Full Flower Moon

These dream boards have a stripped-down feel and yet also a vibrant decadence about them. I find I need less and less images to answer the questions posed by each individual moon, and that the images I do choose have a boldness that I lacked when I first started this practice. (Evidence to be found here and here.)
The image of the swan has an interesting story. Upon returning from my last spiritual direction intensive, I chose an Animal Medicine card to help ground me as I attempted to integrate all that happened while I was away. The Swan revealed itself, bearing a message of awakening the true beauty and power of self. About a week later, I found the image pictured above in my collage stash and also remembered listening to David Whyte expound on a poem by Rilke called “The Swan”. (You can find the poem here and the commentary here – I swear I could listen to that man read the phone book.) I won’t butcher Whyte’s nor Rilke’s eloquence, but suffice to say the essence of their words feels like an grace-filled answer to this moon’s questions:

What dreams are ready to burst into flower? Who are you when you’re in full bloom? How do you wish to bloom?  xoS

Full Cold Moon Dream Board

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IMG_0310Every couple of months it seems, I debate continuing with this dream board practice. However 2015 ended in a collage-binge and reminded me why that medium was my first love. And right now, I’m looking for any opportunity to sit with a pair of scissors, a glue stick and a stack of magazines. (Now you know the real reason for this.) In one of my previous dream board posts, I mentioned that I was letting the images speak to me and for me . . . I’m not sure that was true. Actually, it was a complete lie, as my pattern has been to work on a spread or two, tape it in my journal and then stick it on a shelf. Occasionally I glance back at what I’ve done, but I certainly haven’t sat with what I’ve created and pondered anything it might imply.

I’m changing that this year. See that tiny red fox in the corner of the last photo? She and her sisters have been slinking around the edges of my journals for months now. Somehow, they’ve wandered into my mind as well and become the companion image to a line of poetry that has also haunted me for months: “Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Mary Oliver, of course. Words and images: it’s how I navigate. And as I embark on a new year, I’m letting myself be led by this powerful combination in a new way by exploring the specific images that show up in my art.

Like dreams, I believe these dream boards speak in a language that is largely symbolic. If something comes into my consciousness repeatedly, I know it means I’m not listening or if I am listening, there is obviously more that needs to be said. I can’t tell you what it took for me to look up ‘red fox’ in this book that has largely sat collecting dust on my shelf since I bought it in September. Stepping into this realm feels like the absolute edge of my open mind. Because when I get to that edge? what I like to call my ‘New Jersey’ kicks in and it sounds something like this: “Really? Really? You’re listening to foxes now? And not even live foxes – which would be bad enough – but little paper foxes?” I could go on, because the litany in my head does, but these days I’m trying (trying) to listen to quieter voices. Voices that are sometimes so quiet as to be silent. And yet, they speak . . . like little paper foxes . . .

This exploration led to my 2016 vision cards (last year’s are here) and my word of the year (last year’s is here). All of it scares me and thrills me and leaves me a bit bewildered as to where I find myself at the beginning of 2016. We’ll see where we go from here. Hoping the new year is surprising you in the best ways possible. xoS

Playing

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I am taking Heather Plett’s Mandala Discovery e-course this month and it has let me explore my word of the year (artist) in a whole new way. The mandala above and the detail below were my response to the first prompt: play. Play! My boys do it all day long. But me? Play is hard. Well, I don’t know if that is completely true. Play is easy, but unhooking from the ideas in my head of what play should look like, how I should be doing it, and all the other shoulds banging around up there – that is not easy. When I first saw this prompt, I knew I wanted to do something different from the mandalas I had been drawing. I also knew I wanted to up my scale and go from a 5-inch circle to a whopping 12-inch circle. A foot in diameter seemed like an endless wasteland when I first trimmed the paper and drew my outline. (And just as an aside, Tara Mohr has a book all about playing big that has been on my mind lately. This interview she did with Jamie Ridler was excellent.)

I thought about collaging the mandala – which is my first love and honestly the way I tried to create my first-ever mandala. {B.A.D.} And I’m not just talking about aesthetics here – I just could not get my head around how you were supposed to get paper that is essentially made up of straight edges to fit in a circle. The levels at which my mind remains trapped is slightly embarrassing. Anyway, my initial idea for collaging a ‘play’ mandala was to cut up an art catalog and use images of paints and brushes and pastels and such. When I reflected on this later, I realized that would have been a twice-removed facsimilie of what play is – a representation of the very things I would like to be playing with. Thankfully, I didn’t get stuck there and just decided to go for it.

I ripped up a bunch of colorful scrap papers to form a base and then painted on top of that. I still had the idea that I should draw some kind of design, because drawing had become synonymous with mandalas for me. So I took a deep red oil pastel and drew a scalloped design along the outer edge. When I finished the loop around, I realized I hated it. One great thing about oil pastels is that you can wipe them off – especially on a surface slick with paint and mod-podge. As I started wiping, the color started to smear into itself. The hard edges of the scallops disappeared and I was left with a ring of soft red. THIS was a whole new ballgame. I played with every oil pastel I had, creating radiant rings of color, drawing on top of this mess and then taking a bamboo skewer and carving lines and words into the wax that had accumulated.

Hello, Play! Lovely to meet you. IMG_0591