Paula Chaffee Scardamalia: I Stay in Dialogue with the Muse

Paula Scardamalia headshotPaula, dream consultant for PEOPLE Country Magazine, is a book coach, and dream and tarot intuitive.

You work in several medium(s). Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

For years, I worked in both fiber and in words. In fact, my MFA is in weaving and writing with the focus of fantasy.

I’ve been a professional weaver since 1993 or thereabouts. At first, I sold at local and regional craft shows. Then I started doing wholesale craft shows, and sold my work to shops, galleries and boutiques across the country. I finally stopped doing the shows in 2007, but continued to weave for a limited number of retail clients and for a designer from Maryland. I still have several looms and a wall full of rayon chenille yarns.

PScardamalia Online scarvesWhen I was pursuing my MFA, I was weaving images in a technique called doubleweave pickup that allowed me to create representational images. Later, when I was selling both retail and wholesale, I was weaving wearables and throws. I stopped doing the images. They weren’t selling enough and they were incredibly time-consuming (an inch per hour).

Most of my weaving starts with color and whether I am weaving images or wearables, the color has to sing to me—and to my clients. From there, the work is intuitive, just responding to what feels right about image or color proportions.

As for the words, I’ve been writing and telling stories since I was old enough to spell and read. In college, I majored in Creative Writing. I’ve written freelance articles for both print and online magazines. And I’ve completed three manuscripts—two young adult fantasies and one adult fantasy romance.

The first two stories evolved page by page, totally seat of the pants with a lot of rewriting afterwards. This last manuscript which is starting to make the rounds of agents and editors, I wrote intuitively through probably half and then turned to scene cards and some general plotting for the rest. Even with the planning though, I am listening with at least one ear to the Muse.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

I think I’ve always identified myself as a writer. The art weaving was a surprise to me, that I could create interesting images by just staying in conversation with the weaving. I really call myself a writer or weaver rather than an artist.

How would you describe your spirituality?

My spirituality is eclectic, earth-based and fluid. I consider myself a practical mystic.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

PScardamalia wlife2My themes in my fiction writing have to do with transformation, the power of love to transform and redeem. The stories tend to reflect mythic ideas. I also have three large image weavings that are titled Transformation I, II, and III.

And out of both weaving and words came my book Weaving a Woman’s Life: Spiritual Lessons from the Loom. Because while my spirituality finds expression in my work, my work also teaches me many spiritual lessons.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating?

So, in 1984 my mother, who was approaching 53, was dying of breast cancer. At the time, I lived about 8 hours away from her and had three small boys who needed my attention. A few months before her death, I put my youngest, about 18 months old, in the car and headed to my mom’s. I also took my small table loom with me on which I had started another large double weave pickup piece. While trying to fix foods my mother could easily swallow, and caring for my son, I also took time to work on the weaving. I think I finished about one or two inches of the bottom.

A month or so later, my mom, whom I adored and who was my primo cheerleader, died. I stopped weaving but kept thinking about what I would weave.

Two previous large pieces had towers as their central image, towers with roots, and flames going up the center. In my mind’s eye, this next piece would show the tower uprooted on the left side. I saw it clearly.

Still not weaving, I managed to sprain my left ankle twice within a period of three months while wearing a pair of my mother’s shoes.

Finally, about nine months after her death, I returned to the weaving. I didn’t weave the uprooted tower since I already had most of the roots done, but I kept weaving, deciding I wanted steps winding up around the outside of the tower. The image in my mind now, was of a tower that totally disintegrated by the time I reached the top of the piece.

Still, I stayed with the weaving and noticed that the profile of the steps that were disintegrating around the tower had a profile of breasts, breasts disintegrating. Painful, but I stayed with it.

PScardamalia Transformation III

As the tower fell away and the steps were small and rickety, instead of totally disintegrating they continued up into the sky, ending just a space or breath away from a door. This was a total surprise to me, not what I had envisioned earlier.

By the time I finished that piece and took it off the loom, I had processed my loss and my grief. It wasn’t gone, for sure. But there, in 5/2 cotton threads, was an affirmation of my mother’s life and journey—and my own.

I titled the piece, “Transformation III: My Mother’s Journey.”

Years later, I submitted it to be exhibited at the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival, a place where my mother had once exhibited a print of her own. My piece was accepted. Life had come full circle.

That’s a long way of saying I don’t have any set process for connecting with the Muse. Whether weaving or writing, I trust my intuition. I stay in dialogue with the work and the Muse. That’s not always easy but it is almost always rewarding.

I listen to dreams which have provided the seeds for two of my manuscripts and images for several of the weavings. I use the tarot for inspiration, breakthrough and creation.

I keep asking questions.

How do ideas come to you?

As above, dreams, myths, fairy tales, tarot—and sometimes lying awake in my bed at night.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

I guess just whatever seems to pull at me, to have the most potential for development and depth and imagination.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

Conscious dream work and using the tarot.

Thanks Paula!

Since 1999, Paula’s taught writers how to use intuitive tools like dreams and tarot to write stories from the deepest part of their imaginations. She’s taught at small private workshops on the East Coast, and at both national and regional Romance Writers of America conferences and meetings, at the 2014 San Diego University Writers Conference and the International Women’s Writing Guild. She leads intimate writing and dream retreats. Paula publishes a weekly e-newsletter on writing, dreams, tarot, and is the award-winning author of Weaving a Woman’s Life: Spiritual Lessons from the Loom.

Find out more about Paula and her work at: diviningthemuse.com and diviningthemuse.com/blog

Connect with her on social media: facebook.com/paula.scardamalia, twitter.com/DiviningtheMuse, pinterest.com/pcscardamalia.

On Facebook and Twitter, Paula posts the link to her Monday Message from the Muse video where she pulls four tarot cards for the week’s read on their creativity.

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Richard Stone: Lead With Your Heart to Move People

Rick Stone HeadshotRichard Stone is a visual artist, photographer, storyteller, and writer of both fiction and non-fiction. His creative career also includes working with IDEAS, a former division of Disney, as their StoryAnalytics Master. His work spans many media, from works on paper to acrylic on canvas to macro-photography. His writing includes a focus on storytelling, a children’s novel, and he is currently working on a new screenplay entitled “The Maggid.”

Your bio mentions that you work in 4 medium(s). Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

For the past 4 years, I have focused on macro photography of trees’ bark. I do all of my composition in the camera, rarely cropping images after they are taken, shooting RAW. Processing the images is fairly straightforward. I start out in Adobe Lightroom and do some simple adjustments to the image adjusting the exposure if needed. I then use the NIK software suite to do some sharpening, and some minor improvement of the color saturation.

RStone Lichen 3My preference is to print these images large—4’ x 5’ or even larger. There is something very exciting to see what was a 2” x 2” section of a tree enlarged to those sizes—very abstract.

In the past I have done a great deal of work using oil pastels on paper—building up images with multiple layers and then using tools to scrape into the surface to reveal earlier layers.

Have also done a great deal of brush and ink drawings—mostly abstract figurative. I’ve extended this approach by using brushes like brooms to paint abstractly on large sheets of paper, then have selectively have torn or cut out sections of the paper, cut the same shapes out of a piece of black foam core, and then married that with another image on the backside of the foam core creating an interesting effect dimensionally.

RStone painting 6 green leaf on greenFinally, have done a number of large works on canvas depicting leaves. The method—lay the canvas on the floor, and then using ketchup bottles filled with house paint (preferably semi-gloss). I compose by squeezing the paint onto the canvas.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

In my early 20s. I dropped out of graduate school in psychology after I had completed my master’s degree and took myself off to the Art Institute of Chicago.

How would you describe your spirituality?

Probably more Buddhist at moment, but still am engaged with Judaism—more through its storytelling tradition.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

For me, the process of photographing a tree is a profound experience that brings me deeply into communion with this other being, joyfully becoming a witness to its beauty.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

Martin Buber talks about 2 kinds of relationships we can have with the world. I-It in which the world has utilitarian value for us; and I-Thou, in which we meet the other as a sacred being and as it is. For me this is what photographing trees does for me. And every encounter in this way is for me a profound experience of the mystery of this life.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

RStone Gumbo Limbo Low ResAttending to small details often is what takes me into this kind of flow. It’s just about attention outside of myself.

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

I have collaborated for years on a host of creative projects as a writer, having written a screenplay and a sitcom with some friends. The collaborative process proved to be great fun, and a profound act of letting go of any attachment to anything. If one of us didn’t like something the other came up with it was immediately dropped until we could find something that we all could agree was funny—produced a better script I think.

In contrast I’m working on a screenplay right now solo—I think not until I get some others to read it will I know whether I hit the mark or need to go back to the drawing board.

How do ideas come to you?RStone Aphrodite Low Res

Little things often set them off. I was driving one day and stopped at a light and there was a big clump of pampas grass in the median. I immediately imagined that it was the hair of a creature whose head was just under the surface. That led me to imagine that all the trees are actually the tops of the heads of large creatures that became known as Treemungermen—the key characters in an eco-spiritual children’s novel entitled The Kingdom of Nowt.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

If it’s something that I become somewhat obsessed about and think about all the time, then I pursue it.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

Find your own voice—and I mean that for writing as well as the visual arts. And lead with your heart not your head. Things that are intellectually interesting but lacking heart rarely reach an aesthetic threshold in my book, and don’t move people.

Thanks Richard!

See his photos at www.richardstonephoto.com. Richard’s books The Healing Art of Storytelling, Stories: The Family Legacy, The Kingdom of Nowt, and The Patient Survival Handbook (co-authored with Stephen Powell) can all be purchased on Amazon. His board game Pitch-A-Story can be purchased at www.pitchastory.com.

If you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship, email me at vlowry (@) gmail.com. While I’m no longer recording new episodes for the Art as Worship radio show, I’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interview each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Namaste!

Aarti Nayar: Be a Lover of Your Language

Aarti Nayar picPoet Aarti Nayar is a mother of two and an instructor of ESL (English as Second Language) at Gwinnett Technical College in the department of adult education. In addition to poetry, Aarti writes for children, has been published in the Indian monthly publication Khabar, and is an active contributor to The Titan View, Northview High School’s monthly newsletter.

How do you create your poetry?

Writing a poem, to me, is akin to creating a painting where the subject is my emotion(s) of the moment and the art is a depiction of it in words.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

Over the years, as I wrote both poetry and prose it helped me realize my ability to create something that was both meaningful and beautiful and spoke to my need to speak my mind about the situation on hand. The beauty came from my endless quest to find the perfect synonym, the perfect simile, or metaphor to describe the thought swirling in my head, much in the same way as any other artist (painter, sculptor, chef) would toil to perfect his creation. In that sense I have thought of myself as an artist ever since my association with the writing process.

How would you describe your spirituality?

I believe in the presence of a higher power and feel inspired by the religion of humanity.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

My poems encompass the spectrum of human existence, from politics and war, to nature and beauty, and in general to the mystical and the mysterious in all things around. While very diverse in their subject matter they all resonate with an underlying feel for the human condition and its limitlessly universal appeal.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

Be it a poem on a moonlit night, or the haunting magic of trees, or the spectacle of falling leaves, the death of a solder or the devastation of the tsunami, one is endlessly examining, at very close quarters, the different manifestations of life. In the throes of this introspection, what you start to see is the grand scale of the forces at play and inadvertently a sense of your own bit space. One understands very quickly that one is but a cog in the wheel that is designed to move with or without you. For me personally, that is the definition of god and in doing what I do I’m forever aware of his presence.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

As I write a poem, I start from taking a broader, magnified view and narrow it to the finer, situational view. In doing this I feel like I’m on a journey that takes me around the different vistas of life, visiting and verifying what I need until finally it’s time for me to get off at my destination. While on this journey I feel like I’m connected to, as you call it, the divine flow, as if I see the intrinsic circuitry of life and understand its enduring inter-connectedness.

While not intentional, it’s certainly intuitive and is what I experience as I create my poems.

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

ANayar bookMy book of poems, Eggshells of the Soul is a collaborative work of six poets including myself. While the book is a shared collection, the poems in it are very much each poet’s personal expression.

How do ideas come to you?

I think it’s all about how you are perceiving the world around you at any given moment. In a sense each perception could potentially be a trigger for a poem. Sometimes three or four ideas come to me just in listening to the news or reading an article or from a bit from a conversation I might have had a week ago or simply from the sights and sounds around me.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

Over the years I have learned not to rate ideas or judge them as worthy of perusal. Writing a poem is the device by which I explore the trigger. While I may go into it having one thought, many a times what follows is something entirely different from the original sentiment. There are times when I myself am surprised by the chain of thoughts and the climax that they lead me to. What I see at the start and what I conclude with at the end of my poetic examination could be completely unexpected and radical.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

I would strongly recommend that the individual be in tune with himself, with the things that stay in his heart and those that don’t. Live your life in the big moments but more importantly live it in its smaller, everyday ones. I guess it would be fair to say that being an active participant of your life is critical. The phrase, live life to its fullest, while a cliché, is certainly a necessary requirement. It is where you get the inspiration from. Additionally be a lover of your language. It is from scouring its depths that you can find that perfect metaphor that will season your poem much like a cook seasons his dish. As we know, when it comes to seasoning, all one needs is a dash of this and a pinch of that.

How has your art affected your spiritual evolution or spiritual evolution affected your art?

I think that both are intrinsically related and affect the other spontaneously. That said I do think that who you are and the leanings of your spirit will color the way you approach your art. What you choose to advance with it or choose to take-away from it is also a function of the state of your spirituality. In that sense my spiritual evolution has constantly informed the choices I make with my art.

Thanks Aarti!

Find out more about Aarti in this interview with Colleen Walsh Fong on the blog site Eve. Aarti’s book Eggshells of the Soul is available on Amazon and Booklogix. Her work has been featured in several issues of CountryLine magazine. See her poem Niagara Falls on page 25. Aarti’s poem titled I sit watching. . . (as cancer consumes you) is featured on page 22 in this issue.

With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) gmail.com if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship. Namaste!

 

Wes Molebash: Your Values Are Expressed in Your Art

Wes Molebash picArtist Wes Molebash is an illustrator and creator of cartoons.

Can you tell me more about yourself and your art?

I’m Wes Molebash and I draw cartoons. I’ve wanted to be a cartoonist for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been actively chasing this dream for over ten years, now. I live in southern Ohio with my wife, Kari, and our son, Parker.

My work is a blend of traditional and digital elements. I draw and ink most everything by hand, and then I scan the black-and-white art into Photoshop to apply color. I use a Wacom Cintiq 12WX when working digitally.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

WMolebash art2When I was in 6th grade, some artists came to our school to discuss creativity and art with our class. I remember someone asked, “How do you know when you’re an artist?” and one of the presenters responded with, “You’re an artist when you say you’re an artist.”

I looked at my friend sitting next to me and said, “I’m an artist.” The artists must’ve overheard me, because one of them looked at me and said, “YEAH!”

So that was the moment.

How would you describe your spirituality?

I’m a Christian and my faith is very important to me. I hesitate to say I’m “devout” because I think that makes me sound more pious than I really am. But my faith is a huge influence in all areas of my life. WMolebash art5

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

My faith has been expressed in different ways in my art. For the past ten years I’ve been drawing comic strips, and—for the most part—the cartoons were your typical slice-of-life fare; nothing overtly Christian about them. However, I just ended a comic strip that was commentary on the Christian subculture, so my faith wasn’t as subversive as it was in my previous work. I’m tilting back the other way with my current projects, though.

I believe that whatever your values are, they will be expressed in your work whether you want them to or not. Whether you’re a Christian or a Muslim or Hindu or atheist, that stuff is gonna come out in your work. Don’t force it. It’ll be better that way.

In all my work, I’ve never tried to evangelize. That’s never been a priority. Honesty is a priority. I wish it was more of a priority for other “Christian” artists. Maybe we wouldn’t have as much schlocky “Christian” art clogging up the marketplace.WMosebash art1

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

I don’t have a specific story, but I think that being an artist affects my faith in God. I’m a pretty abstract thinker and I have a wild imagination (as most creatives do), and I think that these traits make it easier for me to believe in God. I don’t think I have an unintelligent faith, but I do believe that my vivid imagination has caused me not to struggle with certain aspects of God that others might find unbelievable or even reprehensible.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating?

I don’t really experience a divine connection while I’m creating. I think a lot while I’m drawing. Sometimes I think about God. Sometimes I think about what we’re gonna have for dinner. Most of the time I’m thinking about the work.

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

WMolebash art4It’s definitely more fun and rewarding to work alone. Working alone means I’m working on one of my ideas, and I like my ideas the best.

How do ideas come to you?

Ideas come whenever they feel like it. The trick is learning how to harness them. Sometimes ideas come when you need to be focusing on other things, so you gotta learn how to hold on to an idea and mentally stick it in your back pocket until the appropriate times comes to work on it. I’m getting better at this, but I’m not great.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

I just “know.” I’ll be driving down the road and a fun idea will enter my brain and I can’t get rid of it. It starts rolling around in my head and becomes a huge distraction. I’ll write it down and—if I’m still excited about it a day or two later—then I know it’s got legs.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

NUMBER ONE: Listen to lots of great music; all different genres. So many stories can be developed by simply listening to a song. Music plays such a vital role in my ideation process. You gotta have good jams. It’s imperative.

NUMBER TWO: Do the work! Quit second-guessing yourself! Set a schedule and a timeline and get the work done! There will always be someone better than you! There will always be someone with more success than you! Don’t let that stop you!WMolebash art3

How can our readers find our more about you and your work?

I blog at WesMolebash.com
I tweet at @THEWesMolebash
I’m on Facebook at facebook.com/THEWesMolebash

Thanks Wes!

With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) gmail.com if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship. Namaste!

Roger Hutchison: Painting as Prayer

Roger Hutchison picArtist Roger Hutchison is Canon for Children’s Ministries at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, SC. In his vocation, he has been privileged to gather around the Painting Table with those experiencing grief in a diverse variety of ways—everything from temporary housing, drug addiction, job loss, and poverty to the challenges and blessings of childhood and the elderly.

Your bio mentions that you are an artist that paints with his hands. Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

Late one evening, after my family had gone to bed, I found myself sitting at my Grandmother’s old kitchen table, which we had stored upstairs in our home after she died.

RHutchison 4I had been working on a painting for several evenings, and was getting more frustrated with it—and with myself. In a reactive—and what I now know was a moment of grace— I took my brushes, threw them into the trash and thrust my hands into the paint. I discovered what could only be described as a holy joy when I moved my fingers through the puddles of color and across the canvas. I was surprised—and blessed—by the conversation that followed. This experience of painting as prayer continued deep into the night and changed the trajectory of my life forever.

I am now an artist who paints only with my fingers.

What was ordinary became extraordinary. The same simple oak table where my Grandmother would serve us delicious meals from her garden was now my painting table . . . an altar of remembrance and healing, baptized with splashes of color and tears.

RHutchison1At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

I am not really sure. I am still uncomfortable with that title.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

I am an artist. I find joy when I move my paint-covered fingers across a blank canvas that sits atop my painting table. This is the place where I go to pray. This is the place where I go to listen with my heart. This is the place where the fullness of my life settles down and I can “pay attention” to that still small voice.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

I was invited to travel to Newtown and Sandy Hook, Connecticut in May 2013 to paint with the children, families, and teachers at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown.RHutchison 3

A third-grade girl told me she’d had a really bad day. Her painting was dark and frantic. I listened to her for a little while—then encouraged her to paint another one. The second painting was a bit more colorful. She took her two paintings and smashed them together. When she pulled them apart, the darkness had lifted . . . and she smiled. That’s when I saw light and love in her face.

I saw God.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

Painting is the way I talk to God. I find joy when I move my fingers through puddles of color and across blank canvas. I am always surprised—and blessed—by the conversation that takes place. It is never the same.

How do ideas come to you?

I approach painting as a form of prayer. I sit at my painting table for a while in silence—listening for that “still small voice.” I then begin to select my colors and enter into the process of translating my prayers into paintings. I never know what the outcome will be.

I am not a professionally trained artist. I did take a class or two in college, but I am mostly self-taught. I had tried painting with brushes, but they got in the way. Now I paint with my hands.

Simply put—I cherish the life I have been given and I searched a long time for a way to say thank you. When I sit at the painting table, I find that I am able to do
this in a way that can only be described as holy.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

I never begin a painting with a plan. I let the colors . . . and the silence guide me.

RHutchison2If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

My painting table is an actual table, but the idea of the Painting Table is more than a wooden top with four legs. It is about the invitation. It is about our sharing our own sacred stories. It is a safe and holy space where conversation, prayer, and healing can take place. The canvas, paper, and other assorted art supplies are the simple tools that help bring us together.

You do not need any artistic experience or training to be a part of the Painting Table. It is not about what your final creation looks like. It is about the transformation that takes place when you sit with others around a table for a period of time—creating, sharing, dreaming, and praying—together. And it can certainly be done in solitude, all by yourself.

It is about what happens in your heart and in your soul.The Painting Table book1

Roger, thanks for sharing your art and your heart!

Roger’s book The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy was released December 1, 2013 from Church Publishing, Inc. Find out more about Roger and his work at http://www.thepaintingtable.com.

With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) gmail.com if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship. Namaste!

J Clement Wall: Art Is a Celebration of Life and Love

JClementWall Pic2Writer, Doodler, and Love Warrior—that’s how J. Clement Wall describes herself. Her mission statement is to make art, do work, and engage in shenanigans that inspire fearless love, soulful evolution, and wild creativity as a way of life.

I’m thrilled to have connected with J and I’m excited to share her with you!

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?JClementWall MonsterLove1-share

Honestly, I still struggle a little with that term, and before that I struggled with when I could call myself “a writer.” (Was it after I got my degree, after I’d been published, after I’d landed my first writing gig?) Somewhere along the way, I started thinking of myself as a creative, and that feels right to me, less a title to be earned and more a state of being. I create incessantly. It isn’t something I have to fit in or make time for; it’s like eating and sleeping. If I go too long without making something I start to wither.

JClementWall ImprobableBeautifulEHow would you describe your spirituality?

Soulful. Grounded. Evolving. I believe that whatever divinity exists, it exists inside each of us, which is an exhilarating and sometimes scary sort of faith. In the midst of all the violence and cruelty in this world, believing in the basic goodness of humanity takes a certain doggedness… and practice… like all religions do.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

I think for me it might be the other way around; my art is an expression of my spirituality, a celebration of life and love.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

I think I (and all artists) connect to the divine flow every time we sit down and do the work, because really, what is more divine than the act of creation? 

How do ideas come to you?JClementWall BlossomE

Ideas come from everywhere—news items, tweets, Facebook updates, Pinterest, nature, the work of other artists and writers, the words of a song, overheard conversations, my dog.

I am easily inspired.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

I pursue the ideas that won’t let go of me. I’ve found the tenaciousness of an idea doesn’t always guarantee its success, but it does guarantee I’ll stay enthused through completion.

JClementWall YogaHippieWarrior2How has your art affected your spiritual evolution or spiritual evolution affected your art?

I think they go hand in hand. In my art and in my spiritual practice, I spend most of my time not knowing the answers. I’m learning more and more to trust the process, to lean into my  uncertainty and be open to surprise because that’s where all the growth happens.

Find out more about J and her work at www.judyclementwall.com. Visit her Etsy shop for note cards, prints, and more featuring her inspirational doodles. She says, “I spent all of 2011 publicly committed to fearless love. For one year, I loved wildly out of my comfort zone. It was exhilarating, surprising, and scary. It was everything I never imagined, and it changed my life. I wrote about it in a collection of essays you can download here.”

Thanks J!

With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) gmail.com if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship. Namaste!

Mark Golding: Psychoactive Art and Healing Mandalas

Mark GoldingMandala artist Mark Golding, was born in London in 1955. Described as Psychoactive Art and Healing Mandalas, his work will engage the viewer on a powerful subliminal level, activate dormant powers, create tendencies of inner peace, and initiate profound growth. He says, “Life is a flow, a journey of multi-sensory experiences, that I have chosen to record, using the visual medium.”

In addition to being an artist, Mark has been a hospital chaplain, a poet, an author, a meditation teacher, a dealer in antiques, an art historian and a collector of old gemstones.

How you create your art?

What Dreams May Come - They Manifest

What Dreams May Come – They Manifest

My process is one of experiential empathetic engagement, with both the emotions and the sense awareness. I feel, and I draw — to initiate release, understanding and healing, within the mind of my client. This is following a two-hour consultation.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

I was cautious about using the word artist for a year or so, but around two years ago I came out… aged 56. My name is Mark Golding, and I am an artist!

How would you describe your spirituality?

I am an unconventional and maverick Tantrika. I follow the Buddhist path of je Tsongkhapa, the Lineage of the Kadampas — those that practice Lamrim, Lojong and Mahamudra.

The Alala Bird - Radiates Love, Wisdom and Compassion

The Alala Bird – Radiates Love, Wisdom and Compassion

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

I create mandalas, each representative of an aspect of the path of Dharma — Buddha’s teachings. I sit with an intention prior to commencing any work, and maintain this throughout my creative process. Spirituality is the very expression of my art.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

As my pen runs along the paper, I feel the Divine creativity, witnessed in the trace I leave upon time’s visage. Each drawing I create brings me closer to God.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

I connect through working with pure intention. And my intention has three aspects — Love, Wisdom and Compassion. The flow of Divinity…

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

There is no contradiction. My process is served by my higher intention, when I work alone, or in the collective. Many co-creative projects have initiated alchemical sparks!

How do ideas come to you?

Solstice Sunrise Blessing

Solstice Sunrise Blessing

As instantaneous sparks. Elusive, transient and fleeting. I try to note them down, but often they flee before I have caught them… I carry a note book at all times.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

Much of my work is by commission, and my ideas are integrated into each current mandala, though I contemplate series and processes whereby my own understanding and healing are also served.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

My most valuable tool is a still mind. I have practiced and taught meditation for 20 years, and can hold my mind in a still and peaceful heart centered space. My advice? Learn to meditate.

How has your art affected your spiritual evolution or spiritual evolution affected your art?

This is a beautiful question! The two are inseparable, and as I journey through life, following the spiritual path, both my art and experiences are evolving, interdependent and harmonious. I am both a servant and a witness to my process.

How can listeners find our more about you and your work?

I have a website: Mark Golding – http://markgolding.co.uk/home
Facebook: Healing Magic – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Healing-Magic/213593625344837

 With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) gmail.com if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship.

Deborah Hightower: Music Can Soften the Heart

With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access all of our radio interviews on Empower Radio.

Deborah Hightower_3512Artist Deborah Hightower is an author, singer and songwriter.

Deborah celebrated four Top 10 hits on inspirational radio and three award nominations from her album, Her Name is Deborah. The LOVE. album was released in October 2012, followed by Beautiful Christmas in November. She has performed in a variety of venues including radio and television, mega-churches, conferences, corporate events, Carnegie Hall, and the White House.

In addition, Deborah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, minor in Communication; Master’s Degree in Organization and Management; and is completing a PhD in Leadership. She holds several professional designations in the financial arena. Find out more at www.DeborahHightower.com.

Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

Inspirational writing — whether music or narrative comes from an idea…an unction…a thought that appears my mind, heart, and soul. It could be inspired from a Bible teaching or scripture, a circumstance experienced, or situation witnessed. The funny thing about inspiration is one never knows when it will strike. I have written lyrics while driving down the road as well as during meditation time.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

On the one hand, I have always considered myself an artist in terms of music as it has been a natural fit since a young child. On the other hand, writing came with life and professional experience — narratively and lyrically speaking.

How would you describe your spirituality?

For me, spirituality is the constantly transforming internal experience based on my belief and faith in God that guides life’s decisions. Awareness of and tuning in to the spiritual provides a hopeful and optimistic outlook for the present and future. Even through a trial or painful happening, joy can be found in God. The result of the trial or pain can be beautiful and transformed into meaningful lyrics or narratives.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

My narrative and lyrical writings promote hope, peace, love and understanding. Whether writing for business purposes or expressing my thoughts in song, the foundation for the message is spiritual. It has been said that my latest songs (from the album, LOVE. and from my previous album Her Name is Deborah) can be directed to human or divine. My business writings (i.e., from the best-selling book The Secret to Winning Big) have fundamental principles that can be found in the Bible even though God or scriptures is never mentioned. I strive to write narratives and lyrics to creating moments of ponder — leaving the interpretation to the reader or listener so they can apply it to their particular beliefs and thoughts.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

My first experience with music can from church so the connection with God in that sense has been there as far back as I can remember. Now, the things that I seek in life — fulfillment, peace, joy, happiness, love — are exponentially expanded through worship, meditation and prayer. Music sets the stage for these things. Often times, music helps clear the mind — giving clarity to the issues at hand. I believe music can soften the heart, communicate an emotion, and create motivation to move forward. DHightower Love album

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

I believe we were created to be creative. I believe each one of us has a divine purpose for being created. For me, the creative process is seldom intentional, per se. While there are is a process to get the idea or inspiration from the heart and head to paper, the idea-generating portion is usually unplanned. Going about daily activities can generate an idea. My ‘notebooks of inspiration’ contain business writing, ideas, scriptures that fit the need or situation, lyrical lines and other thoughts that will, at some point, likely be committed to publishing. Laughingly I say that I ponder on these things all the time, even in my sleep. In all seriousness, I have awoken to find completed lyrical lines on my mind. Coincidence? Hardly. I attribute it to dreams through which the Spirit finds rest and manifestation.

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

I believe to work well with others requires a like-mind and like-spirit. There must be a common message goal before the idea-generation process starts. Particularly, I believe music to be a powerful mode of communication and for the message to be clear requires all the wheels to be headed in the same direction.

How do ideas come to you?

Inspiration can come from a number of sources. For example, perhaps a devotion, scripture or meditation moment; perhaps a story of someone’s circumstance; perhaps an injustice in the world — all these things and more can generate a thought. The thought can be fleeing or it can create a moment to connect an idea that could eventually turn into a work of art.

I find it interesting that inspiration can have a lot to do with timing. Let me explain. What moves me today may not have moved me yesterday or created a reaction that could turn into a lyric or narrative. We are exposed to so many ‘noises’ over the course of the day…sometimes we tune it all out…then sometimes amidst the noise, we hear one thing that sticks. The ability to allow inspiration to flow is an important component for artistry — regardless of the mode.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

My notebooks are full of one-, two-liners, or three-liners. Some develop in short order and some stay put for a year or two before developing into a complete work. Often, I laugh and say that I know two lines of thousands of song…perhaps that’s a sign of how I think…in snippets. Sometimes, snippets unfold into complete works and sometimes not. Timing has a lot to do with an idea — perhaps an issue at hand or a special need for a word of encouragement.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

I think the basis for the creative process begins with a heart search.  What message do you want to communicate? What story would you like to share? Once the foundation has been laid, then the building process can begin. Dig deep — past the surface. For example, if the lyrics or narrative is from a place of hurt or disappointment, let the listener or reader feel your pain.  If the work is from a happy place, let the smile shine through. This is where the timing plays a big role. If you are having an upbeat and hopeful day, it may be hard to dig out the pain that you want to write about. By the same token, if you are having a cloudy day, it may be hard to write about sunshine. I think the Spirit plays a big role in the process. Let the Spirit be your guide.

How has your art affected your spiritual evolution or spiritual evolution affected your art?

For me, spiritual evolution has affected my art. Connection with the Spirit and the maturing process of that relationship has played a role in my lyrics and message.

Find out more and connect with Deborah:

Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Walter (T.W.) Lawrence: Everybody Has a Story

TW Lawrence photoAuthor Walter Lawrence grew up in Texas, where his father practiced veterinary medicine and his mother taught nursing. He and his sister were raised in a family that valued the origin and meaning of words.

He majored in English in college and later earned a Masters of Arts in Professional Writing. Walter has published numerous freelance magazine and newspaper articles, and both his poetry and short stories have won numerous awards.

“Everybody has a story. One of the reasons I talk to strangers is to find out what cool story they have to tell me. When I’m writing, my mind pulls up those stories and I’m able to use them. People cross your path for a reason and you don’t always know what it is at the start.” ~Walter (T.W.) Lawrence TW Lawrence Dusty and the Cowboy

Listen to Walter’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Walter’s latest artistic venture has been to write and record stories specifically as audio downloads on Audible and iTunes.

He says, “Upon reflection, I was divinely led to create this series of short stories called Dusty and the Cowboy. The door was opened and I had sense enough to step through. After hearing an audio recording of Dusty, the first story in the series, I realized the unnamed cowboy was me. The cowboy was looking for direction, asked for divine help and began his journey. It’s interesting to see the doors that have opened. I’m following the path to see where it takes me.”

He recently made his first Nashville recording to be used as the theme song to the audio of Dusty and the Cowboy. Walter writes under the pen name T.W. Lawrence.

TW Lawrence Take Me To TexasWalter’s advice for other writers, “Be yourself—you have to find your voice. To do that, you have to listen and trust the voice inside of you. You have let go of this world and open yourself up to the world of creativity and the world of divinity.”

Visit www.projectdusty.com for a free download of the short story Dusty. On Amazon and Audible, find printed and audio books by Walter (aka T.W. Lawrence) with titles Take Me To Texas, T.W. Lawrence’s Cowboy Collection and Dusty and the Cowboy. Audio books are also available on iTunes. TW Lawrence Cowboy Collection

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Michael Belk: God’s Project

Michael Belk picDuring the past 30 years, Michael Belk’s photography has appeared in fashion publications including Vogue, Elle, GQ and Vanity Fair for clients that included Nautica, J.Crew and others.

Combining his gift for photography with a natural sense for sales and marketing savvy, Michael created a boutique fashion-advertising agency, Michael Belk & Company. He says his work has primarily been about doing something he loved while traveling the world, working with many great models and crews in the industry. Michael later owned a fine art photography gallery in Florida. MBelk 2246

In 2008, Michael began a project to produce a collection of fine art photographs that would depict messages of Jesus and show His relevance in our modern world. Published in late 2009, Journeys with the Messiah, consists of 45 images and the “parable-like” messages they depict.

“I felt a desire and prompting to create this series of photographs depicting the messages of Christ. In the end, it isn’t about the images—it’s about my relationship with God. He is the Creator. When I get carried away about the project from a business standpoint or from a creative standpoint, I stand back and take a breath. Then say to myself, ‘Not my project, His project. He’s just letting me work on it.’” ~Michael Belk

Listen to Michael’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

MBelk 2263He says, “I sensed that religion has given Jesus Christ a bad rap. Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. He came to testify to the unusual truth of his Father and how that frees us up to live these incredible lives while we’re here on earth. I wanted to show that Jesus’ message is relevant today—for people to realize that they can embrace Jesus for who he is rather than fear him.”

The images have been interpreted beyond the limited-edition, signed & numbered fine art original to include a coffee table book, behind the scenes DVD, posters and more. Michael travels to churches and other venues to present the images in an exciting audio/visual presentation. An exhibit and more images are planned.

With nearly 100 people on the team assembled to create the images for Journey with the Messiah, Michael believes in the power of collaboration. He says, “I learned in the fashion industry that Michael Belk taking a picture does not make the picture. It’s the collaborative effort of good hair and makeup people. Good costuming people. Good lighting people. Great assistance. Great producers. All of those things come together. God tells me what the idea is, but I’m always looking for ideas from people working with me as we’re putting the details of an image together. A collaborative effort is the most fun by far.” MBelk 2273

Visit www.thejourneysproject.com to view the gallery of fine art photographs created for Journeys with the Messiah. Watch the four-minute video that beautifully shares the story of creating these photos as they were shot in the Italian city of Matera.

See more of Michael’s work, including his fashion photography, at www.michaelbelk.com.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!