Creating Comes with Soup and Symbols

The house smells like heaven on a busy day!

Ginger tea. A hint of freshly dried towels. A spritz of Santa Maria Herb Water from Santa Maria Novella in Firenze, to bless a canvas.

And, like a bass note under it all, gallons of chicken bone broth bubbling on the stove, gently suggesting Vidalia onions and garlic and herbs from the garden.

All, by the way, embodied right brain sorts of things. (If you’re new to the bone broth magic, click here for a starter recipe. Just substitute roasted chicken bones for the turkey!)

The studio feels a bit like I imagine the Garden of Eden must have looked on the seventh day. Except for the resting part, for creation is happening there, too, despite the fact that the world feels a bit more like it’s time to build an ark.

In between tending the soup cauldron and adding carefully selective glaze coats, I am pondering symbols, for several of my works-in-progress are calling for them.

Often guided imagery is involved. Many of you have been there with me before. Here’s a short sample version:

You’re walking through your favorite empowering place… focusing on your vision… your dream… suddenly a guide or angel or spirit animal appears and offers you an image… what is it and how do you feel having it? 

Frankly, I struggle with these sorts of exercises! I am not primarily a visual processor. I don’t often see images in my head. At least not consciously. Instead my experience is something closer to perception. I can tell you what the image or symbol would look like if I could see it.

And, on a good day, I can paint something pretty close to that which I cannot see.

Nonetheless, symbols fascinate me. We tend to claim the ones that resonate with us, whether out of familiarity or curiosity. They come from our history, our families, our spiritual traditions, even – at least in my case – our love of dogs. Or cats or horses or hawks or bees or roses or dragonflies or red thread.

And symbols are a way to get more conscious about our beliefs. Both our chosen beliefs and those we might prefer to un-choose at this point in our journeys.

For me, this cocoon, if you will, of chicken soup and fresh towels and hatching symbols has had me musing on the power of Creation. And frankly, the language for such musing is getting more complicated for me as I learn to appreciate traditions other than my own.

And then a new thought appeared in my soul, literally while I was adjusting the temp under the soup.

Paul Tillich.

It’s been about 30 years since I spent much time hanging with Tillich, who was, according to Wikipedia, “a German-American Christian existentialist philosopher and Lutheran Protestant theologian (1886-1965). 

Tillich taught widely, including at Union Theological Seminary in New York and at Columbia University. One of his students grew up to become a hugely important teacher in my own journey, Dr. C. Benton Kline.

Sadly, we don’t have time for all the Ben stories, though you can ask me sometime about my favorite Ben moment which happened when Bill and I got married.

It was from Ben that I learned of Tillich’s references to God as the Ground of all Being. The ground upon which all beings exist.

I’m not sure I was ready for that framework 30 years ago. Maybe it just didn’t squeeze through my filters.

It certainly seems to be pitching a tent inside me these days! It’s actively shaping my symbols. And it is, somehow, urging me toward action in the world which is deeply, but not merely, symbolic.

This week I joined a grassroots organization of people like you and me called Grandmothers Against Gun Violence.

And, through August 25th, I will donate 15% of my proceeds from all art sales on my Fine Art Marketplace page to Grandmothers Against Gun Violence.

Just go to the page and click on an image to read a bit about its story and find the options for prints.  Or leave a comment if you have questions. E-mail works, too.

Now is a great time to visit. Three new images went up today! There are museum quality wrapped canvases and archival watercolor giclées in several sizes, which come with certificates of authenticity, as well as images on poster paper. In some cases, originals are available. And Barry and his team do a great job with shipping.

There’s a legendary old quote that says, “Art will save the world.” I hope so! In the meantime, I’m totally convinced that art created and selected intentionally to set symbols of healing free in the world will, indeed, get us closer and closer to the loving and just creation intended by the Ground of all Being.

Art really doesn’t have to match the couch. Consider the glimpse, above, of my Taliswoman/Artist painting who either matches everything or nothing!

Come check it out. Find a symbol that calls to you. And do some good in the world.

It doesn’t get much better than that!


Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach

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