Talisman: Servant Art Queen

Talisman: Art Queen

Talisman: The Adventure of Your Life

You may not know it, but I have been with you since the beginning. The very beginning. Your parents were very much in love when you were created. They were young and had their whole lives before them. Most of all they wanted a child. Your Dad wanted a boy and your Mom wanted a girl. Your Mom’s wish was granted. Of course your Dad was disappointed. I tried to tell him that there was a great and wonderful reason you were called forth first, but he was young and headstrong. He wasn’t really interested in fluff and frills. He didn’t know you wouldn’t be either! Not then! He would learn.

I recruited your Grandmother’s help in getting your Dad’s attention. She took no guff from him and plopped you in his arms as you were all going home from the hospital. That’s all it took! He was in love! I will have to admit, we were an adorable baby! We were pretty and smart and had a way of charming everyone. Even strangers! At three we manifested our art talent by drawing a beautiful grease pencil mural all over the wall! We were proud. Mom was angry. Your later works were better received.

We were excellent students in school. We always got good grades and received praise from our teachers. Well, there was that one mis-adventure with dance class. We can’t be great at everything! Among the three siblings, you were the star! Your Dad taught you how to throw a baseball and football and how to shoot a bow and arrow and a gun just like your brothers. Your Mom wasn’t as successful in getting you to like cooking and housework. You would rather be reading or drawing in your room or be outside charging around the neighborhood with the rest of the kids. Your parents always thought that sending you to your room was punishment! They were so wrong! It was your magical place where you could read and dream and draw.

It was in middle and high school that our artistic talents really gained prominence. Along with academics, French and band, we loved art class. We began to win school awards for our artworks. You were of two minds about your future. You didn’t know if you wanted to be an artist or a doctor or maybe a lawyer. When you talked to Mom, she said we probably couldn’t afford medical or law school and artists never made any money so maybe I should consider being a nurse or teacher. So that squelched those dreams, at least until we met Kenny.

Ah, Kenny! He was an artist too. He was going to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh! We took the test for AIP too and were accepted. It was decided. Until we visited our aunt and uncle in New Wilmington, PA where Uncle Jack was a student at Westminster College.

What a beautiful place it was! Big stone buildings with ivy covered walls set in a charming farming community in northwestern Pennsylvania, Westminster rekindled our dreams of a college education. We had good SAT scores and if we lived with my aunt and uncle for a semester or two, the college had room in the Art Education program! So bye, bye Art Institute and hello Art Major. It was also bye-bye Kenny and hello Phil.

Freshman Bible class and a handsome, blond boy who sat in front of us. We fell in love with his deep resonant voice first. It didn’t take long to fall for the rest. We set our cap for him, as they said in those days, and even though it took most of four years to do it, we succeeded in winning his heart along with our degree. We married right out of college and moved to Connecticut to begin our careers; Phil’s as an Actuarial Student and ours as an Art Teacher at Windsor Locks High School. We had made it and had it made!

You so loved moving to Connecticut and teaching Art in Windsor Locks High School! You loved being married too. There wasn’t much time for your own art, but teaching others filled the gap. Then came baby Greg and baby Kristen. Teaching went by the wayside and motherhood prevailed. Our art supplies gathered dust in the basement, but life was full and busy. When Greg entered Preschool we went to work as Associate in Christian Education at our church. We went back to school. We used our art again with all ages in church. By the time the children were in grade school we were in Seminary and on our way to an MDiv. At Yale Divinity School.

New friends, new adventures, new work followed our ordination. Our love of art never left, but making art was sporadic. It was painful sometimes not making art, but more painful returning to it and realizing there would be no time to continue to dive into that personal form of creative expression. So we threw our creative energies into sermon writing and program planning. We still used art as much as we could as a learning tool, but it really didn’t quell the nagging feeling that there had to be a way to unite our ministry and art in a more formal way.

The years passed and we discovered that our marriage was not all it seemed to be. There was a fly in the ointment: alcohol. Our husband had become addicted to alcohol. For a decade or more we denied, then embraced the reality of living with an alcoholic. Our son was married and gone. Our daughter struggled with her own problems. In the midst of it all we retired from ministry, moved 3 times and, thankfully re-discovered the power of art to keep and reclaim our sanity in the midst of the chaos of dealing and not dealing with an alcoholic in the family. My pull on you as you Talisman increased as you discovered the healing properties of making art. It didn’t seem to matter to you what the medium was, it served to distract, remind, and fortify you for the challenges of the rest of our life.

I practically did somersaults when you signed up for the Institute program at Expressive Arts Florida! There we were seen, heard and affirmed through our arts process. We met and developed a tribe. We were given language to express what we always knew happened when we made art. We integrated the spiritual nature of arts practice and discovered that we pray in paint when we are mindful! Oh yes, I was so proud of you! You named and claimed your new ministry and were given the title of Shaman by your mentor as you revealed for the group what others held in. That naming was a breakthrough for you. You began to understand there were many facets inside you and that they struggled to get out and be recognized.

One day Phil died in a bike accident on the way to work. Well, it took 5 days, but he died. We had our children and our tribe to support us through that. As devastating as it was, there was also relief. Living with an alcoholic is a nightmare. Life continued and we became the Expressive Arts Pastor at our church! We continued to paint women’s faces in our studio.   We attended a weekend seminar with Pat B. Allen to explore Archetypes and the world shifted once more!

During the program we became the Shaman. She had a name, Tequaneskqua Coeurdelion, and she wore a fedora and a pink feather boa. She plays a frame drum and had a lion as a partner. She makes art, plays her drum, has adventures with Jade the Wonder Dog and changes the world. A year later she became the first painting created with Shiloh Sophia in Legend:Archetype.

In between becoming the Shaman and her reemergence in the Legend painting we sort of forgot her. But she didn’t forget us. We had to close the studio for financial reasons. We took on our daughter’s rehabilitation from her own depression and addictions. We moved – again. But when we first began the Legend painting and the Shaman appeared on the canvas, we knew we had found something extremely important. Years of interest in archetypes, painting women, trying to integrate creativity and spirituality, expressive arts practice, painting practice, ministry, language, healing, writing, all of it came together in the Intentional Creativity process as taught by Shiloh Sophia. We hd found a home.

We took course after course from Shiloh. We finally decided we had to enroll in the Color of Woman Teacher Training. We had changed and grown so much it was imperative we share this with others. People were asking us to teach them even before we signed up! When you began with the Muse, we were plunged into a deep process that uncovered the Core identity we possess as light. We were awed by her beauty. Then came another Legend who pointed to a rainbow, beckoning us onward to you didn’t know what. (Secretly, I knew who was coming but at that time I couldn’t tell!)

Then came Talisman – ME! And here I am in all my glory. Here I am as the Servant Art Queen! Yes, the servant part is critical. You found the Art Queen part of my name months ago as you searched for a new password for something or other. You laughed to yourself as you typed it out. “Art Queen! Ha, Ha!” Well it may sound silly but I’ve waited a long time to be put on the throne of your life, my girl. I’ve waited to be the most important thing. I’ve waited a loooonnnngggg time for this recognition and I’m loving it!

To be a Servant is to place ourselves in the role of healer. We exist, not to put us above others, but to serve them. To help others heal and discover their purpose and their creativity and their connection to the Divine. We have healed our own divisions and wounds symbolized by the dragonet. We have studied and worked and paid our dues in several disciplines as can be seen by the diploma, eye glasses and the 9 keys. We have discovered the centrality of connection to the Divine as well as others through art as seen in the Chalice and the palette and brushes. We now have the ability to access our own content as witnessed by the lightbeam pouring into our head. We also have the ability to walk between worlds seen and unseen as indicted by the veil. I am pleased and proud to reveal myself to you at long last. I am your Integrated Self, your Talisman. We are One.

We will go forward from this time to cause and create healing in others using the wisdom we have gained in our lives and by sharing what we have learned of the power of Intentional Creativity. We are actively teaching now toward the end of establishing a Wisdom School where women of all ages my persue their understanding of their strength, courage and purpose in life through the use of the arts. We will dedicate our life to this as long as we are in this world together. Yes. We. Will.

Medicine Basket Red Thread Circle

RT Circle, Medicine Basket-home

I invited my two colleagues in the Art in Healing Program from Health South Rehabilitation Hospital to my home for a mini-retreat.  We settled into my artspace and I led them through a Red Thread Ceremony of connection where we listened to Shiloh’s Poem, Medicine Woman, from “Tea with the Midnight Muse,” and each shared one of our gifts.

We talked about the Medicine Woman tradition among Native Americans and its connection to the healing work we do together.  I invited them to explore their gifts by engaging a guided meditation where they would discover their medicine basket and its contents.  After the meditation, I asked them to list and write something about the gift or symbol they received.  We shared our gifts with one another.

Then I demonstrated and invited them to paint their baskets on watercolor paper.  We turned our gifts into affirmation statements and decoupaged them to the basket.  We followed this by adding an overarching affirmation of all our gifts as active in our lives.  We talked about how difficult it sometimes is to remember our giftedness.  We agreed the painting helps to see and remember.

Finally we painted a symbol of our giftedness on the painting and added embellishment and glitter.  We broke for lunch and conversation.  Finally, we closed our time together by sitting with our paintings and reading our gifts around the circle and affirmed that all the gifts are ours to use at all times.

We agreed that this was a wonderful, affirming day! Later one colleague said of her experience, ” I enjoyed this class immensely.  Donna guided us in a process to explore our own unique Medicine Basket by identifying and honoring our special gifts.  By engaging my creativity through painting and writing I was able to bring my gifts to life, even some I didn’t realize I had, then affirm and own them in a way that truly enlightened me.  I am thankful for this as it enables me to share them with others.”

Soulful Story Cards Red Thread Circle

On May 18th I held my first Soulful Story Cards Red Thread Thread Circle event at Expressive Arts Florida in Sarasota. Three women attended. We introduced ourselves and I stated our theme for the evening to explore the negative stories that run our lives and to transform them by discovering positive stories to take their place and create a 16 card set of affirmation cards to remind us of the new way of living our lives as we move forward to living the life we were mean to live.  I read a poem from Shiloh Sophia’s book, “Tea with the Midnight Muse,” and we passed the Red Thread around,each person naming a story that keeps them from moving ahead in some way.  We laughed as we discovered common stories!  Then, for the second round, as we cut the thread we shared a dream of the life we wanted to live that the story kept us from living.

We moved into the workspace.  Each person has a 22×30 sheet of 140 lb. pressed watercolor paper, paint, brushes, 3×5 cards and black Sharpies.  We proceed to identify our negative stories, decorate our W.C. paper, transform our stories into their positives, and make our cards.

Near the end of the session, we displayed our cards on the altar table, walked around the table silently witnessing our cards, then took turns reading the cards aloud.  I said a few closing words of affirmation and we ended for the evening.

One person said,”We has a very enlightening evening with Donna as our guide, releasing and transforming old stories.  I had many that no longer served me transformed inro positive affirmations for the future. My beautiful cards will continue to be a reminder of how my gifts will carry me forward in a positive and healthy way!”

Red Thread Circle 2- 20 Line Face

My Second Red Thread Circle

Last night I presented at Expressive Arts Florida’s monthly networking event.  I offered to teach a short session on drawing the 20 line face.  I decided to open the session with a Red Thread Circle.  We had 22 women present.  After introductions were made and we shared upcoming events and recent accomplishments, it was my time to present.

I opened by reading one of Shiloh’s poems from “Tea with the Midnight Muse” then introduced the Red Thread Circle as a ritual of connection, connecting us as people who want to draw a face, as artist’s, Expressive artists and women.  I told a couple  stories of the Red Thread and that as we passed it around the circle we would respond to an inquiry.  Since we were there to draw faces the inquiry was, “What have you faced today?”  This was met with deep sighs.  Since this was to be a brief version of the RT Circle I asked them to limit their responses to a word or short phrase. As the thread was passed each woman shared and even though it was only a word or phrase, it was profound.  We were bonded in new ways by hearing each other’s pain, concern, and worry that we carried with us into the circle.  We breathed into that in silence.  Then I moved to cutting the thread.  I said that each of is only responsible for our part of this thread, but when needed we can tug on the thread for strength and support from others.  They affirmed this as we cut the threads in silence.

Then we moved into the 20 line face demo.  After talking about Shiloh and IC and my training, I had them follow along with me and make full and 3/4 profile 20 line faces.  We held them up and laughed and admired each person’s faces.  Then I added some simple, playful color explaining how we would use acrylics in a 13 step class.  We had oil pastels available for everyone to color.  the room got quiet and they got intense.  I hadnt planned on it, but since we had time, I invited them to listen to their face to see if she had a name and anything to share about herself and to write it down.  It got very quiet.  Then I invited anyone who wished to show their face drawing, give her name, and share her message.  They were beautiful and profound.

I have done this kind of work for a very long time yet I was amazed by the depth of experience we had in this simple experience.

Red Thread Circle #1

I led my first Red Thread Circle today with 19 women as part of our church’s Women’s Fellowship annual Day of Reflection. The theme was “Walking in Hope,” based on a resource by Jan Richardson. I set up an altar (see Photo below) that had a circle of friends candle, a liturgical stole linking Advent and Lent (the material was for a retreat to be held in Advent! So I had some theological ground to cover!), a ball of red thread and scissors and a Communion set. I connected us as women of faith and women of hope.And talked about the red thread stories connecting us as women across time and space. I had two inquiries: 1. What gives you hope? as we passed the red thread and. 2. What do you

hope for? When we cut the thread. As we ended I reminded them that even though we as women tend to want to take care of everything we are only responsible for our part of the thread. We need to only work toward those things we hope for, not the hopes of everyone. We then moved into a poem about hope and the rest of our day. The women loved the ritual and commented that they had never heard about the Red Thread before but loved it.

My Legendary Self

What My Legend Revealed

One thing I learned is that we shine, we glow, we sparkle. It takes a lot of energy to shut it down. So why not just shine!

My Legend is “Divine Radiance.” She came as a surprise. This was the second time I painted Legend. The first time was last year when Shiloh did” Legend: Archetype.” My Legendary Self then was “The Shaman.”

Legand Archetype:Shaman

I spent a year with her, living into her truth in my life. Growing into her strength. I had no idea who would appear this time. This glowing light being is overwhelming to me.

cropped-image2She sits on my desk and looms over me nearly every day. She reminds me that I am part of all that is. I am a light, a resonance, energy. I am beautiful and awesome. I am Divine Radiance.

The Phoenix chop on the left side reminds me that I have been through the flames and have been reborn as a new creation that is radiant and is one who takes flight between worlds. I am part of the light.


MY Muse: She Beckons: What Muse Revealed

She beckons me into my future saying, “Come, share your love of color, your passion, your connection to everything that is. Sing my song.”

She is strong. She is of Polynesian descent and she demanded to be so. I’ve been preparing a class on Pele and so have been thinking about Hawaii and its people and stories. When I began to paint my Muse and saw she was Pele, or at least Polynesian, I asked if she would wait and return in that form later when I was ready to explore Pele and inner fire. She said a firm “NO.” So I continued to reveal her as she wished. For months I have been drawing the Pele card, so it is appropriate for my Muse to come to me this time as Pele. Creation/Destruction has been my mode for a while. The old has been replaced by new life. A life filled with passion for art, creativity and color. So she beckons me into that place to make my home among the flames, the lava rocks and the deep, blue sea. She beckons me to hear the song of the Universe as it creates and destroys and re-creates and to sing along with its ancient, primordial, melodies.



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