Category Archives: Thoughts on Art

The Turning Seasons – Transformation

My thoughts turn to transformation as the fall season deepens, bringing shorter days and chilly nights. Both the idea and the process of transformation have fascinated me my whole life. Blame it on my Scorpio rising. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto, the planet of transformation and regeneration.

Though the word transformation has become trendy in the last few decades – used by corporations, the government and even the military to describe Gold-aspen-leaves-photo-by-judith-shawbureaucratic change – the original meaning of transformation is very different. Our ancestors viewed transformation as a process through which a human being gains a deeper understanding of the spiritual dimension in life. In cultures across the ancient world people could participate in ceremonies and rituals that helped facilitate a spiritual awakening – an awakening to the understanding that we are all spiritual beings having a physical experience. This journey brings one back into union with Source from which we all come and to which we all return. 

I find myself returning to the theme of transformation again and again with my paintings. Guardians of the Passage presents a view of a doorway with Spirit Guardians on either side.  A figure is poised at the entrance, ready to pass through, seeking a transformative spiritual experience.

Guardians of the Passage by Judith Shaw

Our day-to-day needs – the tasks, the emotions and the body – keep our minds busy and focused on the physical. Through spiritual transformation we can open to the truth of spirit. In my view, this truth of spirit does not negate or belittle the physical. As a practitioner of Earth-based spirituality I believe that the goal of spiritual transformation is the integration of the physical and the spiritual creating an understanding which honors both and allows a world based on love, balance, harmony and equality to emerge.

Transformation offers the opportunity to turn the lead of our fears and self-limitations into the gold of our intuitive inner calling. Nonetheless it is not a door many chose willing – usually it is precipitation by pain and suffering.

Read the rest of my article on transformation and see more of my paintings in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.

Oracle Cards Update
I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed and/or shared my crowdfunding campaign, raising funds for the production of my deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards. The campaign ended successfully on 10/19/17. In fact it went slightly over my goal, reaching 120% funding. The final edits and pre-print work are in progress now. The decks should be ready for shipment by late November. In the meantime you can still  get one of the first 100 decks published. They are going fast. Pre-order on my website Judith Shaw Art.


Color and Its Many Characteristics

“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” – Claude Monet.

tree art by judith shaw

Bosque Lights, oil on canvas, 11″x14″, by Judith Shaw

I love that quote by Monet, one of my art heroes. I feel its truth strongly.  I am addicted to color and cannot get enough of it.  Color keeps me returning to my studio to explore its intricacies day in and day out.

So it’s not surprising that I’d want to explore color theory on my website in which I offer folks free projects and advice for exploring their own creativity.

In my first of the series on color theory we look at one of the three dimensions of color, hue.  After exploring the properties of hue, and the primary and secondary colors, I lead a step-by-step creation of a color wheel.

If you have ever wondered about color and its characteristics – hue, value and intensity just head on over to my site and read the whole article.

Art Projects and More

I’ve just started a new website with all kinds of information about art projects, art materials, and articles about art and artists.  For instance –

Are you wondering what art is?

How does one define artistic expression?

Art takes many forms today.  In the fine arts world, artists have freedom to Joseph Beuys artchoose from many different styles; from traditional, to abstract, to modern, to post modern, to conceptual.


Click here to read more and discover what’s the deal with this suit.

A New Democracy for Artists

It is really amazing how much the internet has changed so many of our institutions and ways of doing business.  For artists of all types it has opened up a world of freedom from the dealers and producers; the gatekeepers at the world of art.  From sites like Etsy to CD Baby to Lulu, options exist for artists to create and promote their own work.

Night Poppies, painting by Judith SHaw

Night Poppies, oil on canvas 14″x11″

I personally have not had much success in the traditional art world of galleries, museums, etc.  But since I decided to become my own dealer and promote my work online, people from all over the world discover my work and contact me with comments, and/or inquiries about purchasing. Invariably when I am feeling somewhat despondent about the difficulties of getting my work out into the world an amazing comment arrives in my inbox about how my work has touched someone.  These events always leave me feeling humble and grateful that spirit continues to speak through me with images of connection and oneness.

Recently I was contacted by a blogger from India who wanted to interview me for his blog.  We were going to do a Skype chat but the time difference made that a little hard.  So he sent me his list of questions which I answered and sent back.  Here’s a link to that interview.     Enjoy!




In the Flow

Our Bosque, painting by Judith ShawThe practice of painting continues to inform me about the nature of living in the flow.  I move through life and through painting with much more ease when I move with the flow; when I open to serendipity; when I trust.

In painting, as in life, one must learn to navigate the limitations of physicality. I start my day’s painting cold, dry, slowly moving into an openness to the flow. Finally the surface is covered and the oil paint is wet and sticky.  Now I can lose myself, lose ego, allowing the paint to move in its own way with a little help from my brush in hand.

The day ends, the light fades, my body tires and I stop.  But the painting is not finished.  And the next day or the day after when I can begin anew the paint has dried.  Now I must move from the dryness to the wetness.  I must move from stagnation to flow.

Under the Olive Tree, painting by Judith ShawOnly now fear can set in.  Maybe my next move will be wrong.  Maybe the risk I take of change will end in disaster.  Maybe it would be better to accept the known, even if not quite right, than fail while seeking the revelation of the painting. I confess that when these fears take the upper hand I engage in what I like to call “painting around in circles” – putting the same color, the same form, the same everything on top of the work of the previous day.  Until finally I get so fed up with myself that in a burst of energy I make a radical change in color or form thus moving myself back into the flow.  Other days I ignore that fear and move more leisurely into the flow.

Similarly my life sometimes gets blocked as I seek to hold onto conditions which call out for change.   The familiar is so comforting, that even if it is killing me, I hold on. In these times I must also face the fear, either with a logical, step-by-step plan or with a burst of energy and a surgical slice, and return to the flow, leaving behind the old way of being.

I am grateful that my practice of painting helps me face the situations in life that have grown stagnate and call out for a new flow.  Perhaps you too have a practice that helps you face the need to let go when it arises.

Community Art – Engagement Through Art

community art projectStories of Route 66/International District Community Art Project is entering our final phase of work. We are now starting to work in teams to create three public art installations.

Over the past four and a half months we have been engaging with community members every Sunday, creating art, accessing abilities and interests, and collaborating to discover what type of public art projects appeal to our participants.

community art closing circleThis project has been an amazing journey. We have experienced so much together, created some beautiful art, and become friends with people we never would have known. We have come together in an opening and a closing circle many times, playing games of trust and connection.

community art littleglobe ID Hands have been an ongoing theme used in various projects lead by the different artists of our artist team.

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community art ID littleglobe The kids made masks and a castle. We made crowns and other ornaments with which to adorn ourselves

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community art ID littleglobeWe made a totem pole and mandalas out of seeds and fruit.

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We created drawings of our names and what we love.

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community art ID littleglobeWe used fabric and frames to create stunning portraits. community art ID littleglobe




community art ID littleglobe We did a honeycomb drawing of animals we love and made wall hangings using recycled plastic bottles.

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We made a human mandala using hula hoops and we played theater games

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We had a talent show and some of the teens have been making videos.

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Through this process our artist team discovered that the participants are drawn to art gardens, art shade structures, video and performance. Stories of Place, one of our partners in this project, mapped the district and presented us with the different empty lots and spaces available.

Billy Joe is leading the team that will create a shade structure in a large lot right on Central Ave. Erin and Monica are in charge of video and performance that will be held in the Veterans Memorial Amphitheatre in the International District.

community art ID littleglobeI am the Project Director for the art garden we will create. By the end of July we will have turned an ugly, empty lot full of stickers and garbage into a beautiful space. Last Sunday my team collaborated on the design of the Art Garden. Everyone is interested in painting a mural on the fence as part of the garden. So we also worked on possible elements to include in the mural. Now I am busy bringing all of our ideas together into one design, researching materials and costs and gathering all kinds of recycled elements to incorporate into our garden.

It promises to be a fun, exciting, art-filled summer.



Transformation to a Sharing Society

For many years we have heard that we are living in transformational times. If one looks critically at the past 3 or 4 decades, change and transformation have become the everyday.  Structures and institutions, technologies, attitudes, weather and climate, and economic conditions, to name just a few major areas of life, have all undergone and continue to undergo huge shifts and changes.

One of the positive shifts I have noticed in the past few years is a move away from extreme individualism toward community.  More and more groups, ideas and movements are occurring who are exploring new ways of sharing.

About a year ago I had an idea concerning art collection.  As much large-scale, original art is relatively expensive, my idea was that a few people could pool their resources in order to purchase original art.  Then once purchased they would share ownership and housing of the art.  Each group who purchased a piece of art collectively would decide among themselves the timetable of housing the art.

Recently while cruising through wordpress I discovered another blogger, Anthony Haynes, who wrote about an existing co-operative for collecting art. This collective was formed by a group of friends in London.  For The Collective, this is an ongoing enterprise, not a one time event. I was excited to find that my little idea was not separate and isolated but part of a wider bubbling up of community and collective living.  Click here to read more about The Collective.

Slightly over thirty years ago, Community-Supported agriculture (CSA) began in the United States. Over the past three decades this system, in which growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of growing local food, has continued to grow as part of our transformation to a sharing culture.

And now this CSA sharing idea has leaped from agriculture to art – Community-Supported Art. The first CSA for art started in Minnesota four years ago and is now spreading all over the country.  And as it moves it morphs and grows.  Click here to read the recent New York Times article about this trend.

In recent years worker owned businesses have become a growing trend.  The economic crisis has created the space for this change as workers become part owners of the businesses that would otherwise have closed their doors. Here’s a link to an interesting documentary which explores how worker owned companies work.

The recent emergence of AirBnB, a website where people can rent a room, a suite or an apartment to travelers who are received as guests is another dynamic shift away from luxury hotels and mid-range motels. WhipCar and RelayRides, allow people to rent out their cars. Peer-to-peer banking, neighbors sharing tools and collaborative work spaces are other instances of this transformation to a sharing society.

Soul Community, painting by Judith Shaw

Soul Community

People in positions of power are also recognizing the value of sharing societies. “From my own experience there is no contradiction between sound financial policies and supporting the achievement of Shared Societies, in fact they complement each other.” – Pedro Solbes, Former Finance Minister, Government of Spain, Former Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, European Commission.

Two issues are key to this transformation.  One is that people are beginning to value access to goods and skills more than ownership of these things.  The other is trust.  People are building trust between strangers and in the process making friends and broadening their horizons.

Though the transition is not always smooth or easy, the old hierarchic social structure that has kept us locked in distrust and disharmony for thousands of years is now transforming to one of sharing and cooperation.  Progress toward the reinvention of humanity’s true birthright of cooperation is painfully slow but it is happening as we move toward a fuller understanding that we are all connected.

If you know of other instances which are part of this transformation to a sharing society please feel free to … well.. Share!