Our Response to Terror – Compassion or Hate?

It’s been a hard week, a hard year, a hard decade as violence and fear get more and more amped up.

Terror in Paris, terror in Beruit, terror in Mali, bombs taking down airplanes, drones targeting terrorists but killing civilians and on and on and on.

me and my sis

My sister and I in front of the Louvre, 2012. Paris- beautiful City of Lights where beauty and love are cherished.

My hope is with the youth.

Today I worked with my 8th grade students on an art project which looks at the importance of trees to our world.  They worked in groups to create a large painting expressing the concept of the Tree of Life, looking at the scientific, cultural and religious significance of trees.  One group of three girls decided to have a large Christmas tree as the central image and use the ornaments to show images about that concept.   I was so proud of them as they developed it, finding symbols for all the world’s religions to go in the ornaments and other symbols of peace and harmony.  They told me that the world needs to learn how to live together as one and to stop hating each other for our differences.

After school I stopped at a local store to pick up some food.  I had wandered over to the wine section where a little tasting was occurring of two French wines.  A man, somewhere in his 60’s was selecting a French wine and commented to me that French wines are the best.

“You can never go wrong with a French wine,” I responded.

“Yes and now they are taking their country back” he said.  He spoke with an accent so he was obviously not a native born American.

I was confused and asked for clarification as I did not realize that the French have lost anything in regards to their wine production.

His response was that France is 45% Muslim (true fact – 5 -10% of French citizens are Muslim) Next he claimed that the French will now get rid of all the Muslims as Islam is a religion of hate and war.

I responded with the thought that terrorists are created by poverty, lack of opportunity and mistreatment.

He spoke more words of hate.

I said I did not agree and walked away.

I was dumbfounded to hear him spouting his hateful and ignorant rhetoric., especially after my 8th grade students had expressed such compassion earlier in the day.

May the children keep their hearts open and lead us older folks to a better world.  We are certainly giving them a very troubled one.

Gift Giving Season – Tree Art Images

The gift giving season is here again.   In the spirit of the season I have a few things to give away – Let’s start with some tree art images and then move on to some cool DIY gifts

My “Tree of Life” painting is one of my most popular paintings.  So I’d like to tree of life painting by judith shawoffer a free print of this image (printed on matte photo paper, 8.5″x11″)  Here’s how you can enter and perhaps receive this gift.

Just head over to my “sign up for email updates” button (top right of this page) and sign up to receive my newsletter.  Once you’ve done that I’ll put your name in the hat with all the others who have signed up, pull one out, and voila – a winner will be born!  Deadline for getting in on the raffle is November 30.   (Another raffle for a different tree art image to be held in December)

If you already receive my newsletter just let me know that you’d like to be in the raffle and I’ll put your name in also.

My new website, judithsartprojects, is a gift to everyone – offering free art projects, info on art materials, articles on art and more.   And now you can find projects for making your own gifts this year.

I just put up a new project  – Cool DIY Gifts – Keepsake Boxes.  This is the first in cool diy giftsa series of projects I plan to post over the next few weeks with step-by-step instructions for each one.   Be sure to leave a comment if my instructions are not clear, letting me know what’s hard to follow so that I can improve these projects.

Try it out!   Show your love with personal, hand-made gifts.


Chlíodhna , Celtic Goddess of Beauty

In the past year and eight months I  have completed 23 Celtic Goddess paintings and stories.  Wow!  I really did not realize what a huge task it would be to create a deck of Goddess Cards.   With a goal of 30 – 35 total, I am nearing completion – only another 10 months or so to go.

I particularly want to thank the folks at the Feminism and Religion blog for giving me the space every month to publish.  Those deadlines have both kept me on track and kept me up late some nights as I finished up the painting or the story.

My latest post at FAR starts like this –

Having spent the past year and a half immersed in the study of Celtic Goddesses, celtic goddess art, pagan goddess artI am intrigued by the sharing of many of their attributes, symbols, and associations – shape-shifting, magical birds, and apple orchards in the Otherworld to name just a few. One other common thread found in so many Celtic Goddesses is the existence of many contradictory folk tales about them.  Their stories, like the otherworldly mists of the Celtic countryside, which materialize suddenly, obscure reality and then melt away again, exist on the frontier of myth and reality.

Chlíodhna (pronounced Kleena), Celtic Goddess of Beauty, the Sea and the Afterlife, is such a Goddess.

Click here to read the rest of Her story.

What is Inspiration and How to Get Some

I just posted an article on my art projects website about inspiration which I thought might interest some of you who read my blog.

There seems to be a big mystery around the concept of inspiration.  Does it come lightning strikein a flash – like a strike of lightning?  Is it only available to the select few?

The answer to these questions comes to us from the definition of inspiration  – “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”

The good news is it’s available to us all.  Click here to discover 7 action steps to find your own inspiration.

Canola, Celtic Goddess of Creativity

My most recent exploration of Celtic Goddesses was of one who left me with a very peaceful feeling, the type of feeling induced by deeply moving music.

celtic goddess art by Judith ShawCanola, Celtic Goddess of Inspiration and Creativity, is another ancient Celtic Goddess whose story comes down to us in very limited form.

One day Canola had an argument with Her lover.  Goddesses, being intermediaries between our physical world and the infinite Source of All, feel emotions in a similar fashion to mortal humans.  So, like any mortal woman, Canola was upset by their argument.

To calm Her distress, She decided to walk along the seashore and feel the peace and beauty of the natural world.  After awhile She heard beautiful, ephemeral music being carried to Her by the wind. She was so enchanted that She forgot her distress over the argument and sat down to listen more closely.  She fell asleep as the music continued to wash over Her soul.

Upon awakening, thoughts of Her lover and their argument were gone.  Still entranced by the music She searched for its origin.  And She found it – offered to Her by the Earth Mother who nurtures and loves all of Her children on land and on sea.  She found the source of the music emanating from the carcass of a giant whale laying on the beach. The wind was strumming the notes across dried sinews still attached to the rib-bones of the whale. From the death of one creature, new life would be formed.

When Canola lay sleeping, She surely was able to access the creative inspiration brought to us in our dreams.  Now awake and witnessing the gift offered to Her by Mother Goddess, inspiration struck.  Canola, with Her creative intelligence and Her love, created the harp, Ireland’s national emblem to this day.

Read about the shape of the original harp and the wisdom Canola offers on by post at the Feminism and Religion Blog – click here.


Explore Positive and Negative Space in Art

I’ve been working away on my new website, Judiths Art Projects – Creativity Beat.  Today I put up a new art project, A Positive Negative Space Art Lesson – the Y Tree.

Everyone loves trees!  Plus they are fun and easy to draw.  By drawing a tree with an emphasis on all the points where the tree branches out (always forming a “y”) you will also have an important positive / negative space art lesson.

Dancing Cottonwoods, painting by Judith ShawAs I love trees and paint them often, I personally explore the positive and negative space created by tree branches all the time.

Here’s an example of a student’s drawing for this project.Student drawing of y tree

If you would like to give it a try just click here .

Music Heals the Weary Soul

Oh Hellos, fok rock band

The Oh Hellos, Eclectic Folk Rock Band, performs at the Four Corners Folk Festival

I had an awesome experience at the Four Corners Folk Festival over Labor Day weekend.  Unbelievably that was the first time I camped out at a multi-day music festival.

I came of age in the late 60’s, early 70’s when the music scene was shifting from folk to rock.  My own musical tastes then brought me through rock, to world music and onto to all types of Latin music.  Folk sort of drifted to the back burner of my music radar.

But a few years ago when my son, who is a gifted singer/songwriter, switched gears from leading a funk band to an eclectic, folk rock blend I opened my ears to folk music again.

Not only did I hear some fantastic music at the Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs, but I felt like I had stepped into the way back machine and was experiencing the 60’s summers of love.

The music I heard was a bundle of upbeat, positive, foot-stomping fun.  The musicians spoke and sang from their hearts.  The vocal harmonies were stunning and moving.  I remember one of the musicians said during his performance that he’d been touring the country and he wanted to let everyone know not to believe all the bad news – people across the country are good.

The folks at the festival were also full of joy and good spirits.  We spanned the generations – babies in arms to the over 60 crowd and everything in between.  Everyone was smiling – there was lots of random dancing – new friends were made and old friendships renewed.

For sure I heard great music on stage.  But equally as fun and inspiring were the amazing jam sessions happening at campsites all around the grounds.  I can’t remember the last time I had a smile on my face for 3 days straight.  Even the constant rain and huge downpour on Saturday night couldn’t dampen the high energy, good spirits of the Four Corners Folk Festival.

HotRizeSunday night was the final performance by a bluegrass band who has been around since the 70’s, Hot Rize  They did a bit in the middle of their set in which their alter egos, Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, took the stage.  I was laughing so hard my belly hurt.  That whole bit was a huge spoof on country music, musicians and their dress styles, technology and much more.  It was a roaring end to the weekend – though I do think the older folks like it more than the younger one.

We headed home on Monday in a leisurely fashion.  The weekend was a great break from the constant stresses of modern life. The experience made it easier to go home and once again allow the bizarre and chaotic nature of the world to enter my consciousness.  The experience reminded me to remain open to the goodness all around us and to be grateful for my many, many blessings.