“Holy Watercolors, Batman!” + an Artist’s Way Inner Critic Dialog.

The Artist’s Way was my first real introduction to the concept of inner critics and synchronicity, and both of these things came up for me while developing my idea for my Holy Watercolor Paintings.

First my inner critics piped up, saying, “Who do you think you are, using Holy Water to paint with? You know other people will criticize you for doing this, right? This is a terrible idea. People will hate you for doing this.”

I remembered from the Artist’s Way that I could try having a dialogue with my inner critics, so I gave that a try.

It took all my inner strength to quell those inner critics enough to listen to the part of my soul which told me this was a really cool idea, and reminded  me why I felt inspired to do it in the first place. I told my inner critics, “It would be so wonderful to have a piece of sacred art that actually USED Holy Water as an INGREDIENT. It would make the piece of art itself a sacred, blessed piece of art. What’s wrong with that?”

Of course my inner critics had an instant reply all ready: “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with that! Holy water is sacred. And you’re going to mix it with your sloppy paint and brushes? How dare you? That’s not what you’re supposed to do with Holy Water!”

I answered back: “People sprinkle Holy Water on ANYTHING. It is meant to be used as a blessing. As long as I use it respectfully, and knowingly, acknowledging it’s sacredness as I paint, it will add a special meaning to what I’m doing.”

My inner critic at this point starts to soften up, but doesn’t give up yet. It says, “Okay, then – but what do you plan to paint using this special Holy Water? You’d better not paint anything stupid.”

I discuss back and forth with my inner critics about what the best choice of subject matter would be, at least to start with, to get myself confident with it. Through consultation with my inner critics, I realized illustrating Bible verses would be a great idea. That made my inner critic satisfied, and even brought my inner critic to a silencing point. WHEW!!! Sometimes those inner critic dialogues can be brutal, but if you hang on and negotiate with them, they really can end up being a good way to gain confidence in what you’re doing. If you can beat your inner critic dialog, you’re prepared for outer critics that might come up to attack you.

I appeased my strict inner critic even more by purchasing a Holy Water font to use as my vial to hold the water as I painted, dipping my brush into the font to make the whole act of painting a sacred experience. I even said a prayer before every painting session, to bring myself to a spiritual place of sanctity.

Regarding synchronicity, I have actually always hated painting with watercolors in the past, and as I grew older, I realized WHY I hated painting with watercolors… It’s because I didn’t feel in complete control when I painted with watercolors. When you paint with watercolors, you really have to let go. Watercolor paint can be manipulated to a certain extent, but in the end, the water will stain the paper at it’s own speed. I’ve learned to appreciate to accept and admire the synchronistic aspect of watercolor painting. It’s like life – you can only control so much, and at some point you have to let go and allow “The Great Creator” to work it’s magic. So with my Holy Watercolor paintings, I decided to have the background painting be 100% synchronistic by using mostly Holy Water, mixed with a little paint, and letting it drip all over the place, allowing the background to be one big abstract, drippy, beautiful mess. The control happens when it is time to paint the lettering overtop, and even then I allow Spirit to guide me as far as adding any swooping embellishments or adding the stamp of the cross somewhere.

I’m looking forward to doing more with my Holy Watercolors now, thinking of stemming on to painting some of my favorite Saints and angelic images. The journey has just begun!

I’ve been collaborating with Wenona Morning Star Gardner lately, and my painting story was highlighted in her wonderful Google + Hangout this week. Check out her recording to view other Artist’s Way testimonies this week.

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From Corporate Cubicle to Creative Community Heaven ~ the dream to UNITE the two ~ PLUS Interview with Andrea Schroeder

My ORIGINAL “Creativity Spa Hot Sheet” using Andrea’s Creativity Spa and art as inspiration. I wanted to try setting up a Creativity Spa at my corporate workplace!

This is a MUCH longer post than I would normally write, but it’s a story that’s been brewing for a while.

In 2007 I had come to the end of my rope. I was ready for a change. I decided I was going to meet with a friend who had just retired from directing Artist’s Way Retreats, and I had a big idea to pick up where she left off, to see if this was something that would help me find creative fulfillment. Within a week of planning for my very first ever retreat, I felt refreshed, and excited! I knew this was right. At work, my step was lighter – I was happier.

Then I wondered if it was possible to bring some of this inspired feeling into my workplace, sharing it with others. I worked in the creative department of a big corporate office, and there didn’t seem to be an understanding of how to inspire creative people. Basically it was up to the creative individual to inspire him/herself. Unless there was product to be made from a workshop or lecture, there wasn’t much interest from the upper levels to allow it to happen. And this is a company that depends on its artists a great deal. It seemed like such an easy thing to fix. All artists need is a little freedom to be purely creative, I thought. Just a little.

As I browsed the web to gather ideas for workshop leaders to invite into my retreat, I happened upon three websites that would launch a journey of creative dream discovery that continues today. I found SARK, Artella, and I stumbled upon a little website by a girl named Andrea Schroeder. Her website was called ABCCreativity.com (now creativemagicacademy.com). What struck me was her Creativity Spa – a duplex she transformed into a creative center with pink walls where people could come in, use supplies, make creative stuff, and even PAINT ON THE WALLS. I thought, wow! Paint on the walls? I immediately thought about our huge corporate office – it used to be an automobile manufacturing plant. SO much space, and not all of it was being used. We totally could find a single room to use as a “Creativity Spa” of our own, right? I also thought we could hold some random creative workshops that would PURELY be centered on inspiring the artist to experiment and PLAY, with no force from the company to produce product. Pure artistic expression. I gathered the images from Andrea’s website to make my own “Creatvity Spa Hot Sheet” to use as a proposal, found the right group to propose it to, and it was overall received well. I was hopeful, excited, a little nervous, and feeling I was totally going in a wonderful new life direction.

Less than two months later I was one of the many people dropped into a mass group of lay-offs. Job over.

I had two little kids at home, one not even a year old yet, but thank goodness I also had a husband with a full time job. I decided to be grateful to have some time of career reflection and to have more time with my kids. I felt, dare I say… RELIEVED (combined with shock). I felt the ole cosmic “boot in he rear” telling me, “Well, it’s great that you’re trying to do this creative inspiration stuff at your workplace… but don’t you realize that’s not where you’re supposed to be?”

After four years of creative exploration, retreat and workshop facilitating, teleclasses, and collecting certifications, I’ve realized while I was at the corporate job, I was where I needed to be at the time. Over time, it acted like a pressure cooker, pressing me to the point of desperation to discover a world of creativity and inspiration beyond the corporate walls. I’m glad that happened.

I have since found a new community – one filled with kindred souls, and most of whom I haven’t met face-to-face. And we all have a similar mission – to share creative inspiration with others.

I wonder if one day I’ll return to my old workplace as a visitor to fulfill my old dream – as a presenter or workshop leader. I hope to share inspiration, helping to make people happy in their workplace, and encouraging them to discover the same creative communities I did, so they can seek out more and more creative opportunities outside the cubicle. At the least, I hope to be able to do it with my retreats and website.

In the meantime, I am happy in my new employment which doesn’t drain my creative spirit. I seem to have more energy than ever,  despite the occasional exhaustion when life just gets too overwhelming. And that is when I stop, breathe, and visit Andrea Schroeder’s website and blog to see what magic she’s up to.

I recently have had the opportunity to interview her and am thrilled to share it here. She has been on her own journey since mine began, and it s very interesting. I hope you enjoy our conversation!

My Arizona Adventure Story ~ Hope and Faith Rewarded

I have recently returned from a miraculous trip. I flew to Arizona from Cleveland, OH chasing a dream with nothing in my pocket but hope and faith. My husband cared for our two young kids (ages 5 and 3) while I was gone for the weekend to attend an Artist’s Way workshop facilitated by Julia Cameron in Sedona, AZ.

The workshop was merely an excuse for the trip. The real purpose for going the distance was to meet with Julia Cameron (creator/author of The Artist’s Way) to gain her basic support for a book I am writing which highlights her work in a big way. This book is a concept that has been brewing for a couple years and this spring the vision finally became clear – not only how to write the book, but how to gather support from others in order to assure its success and publication. Connecting with Julia Cameron in some way was essential.

Regarding meeting with Julia Cameron, I was warned not to expect too much – that sometimes she doesn’t even do book signings, let alone speak one-on-one with some stranger in her workshop. Nevertheless, I followed my instinct that this was the ideal way to meet my goal to talk briefly with Cameron, having exhausted every conventional way to get in contact with her.

On the long flight to Arizona, all I could think was “I will either return highly disappointed, or with the greatest success story of my life

Me and Julia Cameron

so far.”  By the end of the weekend, I was elated to know I was returning with a testimony! Not only was I given the chance to talk briefly with Julia and present my materials and a couple gifts to her, but I also had the rare opportunity to have a brief (recorded) interview with her as research for my book. JACKPOT!

Getting back home to Cleveland, I felt as if the weekend trip was a dream. I wanted to SHOUT it from the mountaintops. I felt I was coming home with PROOF that when you follow what you feel with all your heart (I think of it as following God’s lead), miracles happen and our faith is rewarded. Sometimes it’s a long journey to find that reward. This particular journey was an expensive one – an investment. Now I just have to finish writing the book! I feel God saying, “OK, I’ve done my part to help you out. Now it’s your turn!”

I hear you, God!

I have many friends who are in an opposite stage of their lives, feeling stuck and hopeless at times. I want to reach out and hug my dear friends by sharing them my story of hope and faith rewarded. From Sedona, I sent postcards to my dearest friends and family, writing messages of hope and happiness. I felt like Andy Dufresne (Shawshank Redemption) writing that note of hope to Red, encouraging his friend to not give up: “Remember… hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping this letter finds you, and finds you well.”

My note to anyone reading this: Don’t give up on your dreams. They will never give up on you.

“I find I am excited, so excited I can hardly hold the pencil in my trembling hand. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man starting a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain….
… I hope I can make it across the border.
I hope to see my friend and shake his hand.
I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.
I hope.”

Stephen King, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” – from short story collection, Different Seasons.

2010 Artist’s Way Retreat at Lakeside ~ Sept.24-26

The deadline for the early bird deal is coming up, regarding the 2010 Create-A-Way Artist’s Way Women’s Retreat!

The theme for this year’s retreat is RELEASE.

Something new offered this year: FREE GIFTS for registering early (by June 30)!

Check out my Create-A-Way website to view photos from our past retreats (click on “RETREATS ARCHIVE”), and also for registration information.

I’m Working… Yes, really!

Thank you, God, for filling my cup of inspiration today!

There is a line I love in Ben Hur ~ Joseph is speaking with a neighbor who is complaining that Jesus has not finished making a table (neglecting his “work”).

[the neighbor examines some boards which have not been assembled]
Neighbor: My table is not finished. Where is your son?
Joseph: He’s walking in the hills.
Neighbor: [disapproving] Mm-hm. He neglects his work, Joseph.
Joseph: No. Once I reproached him with forgetting his work. He said to me, “I must be about my Father’s business.”
Neighbor: Then why isn’t he here, working?
Joseph: [smiling] He’s working.

I think of this often lately when doing my Dream Boogie class and other workshops that fill me with great creative spirit and inspiration. Taking a walk, a nice hot bath, time out to read or write, and connect with my friends online via Facebook or other social network activities. ~ these all seem frivolous to my inner critic who tells me I need to “get back to work.”

The truth is, when involved in Creative Ministry ~ and ministry of any kind ~ you need to keep in touch with your soul. You need to stay right with the Higher Power (I call Him God). Keep yourself fulfilled creatively ~ keep yourself inspired. Keep your cup of inspiration full. It might look to others like you’re “just playing around,” but you know the truth: that keeping yourself inspired IS your job – your responsibility.

Keep working!

Serendipity ~ Vessels and Fortunate Occurrances

I have finally found time to do some playful crafting lately, while reviewing products for Consumer Crafts’s CraftsUnleashed.com. Having a lot of fun!

Here I wanted to get more personal about the project and talk a little more about what Serendipity has meant in my life these days. I plan to use the vessels as an opening ceremony project for at least one of my retreats this year.

Serendipity has been a huge part of my life lately. I’ve been recognizing serendipity & synchronicity working frequently in my life. It’s amazing how often you see it happening when you really pay attention. The funniest event was when my husband and I stopped in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on our way back from a cousin’s wedding last year. We had never been to Portsmouth before, and were uncertain where we would end up to park so we could look around. It was a Saturday – the city was bustling. We couldn’t believe it, but we ended up (without planning) in the HEART of Portsmouth downtown, at a convenient little curb spot. I looked up from our parking spot, and I could NOT believe the name of the gift shop that was RIGHT THERE by the parking spot we found:

I of course saved the bag from the store and decided to use it as one of the scraps for my Serendipity Vessel project:

You can read the write-up on how to make these fun creations at my CraftsUnleashed.com post.

My Signs and Wonders Journal!

YAY! I finished preparing my little journal book for self-publication!

This is a journal intended to keep track of the various signs and wonders God uses to communicate with you. Enjoy and have fun keeping track of the miracles you see around you every day! Every page is illustrated (black & white) to keep the experience of journaling FUN and creative.

This journal was inspired by the workshop I’ve been facilitating for the past year. A really fun workshop – inspires some great discussion.

CLICK HERE if you’re interested in purchasing (printed version from CafePress)!

CLICK HERE if you’d like a PDF download version (and then click on SHOP page).

Artist’s Way Women’s Retreat coming up!

Create-A-Way logoThis September I am planning my second Artist’s Way Women’s Retreat at Lakeside, Ohio (Sept.25-27, 2009). Last year we had a wonderful, blessed weekend, and this year I’m looking forward to another wonderful experience!

This year we have the following workshops, held on Saturday, September 26:

9:00 – 11:00am WORKSHOPS (choose one):

  1. “Signs & Wonders” by Wendy Fedan
  2. “Drawing From Nature” by Kristen Boyesen

1:00 – 3:00pm WORKSHOPS (choose one):

  1. “Writing With The Angels” by Carol A. Adams
  2. “Zetti Papercraft Workshop” by Jenny Barnett Rohrs

3:30 – 5:30pm WORKSHOPS (choose one):

  1. “The Gifts of Poetry” by Carolyn Koesters
  2. “Collage Journaling” by Judith Angelo

And from 8:00-9:00pm Saturday we’ll have an optional “Mindful Crafting” session with Jenny Barnett Rohrs (crafttestdummies.com). Her session last year was a great success – people didn’t want to leave!

If you have interest in registering, here’s a direct link to my webpage to download the registration or to register using Paypal.

Signs & Wonders workshop for Strongsville’s Angel House

signswondersminiI’m thrilled to say I’m going to be giving my “Signs & Wonders” workshop for Angel House in Strongsville, OH.

July 20  & August  17
7:00 – 9:00pm
at Angel House in Strongsville
$20 – call 440-846-1789 to register

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION:

“Is God trying to tell me something?”
Oh, yes! ALL THE TIME!

Through lecture, journaling and discussion, this class teaches to answer the question, “How does God speak to you?”
We were created as individuals, so God reaches out to each of us in unique ways. Learn to open your mind, eyes and ears to better understand God’s answers back to your prayers. Learn to discern God’s voice apart from your own ego as well.

Inspired by:
Divine Guidance by Doreen Virtue, PHD
and Signs and Wonders by Albert Gaulden.

TESTIMONIES:

“I left the workshop feeling renewed
and rejuvenated.”
– Rebecca Starnes, NC

“Signs and Wonders… helped prepare and
open the heart and mind for great expectations.”
– Faye Hobbs, NC

My Memento Beads from CraftTestDummies Workshop – NC Artist’s Way Retreat

Memento BeadsI really enjoyed making my Memento Bead necklace and earrings at Jenny Barnett Rohrs’ (CraftTestDummies) workshop. This was at my Artist’s Way Women’s Retreat in North Carolina this past May. A wonderful experience! I love coming back from a weekend like that with at least one handmade memento as a souvenir of our time together.

We were supposed to bring dried flowers (flowers of symbolic or real importance) to crumble and mix into the clay. I brought dandelions picked by my daughter in memory of not only my little girl who LOVES dandelions, but also of my beloved Aunt Wendy who was famous in the family for making and drinking dandelion tea. I also used some of my mom’s rose petals she brought from her own garden (my daughter’s name is Rose, so they had even more significance).

I was thrilled to have enough clay to make beads to fill a necklace as well as two pairs of earrings and I used the leftover two beads to make a little pendant. This was my first attempt at making jewelry.

A couple weeks later I finally cashed in my Michael’s gift card and got some jewelry-making supplies to finish off some old projects I plan to post next. I’m pretty happy – and excited – with the results!