Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: 49 by 49 progress report

I am working on my ninth painting for my 49 by 49 series (49 postcard sized pieces by my 49th birthday in October.) The themes that have been coming up again and again for me revolve around transformation, patience, and process.

Oonagh is a Celtic goddess, although she also is considered a dragonfae queen. Her people were the original inhabitants of Ireland and when the Gaels invaded her clan transformed themselves into leprechauns and thus were able to continue living in their home peacefully and without having to compromise their lifestyle or values. The message of Oonagh is "There is no need to hurry or force things to happen. Everything is occurring in perfect timing." Oonagh is here to assist me with transitions.

I pull this card a lot. If there is one thing I know I need to work on, it is relaxing into flow. Even when I think I am going with the flow, I am still thrashing about, pushing and then resisting and always questioning whether I am on the right path or if I've wandered off course. Understanding that change is a constant process and that we are always in some kind of flux, Oonagh is helping me to enjoy where I am in my journey. Patience in allowing things to manifest in their proper time is another lesson I am trying to learn with Oonagh's assistance. Knowing each step is important, I focus upon what I can do today and let go of worries about my final destination.

Snake has been a powerful totem in my life. Snake is about transformation; it is also about opening to the energy of kundalini which one friend describes as the energy of one's personal/spiritual evolution. Throughout my life, snake has visited me in dreams and of course on hikes. I actually paused to snap a photo of a black snake I found curled upon next to a hiking path in Devonshire, England (three people had walked right by it, I was the only one to notice it) and found out later in the pub it was the only poisonous snake in England, the black adder. And I had leaned in to take its picture!

In my life right now, Snake is all about shedding what no longer serves me; letting go of beliefs and ideas that no longer fit who I am or who I aspire to be. Snake is a reminder that transformation isn't always comfortable; it is often through discomfort that I realize it is time for conscious change.

In choosing the subject matter for these pieces, I am trying not to plan things out. I am allowing my guardians and guides to present themselves to me, so that this painting cycle becomes a kind of mindfulness practice. Each week I find myself reflecting upon where I am and the forces that have guided me thus far. As I am currently in a reading group for Women Who Run with the Wolves (my third attempt to read the book; I haven't made it all the way through yet) an obvious choice was La Loba or Wolf/Wild Woman.

"By whatever name, the force personified by La Loba records the personal past and the ancient past for she has survived generation after generation, and is old beyond time. She is an archivist of feminine intention. She preserves female tradition. Her whiskers sense the future; she has the far-seeing milky eye of the old crone; she lives backward and forward in time simultaneously, correcting for one side by dancing with the other." "This old woman stands between the worlds of rationality and mythos. She is the knucklebone on which these two worlds turn. This land between worlds is that inexplicable place we all recognize once we experience it, but its nuances slip away and shape-change if one tries to pin them down, except when we use poetry, music, dance or story." (-Clarissa Pinkola Estes)

I am aware of the cycles in my life where La Loba has called to me, guided me to venture within and awaken parts of me numbed, stunned or dormant. She seemingly retreats into the wild while I learn to use these new parts of myself. I slip back into a domesticated life until her call rouses me to action once again. I have dabbled with her magic, tried on the fur and occasionally bared my teeth but a part of me has held back. Or maybe she has always been guiding me, it just has taken this long for all the pieces to come together. I am now recognizing her cry in all that I do. I am trusting my instincts to guide me in every step I take. She has brought me far and I am not about to abandon her now.

Brigit is another Celtic goddess I've long been fascinated by. It is her fiery energy, the force of her will and determination which resonates with me (in Ayurvedic terms, I am predominately Pitta or Fire and Vata, wind and air.) She represents the three ages of women: maiden, mother and crone/wise woman and as such she is available to guide us through our transformations, connecting us to the powers and lessons available in each phase. She reminds me to identify my passion and to use that light to inspire and guide me.

Each painting has taken me further and further into a journey of self discovery. I find the process of selecting my next subject, deciding how I want to depict it and then actual act of creation has enriched my understanding of these forces. As I paint and then write about these pieces, I am finding the lessons are being integrated more firmly into my life.
I can only hope the fire of Brigit will carry me through the next 40 paintings!


  1. what a fabulous journey you are on with your paintings Lis! they all have so much to say, and your words that dance with them make them oh so expansive, lots and lots of reflection. i love it!

  2. Nice and beautiful...i specially liked the fairy :)

  3. Lis - this project is so, so, so inspiring!! I'm learning so much - love it!:)

  4. Goodness! I cannot decide which beautiful painting I like best! Though I am particularly fond of the snake and la loba! You are so attuned to the different facets of your self/life. So inspiring! Oh and I got a good chuckle from that black adder story ;)


  5. your posts are always so full of thought provoking material! i recently heard that "if you try to skin a snake, you will kill it. but wait and when it's time, the snake will shed it's own skin." so true and not just with snakes.

  6. Lis...this time of transformation, of growth, healing and life in your life is so powerful. Each image is so beautiful and the story that accompanies it so intriguing. I feel as though your life is wide open right now .Spring breeze blowing through as you create and create and just as all things blossom around you so to do you blossom within ....your colors are so far reaching and even the skin that you are shedding is becoming something completely new...isn't that just amazing?

  7. WOW - I am SO loving watching you do this...utterly freakin' AWESOME. I love the vibrancy of the colours..the fiery reds and yellows....YUMMY!!

    you rock my world...


  8. These are all self portraits,Lis! It will be so awesome for you to lay all of these paintings out in October and SEE your story unfold. "She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches, changes."(Starhawk)

  9. Lis, I loooooove La Loba, I too have felt called to create a version of her. Through drinking in your delicious artwork, I have realised that I haven't got my paints out for ages- think I overdosed during the whole Sketchbook Project marathon! But my fingers are itching to get started now.Thank you as always for inspiring me x

  10. love the bold colors especially on the one with the girl and the wolf-