This page is dedicated to writings from Shiloh Sophia that further connect you to the Intentional Creativity concepts, often through Shiloh's personal experiences and stories. We hope this brings deeper understanding and inspires you to join us for Motherboard Intentional Creativity Coach Certification Training.
A conversation between Sue Hoya Sellars & Shiloh Sophia McCloud, Circa 1994
"There has to be something we can do to rewire our brain for a more holistic way of thinking. A way to access both/and instead of either/or. A way to hold duality without cancellation of either potential." I said thinking I was sounding rather smarty.
"There is," she said. "It takes a little time and a whole lot of mind, but it is possible"
"Show me how…?" I said with a question on my face and in my voice "I want to learn this. I need to learn this because there is a problem"
"What is the problem?" She inquired, knowing full well what I was going to say, yet going through the process with me. She liked to make me articulate my thoughts.
"I just feel like something went wrong in the evolutionary development of humans around 8,000 or so years ago. We aren't integrated well with ourselves, one another, or the earth. We see ourselves as separate, which is the farthest thing from the truth.” I said, reaching for an answer that would resonate with her way of thinking and get my point clear for her and for me.
"We are one but many. We are individual yet multiple. If you can hold both at once, there is a chance for integration. Gnosis even."
"I want that," I said "How do we do it?"
She handed me a jar of pens, pencils, and a stack of paper. "We draw it. We draw what we desire to create. We create the firing of synaptic junctions through somatic action paired with mental rigor"
"Ouch, that sounds kind of fancy. Can you tell me more?” I loved her answers, they made me laugh and always want more.
"Well, neurons can communicate with each other at junctions that are called synapses, it is here an action potential can release neurotransmitters..." She began.
"I mean, tell me more about what to do on the piece of paper."
"Hold the idea gently in your mind, with your intention, and then begin to move the pen. If today your exploration is holding both/and and moving out of either/or, simply suggest that to your consciousness and draw what you feel arising through you." "That sounds easy enough - and then the synaptic thingies light up?” I smile into my answer.
"Enough talking... begin making." She said, obviously complete with my musings. She turns to her own notebook. I turn to mine and began to draw the feeling in my body. To solve a problem within myself. A capacity to see both sides, at the same time. And so it begins.
An infinity sign is what comes first. I imagine my brain making the shape of connection that it needs. I feel the changes in my body. I wish for integration for me and for all beings. I wish for a feeling of oneness that is diverse and colorful. My wish becomes a prayer for peace.
I never cease to be in utter awe, Of how the single line for myself, lends itself to a wish, which transforms itself into a prayer for all.
Letter from Curator Shiloh Sophia - Becoming Accountable to Consciousness
Shiloh Sophia demonstrating Metacognitive Drawing
Expand the way you "see" and "create" by Shiloh Sophia
Grab some creative supplies and begin!
Dear One, Since the time I was little, I have lived with an unshakable feeling that something was wrong. Really wrong. I became an artist to navigate the way I was feeling - to be able to work with the fear just behind my day-to-day created self.
Growing up the way I did, I was aware very early of all of the broken systems. Before I wanted to be an artist I wanted to be a judge so I could set the systems that were oppressive in order. I was so clear - once everyone knows it isn't working they won't want to do it anymore. Right? Wrong. Turns out the systems are set up to stay in place with power over structures.
I didn't want to spend my life-fighting systems. I wanted to spend my life loving humans. And I have. One of the things my teacher and mother of my heart taught me was that we have influence through intention and action with our biological structures. I believed then and I believe now that we have a responsibility to become the most whole we can become - whatever that means to each person of course. For me there is a starting place, it isn't a mystery how to begin.
We begin with becoming accountable to and for our own journey towards consciousness. We work with the mind, energy, and intention in action to become agile with our capacity to influence our own evolution of awareness as a human.
Here at MUSEA, we specialize in the pathway of each person becoming accountable to their own journey. We do this through the devoted practice of Intentional Creativity. You can use any medium; gardening, cooking, potting, sculpting, painting, writing, and of course, drawing. Sue used to say it all begins with drawing which begins with seeing.
Let us learn to see in new ways and be at cause for the evolution of our own consciousness and share it with as many people as we can. What you do and how you think shapes the world we are co-creating.
Why Drawing Matters
As we develop our way of seeing and being I am encouraging us to continue to illustrate concepts even if it feels like a stretch. Here is one of mine.
Artist as Synthesizer by Shiloh Sophia
My big breakthrough at 24 - This changed everything ...
Dear One, My mother Caron was an illustrator who could duplicate what she saw. She had an innate ability to render real life, even from her mind, without looking at a reference. One of my favorite things as a child was to watch Mama draw an original drawing for me to color in. I can still remember the feeling...asking, her doing it, and my reveling in coloring the original drawing from my mother's hand. Mama had a 'curve' to her line that I tried to emulate as soon as I could hold a crayon. I loved Mama's drawings of elegant women - she was a fashion designer and manufacturer with my Grandma Eden. Mama could free-hand draw elephants, giraffes, and kitties. It was a wonder to watch her black line move around the page and make astonishing beauty.
Last year we went through her portfolio of drawings, some of them being over 60 years old. I admired more than ever, the curve of her line. The precision, the arc, the clear path to beauty that her pen and pencil take. Having been at this a long time now, drawing that is, I am astonished at how her line moves.
We found a drawing of me as a teenager and we paused to talk about it, and about me, and who I was and am. This drawing is just a few lines, done in barely a few minutes. I remember her drawing this and how much I loved it – seeing myself this way in this image.
Shiloh by Karen
Flower Illustration by Sue Hoya Sellars
Then there is Sue, my second mother, she too was an illustrator. Her first real art gig at 19 was to be an artist for Stanford in San Francisco as a biological illustrator for the George Vanderbilt Foundation. She had learned from her guardian, the artist Lenore Thomas Straus for years, and Lenore got her the job. Sue was a biological illustrator for university textbooks for over fifty years. I grew up surrounded by her drawings of bones, fish, cells, DNA, plant life, water, rocks, bark, and of course, the horizon dotted with trees. Her work was devotional in nature, a relationship with life that she thought of as sacred. Sue said "We are all sacred beings and the art we make is sacred"
When doing her own work subject-wise, Sue 'illustrated consciousness'. She used her biological technical illustration to render the ideas of consciousness within women's bodies and minds. The landscape was contained within the body and mind of the feminine. Demonstrating in image and a most potent message - visualizing our imagination in relationship with nature. Here is one example of Sue drawing a flower.
Mama Caron's line flowed around her ideas like water into the hem of a garment that would eventually become a dress worn by thousands of women. Sue's line dotted in pointillism scaled the ridge and raised up the moon with the precision of seeing the actual. Yet Sue's work also interpreted the life force held within each living thing she included in her compositions. She honored life with her pen. Her drawings become the foundation for painting, sculpture, and teaching.
Both of them kept visual journals. Here is a page from one of Sue's many composition books. Both of them showed me how to 'work at my craft'. Neither one of them ever questioned if I was an artist.
Sue Hoya Sellars Visual Journal
A Foundation for Drawing
Sue and Shiloh at the Louvre in Paris, France
My mamas gave me a foundation for drawing, and for loving drawing. But there was one big challenge: I couldn't draw what I could see. I still can't. When I work with images from nature that are external, I 'make an offering' towards their shape. I interpret it intuitively, how it feels to my body, and let the pen lead the way. I have always drawn but rarely improved, even with practice, rendering what I SAW out there.
Yet I knew I was an artist, and so I kept at it. As kids, we were provided with quality drawing tools and paper, always. I realize now how important that value was to my family - because times were very lean, all the time. But we were rich in paper and pen. And we visited the museum and galleries on a very regular basis, it was a big deal to go view art, then draw at the museum.
Even as an adult, before Sue passed on, we would visit museums together. Here we are at the Louvre in Paris with Mona Lisa.
The Break Through
I am remembering a breakthrough drawing I had at about 8 years old. I was sitting in the back seat of the car with my cousin Bridget. I can see the car, the day, and us in the car as if it is a movie playing. We were looking at trees out the window and drawing them in our journals. We had a big Pentel set - you know the yellow box ones that snapped close? I loved those. I had a green pen and I was drawing grass line by line at the base of the tree. Then I realized I wanted to do something else, to feel something else. Suddenly grass wasn't fun for me. I stopped. I drew a single line, it was the face of a mother and her child in the sky. I felt the power of the curve of my own line for the first time.
Fast forward to ten years later. I am in art school. I am trying to draw the trees again and not really wanting to - or being able to.
I didn't understand how it worked, how to see it and have it translate through my hand. I put the pen down. I wondered if I was really an artist, and if I wasn't, what was I? So much seemed to focus on the capacity to DO what you see. I couldn't draw the way they asked me to, not very well, and not compared to the others around me.
I added calligraphy and photography and rounded out my skills. Yet something was missing. I didn't know what it was. I didn't remember the 8-year-old doing her own line. Had I forgotten? Had I forgotten myself? Is THIS what art is about - duplicating what you see? I kept at it and began to lose heart. I tried everything but did not know where to look for how to FEEL myself as an artist.
I worked full time, went to school full time, and partied at every other time I wasn't working or studying. I practiced living what I thought of as 'an artist's lifestyle'. I performed at poetry readings, made logos for my friends' bands, dressed like an eccentric in my cowgirl boots and faux fur, made posters for activism. Everything but my own art.
By 1994 I had enough of the life I was living. Something was missing. I decided to go home to the tree-dotted ridge and live on the mountain we affectionately call Terra Sophia with Sue, and my mom Caron who lived one ridge over. I wanted to begin again. This photo was taken years later, coming back to paint my Alchemist at one of the most sacred spaces I've ever known.
Shiloh Sophia at Terra Sophia
Drawing last year during my Rematriation (the act or process of returning the Sacred to the Mother) time after the passing of my mother
About two months into the mentorship with Sue, I had almost decided not to be an artist. Sue wanted me to have the foundations like Lenore had given her, and like almost every other artist she knew of. The foundations of drawing were essential if you wanted to be a painter. I was still frustrated and felt empty about my own art even though I loved being with Sue.
Mountain life was running through me and I felt so much freer than in my city life even though my soul felt challenged by image-making. I chopped wood and carried water. I began to throw pots and make sculptures and began to work on a show that would eventually become my first show.
One day I was sitting by the fire drawing because Sue said I had to draw every day. I had started to pray while I drew, to the Mother. I was just starting to be in a relationship with the Divine Mother, I called Her, Mama Mary. Drawing became a devotion to life and work and the feminine. At that moment, my line started moving and changing. I followed the end of the pen with my eyes as Sue had taught me.
What emerged from that moment still makes me quake in my boots. What emerged from that moment has created a lifetime of sacred work with hundreds of thousands of women over 22 years now. The image I was seeking was INSIDE. Not outside. For me, outside, in nature was a reference for the interior imagery, not the other way around.
OHHHHH!!! All of my content was inside, and I could find it by using a pen.
HOLY MOTHER of LIFE! The lights came on. Literally came on in my WHOLE SOUL. I cannot express it any other way than it completely changed WHO I WAS SHOWING UP AS, TO MYSELF. I dropped in. It would be several months of 'landing' into myself.
KAPPPOWWWWWWW - There I was.
A Soul Awakening Experience
How drawing could offer that level of soul experience awakening, I do not know. How can I say it another way - like there is a tiny string of twinkle lights in the brain that are connected with accessing a part of our mind and consciousness. They don't turn on if you don't access that part of your brain. You can access that part by choice if you know about it - otherwise, the creative process will usually get you there. The tiny lights wait for your visitation to turn on - but we may never go there. I did. But I almost didn't. I thought I had to have the talent to go there - but I was wrong. Joyfully wrong. What took me all of my life to find out, that the images are INSIDE, I can now tell you and show easily.
Thinking back I can't remember my Mamas ever telling me to look inside. Clearly - they both were. They referenced inside and outside as all artists do. But they didn't really use the words: 'Your content is inside. Make art to reveal your hidden information that belongs to only you. But now we do. Once I got it I began to reflect, to them, how we could teach art, with this awareness of the internal imagery as the foundation - not skill. There was some pushback, but in time, they got it and worked with me to communicate the most sacred message I can imagine for the individual.
You are a whole world of beauty and content that is only yours. When you self-express, that beauty can be revealed and shared with you and with others. When you bring LOVE and intention to that revealing, you and your art change and amplify. Those around you are also changed by what they see in your revealing.
This way of living, and working is a lifestyle change that makes the twinkle lights twinkle. This is personal and collective medicine and healing available to all.
As a community let us continue to draw lines around our thoughts. Yet let us do more than that. Let us tell everyone we know the significance of drawing to awaken, to reveal, to know yourself, and to liberate the hidden worlds within. If you have children at home, please tell them today - their images are inside of them. They don't need the skill to reveal the internal images, just begin.
Drawing by Shiloh Sophia
Skill is just one tool connected with art-making but it isn't the most important one. The most important tool of art is to make art however you make art - whatever your hand does, let it come forth. Witness, observe, give shape and language to the invisible.
The hidden rooms inside of us seek the twinkle lights of consciousness coming to life. Together, we can begin to understand that drawing, and art of all kinds isn't just for artists. Creating is what we do, who we are. When we don't allow ourselves this most essential human right, a huge part of us doesn't come to life. We deeply need a world of people with their twinkle lights shining a way forward, illuminating the hidden rooms of the world that seek expression.
"I am weary, my soul, my wandering has lasted too long, my search for myself outside of myself." ~ Carl Jung, The Red Book
We must be responsible for image & imagination, and our image of ourselves. The entire world of marketing and propaganda runs on image and language to dominate and keep in place the worldview they are promoting. The ads you are served, the food you buy and eat, the places you study and spend time, what you watch, are all aroused by image and language carefully designed to get you to "feel and do" something. When you wake up to your own internal way of seeing and being, you aren't as taken in by all of the messaging imprints. You begin to make your own messaging when you draw a line around your own thoughts.
"There are forms of oppression and domination which become invisible - the new normal." ~ Michel Foucault
Image and language used together to promote an agenda, are like a new normal that is often used against humans to get us to conform and consume. Image and the way IMAGE is used is one of the ways humans have communicated since the beginning of our lives in early cave art.
I am asking our community to awaken to the internal image living within them. I am inviting each one of us to do our own work to reveal our hidden rooms, at least to ourselves. We are a world in need of people who are aware of the power of image and language, who are willing to tell an alternate story to the dominant story. Perhaps, most of all, to live out WHO YOU ARE, you must express yourself. Let's draw.
This is a Letter from the Red Thread Cafe on Sunday morning. Kitties at my feet and my husband in the kitchen making coffee and the mid-winter sun rising softly.