Archive for January 2011

Making It Together: From Creativity to Co-Creativity

My partner, David, and I have been making it together for a long time now. What we co-create is energy-charged images, but it’s the process rather than the product that I want to explore in this piece. By combining our creative efforts we unlock a new level of transformative power. I want to share a bit about how that works in our artistic adventures and how it extends to the challenge we face collectively to make our world new.

There is actually a third partner in our collaboration—the Earth, in the form of the photographs that are the foundation of our artwork. What we create are photo-collages. We take pieces of our Nature photos and re-assemble them using sacred geometries. We make mandalas and other styles of images, all with an underlying symmetry. Everything in our work comes from Mother Nature. Beyond relating to her pictorially, we commune with the spirit of the planet as we design our images, which often feature the globe.


The human side of making art together is an exciting, sometimes explosive and often ecstatic event. How do two people with independent ideas cooperate in such an essentially creative project? It begins with an originating impulse—we may be creating a piece for a specific healing purpose, or creating 12 new images for each year’s calendar. The purpose guides the initial visioning process. Having a clear, shared purpose is one key to co-creativity.

With the purpose in mind, we begin: Which Earth-element should we use to convey the given intention, what geometry would serve? Sometimes one of us leads that enquiry, sometimes we do it together. But before we decide, both of us come to agreement on the choices. Yes, we can both feel that a purple water lily is the right element to convey the sense of serenity we are looking for.

nature mandala

Water Star

Maybe I want to use one view of the lily for the center of the image, but David, who is the photo-maestro, knows that another view will be sharper. We may go back and forth for a while, but once I really see his point, I yield. What I am envisioning will be even better realized by using his idea. We come up with a draft of the central image, and I get an intuition about just which foliage has the color and patterning that would make the best border. As I am the color specialist, David is willing to give it a try. And so it goes.

We try things, discovering together what feels-looks the best until we both come to rest. This image we have made together is greater that the sum of its individual elements and greater than what would have come from our individual visions. Because of the co-creative process that has birthed it, the piece of art has become a vessel that can hold “seedsongs”. This is our word for the vibrational energies that transform this visual image into a tool for healing and uplift. As Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message”. This image that is the product of our co-creativity with each other and with Nature delivers the message of collaboration and synergy. The sacred intention that was the origin of the image shines through the medium of Earth’s beauty.

Are there any secrets to fruitfully making it together? Here are the ones that I’ve uncovered:

  • Clear Purpose—this is the intention that guides the rest of the process. It is the seed-vision that draws each partner past “me-mind” into the “us-mind” that guides the co-creation process.
  • Heartfelt Respect—co-creation is strictly a peer-to-peer event. Each person is the carrier of something special. Respect, felt from the heart, generates a field of trust that fosters the creative process. Inevitably, there are disagreements, but if the worth of each person is acknowledged, the differing opinions can be worked out.
  • Genuine Consensus—no creation is complete unless the partners feel totally satisfied with it. There is no overriding of one’s will by the other’s will. Everything we make together is ours, and only emerges when “yes” comes from all. Making a genuine commitment to this level of consensus has a transformative effect on the participants.

Bright Ally

If I can embrace this co-creative process, anyone can. I am a very earthy double Taurean creature who wants to do things my way. Luckily, my Aquarian moon leads me to feel cosmically and globally as well.  I know in my heart that we are all in this together. Collaboration is not just a satisfying way to work, it is a technology of change based on an awareness of our interdependence and essential unity.

Linking our creative powers is how we are going to shift collectively into a bright future.  Whatever your realm of creativity–be it focused on the home, the service domain, or business–find people to collaborate with. Enter deeply into the messy and wonderful process of co-creating and enjoy the ride. Each of us holds a piece of the puzzle to making our world sustainable and peaceful. Engage with others in the dance of synergy and be amazed by the abundance and beauty that emerges.

Dave’s Country Kitchen, or the Joy of Feathers

The heart of our courtyard garden is aflutter, literally. That’s the site of the squirrel-free bird feeder we call Dave’s Country Kitchen, since he is the one who keeps it full of seeds for the large and small birds. All day long, we are treated to the sight of our brightly colored friends, flitting in to partake of the feast.

nature picture

Flapping Cardinal

Drinking Robins

Cardinal Pair

We live in North Florida beside a strip of forest and a canopied road, in the midst of what used to be a pecan grove. A haven for birds of many kinds. None are more beautiful than the male cardinals, who stand out like Christmas ornaments against the year-round greenery. And none more lethally lovely than the red-shouldered hawk who sometimes lands on our back fence.

red shoulder hawk picture

Red Shoulder Hawk

We have worked with many feathers over the years in creating images. We used feathers and butterfly wings (our summer garden feeds these beauties) to depict the expansive “Evolve” theme in our GaiaStar Codex evolutionary guidance deck.

Seeing these birds does something special to me. Looking at them, I forget what may be dragging at my attention, and let my inner kid fly free. Even in the patterning in their wings, these air-beings convey a special message.  This message is easy to feel and see in the image below, made from photos of flicker and parrot feathers. We call this image “Kindred Spirits”.

mandala picture

Kindred Spirits

I think this name reveals the special function birds serve for us. They remind us of our own spirit-nature, our light-winged self, which may not so visible, but which nonetheless can fly.

Medicine Gift

Recently, setting out on my daily walk, I turned left instead of right. As I skirted along the edge of our lawn, I came up short: just where the grass met the street, there was a fairly large coiled snake, As its head was tucked under some leaves, I wasn’t sure if it was alive or not. From its markings, I made it out to be a garter snake, but it was a very unusual blue-green color. I’ve never seen a snake like this. I dashed back into the house to get David and his camera, knowing that we had been given a special vision, a medicine gift from the snake spirit.

nature picture


David shot a whole series of photos, in the process determining that the snake has passed on. When I returned from my walk, I carried the snake into the forest across the road from us, and laid it down with flowers from our garden, thanking it for choosing to show itself this way. Coming in, I googled on “green garter snake” and discovered that what we had was the Florida Blue Garter snake, an especially large species of garter native to this area.

A few days later, David got a prompt that we should finish a series of botanical ally images that we had begun this summer. These particular images are made by doubling flowers (and sometimes trees) in such a way as to heighten the recognition of their “faces”.  We had created one set of Botanical Allies for our “Visions of Selby” art show in Sarasota, Florida last year.

nature picture

Kalanchoe Botanical Ally

Now we are completing a second set of botanical allies who serve a slightly different healing function. The flower faces were mostly complete, but we needed a special border to put around them. We sat together, as we do, tuning into visual options, when we thought of the blue garter snake. With its curving lines and unique but subtle colors, it might complement all the flowers in this series. Quickly, we created a mandala from the snake photo, and it worked with every single flower.

nature picture

Orchid Ally

Deep cellular memory often makes us shy away from snakes. This is good defensive behavior until we have identified the snake (as I can testify from living many years in rattlesnake territory). Sometimes we tap into echoes of collective consciousness which identifies reptiles with evil. Yet snakes serve many functions in the bio-systems around us. Garter snakes eat small creeping-crawlies that otherwise eat my plants as well as aerating the soil as they move through the garden beds.

Beyond that, snakes represent kundalini energy rising up from the Earth below into the high domains. Intertwined snakes wrap around the caduceus, symbol of healing mastery. They appear in Hindu and Buddhist sacred art in association with certain gods and goddesses, and they evoke the life-creating power of our DNA strands. Strong symbols for healing and awakening.

In the creation of our new plant allies series, nothing could have been more of a gift than to find this blue snake. We honor you, snake spirit, as a medicine offering from the living world. May all who see you be blessed by this vision.