"Mother Says" - mixed media on paper, framed, 20" x 16"
Spring is in the air and chickens are on the loose! Getting ready to teach the first ever "Twisted Chickens" class at Ciel in April, and I am finding fowl feathered muses everywhere. This particular pair of chicks will be at Ciel Gallery for the month of April during the "Back to the Garden" show (in case you want to go visit them in person) along with a ton of gorgeous spring-inspired art!
So what message does the chicken bring? If a hen struts across your path, you're being asked to undertake some inner evaluation. "Scratch the surface" of your feelings to look a little deeper. Are your thoughts running around like a (you know it's coming...) chicken with its head cut off? Time to bring those renegade thoughts under control. Get heart-centered and then take a look at things again.
If the chicken is your spirit animal, you have a bold approach to life. Your courage lets you accomplish everything you set your mind on. You are inventive with your ability to use resources in new ways. You're also quite social and have an uncanny ability to seek and find the truth.
Because chickens forage on the ground, they are closely associate with earth energy and have an increased sensitivity to physical and spiritual vibrations. (Good, good, good, good vibrations!)
While researching chicken totems, I learned the chicken is the direct descendent of the Gallus, Gallus, the Wild Red Jungle Fowl of India. Now this sounds like the perfect title for another piece of chicken art. Fowl inspiration just keeps coming!
This piece is available, framed. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next month, I am co-teaching a new class at Ciel Gallery called" Unleash Your Mojo" using Touch Drawing. I've been asked, "what the heck is that?" For all you curious creatives, here is a little sneak peek at the process and the results. Get ready for mojo mayhem!
Wearing my favorite paint shirt and comfy clothes, I settled in to create in the studio of Diane Lowery (Touch Drawing facilitator, Art Docent and Massage Therapist). The soothing sounds of native flutes and drumming helped me relax, let go of the chatter in my busy brain and opened up my energy flow. A gentle guided meditation directed me through the touch drawing process. I used paper, paint, roller and board. After I squeezed tube paint in a few juicy colors onto the board, I rolled it smooth. Placing paper on top of the paint, I used my hands as brushes, scrapers and smoothers, letting the music and my own thoughts and emotions influence the patterns.
I peeled the large paper off of the board, placed it beside me and repeated the process. Different colors, different strokes. Using knuckles, palms, nails. Experimenting. Some pages intentional, some random. After 45 minutes or so, I had a stack of fifteen painted pages. The guided meditation ended, and I picked up the pages to see what mojo had been unleashed.
Glorious, random abstracts! At first...then, as I looked closer, shapes and images appeared out of the painted pages. In the first page, above, I was thinking about eyes. I recently developed some serious sun-sensitivity in my eyes, and have been pondering its significance. This came out in the piece. So I grabbed the page, mounted it on some board, and used it as the groovy grounds for a mixed media piece about eyes.
This piece made me very happy. Somehow furthering the concept and soothing my worries about my eyes in the process.
But I wasn't finished yet. Another one of the pages jumped out at me immediately as the shape of a large insect. Now I am not usually a person who enjoys bugs, creepy crawlies and the world of microscopic communities (sorry, e.o. wilson. I love your love of ants, but haven't been able to channel it). And yet the image on this page was clearly an insect. Which I didn't want to touch, which of course meant it was the one I should touch.
It was uncomfortable and challenging to keep at it, but the more I worked with this lovely lady, the more I appreciated her beauty. To me, it signified metamorphosis, which my inner and outer life and surroundings are undergoing this year in a major way.
Hmmm, so walking in without any creative plan and giving myself over to the process, I came away with new insight, new pieces of art and a stack of the beginnings of many more pieces. Created organically and under the best of circumstances and energy. A mojo smorgasbord which left me feeling creatively "in the flow" and open to all kinds of ideas.
And so, when Diane asked if I wanted to spread the mojo, I said ABSOLUTELY! Hope you will join us. Sign up at www.cielcharlotte.com/workshops.
Questions? I love them! email@example.com.
"Gordon Learns to Swim" - watercolor & ink on paper, 16" x 12"
If I were to come across this scene at the beach, I would be curious. An ape in an inflatable ring. This piece made me smile the whole time I was painting it. I found myself talking to Gordon, reassuring him the water was cool and would feel good, that the float would hold him up above the water, that swimming was fun. The same things I used to tell my kids to get them into the water.
Arm floats were the best thing ever in my family. All of the children wore them. They instilled instant confidence and made my little ones much more daring than I wanted them to be. Once the floats were on, they would set off for the middle of the pool, especially when we lived in Texas. There was this neighborhood pool called "The Texas Pool on the Creek". And sure enough, the pool was shaped like the state of Texas. The architects had a large island put in the center of the pool, and all the kids wanted to swim out to the island just to climb on top and jump off again. There was an entire summer where we went to The Texas Pool every day, just because the youngest ones wanted to swim to the island. Well, that and the candy sold at the entrance shop.
Despite how luxurious and relaxing it sounds to spend a summer by a pool shaped like Texas, it was actually quite stressful. The kids were as happy as they could possibly be, but the youngest were then 4 and 6. And not strong swimmers, and still wearing arm floats. So my eyes had to be on them every second, especially with much bigger, stronger kids in the water who loved to roughhouse (their older brother was one of those kids). I had to see their little heads above water at all times. Moms out there, you know this feeling...scanning the pool, looking for your child's head, feeling anxious until you find it.
So as I was painting Gordon and telling him about pool safety and all, I had to laugh at myself. It is so easy to revert to mom thoughts and mom talk, even a decade after The Texas Pool. Tonight I will bring up this summer of swimming mayhem at the dinner table. I am willing to wager my youngest child will remember the island and the candy, and not the daily safety rule lessons or even the arm floats. Because arm floats are magical, and make even the smallest child know he can reach the island.
This piece is available. Currently unframed. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
"On Wednesdays, Kevin Surfs" - watercolor and ink on paper, 16" x 12"
This month, I am bringing the jungle to the beach! Part of a weekend epiphany which all started with a dear friend and muse handing me a couple of photographs of apes. Why? Because she knew I would want to paint them. And she was right (she has been right before, so I pay special attention when she has something to say!)
Meet Kevin. He is an orangutan. Who surfs. On Wednesdays.
Now there are no books on the meanings of surfing orangutans! But the orangutan himself is an interesting animal totem. He reminds us to pay attention to the signs and signals all around us (like photos of apes that make me smile!) Something in your environment needs to be corrected or is off balance. In my case, my creative environment needed a shot of monkey business and a bit of jungle at the beach party. The orangutan could also mean your inner wisdom is trying to tell you something, so get out of your own head and into your heart to feel the message. If an orangutan is your totem animal, you have a powerful connection to nature. For me, there is nothing like a day outside, in the trees (or at the beach) to rejuvenate me and rekindle my imajenation.
Gentleness, a connection to forest spirits and ingenuity in problem solving are also in the realm of the orangutan. Legends say the orangutan can speak, but is too wise to do so in front of humans...I wonder what Kevin would say if he could speak?
This piece is available. Currently unframed. Inquiries: email@example.com
"Makaha Manatee" - watercolor and ink on paper, 12" x 16"
I was recently fascinated by a National Geographic article on Hawaiian surfers and their ancestral surfing heritage. Imagine being raised to ride the waves from a young age, feeling confident and fearless on a surfboard in wild water and experiencing the ocean as a second home! Now I am a strong swimmer and happy out on the water, but usually in a boat or on a jet ski. Likely this is the result of having a dad who specialized in lectures on "DANGEROUS THINGS", of which people riding large waves over coral reefs and rocks would certainly quality for the full course lecture.
During the course of the article, the men were depicted with traditional Polynesian tattoos, applied by traditional methods (tapping on a sharp comb dipped in ink). These markings are graphic, gorgeous and cover much of their bodies. Being a mark-maker with an interest in tribal symbolism, the images of these tattoo'd men stuck with me long after I had recycled the magazine issue.
It was time for me to ink another manatee for my menagerie, and the marriage of Polynesian tattoos with manatee could not be resisted. Now manatees do not naturally exist in Hawaii, but somehow I thought this strong bull manatee with his fierce tattoos (versions of the Polynesian "Poi'i") would feel right at home amongst the surfers.
So what does the manatee itself mean? If a manatee is your animal totem, it's time to slow down and swim with your emotions. Allowing yourself to feel fully the depth and breadth of your emotions will eventually free you from them, leaving the baggage behind so you can move on to better things. The manatee totem also brings trust with it. Trusting your path even before you can see it in front of you. There is also encouragement to trust your intuition , combine it with your emotions and physical sensations to get a full picture.
A slow and steady course, followed with conviction and courage, will get you where you want to be. And that is great advice for a Monday.
This piece is available. Currently unframed. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Hey, It's Jethro!" - mixed media on paper, 16" x 12"
A week ago at this time, we were getting ready for a monster snow storm! Today, it is almost 70 degrees and sunny. What better way to celebrate a little unexpected sunbathing than a big ol' pelican, sunning himself on a pier post?
Pelicans, silent, weighty and calm. I think of them as the pterodactyls of the beach. They look prehistoric to me, maybe because of the large shadow they cast over the water when gliding. They are, by far, my favorite of all the water birds. Each one has its own character, and I find them mesmerizing.
As an animal totem, pelicans are in power year around, and symbolize renewed buoyancy and unselfishness. Their pouch and long bill are used to scoop, not to store. The pelican asks you, what are you trying to store that shouldn't be stored? Are you not using what you have? As I clean out the closets and attics in preparation for a move, I know the pelican doesn't have this message for me. I am a ruthless declutterer!
Pelicans are lightweight and buoyant (surprising given their size!), and can pop up to the surface easily after a deep dive. This symbolizes being able to rest on top despite heaviness in life around you. He teaches that you can resurface no matter how deep you dive - rising above life's trials with ease.
These birds are sociable and cooperative and have no nesting competitiveness. They will often work as a team when fishing. Unselfishness comes naturally to them. This isn't something I often hear about any member of the animal kingdom, and sets the pelican apart as a totem animal.
So despite all these lovely qualities, the pelican does have a slow take-off when leaving the water. The message here to to free oneself from the emotions which might weigh you down. The pelican teaches you how to overcome these emotions and rise above.
The perfect message for a spring-like day, when possibilities seem endless and everything is sunny and bright. Letting go of heavy emotions, working cooperatively with others, letting go of extra stuff and rising above...now, if I can just get the packrats I live with to feel the pelican mojo, we might actually get something done around here!
This piece is available. Framed. Inquiries: email@example.com
Jen Walls and her imaJENation