Painting, Divination & Peace

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mountainaboveMountain Above; Water Below available on Etsy

This painting is of my childhood swimming hole, set deep in the mountains of Appalachia.  The title comes from the literal image of a mountain above and water below.  This reminded me of the iChing hexagram, “Meng,” which symbolizes “Mountain Above and Water Below.”

There are many different forms of divination; tarot cards, tea leaf reading, gazing in a crystal ball or shiny surface, etc.  In China, the method of iChing developed.  It uses a method of throwing yarrow stalks or 3 coins thrown six times to produce the hexagram.  There are different theories as to why this works, perhaps it is an effect of our subconscious mind communicating to us, some say it is an effect of quantum physics or that small things in the world can reflect the larger patterns that exist.  In any case, it has existed for at least 3,000 years probably longer and many people find it a useful tool.

Hexagram 4 – “Meng” is also known as “Youthful Folly.”  That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is an opportunity for learning.  It also reminds you of the pleasures of childhood and to embrace that.  We can use that in our learning too, because when learning is fun, we remember it better.  But it’s also good to think over that time and release bad habits from then and replace it with mature knowledge.

I see in this painting the peace and innocence of childhood; a time before adult concerns and worries.  Looking at it brings me back to a state of peace.  When I paint, I drop into a place of unconcern.  I let the images flow into me and out of my paint brush, producing a vision of tranquility.

A good affirmation for this day would be: “I breath in peace and it flows through me into the world.”

More peace is always needed.

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

A Beacon of Blessings

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Although many people have heard of the Impressionists, not so many are familiar with the Expressionists.  These are artists who seek to express meaning rather than physical reality.  Colors and lines are often used in an almost subliminal way to create feeling.  However, most of the familiar artists painting in this style do it out of angst.  An example of this style would be “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.

I consider myself an Expressionist, but I strive to capture the emotions of love, passion and joy.  I hope by seeing my art on the wall that it acts as a daily reminder to brings these qualities into your life.  Valentine Series IV was inspired by a sculpture by Bernini in Rome.

Valentine Series IV - 9.5"x 14" oil painting

Valentine Series IV – 9.5″x 14″ oil painting

I wrote down this quote as a reminder to myself when I create artwork.

“Why not be a beacon of blessings, constantly broadcasting images that promote health and well-being? People just might live up to our expectations, just as easily as they can live down to them. Plus, it has a tonic effect on the one who acts as a beacon of blessings.” – Brezsny

So as an affirmation for the week:

I am a beacon of blessings and blessings flow into my life and out to others without effort.

– Patricia Robin Woodruff

3 Reasons I Believe in Angels

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I believe in angels. I’m not sure about the winged, heavenly versions, but I know for sure that earthly ones are out there.

Cherubim 11"x14" pastel reproduction

Cherubim 11″x14″ pastel reproduction

1) Angels turn up in unexpected places.  When my son was having to visit the hospital on a regular basis, we would stay at the Ronald McDonald House.  They only charged us a minimal fee of $10 a night.  However, my husband was out of work and we had absolutely no where to squeeze out that minimum fee but were scheduled for an appointment.  We were leaving that day to go to the hospital and were going to ask them to possibly waive it, when we got a $50 check in the mail!  The note included was from a neighbor who had just found out that our healthy looking son actually had a heart condition and they were grateful that their grandkids were all healthy and this angelic person was  giving us $50 to use for our son’s care.  That’s when I learned the meaning of,

“Don’t believe in miracles – depend on them.”                          – Lawrence J. Peter

2) Friends can be our angels.  Sometimes they can act as guardian angels, giving advice and keeping us from acting on impulse.  I have a dear friend who acts as an inspirational angel; helping me with art ideas and providing encouragement in my creative endeavors.  Best of all is a partner who can fill that role too.  I know I am blessed with angelic guidance all around me!

3) Children provide us with angelic insight. My 5 year old son was chatting with my father about a fellow on TV who made his living by fishing.  My dad was astounded that a person could make a living doing something that was fun.  Later, my son commented sagely, “Mom, I don’t think Pop-pop has his priorities straight.”  Little cherubs remind us of the things that are important to focus on; love, hugs, enjoying the day, taking joy in simple things, following a life you love…  For that reason, I turned this pastel into a pendant to wear as a reminder.

“Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for, without being seen, they are present with you.”- St Francis de Sales

I see angels as personified spiritual energy and so my life is *full* of angels and their guidance.  – Patricia Robin Woodruff

The Artist and Writer as Shaman

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Shamaness 11"x14" pastel on velour paper by Patricia Robin Woodruff

Shamaness 11″x14″ pastel on velour paper
by Patricia Robin Woodruff

“Artists are the shamans of our time.” – Will Bason

One definition of a shaman by Brendan McGuigan is, “… a person who interacts with both the normal world and the world of spirits, usually acting as a sort of intermediary between the two.”  The more I learn, the more I feel that this is my role in creating art, poetry and prose.  I often feel that when I am writing “in the zone”, the story flows through me.  It’s like I am watching it unfold before me and my job is simply to write it down. The same goes for my art.  Often when drawing a live model different animals, insects or plants may suggest themselves and I weave it into the composition.  When I get done, I am no longer surprised when the model tells me that they have always identified with that imagery. I had a very vivid and powerful dream some years ago, where I was perched on a high mountainside with an ancient Native American man.  He told me solemnly that my name was “Listens To The Wind.”  When I awoke, that made sense to me, since my ideas seem to come from an invisible force.  I can’t see it, but I can sense Spirit by its movement in my mind and its creation through my hands.  So here’s a good affirmation for the week: “I am open to Spirit and the infinite inspiration it provides.” – Patricia Robin Woodruff

Poetry That Inspires The Heart and The Hand

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I find reading poetry can inspire my own creativity.  One of my favorite spiritual poets is Rumi (usually called by his last name, I suspect because no one can figure out his first name… Jalaluddin… Jalal al-Din… Jalalu-ddin…)  He was a thirteenth century poet, mystic, Sufi, whirling dervish… A person who called God, “Friend”.

Rumi’s poetry constantly inspires me.  I get such a feeling of recognition when I read it. I want to shout a great big “Yes!”  Rumi put into words, the feelings that I feel. It’s the same energy that inspires my art and writing. Here’s some wonderful examples: 

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” 

“Close both eyes to see with the other eye.”

“Roses open laughing.”

You can see why Rumi’s words could inspire a whole series of paintings and collages! A few years ago, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization announced that the year 2007 was the International Year of Rumi, since it had been 800 years since Rumi’s birth.  He is one of the most widely read poets in the United States, so if you haven’t come across his poetry yet read up on him!

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To see more of my artwork inspired by the poetry of Rumi, check out InnerArtSpirit.Etsy.com

Enjoy the magic of Rumi’s words and the growth energy of Spring!

– Patricia Robin Woodruff

Three Tips to Tap into the Spirit of Creativity

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Rumi Series “Spirit” by Patricia Robin Woodruff 11″x14″ mixed media: ink, acrylic, collage

There is a certain “flow” or channeling of the creative energy that happens when a person is deeply immersed in their art (be it painting, writing or even computer programming.)  A sense of time disappears, as well as even a sense of self.  There is nothing but you and your creation.

While this zen state can not be forced, there are ways to make it more likely to happen:

1) Ritual – Creating a certain ritual before embarking on your creative efforts can help.  My friend, Barb Baur is a jeweler.  Before working, she lights her candle and says a prayer to the patron deity of inspiration and metal smithing, Brigid.  The candle is a practical device for her to light her oxy/acetylene torch from, but it also prepares her mentally for being receptive to the creative flow.

2) Engaging the senses – Many people find painting to music helps them create.  I find that the scent of incense is a powerful tool to transform my thinking from the mundane to the receptive artistic state.  It also helps to surround yourself in beauty.  Beauty begets beauty.  Beautiful surroundings makes it more pleasant to enter your writing space, or studio.  When we are happier, it is easier to be in touch with that joyful spirit of creativity.

3) Affirmations – Doubt and worry are like fats that clog the arteries of inspiration.  Changing your thinking patterns to good healthy thoughts will let that creativity flow!  I write down positive things that people have said to me and then I tape them up around my desk.  I also hang inspiring sayings and quotes around my office, as reminders to myself.

Next time you sit down to create, try some of these tips and start with this affirming thought:

“I am open to the energies of the Universe/Spirit/God.  Fill my mind and flow through my hands.”

 

Bringing the Infinite into Finite Form; or more musings on creating

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I was reading some writing advice from Stephen King and some of his words really struck me.  He said,

“The magic is in you.”

I think I’m going to hang this one on my wall above my writing space.  We get distracted with the mundane life and somehow this gets forgotten in the hustle and bustle.  

In the book, “The Mission of Art”, Alex Grey goes on to say that “the artist brings the infinite into finite form…”“An artist’s divine imagination, their soul, links the infinite presence of God with the finite physical world where the artist brings spirit to form.” This understanding of my art merges with my current understanding of my spiritual beliefs. As Inigo Montoya says in the movie, The Princess Bride, “Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up…” 

Imagine the beginnings of the Universe… Everything condensed into one single point, which exploded outward filling the emptiness with matter. All the matter/energy of the Universe, forming and coalescing into suns and planets. Our tiny planet spinning and transforming. The energy solidifying into matter becoming water and land and living things. Single-celled creatures mutating and transforming into more and more complex forms. Complex living things in the ocean, moving onto land, transforming and changing. Such a wonder of variety… fish, insects, birds, mammals and people. Green things transforming the energy of the sun into itself. Animals eating the plants/sun-energy and transforming it into itself. We are all made of “star stuff.” We are matter. We are energy. Other names that have been used to identify this energy can be Spirit, Magic or God. We have that God-force within us and are continuing the process of creation. We imagine things and then we turn that energy solid; into art, relationships, writing or inventions. 

Science tells us that very element heavier than hydrogen has been forged in the heart of a star. In the television show, Babylon-5, J. Michael Straczynski stated through the wise character of Delenn the perspective that all living beings are created from the same elements that make up the Babylon-5 space station and the stars (ie. nitrogen, iron, hydrogen, etc). Delenn states, “We are star stuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out.”

Different thinkers have come to the same conclusion and have been able to verbalize it in different ways… Ann Kent Rush stated, “Creativity is really the structuring of magic.” Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali mystic stated “ The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day, runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass, and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.” Stephen Nachmanovitch, a musician, author and computer artist said, “The imagination is our true self, and is in fact the living creating God within us.”

That wonderful energy fills me up and flows out of my fingers in my artwork. I feel like the 13th century poet, Rumi, was talking directly to me when he wrote, 

“Hundreds of thousands of impressions from the invisible world are eagerly wanting to come through you. I get dizzy with the abundance.”

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“All of Creation” by Patricia Robin Woodruff 11″x14″ mixed media (ink and watercolor)