Becoming an Oracle of Color and Light: A Journey in Process / by Adrianne McPhail

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Process is something that is so individual to each artist.

And that's something I love about it. I love these journeys that we all take towards our authentic process. I love how each artist approaches their process with their own unique rhythm and work flow. Their own techniques that make sense to the grooves of their fingers. Their own sequence, pacing, and sense of when it's "done". 

As artists, we can inspire each other as we share the different ways in which we create. We can also compare ourselves, and feel perhaps slightly inferior to the faster pace or more intricate designs of another artist. We can also be inspired and motivated by each other to do things differently, always changing and improving. 

When I was in art school, I remember going through a constant cycle of all of the above. Especially being in an environment that was brimming with amazing talent.. each student creating in their own unique process. And additionally, the voice of the Institution itself, teaching us unifying skills we all needed in order to be "industry ready". 

I oh-so-wanted to be "industry ready". My dream since I was a teen had been to become a concept artist for a big-name studio. I was trying to master every technique I possibly could, pay attention to every nuance, and be a perfectionist. 

When I left art school after an unforeseen turn of events in '12, I was heartbroken, but still tried to pursue an industry job on my own, without the degree. My art aimed at proficiency in all the technical things that I was taught. It was, without mincing words, stiff. Limited. It was polished, realistic, and technically sound.. but there was a certain life missing to my work from that time. And perhaps that reflected my inner life. When I look back on that time period.. I remember that I was missing some kind of spark that I wasn't sure how to find. In many ways. Spiritually, physically, and artistically.

I never did land that industry studio job.

In fact, I rerouted entirely.

Because of Magic. 

Magic began to waft and weave it's elusive smoke through my path around the end of 2013, enticing me into a different world. This world wasn't about achievement as recognized in our modern world as we know it. It wasn't about all of the things that my contemporary conditioning accepted as functionally real. No. This world that was as ancient as my soul. It came from a deeper layer within me.. within life. I knew this. Somehow, my deep soul knew this. Something was cracking me open, awakening me to a truth that transcends time, form, and reason. It was beginning to whisper the secrets of plants and stones and animals into my deep heart, and send me signs and omens. The elements vibrated. Rituals that span thousands of years began to forge archaic shapes in my dreams. A deep shifting was happening, and it didn't fit with any of my prior belief systems. 

The cracking and rebirth point was a medicine ceremony I was fortuitously invited to in October of 2013. A plant medicine ceremony. The plant healed me beyond anything I could ever have imagined, that evening. It shifted my entire perspective of reality, my understanding of myself, and my ability to walk my own unique myth with assuredness. That spark I'd been needing in my  life suddenly came, sparking high and bright, and turned into a raging flame that obliterated everything I thought I knew. I was set free. I returned home smeary, crying, and laughing, after that ceremony.  I knew 3 things for sure: 1. That I'd just engaged in the kind of Earth Magic that I'm utterly meant for, 2. That nothing would ever be the same, and there was no going back, and 3. I needed to move to Colorado, the place where my DNA comes alive, right away. 

And to Colorado I went. Within a month's time. 

Having landed back in my soul land, I rode a current of Magic through many transformations and changes, and began a deep journey into ritual and ceremony. I began to find potent meaning in the spiritual practices of indigenous tribes, and deeply resonated with art and ceremonial objects that are created with the purpose of "Medicine": essence, spirit, and power that will bring a unique healing to those who intentionally partake of it's presence. I was utterly captivated by this way of regarding objects. This made far more sense to my creativity than anything I'd ever learned in art school. I wanted to make Medicine. I wanted my art to impact people as Medicine.

I began to create with this as my main intent. Medicine. 

My process, like a cool, slow, redwood, began to reach high into an intentional place that it had never reached before. I began to only paint on wood, because wood had a soul. I nurtured the sacredness of my pieces by creating altars for them. Praying for them. Imbuing them with the essences of stones, crystals, and prayers. I'd bring oils to them. Cedar. Sandalwood. Myrrh. I'd bring plants and twigs and bones to them. Whatever the essence the piece called for, I'd ceremoniously use an intentional sacred space to create that energy. 

And I began to see an enormous change in my work. 

There was a vibrance, a magic, and a power that I had never before seen in anything I'd ever made. It was alive. There was something, real and vibrating, that I could feel. I was on the right track. I could feel the colors singing. I could feel a potency rising. The spirits I was interacting with in my process were beginning to show me a new language: a language of color and light.

I've kept on this track of Magical creation process for the past few years. Always beginning my pieces with magic, intent, ceremony, and keeping these invocations alive throughout my process with the piece. My process is time consuming. I use many of the technical skills that I learned in art school in order to interpret the magic into medicine. I work hard, long days, in order to achieve the detailed look and effects that I seek to create. In this private world that I paint in, I feel so much life. I've watched so many beautiful spirits waft in and out of my paintbrush, imbuing themselves into every stroke. I've learned to listen, to be in relationship with the Spirit of the Muse as she dances with me, my vision, and the healing spirits I've invited into my work. 

My process has shed the idea of "industry ready". Gone are my ideals of art school perfection. I no longer feel insecure about whether my process is good enough. My process is mine. It is the process of an Oracle of color and light. And it is a sacred dance of creation that I feel deep in my soul. 

And nothing gives me greater pleasure than witnessing these medicine pieces being received with recognition of Magic. With a relationship. I love watching my pieces greet their new owners like old friends; with ancient knowing. 

It's a confirmation of process. 

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May you, whoever you are, and whatever you do, find the authenticity of your own unique creative process through the inherent correctness of your own journey. <3