CALL FOR MODELS: Healing Hearts

Something I’ve come to realise is that I paint more lifelike pictures when I paint from reference pictures than when I paint from memory. It is surprising that someone as bright as I am would take so long to work out something that I’ve been straight-out-told since primary school, but there you go. (I think perhaps it is less that I didn’t realise this and more that I was too stubborn to accept it.)

My attempts at creating reference photos of specific poses to use for the Healing Hearts oracle, however, are rather unsatisfactory!  For example:

This, then, is a plea for help! Or an invitation to add ‘model’ onto your CV, however you’d prefer to look at it.

I’m looking for people in Aberystwyth (or Lampeter, though we’ll have to find a space) with a spare hour or afternoon to meet me, in which I’ll ask you to pose (clothed!) so I can create some reference pics for the Oracle deck paintings. In return I can offer you a basic print of one of the paintings that I make from your modelling and your name in the acknowledgements when the deck is finished, if that interests you.

So, consider this your invite to Art Alley Studio… comment below or email me and we’ll arrange a time to play!

Art Alley Studio pic
My humble, slightly sparse studio space now has a table!
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UPDATE – Healing Hearts: Y Mabinogi

If you’ve been with me for a while you’ll know I’m in the process of developing a multi-cultural, multi-gendered deity Oracle Deck called ‘Healing Hearts‘. I’ve been wrestling with how to start such a huge project. The crowdfunding fundraiser brought in enough for me to get started with materials, so that’s great, but wasn’t quite enough to support me in the time it will take to make this happen so, sadly, I’ve not been able to do what I’d hoped to and dedicate a day or more each week to working on it exclusively. Cue the combination of gratitude and disappointment that is so familiar in life.

Ready to Paint! At the studio...
Ready to Paint! At the studio…

As a result of the longer stewing time, however, something more fascinating has grown… my many passions are combining in a delicious, bubbling pot and a vast, sprawling, beautiful creation is emerging. And I find myself looking at something so huge and wondering how I can approach it and allow it to support me whilst I bring it into reality… which has lead me to break down Healing Hearts into several projects, starting with a focus on the Welsh stories woven into the land I live upon.

I suppose I should share what I’m talking about!

I have a list of deities that are likely to be included in the final deck, ranging across many cultures, and each culture’s tales are an entire world of magic and meaning, connection and crisis, divinity and drama. To do them justice is a vast work! So whilst I paint the deities that arise, I shall be focussing on specific cultures for several months at a time, weaving through their stories and unravelling the threads so they can be spun into new tales and perhaps shared as theatrical performances. As I live in Wales, I’ve begun with the tales of Y Mabinogi, the mythology of the land. The stories speak to me of our relationship to the land and the environment – important topics right now, given the impending doom that is climate change – and so the four branches of Y Mabinogi and transforming themselves into tales of our connection and disconnection to the land and the wild within our hearts.

As I paint and explore the stories they are weaving themselves into a performance piece… so I’m looking for a venue to share it in next year!

Works in progress rarely look like they'll be any good... raw and unedited, a foundation to be worked upon, not really meant to be shared... but seedlings only grow when given enough light.
Works in progress rarely look like they’ll be any good… raw and unedited, a foundation to be worked upon, not really meant to be shared… but seedlings only grow when given enough light.

I’ve resisted sharing about this because it feels like I’m taking on something far bigger than I should and I worry folk will judge me for being so easily tempted. I’m worried it *is* simply too big and it will fail. I’m worried that I don’t have time and I’m putting myself under vast amounts of pressure if I commit to it.

And I find myself scrawling notes at bedtime, being inspired by conversations, facing open doors. Who am I to deny the magic that leads me forwards? Who am I to turn down the demands of a tale? Who am I to say no to the Muse?

It will all work out. I have faith…

Manifest Your Dreams

Exhibition at the Mulberry BushLast month I facilitated at a retreat in Spain and had my first solo art exhibition… where I sold a painting to someone whose dream it was.

Next month I travel to Budapest to present an aesthetics paper at a week-long philosophy conference, using the funds from the sale of said painting.

Last year I had an essay on Rhiannon published in an anthology, I’ve got short pieces coming out in three books this year and then, in December, Girls and Philosophy comes out – with one of the chapters written by me.

My dreams have always included travelling, teaching, books and art… looks like the magic wand waving has paid off!

Over the last few years, I’ve manifested these dreams for myself (with the support of my fiance and friends). It hasn’t been complicated, but it has been hard work. Here’s my map to success:

1. Decide what you actually want.

Not what you think you might like, but what you actually, really and truly want. Visualise it, feel it in your body, imagine you are living that dream. How does it feel? If it feels right, even if it is scary, then make the choice now that this is what you want. I wasn’t clear on how exactly it was going to look when I saw myself standing, talking to a large room of people on a subject I’m passionate about, on an adventure across the world… but I knew that was what I wanted to happen. So Hungary happens next month.

2. Commit to it.

Fully commit to it. Even if you don’t know the bigger picture. Even if you don’t know the how. Even if you don’t know anything other than this is what your heart desires. Commit to it totally.

3. Step forward.

Open yourself to opportunities. Apply for opportunities that look good. Sign up to mailing lists on subjects related to your desire. When you see an opportunity to manifest your dream; take it. Say yes. Ask for the place on that course, the time-slot on the schedule, the work-placement in your field, the lift to a faraway place. Send off the application to speak at a foreign philosophical society’s conference…

4. Follow up that lead!

Once the door opens and you step through it, follow that white rabbit all the way to the other side of wonderland. Follow up that email, complete the application, write that rough draft and hit ‘SUBMIT’. Then when they say ‘Yes, we want you’, confirm that you’ll be going!

5. Trust the Universe.

Trust it. Don’t dig up the seeds you’ve planted to see if they are growing yet. Follow up on leads, definitely, but don’t poke them till they die. Don’t worry about the How-exactly it will all work out. Let the solution come to you. (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t balance your books and explore the possibilities, definitely do that. This may be precisely where the Universe has hidden your key.) Maybe that exhibition that got delayed by two months will be perfectly placed to unexpectedly cover the costs involved…

6. Follow it through to the end.

There’s no point writing half a book if you want to be a novelist. You’re not a world-wide traveller if you hang up your hat after the first trip out. And you probably shouldn’t call yourself a professional artist if no-one ever sees your work. BUT if you finish the manuscript  and get it out there – you’re an author. If you wrangle one trip a year and really explore the places you get to, you’re living the dream. If you get your paintings in a local cafe, you’ve succeeded in gifting the world with more beauty. Don’t give up until you’ve finished it. You deserve more than that! Book your flights and get on the plane, let it take you to your dreams. And while you’re on the way… have a dream about what the next step you truly desire might be…

When I get back, I think I’m gonna get stuck into painting for the Healing hearts Oracle (and my next exhibition.)

***

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How to Make Your Own Oracle Deck part 2 – Structure!

I hear a lot of people say they’d like to make their own Oracle deck, and I’m in the process of making my second so I thought I’d share and hopefully inspire you to get making! Check out Part one on choosing a theme and other related posts here.

There are several ways of working out a structure.

You Can: Brainstorm the cards you want in your deck and then look at how they fit together and who is missing…

Or: Write up a list of the areas/archetypes you want your cards to cover and then decide how each archetype will be expressed.

Or: Just start making cards and then play with them to find out what feels like it is still required.

Or: base it on an already recognised structure, such as Tarot, the Sephiroth, Elemental correspondences and so on…

For example:

For the FeyHearted Deck I knew I wanted the Queen and King first, then the stages on the journey to Faeryland, then archetypes and other beings, and then action cards. So I started with The Queen, then the King, then the gateway opening the journey, then a card for each major change along the path to Faery and so on. Starting with a structure works well for decks with a clear overall theme.

For Healing Hearts I have some deities who have told me they must be included, so they get top priority. I’ve then negotiated a keyword and archetype for each one and looked at what energies are missing. Those are in the process of being listed so Pawl and I can find deities that fit AND want to be included. Starting with individual cards is good if you are working with individual beings and could also be used for decks based on a story as you already have set characters and events to make the cards from.

For my personal SoulCollage™ deck I began with making cards that expressed aspects of myself, my life and archetypes I relate to and the deck evolved naturally. This is especially good for affirmation type decks and personal decks.

Once you have a good selection of cards listed (or made) look to see what energies or archetypes are missing. This will firstly show you what is less conscious for you (or what you’re avoiding in your life) which is a helpful bit of divination in its own right, and secondly allow you to expand the deck before it is finish to make sure it is balanced enough to be useful for a longer period of time. For my FeyHearted Deck I initially had no challenge cards but I knew something was missing. I printed a copy and some blank cards and played with the deck until it hit me: I had no challengers! I’d forgotten the Thirteenth Faery! Three challenge cards were all that were needed to balance the lighter side and make the deck whole.

 

Your Tasks:

Decide how you want to structure your deck. Is it free-form? Is it based on a system or story? Do you have clear ideas for some or all of the cards, or do you know what the journey and them of the deck is but not what the individual steps are?

Begin brainstorming cards within this structure.

Once you have a list of card names (which can change as you go!) have a look at the mood and archetype of each one and see if your deck leans towards one direction, or if it is balanced. If it leans – do you want it to? If not, what might you include to balance the scales?

Ponder on this list. Maybe label up some blank cards just with the names and have a go at using the deck and see how the cards fall. Make notes as you discover things!

To support the making of Healing Hearts you can check out the project and contribute to the fundraiser here!

Comment below and let me know how you’re getting on with making your own deck! What would you like to hear more about?

How to Make your Own Oracle Deck – part 1

Healing Hearts will be the second oracle deck I’ve published, the third deck I’ve made for myself and the seventh oracle system I’ve created!

When I mention that I make oracles to people they often say “I’ve always wanted to make a deck of my own!” So this time I thought I could share the process I go through and give anyone who has been thinking about making one themselves a peak into how easy it can be!

My first step is one you’ve probably already done, as I had – use as many different kinds of decks as you can. This way I had a good idea of the range of possibilities and knew for sure I love cards.

The juiciest part of making your own deck is choosing a theme!

You could make an oracle deck with any theme that calls to you. The possibilities are endless! Maybe you have an idea already or maybe you just wish you could hold a deck you’ve made in your hands. Either way, now is the time to crystalise and clarify your idea. Here are a few questions to get you started:

What are your favourite things?

Do you have a pantheon or deity you love who you’d like to honour?

What is most important to you in your life? (Home, family, environment, animals?)

Is there a story you adore that has a lot of symbolism in it? (Eg Alice in Wonderland is now being made into a tarot deck)

What do you want the deck to do? (Healing, inspiring, messages from specific spirits like angels?)

Why are you making this deck? Is it just for fun? Do you want to sell copies? If you want to sell copies it is a good idea to check out what is already available to buy, both so you’re not stepping on toes and so your deck is unique. If you find a deck on your theme then you can still make it, just see if you can emphasise the uniqueness of your particular deck. So maybe there are several dragon decks out there, but yours is specifically Dragons of Britain, or Dragons of the water, or Healing Dragons… sit with your ideas and feel which one sparkles the most. And then listen to your heart – what uniqueness can you bring to this theme?

And remember, it doesn’t need to be serious! Humour really helps people to relax into a receptive state – a few years ago I co-taught a series of mini-workshops using Buffy and co (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as archetypes. There was much giggling and much magic happened because everyone was relaxed!!!

Your Task:

Write down all the ideas you have for a theme. Sit quietly in contemplation and feel which one you are most drawn to right now.

Holding that theme in your heart, allow your intuition and inspiration to tell you how you can bring your own uniqueness to bear on this theme.

Now, what do you have? Add a comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!!!

(PS: The Healing Hearts Oracle fundraiser is still live, you can donate to make it happen here: Healing Hearts through IndieGoGo! Or share the link and get other people involved 🙂