How do we listen to what is asking to emerge, rather than thinking up what we want to see?
My work is challenging to summarize in an ‘elevator speech’. And I often struggle to explain the profound power of expressive arts workshops, intuitive art sessions, or having a personal commission created for you.
I recently had an Inner Portrait client who wanted to use the imagery that emerged in our session to create a finished piece of artwork that would serve as an affirmation and personal sacred object. I’m happy to share a bit about my process with her, as I think it will give you more of a sense of my work and its transformational power.
The experience of working with this client -working from not knowing her at all, to living inside her personal imagery, to articulating a personalized crystallization of strength and guidance for her- was tremendously powerful!
This client was particularly self-aware and dedicated to having an image that was honest, coming from her inner wisdom, rather than from what she thought she wanted to see or what was familiar. This allowed me to really listen deeply and for us both to notice when ideas for the painting were just ideas coming from the brain, and when they were inner guidance.
The process of bringing forth authentic art is delicate. It’s easy to begin inserting ideas or desires instead of listening to true guidance. The way for me to create honest, powerful, and uncontrived art is to be presentwith my physical and emotional experience as I interact with art materials. I feel my fingers moving, I allow the colors to call out to me, and I notice the way my breath moves down my arms and invites me to move. When I do this, the images that appear on the page reveal themselves to me gradually and we develop an authentic relationship. I am not their master or their judge; they are my guides and my friends. Only once this relationship is established is it possible to entertain the thought of making a finished product that will be nice to look at. If I try to make ‘art’ before the message has come through, the result is hollow, dishonest, and confused.
So, I was careful to create a structure in which to work on this project that supported the organic unfolding of creative content. We began with an Inner Portrait Session, and later a second one, to go deeper with the imagery that had emerged. Then, we unpacked her wishes and intentions around having a finished piece of art. And we used our intuition and the images from both sessions to co-create a sketch of the newly forming painting.
At one point during the painting process, I sent a draft and my client responded with a few requests. She wanted to add a vine and a dog to the image. At first, I felt resistant to adding either of these elements to the painting. I felt annoyed at first, like these additions were ideas and not truths asking to emerge. I sat with the image for a few days and actually painted in both of her suggestions with a brush that had no paint on it. I brushed in an invisible dog, inviting its spirit, feeling if it actually existed. And I did the same with the vine.
The dog appeared strong and clear. I could feel its presence, who it was, where on the canvas it lived. But the vine was different; each time I tried to paint the vine, I got a stomachache, the same way I do when I tell a lie or when I know someone is lying to me. The vine was a lie. I tried over and over again, but could not add the vine to the painting.
So I told my client about my experience and she confirmed for me that she later felt that her suggestion to add a vine was an impulse and an idea, whereas the dog was a real supportive presence in her life. I was glad I had listened to myself and was able to be honest with her about what I was picking up. And I was grateful to my client for being receptive to my feed-back and her own experience.
How often do we push to create what we WANT rather than what IS? How can we create space for ourselves to tell the truth with our actions and live in integrity with one another? I am learning more and more that this practice begins with listening to the body. When we deeply listen, a truth more brilliant than we could imagine is waiting for us.
I invite you to work with your creativity with curiosity and unconditional positive regard. And I offer my work with the intention of learning, insight, growth, and healing.
Here are some words from my client about the process:
My Inner Portrait Session with Mo:
I had never had an Inner Portrait. I was completely open to the experience and was so moved by Mo’s sensitivity and honesty. My session included a centering together and then I sat quietly while she was guided to draw my energy. It was a layer of stories of me, within me and from me. I worried what might be drawn or misunderstood or perhaps even confusing. Those worries were unfounded. My energy is exactly as I had been feeling it. I felt sustained from my heart, an incomplete but willing openness to God and some challenges with grounding. My boundaries are present and not closed off.
After the first session, I wanted to have an inspirational portrait done to guide me and inspire me. The result is ME. I smile from my belly, my heart and my mind when I sit with my portrait now. I feel all the energy it needs to give me at that time and I feel a positive shift throughout my body. I feel awesome when I gaze at my portrait. I feel beautiful, loving, strong, bright, natural, wise, colorful, soulful and intertwined with nature and God. Thank you Mo for your talents and the gift you have given me.