Intentional Creativity is a choice to create with mindfulness.
We are intentionally creative beings.
We are a movement moving across the face of the waters.
Inviting our hidden selves to join us right where we are.
We are catalyzing our own consciousness through choice.
Intentional Creativity is ancient, is forever, and is the future – it is how the earth and humans were made. With mindful creativity we became who and what we are. The question really is, what are we here to cause and create and will we rise up to fulfill on that destiny?
In our community we have formed a philosophy around quantum creativity – in essence impacting idea and causing it to move into form. Intentional Creativity means to create with intention.
Our global community of Intentional Creativity Teachers and Coaches offers Intentional Creativity in hospitals, homeless shelters, with veterans, foster care homes, clinics, rape crisis centers, tribal gatherings, women’s centers, political arenas, boardrooms, schools and homes. And so many more places of need and beauty, like retreat centers and cruises. Our teachers can come to you and bring this powerful methodology to your group and customize the offering.
Our community works with pen and paper, as well as paint and board and canvas to communicate powerful images and ideas – from fine painters, to coaches, to graphic recorders – we bring image to life.
We didn’t invent Intentional Creativity – it isn’t a brand – rather it is a concept of creating – that was taught to me by my mother Caron, the poet, and Sue Hoya Sellars, the Painter. Sue learned it from Lenore Thomas Straus in the 4oies, and I began to teach it to thousands starting in 2010.
Our school, Color of Woman Teaches women to be INTENTIONAL CREATIVITY TEACHERS and it is a CERTIFICATION program, now in our seventh year. www.colorofwomanschool.com
“Intentional Creativity has been a magical method for me personally and as a life coach and licensed spiritual healer. I regularly use Intentional Creativity in my coaching and healing practice because in my experience, it allows us to access information that we didn’t know we had. It’s almost like as teachers, we are able to come in the back door, work our magic and leave again without anyone really knowing what happened.
When clients land on an important revelation or are struggling to find words for what they are experiencing, I invite them to create a painting, a drawing, a wisdom card (a personal affirmation card) – anything to help them bring their own wisdom into form. What I’ve witnessed is that when they do this, they find strength and support to help them claim their own voice and their own place in the circle of life, strength they didn’t know they had. It is a powerful tool that catalyzes transformation over and over again. ” Tina Greene
My personal intention is to do my part to help heal the world. Just as a rising tide floats all boats, when we heal our own heart, we help heal the world. So I focus on supporting the transformation and expansion of each person I meet so that together we can create a world that works for everyone. ” ~ Tina Greene
Join me, sit with me a spell to learn where this sacred work came from – or at least, how it came through me to you. At the bottom you will find some videos of interest about the women who helped bring IC into form.
I would be honored for you to take the time to know what gave rise to our worldwide movement, as I write to you – I am sitting in the museum featuring Sue’s work – and one of her favorite songs came on and of course, the tears are rising up to greet me. Letting the perfect storm run through my soul as I offer this to you today.
~ Shiloh Sophia
Shiloh’s Story: Origins of the Work and the Lineage
As a child, I had dreams of becoming a healer. I studied healing and healers. I used to pray to Jesus to make me a hands-on healer; later I heard that real healers don’t pray to be healers, they just “are.” I wondered if I was a healer, but, I just didn’t know how to do it. My hands, always hot since childhood; my heart, always seeking compassion; my tears, burning hot with the injustices of life, called me to the work of healing, early in life. I was not to have my dreams answered in the way I expected; however, I did practice for a while, and to this day I will lay my hands upon the sick and pray, believing it will work. I hope I never lose this faith.
Well, clearly, Jesus had a different kind of healing in mind for me, and it did involve my hands. I use my hands to make art that heals. A kind of hands-on healing to tend to the unexpressed in us. The parts of us that were withered and all-but-dead, that could be resurrected with the right touch of the brush. Alchemized with inquiries that would guide the brush. After much time, and study with my mom, Caron, the Poet and Sue Hoya Sellars, the Painter, I was guided to share this kind of healing with others through Intentional Creativity.
Sometimes I wake up from a dream and the question poised on my mind is one that my former husband asked of me in anger one day. He said, “You think art is going to save the world?” I said, “No, but creativity might.” I don’t see any other way to mend the wounds we continue to make here. At one time I fought for this work with my life. He and others didn’t want me to teach what I knew…but I had to. I have risked everything to bring this to you – more than I may ever tell you. The evidence of the work alive in the world is all I need to know, this was on purpose, and it was my sacred assignment to bring it through. But not just mine, but many others too.
Intentional Creativity is timeless, ageless and forever. It is how everything beautiful was made, and is maintained. We bring our mindfulness to our creations – this simple elegance – changes everything. It isn’t a style of art, isn’t my work, isn’t a brand, it is a way of being that is conscious and honors all of life.
In my worldview, we are created in the image of the Divine Creator. This makes us a part of creation and a part of the Creator. Being creative is at the heart of our being and is the WAY to access that connectivity to the Divine Source and flow. Creativity, I believe, is one of the ‘ways’ the Divine gave us to bring healing to the places in ourselves that are broken, bringing us back to our wholeness, bringing light to those wounded places. In Intentional Creativity, we use our own hands added to the process of creation to heal ourselves. It’s awesome.
I share this with you so that we have an understanding of the origin of the work as it stands now, in its constantly changing landscape. In my study of healing, I began to notice trends in the lives of the women I worked with and I tracked them on paper and in my heart and on my canvas. I set about seeing what we could do to continue the healing work that seemed to be set before me to do in this lifetime.
Sometimes I ask, if it is so important, why me? My only answer is that I was able to devote myself to it and so it came through – spirit medicine came through IC to me and flows to you. My mom Caron, has always done everything intentional – creating beauty every where she goes – even if she didn’t have language for it specifically – I saw it, felt it, was raised in it. The line, the design, the care, the responsibility to beauty came through my mother. She taught me to recite poetry, encouraged me to create at all costs and introduced me to art, poetry, philosophy and theater that encouraged me. In truth, I felt quite average of mind, and body, but with the help of my mom and Sue, pushed beyond the default settings and became an artist. I had to fight for my voice however – it wasn’t just ‘there’. I almost missed it, hence why I call to women – you are IN THERE – let’s find that authentic voice and let it out.
I founded Cosmic Cowgirls in 2010 with a group of founding Mamas, including my mom Caron and Sue so that our sacred work could be held in a real business container, not a women’s community that could dissolve, but one that legally would hold our creations for the next 100 years into the future – something for the grandchildren to talk about how we chose to transform our lives into legends.
As I continued to teach, I noticed primary trends and made unfounded and unsophisticated assumptions and created methods with which to attend to them. And then I watched and I have begun to forge a philosophy based in Intentional Creativity. It may take a lifetime to truly forge, and indeed it will change over the years as any attempt at defining mystery should. Forgive me where it is not fully formed, and let me know if you find a missing place in the flight pattern and perhaps add your own medicine into the basket. I hope you will.
My core creative assumptions about healing and creativity are neither truth nor fiction, but simply reflections on a life devoted to creativity in service to others – things I’ve noticed, as I’ve witnessed the lives of hundreds of women transformed in one way or another before their very eyes and my own. As the quest continues we will be sharing more about the philosophy with you that has been gathered so far.
I am rather fond of the concept of “talisman,” which is from the root word in Greek, “teleo,” which means “to consecrate.” The meaning of an individual talisman has to do with the person who makes it, charging it with powers, blessings, healings through choice, etc. We have an entire module on Talisman in the Color of Woman School – When we create a TALISMAN, we are charging it up, in essence, with prayer. This is what we do with Intentional Creativity – we ‘charge up’ our paintings with whatever energy we choose to put into it. Legend has it that the more specific one is with the intention they put into the creation of the ‘thing’ or the form, the more direct the response is from the Divine about that thing. So it is often used in manifestation to call in or awaken that which we choose to bring our attention to. I believe it creates an opening in us and sometimes, yes, the universe responds and suddenly we have access to information we did not have before.
The act of making it is what causes the opening to happen in the universe that allows the information, the in-form-ation, to come through. This also brings our awareness into alignment and harmony with whatever we are choosing to focus on. It is not uncommon through the act of creation, whether that be a song or a dance or a painting or a sculpture or a soup or a garden or a necklace, for us to receive information, to be in-formed by the process. This happens because we are focusing and paying attention with our deep listening. In anticipation we seek to be informed by the mystery – by the world between worlds. We consecrate and dedicate Our acts of creation to healing, to gathering, to blessing, and to offering.
I know this: When we create, we have access to wholeness in that hour in which we create. Over time, our experience of participating in a life of wholeness increased. It isn’t that this is the “end-all be-all” to healing, but, I know for sure it is a part of our work here. I also know that when we dedicate our creative practice to this work, our lives are transformed from the inside out, by our own hand and touched by the hand of Source. I have seen it with my own eyes and heard with my own ears – the wholeness that happens from this work we are doing. Perhaps wholeness is different than we thought; it isn’t that all is well and we feel good and happy all the time from now on. Perhaps wholeness is the act of being engaged and alive in our lives, no matter what. What if wholeness is a state of being we cultivate from within, even when we are sick, broken and confused? Is wholeness an act of faith?
In my darkest hours, even when life seemed it was lost to me, I was still intact as my creative self. Wow. Miracle discovery. Creativity kept the core self-intact throughout the storm. The only thing I really knew was that I was an artist and poet and had images and words to paint and that was my assignment, no matter what. This, to me is wholeness and healing that informs my entire existence.
I consecrate this work to the Intentional Creativity teachers and coaches, and to you and to those that you serve from this moment and into seven generations. May each of you hear the call within your own heart and answer those who call you. There is a Red Thread between you and them . . . and you are following it closer and closer to your Beloveds. I humbly thank you. I bow in gratitude to you and give thanks to the Creator for the opportunity to serve you in this way. Honestly, I cannot believe my good blessing to do this work and to cross paths with you.
You are the Curandera, the healer woman for your village, whether that be geographic or virtual; you have a domain in which you will share this work alongside the work YOU are called to do. How can I say that this work is not my own? It is yours just as much as it is mine. My students have heard me say this has nothing to do with me, it does not belong to me, and neither does it belong to you. We who serve belong to the world and those who inside of it need the soul medicine we are serving up. You have work to do, your own sacred work – and my hope is that this method will make a contribution to your own life work and be a blessing to your spirit, soul, abundance and relationships with the Divine and with all beings.
Our work combines many disciplines and includes the spaces between the worlds of those disciplines. Primarily, the modalities of painting, poetry combined with inquiry and healing span the circumference of our work, which becomes a holistic approach to our entire story. When we take, in earnest, this work into our lives, our entire life is indeed transformed, never to return to its original shape again. Our work falls into the category of transformational education being called Transdisciplinarity, as defined by Basarab Nicolesu, “As the prefix “trans” indicates, transdisciplinarity concerns that which is at once between the disciplines, across the different disciplines, and beyond all discipline. According to Wikipedia, “Transdisciplinarity connotes a research strategy that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic approach. It applies to research efforts focused on problems that cross the boundaries of two or more disciplines.”
The style of painting we practice many of us call “Contemporary Symbolism” and along with this IC method, we are defining a movement with our work and you are part of making this happen in the world. Jonathan calls it ‘a movement reporting on itself’ This is not a pre-defined container that you are dropped into and fit your shape into. It is a shape that expands as we expand as a community, based in principles of healing and of love. Symbolists are artists like Fridah Kahlo, Marc Chagall, Gustave Klimt, Odilon Redon to name a few. Symbolism also includes poetry – and in Paris at the de’ Orsay, there is an entire wing dedicated to Symbolism and these concepts. While this is not an essential part of Intentional Creativity, if one were to look at our work worldwide which touches thousands of people a month we would indeed be considered a movement.
We must move into the future creating ourselves as we go
– Sue Hoya Sellars
The ‘method’ is an approach and a way of thinking ‘about’ and committing creativity, and in our case, specifically image-based creation. This approach is not total nor a specific spiritual construct or invention, it is a WAY of working. that Includes but is not limited to, the 13 steps. It is not purist and need not be adhered to in any total sense. It is a METHOD by which one commits creative acts. The highest form of the approach is when a woman takes the work into her own work, making a new creation, weaving together this way of working with her own way of working. She may modify, change, adjust the method to work with her own style and language, and the method as the gift remains intact and whole and holy. Through teaching this method, I am passing along the gifts given to me by Spirit and by my own teachers, Caron McCloud and Sue Hoya Sellars through the Lineage of Lenore Thomas Strauss. I am offering it freely and without fear to the greater good of our sacred work. And where you use it, in your life and work and websites, just acknowledge that is inspired by Intentional Creativity.
At the start of my work, back In the beginning of my career as an artist I worked with a woman therapist working in mental health. She asked me to photo copy images of my drawings so that she could share them with her clients who had experienced sexual trauma. She said there were no image references for them to use to ‘heal’ their images of themselves as wounded. I transferred the images onto stones, and she would lend out the stones to the women clients and have them apply the stone to their body in the place where they hurt. This was just the beginning of a movement that has now spanned close to twenty years.
After much urging from her, I created my first Coloring Book, Color of Woman, which hopefully you have received in your mailbox or will soon, and the therapists went wild – I could not keep it in stock. I hand painted and signed each cover so it was personal from me and off they went to do their work. At the time I didn’t know that ‘coloring’ could break a psychotic loop. The books are now used in lock-down facilities for women in the psych ward. It helps them get out of a repetitive pattern they themselves cannot stop. Additionally, I was told that they were experiencing an increase in their ability to memorize, and I began to wonder if they colored in a breast or a hip with ‘love’ for themselves. Were they memorizing a new relationship to that part of them?
Further on down the road I began to be asked by moms to teach their daughters and children. I began to see the results of working with a feminine image that they created themselves, regardless if it was perfect or pretty. They identified with it as being ‘them’ and their self-image began to shift.
This work is so much more than it appears. Intentional creativity is not a brand. Not a business. Not a Shiloh class. No one owns it. Yet many of us can lay claim to it. I hope you can feel proud to do so.
Intentional Creativity is an energy. A frequency. A tool for self discovery.
It is also an approach – to working. To being. To how think. It is sacred without having to be spiritual. It is ancient and yet we are just discovering how it can work for us in these wild days of our lives.
Lenore Thomas Straus, Sue’s Mentor, this is quoted from Wikipedia:
The annual campaign by President Franklin Roosevelt’s office to reignite the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act each year for almost a decade not only worked to lift the economic down-slope in the United States, but also changed career directions for numerous artists, especially women artists living and working in the 1930s and 1940s. For many this was the first time women were able to make a viable and valuable living as both artist and creative.
It wasn’t until 1952 that Lenore finally took on her youngest and longest-standing art apprentice, Sue Hoya Sellars. In 1953 Lenore met and recognized thirteen year old Sellars as a young and budding teenage artist with exceptional, yet publicly ignored, talent. Lenore Thomas Straus later became Sellars’ legal guardian as well as her artistic mentor. Concepts in art outlining the importance of intentionality in creating art became an important creative focus for both Straus and Sellars within their lifetime as artists.
Today’s modern movement in the use of art as ‘Intentional Creativity’ has more recently been taught by Sellars’ artist daughter Shiloh Sophia McCloud. In June 2015 the Greenbelt Museum in Greenbelt, Maryland opened an exhibit of Lenore’s work called “The Knowing Hands That Carve This Stone: The New Deal Art of Lenore Thomas Straus.” This show highlights the work of Lenore Thomas Straus along with the work of Sue Hoya Sellars and Shiloh Sophia McCloud as a demonstration of art reaching the public from a continuing lineage of art and artists.
For those of who feel called – add the lineage to your websites and blogs – if you have them. This will help put IC in the map as something living through us.
Our visit to the museum a few years ago, where we brought both my work, and Sue’s work for Lenore’s show, made an impact. It evidently helped create new interest in Lenore and what they call: her enduring influence. That’s us. The museum got new funding for a project to help them expand that a board member told me, it was because of us showing the importance of Lenore’s work. I read one of her books at the opening – more on her and Sue as we progress as it is part of the glorious story. We are not without roots.
Lenore is the one who taught Sue to draw and journal and create inquiry as an act of discovery. She is the one who taught Sue to think about this way of working in word and image. She is the one who created with Eleanor Roosevelt images of ideas – representing justice in stone. I create the way I do because I was taught. It didn’t come naturally to me. I reached for it – begged Sue for it.
Creating with mindfulness seems like the most natural thing in the world now – but when I was taught art no one ever told me to look inside for my story or images. It was years and years of study with Sue before I could articulate what I needed – especially since I wasn’t talented at art. Finally she knew what to show me. It is exactly what I have shown you to share with others.
This method is shared and taught by many other teachers and many other ways – it belongs to no one. And yet we hold many essential pieces of the thread and so count ourselves worthy to carry this medicine in our baskets. Aho!
Color of Woman School would not have been possible without the support, direction, faith and friendship of Jenafer Owen and Mary MacDonald. These two women in collaboration with the Cosmic Cowgirls are beyond words – simply – this would not have happened without them.