A far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” Carl Jung
“Imagination is the playscape of our intuitive self,” says Clayton; it’s through our imagination that we find meaning in our experiences, as well as creative solutions to life’s problems.
Illuminara features a journaling section and a set of 40 cards of her art pieces – paintings and sketches that work in tandem. The art serves as a tool to bring forth the heart of our intuition and dreams via this visual medium. It’s an interactive technique, as we can then journal our experience with the cards, jogging our personal memories – the insights from which assist us in discovering answers to life’s situations and challenges.
“The idea is to pick one,” Clayton explains, “and allow the flow to wash through you and write down all the feelings and memories that float to you from inside. Then when you pick a card like ‘lemons’–you know what you felt and what your associations are.”
While I’ve enjoyed the book and cards since its publication last year, I decided to draw a card specifically for writing this reflection. In interacting with the Cloud Card, I realized that the image brought up a number of things — both about me, and about Clayton’s work.
As above, so below. As within, so without. As the Universe, so the Soul. ~ Hermetic Dictum
I found it interesting that I’d drawn the Cloud Card, because the author and I share a similar fascination with clouds. For me, clouds represent the “as above, so below” principle and my personal outlook on life and my world.
Cloud formations entrance me, compelling me — since childhood — to watch them move across the sky. Clouds fascinate me; their artistry comforts me and inspires me. Clouds cool me under the blazing summer sun. They dissipate and they disappear, leaving the sky a miraculous blue sea. They build and billow up, creating powerful storms that challenge…and leave us transfixed with the rainbows that follow.
As above, so below: Clouds reflect the light of life, of love; and I love that they are above me, designing “playscapes” in the sky. I love that they affect me daily as I wander the earth below.
Illuminara’s cloud card mesmerizes in its simplicity. Your eye can’t help but focus on the gigantic cloud formation, hovering against an almost cobalt sky above the stark beauty of the scene below. A tiny white house with black roof, lines up with a stretch of black power line along the narrow strip of spring green field that follows the horizon – compelling you to gaze at the cloud formation, to reflect on the subtle interchange of rose and citron yellow illuminating its presence.
The same day that I drew the cloud card, this quote appeared in an email newsletter from author Susan Gregg’s Daily Reflections:
Also, that same day on my daily walk, I discovered a tiny white fuzz ball in a tree trunk. It might have been the fur from a bunny, or maybe the fuzz from a seed pod. I couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter, because I made the connection in my mind and heart with the cloud image that I’d been exploring that day.
For me, it was a cloud in miniature…a Lilliputian cloudlet; and in happening upon it, the tiny fuzz ball “cloud” opened up even more symbolism. It reminded me of the bunny tales I’d loved as a child. It felt like the fur of our 19-year-old white cat, Kiki, who likes to nap by my keyboard.
It was the size of a cottonball. Why do we call clouds cottonballs, sometimes? Sometimes clouds look like cottonballs, or at sunset – like cotton candy. In the cloud card, Clayton draws us inward – to reflect on the simplicity of such ordinary, yet exquisite, beauty around us.
Describing the power of Clayton’s art, Dr. Henry Reed – director of the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies writes: “Through compelling imagery, Elaine stirs our collective and personal unconscious, leading us to deeper intuitive intelligence, and outward toward creative expression.”
Clayton lives with her husband and two sons in Connecticut and offers art-based programs and workshops for individuals and groups of all ages.
A former teacher, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and drawing, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from the New York City School of Visual Arts.
She is author and illustrator of several books for children: A Blue Ribbon for Sugar, The Yeoman’s Daring Daughter and the Princess in the Tower, Ella’s Trip to the Museum, and Pup in School. She’s also illustrated for Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiley’s book series.
Clayton is an intuitive reader and a Reiki master – the ancient Japanese healing art, a gentle touch therapy. She enjoys creating Spirit Paintings for her clients, and also working with film art.
She describes her work, “Gesture Drawing” in an article written for the Intuitive-Connections Newsletter/ Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies.
The article, Intuition and Art: Drawing Out Empathic Intelligence, highlights her method of gesture drawing “as a way to encourage intuitive, empathic feeling and knowledge among school children,” via a group setting, allowing them to feel free to draw without criticism.
In her book, Clayton acknowledges the influence of her family – all of whom are highly intuitive, musical and artistic – and of her father, who was an osteopathic physician. “He trained me to examine details and more importantly, how to use my feelings, intuitive intelligence, and spiritual eagerness to better understand my life.”
Now, Clayton enjoys doing her part to awaken intuition through art. As she puts it, “there is no way to truly destroy this intuitive wellspring of potential within each of us, but for some reason our society can do a pretty good job of stunting it. Drawing to draw out intelligence is for me, the core of my life as an artist and teacher, as an intuitive reader and healer.”
“Intuition is about leading with the heart,” Clayton observes, “and I believe we all have these abilities, but are encouraged by the world around us from early on to ignore our heartfelt guidance, or ‘quiet knowing.’ “
With the Illuminara Journal with Cards, her art becomes a tool we can use to activate our inner knowing and self-fulfillment – a tool to nurture our intuitive intelligence – by going inward. “We begin a journey of asking,” she says, followed by “receiving, looking and being open to finding.”
“Living an intuitive life means that we are open to our heart-felt responses, and to following these heart-felt messages.”
How often we hear the advice to listen to our inner voice. Clayton urges us to do so, and to do so with a sense of adventure.
By taking time to visit with each card and recording the memories or feelings it brings up in us, we discover our unique impressions of symbols – such as apples, or lemons…or clouds.
Journaling helps process these insights and intuitive feelings. We are then learning “our own pictorial language, which becomes “our wondrous virtual inner library.”
We can then venture out – into our world — having this personal visual library to draw on, able to access the meanings that we’ve found ourselves attributing to the symbols in the art pieces.
Clayton suggests ways you can use or “play” with the cards for personal illumination and problem solving, as well as a tool for bridging the gap between the imagination and creativity.
Sometimes our creative acts need an assist; and the cards, she suggests, offer another tool to nudge us forward. Even picking two cards can be a fun way to spur the creative muse – by discovering, perhaps, “a strange and unexpected relationship between the two cards and the issue at hand.”
You may follow Clayton’s work at her online open sketchbook, Illuminara, where you’ll find her daily postings of art, wit and spiritual wisdom. Clayton loves to engage with readers there, as well as on her Illuminara Facebook page.
She’s currently enjoying interviews about her book and her work, as well as book signing appearances, often in enchanting places, such as the Café Jonah and the Magical Attic in Atlanta.
Elaine Clayton works her own magic with Illuminara. She’s an artist who speaks and paints to the tune of intuition and dreams. In Illuminara – both in her book and her online sketchbook — she invites us to explore that magical realm…kindling the “wonderful, dynamic playscape within.”
Links for artist Elaine Clayton and Illuminara art: