Mid-Winter Blues…reds…golds…yellows…greens and Getting Actively Artistic for Peace
For many of us worldwide, it is the season of Light Festivals and lots of work preparing to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Diwali … but whatever your faith or traditions you may have time for some introspective art making …
Personal Art Retreat
Here in the northern hemisphere the days between Christmas and New Year are a perfect time, in my experience, for a personal art retreat – a quiet time (between parties and celebrations) to be silent and solitary, relaxing into looking with really open eyes, heart and mind … then allowing the flow of meditation to express itself on paper or with other materials. Simple, water-based colours on heavy paper are a perfect medium for this exploration. Nature, too, is full of inspiration and exciting materials – frosty twigs, ice-patterns, dried berries, burnished sea-glass and sea-worn plastic shards, faded like old cloth by sun and salt into lovely colours…
I’ve begun my retreats with a short meditation and attunement to a focus or loose purpose, open to shifts of emphasis as I proceed. Then a daily rhythm of walking and observing, some divination – watching and listening outwardly and inwardly for ‘signs’ – synchronicities, momentary events in nature which catch my attention and somehow resonate, and if I am open will initiate a stream of awareness and flow of gesture, colour, feeling, imagery.
Share Your Retreat Experiences
I’d love to hear from anyone who is intending to have a go at such a retreat – how was it? Any discoveries? Special delights? Any tips to pass on to others? Did it help the rest of your life in any way. For some years I would take 4-5 days for this and it really nourished me for the rest of the winter and helped focus my intentions for the year ahead.
How to do this with Family – Cardfest
Well, at a different pace – there’s Cardfest – the card-making which you can decide to take to new limits (or none at all). A hand delivered card can be HUGE, excitingly 3-d, or have moving parts… it can be an outdoors card to hang from a tree outside a friend’s house as a homecoming surprise.
We make firelighters or ‘firecakes’, a gloriously messy, firey and smoky, almost-cooking activity, for children of all ages, with careful supervision.
1. Melt coloured scented candle stubs in heatproof glass bowl in a pan of water – making sure wax and water never meet.
2. Pour wax into little cup cake/muffin papers up to 1/3 full and quickly, before the wax sets, push in fir cones, dried petals or flower heads, berries, paper leaves, and sprinkle liberally with glitter.
3. Arrange like cakes in a basket as a gift for anyone with an open fire or stove.
A Quiet HolyDay for Yourself Amidst the Festivities
Seize the day – making a Quiet HolyDay (if you need it) for yourself amidst the festivities. Both Advent (Dec 1-24th) and the 12 days of Christmas are traditional structures even non-Christians can use for tuning into the spiritual aspects of the season – the sense of approaching a turn in the lightness of the days and the growing season. You can choose your own day or few days dedicate it as a Holyday for yourself and make art in this spirit, welcoming and forgiving everything that arises.
New Year Global Art Project
I have mentioned an end of year project I hope many people will try. Please recruit your friends and families. Here is the basic format but I hope and expect each person will adapt it according to personal need and style.
The essence of my interest is the growing evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, that when we picture something, when we visualise it and then depict it materially in art we increase the likelihood of creating such a reality in the physical world. Like many others, I have experienced ‘manifestation’ which involved drawing or painting something with a positive heart desire and intention – I desire this for my highest good and the benefit of all other beings – only to be surprised, again and again, how the desired event comes to be, matching my drawing with astonishing accuracy.
So, I’d like to ask as many people as possible to try this to up the stream of goodness flowing into our world.
I suggest 3 pieces of art in relation to 3 levels of our longing….
A Prayer for Myself
1. Contemplate what do I long to receive or manifest in my life for my health, happiness and highest spiritual development? What does my heart desire for me to fulfill my best potential for the benefit of all?
2. Tune in with honesty and contemplate what arises, finding the priority, the most core need. It may be big or seemingly small. I remember a Tibetan Lama reminding me once that all actions are big – they all have infinite ripples out into the cosmos and so we can still dedicate the goodness of a tiny act to bring vast benefits.
* Maybe a house or home would help you create a secure base to create and work from?
* Maybe enough cash to mend a leaky roof or start a business?
* Maybe a reliable wood stove would transform your home and health?
* Maybe a trustworthy work partner or soul mate would bring the support and inspirational companionship you seek to enable you to be more of yourself?
* Maybe there’s a great project out there just waiting for you to show up?
* Maybe a violin is what would make your heart sing?
3. Make a drawing or painting with the desired outcome gently present in your mind. Allow the picture to include specifics but don’t be overly rigid – pause over details to be sure you are asking for what you really need and desire.
A Prayer for Specific Others
1. Relax quietly and let your heart soften and open. Be reminded of your connection to all of Life.
2. Then let yourself focus on an individual with whom you feel a special bond and for whom you have a feeling of care and tenderness. Alternatively, you might focus on someone with whom you have had pain or conflict, someone you would like to forgive or be forgiven by. Someone you know could use some love and help.
3. Can you frame a wish for this person which does not invade or confine them in any way but which invokes their greater well being?
* Maybe you want to manifest more loving care for a sick or elderly relative?
* Maybe you have lost connection with, or been in conflict with, a fellow community member and could send them a simple gift of love and good wishes?
* Maybe you want to send safety and peace to young soldiers or war victims – you might even focus on a specific soldier or refugee you have seen in the media.
A Prayer for Earth and All Beings
1. This time become more expansive, let yourself focus on a part of the planet, an area, element, animal or plant kingdom.
2. Allow images of their health, happiness and well-being to arise in your mind and gently come to what it is that you would like to invoke for them, for example:
* For the large migrating mammals, elephants, wildebeest and migrating sea creatures, harmony with all the animal and human co-habitants of their habitats.
* A safe ‘home’ for our surplus carbon dioxide, a miracle reabsorbing plant or technological breakthrough.
* A plant medicine for a specific disease.
* Clean, plastic-free seas.
3. Take time and pleasure to make these images. Date and sign them.
4. Put them in a safe, visible place of honour.
5. Look at them frequently, savour them, use them as an affirmation.
Share Your Experiences on the Forum
Please let us all know via the forum any experiences, events or insights that come to you during or after doing this and any way you feel we can do this more responsibly, avoiding all subtler negative effects. Visit: /forums and contribute to the thread, Art Therapy. You’ll need to register with a username and password first, then click on the link to our private Online Community forum.
Let this contribute to our active, artistic path to peace.
Have wonderful 2009!
To find out more about Beverley and her work