Life Books, Strength, and Ethiopian Art: Angels Among Us


Back in September 2013, I took a leap of faith and sent in an “entry” to win an on-line, all-year art class. And I won. The amazing artist Flora Bowley is one of the instructors for a Life Books class, and she selected me. Here’s what I sent to Flora:


You can read my post about it, “Adoption Stories In the Light of Day, Through Art and Hopes for Healing,” here.

The Life Book 2014 class started January 1. It’s intense, challenging, nurturing, and fun. There are hundreds of people (mostly women) participating from around the globe. There are videos, pdfs, inspirational quotes, meditations, manifestoes, and faqs: thoughtful information that is clear and attentive. The wonder of the Internet allows folks to post their work in various forums, both globally and locally focused Facebook groups  (examples: Australia, US Midwest, Holland, the Pacific Northwest, which includes people from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia).

The astonishing creative force behind this is Tamara Laporte, of Willowing. She’s a British artist, whose work is full of color, whimsy, fantasy, warmth, and vibrancy. Her web site offers all sorts of classes, workshops, and ideas. She is exuberant in her sharing. She emphasizes self-care, by encouraging participants to stop listening to negative voices and to put themselves fully into the joy of the creation of art. Her video lessons are thoughtful in their detail and encouragement. She mentions simply in passing the rheumatoid arthritis that affects her fingers, which to me reveals a matter-of-fact and enormous courage.

It is a reminder that we rarely know what effort (pain, struggle, discomfort) exists quietly behind the lives of people who are doing amazing things. They don’t deny or publicize the pain or the struggle–they let it accompany them on their journey, and keep moving, creating, and achieving.

The first lesson of 2014 was “Inner Artist Guardian.”  The idea was to create an image of a guardian who would give us encouragement, focus, and energy as create art. Here is the lovely, ethereal, pink-haired creature that Tam created in the lesson:

Original artwork by Tamera Laporte.

Original artwork by Tamera Laporte.

While viewing the video lesson, my thoughts slipped to ideas of guardian angels, to the presence and power of guardians, and to various women I have known here on earth who have brought me inspiration and hope. I also thought about the role of angels in Ethiopian traditional religious art, though they also appear in contemporary Ethiopian art as well.

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore had an exhibit at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City titled Angels of Light: Ethiopian Art. Here’s an excerpt from the description:  By the fifteenth century, (Ethiopia) had developed a tradition of icon-painting that rivaled the Orthodox empires of Byzantium and Russia, as well as the famed panel paintings of Renaissance Italy.

There is so much people don’t realize about Ethiopia.

See the word “Presence” on Tamera’s painting above? We are, in this class, to choose a word to focus on in 2014. I chose “Gratitude.” I hope to be more aware and present, and to express gratitude more to other people, by saying thank you, and by acknowledging others’ kindnesses, efforts, accomplishments large and small.

Here’s the “Inner Guardian” I created:

Original artwork by Maureen McCauley Evans.

Original artwork by Maureen McCauley Evans.

May I cherish what is offered in good faith by others. May I embrace gratitude. May we see strength in ourselves and others. May the generous hearts of so many people not be overlooked.

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