Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ariadne's Red Thread

Our local co-op art Gallery has periodic juried shows, where non-members may also exhibit. February is one of those times, with a Red Show, & in 2013, I created a couple of pieces for the show. 

The phrase 'Ariadne's Red Thread' immediately came to mind, & I envisioned a labyrinth, with the red thread leading into the center. I began researching both the story of Ariadne, Theseus & the Minitaur, Cretan labyrinths, and other aspects of the story. 

The Cretan labyrinth is simpler than that in the one in the Chartes cathedral, & I enjoyed learning the pattern. A Labyrinth differs from a Maze, in having one path in & out, rather than different options that take you to a dead end. So Theseus wouldn't need the cypher of a thread to guide him to the center and the bull. Greek myths, as other early stories, were passed on by oral tradition, so several variants have come down to us.

Sired by a god, (Poseidon, god of the seas & oceans) Theseus was half human, and lived in Athens.  Previously, Daedalus and Icarus had resided in the kingdom of Minos, known today as Crete. Daedalus, an architect, designed the labyrinth to contain the Minotaur, half-human and half bull, with a taste for human flesh.  Due to his violent disposition, he was  imprisoned in the labyrinth beneath the palace of Minos.  In order to appease the monster, the King demanded that other nations, including Athens, provide annual human sacrifices for the creature to devour. 

in process
Theseus joined the other youth from Athens, & fell in love with the Princess Ariadne, who vowed to help him challenge the Minotaur, and escape from the dungeon.  She gave him a spool of red yarn, to unwind as he travelled, & a sword.  After killing the Beast, he followed the thread back to the entrance and escaped with the other sacrificial youth & Ariadne.  

In several accounts, Theseus abandoned Ariadne sleeping on the island of Naxos, and Dionysus rescued and wed her. With her association with thread spinning & winding, she is seen by many to be a weaving goddess, like Arachne. Her wedding diadem became the constellation Corona, & there the Minotaur has association with the constellation Taurus.

Ariadne's Red Thread

Researching the legend, I found an article whose author observed a connection between Sarah Winchester, with her labyrinth of a house & fascination with spider webs and this myth of Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur. As I worked on this piece, I incorporated a buffalo nickel button, the blues of the ocean, a piece of red yarn tracing a path through the labyrinth, and surrounded it with a spider web.  

Though my pieces weren't accepted for the show, it was fun researching & creating them. Ariadne herself is nudging me do her portrait, in the Colour of Woman style. 

In our workshop with Elisabeth last weekend, we did a Red Thread Ceremony, based on Shiloh McCloud's teaching. An ancient Chinese legend bespeaks that those who are destined to meet are connected by an invisible red thread from before our birth.Shiloh was given instruction to use 'the Red Thread ceremony ' as she journeyed to join a circle of Native American women. After the ceremony, they told her they sew with red thread to show solidarity among Native Americans.
In the same article, she shares the tradition from the Orthodox Church that (mother) "Mary was weaving with a red thread, which was to become the veil of the temple to the holy of holies."

We each looped red thread around our wrists, then cut the thread and made a bracelet. When painting, we can don the bracelet, & use it to symbolically connect with others in the red thread circle of artists and women, & harken back to Ariadne ...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Magic Wand Paintbrush

Elisabeth's Magic Wand Brush
At our playshop with Elisabeth, we brought a few things to place on the altar (hmm, I 'forgot' mine there; will just have to return!!) and one of the items Elisabeth had already placed is her Magic Wand Paintbrush!

It is covered in Polymer clay with glitter, & a crystal at the end, which may also be used to scratch or incise paint! When she posted this picture, I wanted one of my own!!

Covered with clay
My first thought was to ask my dear Daughter-in law Angie, who loves creating things with Polymer clay, to make me one ... so she & grandson Gregory began playing with their supplies ....

Of course I quickly realized I wanted to make one as well! Especially after Elisabeth called my attention to the crystal tip.

So I shopped for some crystals, along with a few more art supplies. I had taken a bag of Fimo to my daughter's, so found some appealing colours in that stash this AM, & this tutorial for covering Crochet hook handles with polymer clay! I noticed similar clay coated crocket hooks made by a local gal at our Crafter's co-op yesterday!

I also stopped by a local thrift store, & picked up an old baking pan, as it's not recommended to use your cookware for baking craft clay items. If you do much craft baking, it's good to dedicate a toaster or craft oven for those projects, & use it outside.

After getting home I began, first kneading and rolling the clay, as suggested in the tutorial. Turquoise, Lapis, dark purple, a bit of 'stone' look (grey) & a bit of fuscia. I soon had nice swirls, & wrapped the paintbrush, then secured a bit of Oregon Sunstone for the tip.

Burnished Brush
I used the lid of the art supply box as my rolling surface, then Perfect Pearls powders in 'Blue Smoke' & 'Forever Violet,' burnishing them into the surface with the back of a spoon. This article gives suggestions for working with powders and the polymer clay! It gives a different, more metalic, look, & the swirls aren't as prevalent, though they are still there!

Just out of the oven, cooling
 As suggested in the Tutorial and comments, I used an old sock to rest the brush on while it baked, & covered with an aluminum foil 'tent.' 15 minutes at 275*, & it was ready to take outside & leave awhile to cool down.

Since I'd used the pearl powder, I gave it a clear coat of craft sealer, & let THAT dry before bringing it back inside.

  When it seemed sufficiently dry, I brought the Magic Wand Brush inside, & placed it on the little altar by Gabriella and the Red Thread from the class. Now I have a Magic Wand brush of my own!!
Magic Wand brush on altar with Red Thread from our class

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tea with Gabriella

Tea with the Muse
Elisabeth's invitation read: “I am so excited to be offering my first 'Color of Woman Method' painting workshop, "Meeting Your Creative Muse", on February 15, 2014, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at my new art space in my home. This process uses intentional creativity, visionary imagination, and intuitive painting, to encounter the Muse, thus accessing our own inner world and feminine wisdom, for guidance, inspiration, and imagery. We will be using acrylic paint on a 16" x 20" canvas in a step-by-step process. As a first time offer, which is part of my Color of Woman teacher certification requirements, you can take part in this fun and insightful workshop at a discounted rate. Limited space available so I recommend you sign up soon.”

Inga and I signed up right away, & I got more eager as time for the class approached. Elisabeth has been studying Color of Woman with founder Shiloh Sophia McCloud, both online & in workshops with Shiloh and other Cosmic Cowgirls in California.

Elisabeth with her drum
A few days before the workshop, Elisabeth sent a message on preparation: “Please bring a journal/sketchbook, pencil, and a bandana or eye covering with you. In preparation for the class, I would like to ask you to contemplate and write down beforehand, which areas in your life have benefited and been enhanced by your acts of creativity; where are you maybe holding back from expressing yourself; when do you feel most in alignment with your soul and spirit; has your creative fire been nudging/calling you to show up for yourself and/or your community this year in new ways or directions; and lastly, what questions do you might like to ask your Creative Muse when you encounter her (these can also be general questions about life, calling, relationships, etc.).”

Background & Portal
Finally, it was Saturday, class time!! After some snafus getting there (we were a bit late, then took a wrong turn... did I mention Mercury is Rx?) Inga & I arrived! It was a rainy, blustery day, perfect for being indoors & painting! After some orientation, we brewed cups of tea, & settled in for a check in,  & grounding. Next came a drum journey, to 'meet the muse' as we entered her home, & settled in for another cup of tea, & did the Red Thread Ceremony.

After some sharing & instructions, we took to our canvases, & wrote a statement of intention in charcoal, which was then spritzed with water infused with flower essences. We began painting the background, with three colours chosen intuitively. We covered the canvas with abstract play of colours. Since we worked in Acrylics, the drying time was fairly quick. And we had a bowl of seeds & nuts, and another of blueberries to snack on! (plus some heavenly dark chocolate!)

Muses conferring during our lunch break
The next step was painting a portal for the Muse to emerge through, & when that was dry, roughing in a portrait outline, first in white charcoal, then with white paint. Symbols from the first journey were roughed in as well. Then: Lunch time!! We ventured out to a nearby deli for a bit of a break (while the 3 muses conferred!)

When we returned, we did another little journey, to receive symbols & ideas of how our Muse wished to be portrayed. We again chose three or four colours: fleshtone for the face & neck, one or two for the background, the last for the hair. After those dried, we painted highlights & shadows, then facial feature; finally 'opening' the eyes! The last step before leaving for the day was applying a glaze (thinned paint) with a big brush, & quickly wiping off! Shiloh has a sample video tutorial of this step on her website.

Highlights & shadows
Sometime during the afternoon, the name 'Gabriella' came through. After a closing circle, we packed up to return home, with our Muses safely protected for the journey. More details will be added, symbols & tools; & we've been journaling & listening to Museal promptings … 

Elisabeth did a wonderful job of setting & holding space for creativity to flow, and for the Muses to emerge! I have journeyed before, & especially appreciated the shamanic aspects of the workshop. Her teaching style was clear & she was quite willing to answer questions, or encourage us to 'ask your muse!'


The tea, the snacks, the background music, essence sprays, and Elisabeth's BEAUTIFUL studio space helped set the tone for sharing a delightful day. I enjoyed the balance of her helping us, & working on her own Muse portrait! I can see many applications of this process. Notice how different pallets emerged as our paintings progressed! Elisabeth's began very watery with blues & greens, while Inga's and mine had more browns & purple!

It was a powerful experience, which I could feel integrating for several days after our time together. I feel inspired to let creativity flow, & to take more introspective time, especially in the morning. I've also got several other pictures 'percolating' (though my Muse is also still in process!) …. where to begin?
The Three Muses (mine, Elisabeth's, Inga's)
Photos and art by Nadya King, Elisabeth Freise-Mick, Inga Gelford