. Thank you to all of you along Red Thread.
Image by Sue Hoya Sellars
Quote on painting says –
“We must move into the future, creating it as we go.
We have been placed on the edge of history too long now.
We have always been here.”