Friday, May 20, 2011

Mind Body Spirit Artist Series: Atmara Rebecca Cloe

When we put together our 2010 Mind Body Spirit Odyssey Holiday Gift Picks, the artwork of Atmara Rebecca Cloe was one of our choice selections.  Atmara's stunning spiritual, healing and therapeutic images have the ability to uplift any viewer into a higher, more positive place.  We hope you enjoy learning more about this inspirational artist and her beautiful work!
                                                                                                                ~ diane fergurson

MBS: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started as an artist?

Atmara:  First, let me say, I have no formal training as an artist. I was working as a music teacher in the 80's and became ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which I continue to be to this day). I had to stop working, with the exception of teaching a few voice lessons each week, and I dedicated myself to my spiritual growth and awakening. In the mid 90's I found myself in a place in my life where most of the people and social/spiritual community I had been a part of was dissolving; really just a natural progression of people moving on to what was next. What was next for me turn out to be computer art.

I have always had an interest in art, but do not have the coordination in my hands to be successful with traditional painting and drawing. In the synchronistic way my life seems to unfold, I saw an ad in a local paper for a graphic design school which was not far from where I lived. This was just at the point where computers were becoming powerful enough to be used for art. I had no idea where my life was heading, but I was able to take a few classes at this school and manifest funding for my first computer.

Since this was 1996, the Internet was just in its infancy. I started out with the idea that I was going to do web design, and in doing a little of that, someone asked me to create 6 images for portal pages for a site that was going to be a resource for the arts and spirituality. The site never got off the ground, but I created 6 pieces of art, several of which are still marketed today. I had no idea I could do this, but I found I had an eye for what worked, visually and energetically, and the ability to teach myself computer software, and things just progressed from there. 

MBS: For those who aren't familiar with your work, your artwork revolves around spiritual imagery. Primarily Mandalas...but also some really great crystal related work. Why Mandalas in particular?

Atmara:  I started working first with New Age imagery and a couple of software programs, Bryce and Poser. They are 3D programs for landscapes and human figures. I didn't actually do my first mandala series until the end of 1999. I wasn't well acquainted with the form, but something just drew me to try to make some.

Between 2000 and 2005 I did both figurative work and began to explore more with mandalas and some abstract imagery. Since 2006 I have done nothing but mandalas and a few abstract pieces.

There never has been a conscious choice about what I create. I would say the images call me to create them. I don't know why I currently only doing mandalas. They are just what wants to be created through me. I love them, and I love the process of creating them because I have no idea when I start what they will look like, and I get to witness them emerging on the screen as I play in Photoshop.

So why mandalas? I think you have to ask the mandalas themselves. I'm really not the decision maker in this process.

MBS:  Yes, it's interesting how they kind of create themselves! I agree with that! I don't work with computer images so I'm not familiar with the process you use at all. Do you ever start from a particular image that you then work with? Or is it more just starting with patterns and colors?

Atmara:  It's a little of both. I use images that either attract my eye because of their colors or their energy. I put them through a kaleidoscope filter first, then I choose 2 or 3 of them and work with them in Photoshop. Each becomes a layer which I blend together with the other layers using the blending modes in Photoshop. I play with color adjustments, with effects filters, really I just play using all the features Photoshop has to combine the kaleidoscope images until the composite image looks and "feels" finished.

MBS:   I've seen your artwork sold and marketed under the tile "New World Creations". Is that the name of your company? How did that come about? Can you tell us a little about it?

Atmara:  Yes, that's the name of my company. When I began doing digital art in 1996, I decided to work under a company name rather just as Atmara Rebecca Cloe. There's really no story to it. I just asked the question, "What should I call my company?" and New World Creations popped into my head. So I used it.

MBS:  Mandalas imagery...I know from experience, that there are a number of people who are not familiar with Mandalas at all. What is the explanation do you give about this beautiful symbol if asked?

Atmara:  Actually, I can't remember anyone asking me what a mandala is. I guess when they see my work they at least figure out that it is a circular form of art. I just went to Wikipedia to see what they have to say and this is the first line "Maṇḍala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle". In the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form." For more details about the history I would refer people to an explanation from Wikipedia.

MBS:   For many artists, spiritual development and creating spiritual art go hand and hand.
Can you share some of your thoughts and experiences with this?

Atmara:  I would say they have certainly gone hand in hand for me. When I first started creating art the imagery was very New Age which was a reflection of what I was exploring spiritually. I was inspired to create by seeing the artwork other New Age artists were creating.

In the last 5 years, I have been a student of Gangaji (and actually learned the video editing skills I use for my mandala meditation videos while volunteering for The Gangaji Foundation.  My work has been almost exclusively mandalas during this time. It hasn't been a conscious choice. As I said in an earlier question the art creates itself through me. Perhaps the truth of who I am (which is the primary discovery I've made as Gangaji's student) finds it easier to express itself through an abstract form. I would find it almost impossible to describe in words that which I have realized spiritually in the last 5 years, so the creation of an abstract form of art seems to be in alignment with that.

MBS: What is a typical work day for you? Do you work every day on your images or are you less scheduled about it?

Atmara:   I don't have a workday as such. Because of being chronically ill, most of my energy on any day is spent just doing the things we all do to take care of life. I do try to post on my Facebook page, Mandalas by Atmara, each day. I seem to be an information gatherer. I've naturally falling into a role with this page of not only showing my mandalas and mandala videos, but of posting links to interesting mandala related web pages. I have a Google Alert for mandalas, which means they send me a list of links each day related to mandalas, whatever they have indexed in the last 24 hours I assume. So from that I post anything I think will interest the "likers" on my Facebook page.

But other than keeping up with the Facebook page each day, there is nothing else I do on a daily basis. When I do have some extra energy and am inspired to do so, I'll work on a mandala, or a mandala meditation video, but there is no schedule to that. It just happens when it happens.

MBS:  How do you market your art?

Atmara:   I have always marketed my work online. Again the illness dictates this since I'm not able to go around to stores to market my prints, or organize shows, or sell at street fairs. When I first started creating art the Internet was very new. Ebay had just started and it was possible to get your work seen there, since there were only a few thousand people using it, rather than the hundreds of thousands that are today. There were also other smaller auctions where I could list as well. In those days I made my own prints and sold them directly through these auctions.

But they got too big for my work to be seen by many people, and it was taking too much energy to make my own prints, so luckily, can into being. I started with them when they were just in their beta stage, hadn't even officially launched, and they were only selling prints at that time. Now they are a huge company that sells not only prints, but all sorts of gift items as well. I sell exclusively through my store there now.

I've always had a website. Last year I did a complete renovation, changing it from an old html site to a Wordpress blog and content management site. The site still points you to Zazzle to purchases prints, but I do also license my work. I would say that licensing has actually been the biggest income generator for me. It has dropped in the last few years with the economic down turn, but all my work is available to license.

And I also create personal mandalas. You can find out the ”what and how” of that on my site as well.

MBS:   Do you have any advice for those who wish to (seriously) pursue an artistic path?

Atmara:  Follow your heart. In fact, that would be my advise to everyone, about all their decisions in life. If we all lead with our hearts instead of our minds, from love rather that fear, this planet would be transformed.

MBS:  Thank you very much for interviewing with us!  Your work is just beautiful and it truely helps make the world a more positive place!

Additional interviews from our Artist Series:
Emily Balivet
Laura Milnor Iverson
Joanne Miller Rafferty
Jude McConkey

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

To Star in Your Own Tragedy of Woe

I was outside, taking a walk with my dogs on one of the most beautiful spring days in recent memory and I happened to run into a friend of mine.  In my view, one of this person's most amazing gifts in life is the ability to zap other people with the most thought provoking life observations that come completely out of left field.

Today's conversation went something like this:

Him:  Boy it's a beautiful day today Diane, isn't it?

Me:  It really is.

Him:  Isn't it amazing though how there are so many people around here that can find something to
complain about on a day like today?

Me:  I know...

Him:  It seems like it's always something with them.

Me:  I know.  It's like over the winter people complain that they were too cold and had to shovel snow.
They couldn't wait for spring.  Now they complain their allergies are bothering them.  It never ends.

Him:  In a few weeks they'll be too hot.

Me:  Exactly. 

Him:  I just try to keep away from people like that.

Me:  Me too....I just don't deal with them.

Him:  These people who complain all the time, it's like the are staring in their own tragedy of
woe.  Could you imagine having to watch yourself be the star in your own life tragedy?  Repeating
the same thing, the same complaint, the same negative experience or story...over and over to everyone you after day?  Having to listen to that?  That would be just awful.

Me:  Yep, it would be...but there are plenty of people out there who do it..constantly.

My conversation with my friend obviously stuck in my head.  "Tragedy of Woe".  Having to watch and listen to yourself... like a play..."over and over".  yeesh

This is an interesting topic for me because I, unfortunately, grew up around a mother who complained constantly.  Still does.  Day in and day out...over and over...the same dull beat, the same stories, the same delusional, non-consequential minor tragedies that only she seems to have to experience during this lifetime.
I guess I must have found her behavior it so innately revolting when I was growing up, that I  basically turned out pretty much opposite.  Unless there is something serious going on, I'm usually pretty happy.  Focused normally, but happy... or at least I try to keep an even beat.  I make it a point to not complain to others about the petty, mundane bothers in my life....and I don't like to stick around to hear theirs.

I have always known that spiritually it's wrong to burden other people with your problems, but I'm surprised how many people don't understand that concept.  Seeking support and guidance for a serious issue or during times of crisis is one thing.  Constantly venting your woes and letting your funk rub off on other people...leaving them in a depressed state after you visit with them... is quite another thing.

In the 2010 Holiday Gift Picks for our blog, I recommended a book called "Golden Book of Reconstruction Letters" by George Llewellyn - originally published in 1941.  Although there are many valuable passages and words of wisdom in this great little book, there is a wonderful affirmation on constructive thought that sums all of this up perfectly.  Wise words to keep in mind.

Remember to smile and enjoy your day!

                                            ~ diane fergurson

(Constructive Thought)

Talk Happiness.   The world is sad enough
Without your woes.  No path is wholly rough;
Look for the places that are smooth and clear.
And speak of those to rest the weary ear
Of earth, so hurt by one continuous strain
Of human discontent, and grief and pain!

Talk Faith.   The world is better off without
Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt.
If you have no faith in God, or man or self,
Say so.  If not, push back upon be shelf
Of silence all your thoughts till faith shall come.
No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.

Talk Health.   The dreary, never-changing tale
Of mortal maladies is worn and stale.
You cannot charm, or interest, nor please,
By harping on that minor chord--disease.
Say you are well, or all is well with you.
And God shall hear your words and make them true.
                                                    - Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This Beautiful Battered World

Mandala #1:  This Beautiful Battered World by Diane Fergurson 2001

Regardless of how you may personally feel about the unfolding of current events in the media, be careful you don't let yourself get caught up in the negative fray.  Change the channel on your television or radioYou've been informed about what's going on, so process this information in your own time, in your own way...without constant outside bombardmentIt's not good for you.  Emotionally, psychologically or spiritually.  Vibrationally it's perpetuating a lot of agitation in people right now.  Be conscious of this in your dealings with others.  We urge you to focus your energy on the positive endeavours in your day instead.

   -please share-

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A May Day and Beltane Blessing

Everyone I talk to is impatient for warm and sunny days, tired of the cloud cover and chill air of the darker half of the year. I'm certainly ready to celebrate the green growth of spring! This desire to feel sun on our skin and soil beneath our fingernails makes Beltane - or May Day as it is generally practiced today - such a comfortable, accessible holiday. May Day is widely and openly celebrated through the British Isles, as well as in many places in the US. People dance around the May Pole, sit by bonfires, and gladly toss their winter worries away as they look ahead to brighter days. Dreams come back to life, as we draw upon the fertile energy of the day.

Spring Nymphs by Emily Balivet
Traditionally, Beltane was celebrated by the Celts with much dancing, drinking, music, merriment, and romance. It was one of the two most important of their celebrations - celebrating the light half of the year. The name Beltane is believed to mean "fires of Bel" and honors the ancient sun god Beli, or Belanus. Druids looked after the Beltane fires, by which people and their livestock would pass, with the belief that they would be cleansing themselves of the illness or misfortunes they may have experienced through winter, and perhaps blessing them with good fortune for the months to come.

We can light our own bonfires, and we can honor any deity we like... We can make a May Pole or just make some music... what I think is important if we are to celebrate Beltane today is that essential message of taking a deep breath of fresh spring air, embracing the renewed life of warmer seasons, purifying ourselves of our past troubles, and looking with openness to the growth ahead.

About the artwork... This is the beautiful Spring Nymphs by Emily Balivet. Please take a look in her shop, for more exquisite, mythological goddess art.

In addition, if you would like to learn more about the history and tradition of Beltane, we invite you to watch this short, beautiful machinima film, Beltane Blessing by Celestial Elf.  It's absolutely enchanting...a magical way to start your day!

~ nellie levine

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Artist,Writer, Jewelry Design