Metamorphosis – Spring Art Exchange

chrysalisbox2I participated in my first Recovery Gals Art Exchange that Tammi and Sondra of the Unruffled podcast (check it out here, it changed my life! (http://www.theunruffled.com/about/) and wanted to share my process as a part of that.  The theme was “Metamorphosis” for the Spring Equinox.

I was so blessed to be partnered with Jenn James; she is a coach in training for She Recovers, and is such a source of light and inspiration for me!  She is 2 yrs. sober, and she is also an incredible artist.  Not only did we share artwork, but we are connected and friends for life.  What an honor to create these pieces for her!  She was definitely my muse.

I got the idea with all the subscription boxes around, to do a “metamorphosis” box that would include amazing items that both symbolize transformation, and also provide tools for further transformation.

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Items in this box, which I’ve named the Chrysalis Box, I included 5 items of original artwork, as 5 is Jenn’s spirit number, and it turned out that was the number of items I wanted to include:

1. Original Drawing and Painting (Ink and Watercolor) in frame decorated with pyrite

2. Poem inspired by Jenn’s 2 yrs. of sobriety, and created to coincide with the drawing

3. Flipbook hand drawn with pen and watercolor

4. Hand painted wooden egg

5. Hummingbird card

I repurposed a box, and hand painted it and covered it with various black roses and butterflies, both known for their symbolism in thinking about metamorphosis:  A black rose is a sign of: Hope, grief, rebellion, death, rebirth are just a few of its connotations. Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. Many cultures associate the butterfly with our souls. The Christian religion sees the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection. Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life.

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I also included a few additional items that I didn’t create, but felt belonged in this box as gifts to Jenn:

  • Loose pyrite stones for use in meditation, etc.
  • Bismuth: Bismuth – stone of metamorphosis, has all colors in it, heals on all levels. Rainbow colored Bismuth can be a wonderful stone to use for focus, visualization and shamanic journeying. It can prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by all of your responsibilities while at the same time increasing your energy levels to deal with them. Bismuth relieves feelings of loneliness or isolation. It is a stone of transformation and change, helping to adapt to change with calm assurance. Bismuth encourages cohesiveness, so would be very helpful in group and/or relationship dynamics.
  • Bracelet handmade by Dawn Hoppe of Elevate Magic Jewelry that focuses on growth and change and channeling your creativity that I though was perfect to gift to Jenn. Check out Dawn’s amazing mandalas at www.elevatemagicjewelry.com
  • Book, “Rituals of Transformation” from Dragontree Apothecary that I felt fit into this theme very well.
  • Feathers as I know Jenn loves birds and feathers kept calling out to me.
  • Small dream catcher for decoration, or in the car. (I didn’t make this item)

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I was also inspired the day I shipped the box out by an Instagram post Jenn posted of birds on the beach by the sun.  I just had to try to capture that in ink and watercolor, as she had with her lens.

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Inspirations and reflections during this process:

Books I was reading that coincidentally had metamorphosis in them:

  • Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft (who I later learned is a lifelong teetotaler after also reading his biography).
  • Haunted Horror comic – it’s an anthology of older comics from the 50s and 60s, and the first story was called “Metamorphosis” and it was about a man who turns into a lizard in the water.
  • Creepy Magazine – metamorphosis of a man to a huge lizard, larger than man, because he cheated on his girlfriend. (Richard Corben)
  • A Monster Calls – about a mother who gets cancer, and a tree comes to life and that tree is the cancer.  It’s a graphic novel by Patrick Ness.

So I was surrounded by monsters, mountains, and a lot of water.  I had already had my idea of the water for the painting, as I feel water is so cleaning, but it changes so easily; goes from liquid to solid (and living in Chicago, the past few months we’ve dealt with frigid cold, and then the sun comes out and it’s warm again).

I’ve also been dealing with grieving the loss of my mother, who passed away in September.  I have been in a dark place, a depression, and painting helps to pull me out of that deep hole, a paint stroke at a time.  So working on this project let me go through a metamorphosis of my own.  I have started to just begin seeing how this passing of my mother was also a transformation for her, to the spirit world.  I know she is no longer in pain, there is no cancer in heaven.  I can feel her, her soul, and I know she’s still with me.

One night, after painting, I got chilly so pulled a blanket over me, and I smelled her.  I realized it was a blanket I had brought to the hospital as I often would cover her with them to keep the chill off her.  I didn’t remember getting it back, but there it was.  I was inspired to write a poem.  I have written books of poetry in the past, but hadn’t been inspired recently.  Until this project.  Then I wrote a poem for Jenn.

I just find this project, and this process, a wonderful cycle that has brought things to light, monsters, if you will, my shadow monster of depression, the monster that surrounds me in the loss of my mom, the monster of comparison, and of doing things that do not fulfill my soul.  And I realize that all of these monsters can be washed away, if we want them to be.  I am no longer turning to wine to shut these monsters out, rather I am welcoming them in, with open arms, and I am dealing with them, emotional, messy, wet.  And that’s ok.

Process:

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1. Original Drawing and Painting (Ink and Watercolor) in frame decorated with Pyrite

Materials:

Watercolors: (Colors used: Butterfly, Mermaid, Mystic, Ink, Unicorn & Buff)

Symbolism:  which water is a recurring and potent symbol of rebirth, transformation, and release.

Universally, water is symbolic of purity, fertility, life, motion, renewal and transformation. The profound symbolism of water comes from its two vital qualities – it is most essential for existence and it cleanses and purifies things by washing away impurities. Its power of transition from liquid to solid and vapor also make it special and a symbol of metamorphosis & recycling.

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I was inspired to draw this woman, who had overcome so much, and had removed alcohol from her life.  The waves are in motion, representing that change is not stagnant, it is ever moving.  The waves on the left are choppy, as I believe as humans, we are resistant to change.  But the waves on the right side are swirls, which are calmer, and meditative, and I looked it up and the Spiral is a sacred symbol that represents the journey and change of life as it unfolds; taking a labyrinth-like passage that leads to Source. The spiral symbol can represent the consciousness of nature beginning from its center expanding outwardly. The girl is sitting in the wave, letting it wash over her.  She is not resisting it, rather, her face is peaceful, and meditative.  Her hair, normally brown (like Jenn’s), has turned blue from the water.  Her dress is made of water.  She is, essentially, water.  She IS transformed.  I hope that she feels peace when she looks at these colors, the blues and purples I chose for both their calming nature and to reflect the water.

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Frame:  Accented with Pyrite. I got the idea for this when I went to the local crystal shop and this stone called out to me.  I didn’t look beyond the “fool’s gold” aspect of it, but I kept feeling it would be perfect to decorate the frame with.  So I did what any girl would do; I Googled it.  Here is what I found, and knew this was the perfect stone, and I also included some loose for Jenn to use with meditation, etc.:

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  • Pyrite is often called “Fool’s Gold,” though there is nothing foolish about this mineral. Within its gleaming beauty is a stone of hidden fire, one that can be sparked to life by striking it against metal or stone. An Earth element, it also resonates with Fire energy, symbolizing the warmth and lasting presence of the sun and the ability to generate wealth by one’s own power. It is masculine in nature, a stone of action, vitality and will, and taps into one’s abilities and potential, stimulating the flow of ideas. It brings confidence and the persistence to carry things through to completion. Pyrite was highly prized by the native Indian tribes of the Americas as a healing stone of magic, and was polished into mirrors for gazing and divination. Before the 1800’s, it was favored as a decorative stone, carved into rosettes, shoe buckles, rings, snuff boxes and other ornaments, and was extremely popular in England during the Victorian Age for its use in jewelry.
  • More about the benefits of Pyrite at: https://www.crystalvaults.com/crystal-encyclopedia/pyrite

 

2. Poem inspired by Jenn’s 2 yrs. of sobriety, and created to coincide with the drawing

Jenn inspired me to write this poem, and I typed it on my Royal typewriter.  I didn’t have white out, and some keys stuck, so it’s perfectly imperfect.

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3. Flipbook hand drawn with pen and watercolor

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I had the idea to create a flipbook, although I had never done this before.  I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to see the transformation of a simple line drawing into a feather, and then for that feather to be transformed from black and white into a spectrum of color.  And then, eventually move off the page.  I found a feather that reminded me of a feather that Jenn had drawn and colored on her Instagram page, but it was wavy, which also reminded me of change, constantly doing what it does – changing.

I traced the original feather from Google images on my light board, and then I used that as my master “feather”, and hand drew about 80-90 small pages, making the slightest change in each one to have the feather eventually appear, then be colored in.

I hand punched the pages to bind them, and took a sketchbook I had with a leather cover, and cut the front and back to create the cover.

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4. Hand painted wooden egg

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This was just something I thought of, with transformation and I wanted to see if I could hand paint an egg.  I found this wooden egg that was perfect as it had a flat base.  I first primed it with white, then used colors I thought were soothing, and let them drip down.  I finished it with a spray to set it in and seal it/protect it.

I’m still deciding as I write this if I want to write a quote on it.  There is a quote I’m thinking of, I won’t’ write it here in case I don’t do that 😊

Update: I did not add a quote, but the quote I was thinking of was: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
Rumi

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5. Hummingbird card

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I know Jenn liked a hummingbird I drew for my boss, who recently lost his daughter, and so I wanted to recreate that for her.  Hummingbirds also remind me of my mother, who had a hummingbird feeder at her cottage in Michigan.  My mother also loved birds.

In summary, I found it fitting that the theme of this exchange was Metamorphosis, as I was changed through this process.  I found joy through creating these pieces, and I found courage and strength through my art, and I have begun writing poems again, after such a long hiatus.  I was connected to a beautiful soul in Jenn, and as someone put it on Instagram, we each hold a key to each other, and will both be forever changed by this exchange.

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