Archive for Drawing

The Vessel

The Vessel 1 (c) Sybil Archibald

Etsy listing here.

Pursuing Fun

I’m working on purging some of my seriousness and embracing the joyful face of creation. I found this wonderful, fun art form, artist trading cards (ATC or ACEO). I know, I know I’ve been living under a rock (or perhaps in a monastic cell!) The only rule is these card have to be 2.5″ x 3.5″. Fun right? So here are my first explorations:

ACEO Woman #1 (c) Sybil Archibald

ACEO Woman #2 (c) Sybil Archibald

ACEO Light & Dark (c) Sybil Archibald

I know, still a little serious. But I’m taking baby steps! I also think the images can be serious and still have been a joyful experience to make.

Here are some links to videos on art and play. First Matthew Fox on Otto Rank. Rank felt play was essential to the artistic process:

This one is just fun. Tim Brown talks about the relationship between creative thinking and play:

Some Weekend Sketches While Sitting in the Sun

I really enjoyed my weekend. I hope you had a good one too! I was able to spend some delicious time sitting in the sun sketching. I’ve been dancing around an issue that’s been blocking my creativity. So I just sat and sketched until I finally accessed it. It was tough to get to; I had so much resistance. But now that I’ve touched it, I can start to work it through drawings. These are a sampling, I will post more as they come out.

Happy to be in the sun:
Sketch (c) Sybil Archibald

Starting to get connected:
Sketch (c) Sybil Archibald

Touching the issue (finally!):
Sketch (c) Sybil Archibald

Creation Anxiety: The Fear of Making Art

Since I posted yesterday it has really sunk in, the only thing stopping me from making art is myself. I feel totally liberated. How exhausting it has been to lay blame everywhere. It’s not my schedule or my health, my family or my house, it’s me. Or perhaps it would be better to say it’s something in me. That something is fear.

The act of creation is so overwhelming and terrifying that sometimes I cannot physically bear it. I have to run away, turn on the TV or read email just to escape. True creation is one of the most intimate acts a person can experience. It is a direct connection with the Divine, like plugging in to an electrical socket. One could easily liken the fear of making art to the fear of death. It is the profound fear of loss of self, of annihilation in the Godhead.

While making art, an artist opens themselves completely to God. The creative energies of Above wash through them, merging and mingling with the artist’s heart. The resulting work is the fusion of created matter with Spirit. This is the job of the artist: to bring Spirit into the material world. An artist cannot help but be transformed by the process and the prospect of such a profound transformation is terrifying because it is not directed by the self but by God.

Yesterday and today I waded in to fear so deep that I thought I wouldn’t find my way back out. I wanted to jump out of my skin. I almost ceased to function because I was so overpowered with anxiety. So I dialogued with my fear, drawing it every couple hours. As I drew, I entered deeper into relationship with this fear and began slowly to understand it. I began to feel affection for it in an odd sort of way. I could see how this fear has literally shaped my life by controlling my actions. It now feels like a benevolent, but misguided friend trying to protect me. By understanding it, I have gained freedom. Freedom of movement and more freedom to engage with the Divine. I am ready once again for that full bodied devotion with which I practiced art 20 years ago (when I was too young to know fear) where every waking moment is met as a chance to create. I feel that hunger again to drink from the spring of Eternally creativity and to fill a cup to pass along.

Here are my sketches engaging my fear.

Wednesday 2:00pm
Fear at 2:00pm

Wednesday 4:00pm
Fear at 4:00pm

Wednesday 7:30pm
Fear at 7:30pm

Wednesday 10:00pm
Fear at 10:00pm

Thursday 12:00am
Fear at 7:30am

Thursday 7:30am
Fear at 12:00am

Thursday 1:00pm
Fear at 1:00pm

Thursday 5:00pm
Fear at 5:00pm

Thursday 6:00pm
Fear at 6:00pm

Friday 3:00pm
Fear at 3:00pm

On the Kindness of God

The dark night has at last ended
I have now seen You.
Inside the depth of my heart.
I do not know what magic abides
Inside me.
Around me is the desert,
Yet I am not parched with thirst.
-Sri Chimnoy

Today I received more instruction on detachment and following Divine will. I had planned to go on a day trip with family and friends. It was a one time deal, and something that had been planned for several months. I couldn’t because of the cold. I felt really devastated about it. I was overwhelmed with sadness.

My experience of the Divine is one of infinite kindness & I have been amply prepared to deal with grief. So I cried and cried. I embraced my sadness because I will not allow grief to stop up my well. I cried it out, I emptied myself and was still. In stillness I found the Divine again.

You might ask how this is kind? There is nothing my heart desires so strongly as closeness and service to the One. I know that the Divine is giving me my instruction in the kindest possible way that I am able to hear. In my early work, none of my figures had ears. I could not hear and my lessons were severe only because I wasn’t listening. Hence 11 shocks to my heart! Now all the figures in my art have ears. I do listen and my lessons have become easier. I am learning to trust, today was a lesson in detaching from my own will and trusting the Divine.

Self Portrait by Sybil Archibald
Early work without ears
Etching by Sybil Archibald
Recent work with ears

Say not in grief that she is no more
but say in thankfulness that she was
A death is not the extinguishing of a light,
but the putting out of the lamp
because the dawn has come.


Today I am grateful for:
1) My friend Miriam
2) A good dinner
3) My dogs

The Yoke of the Spiritual Artist

Woman by Sybil ArchibaldThe act of creation is by its very nature an imitation of the Divine. The artist is the microcosmic reflection of the Macrocosm. Knowing this lays a beautiful yoke upon the artist forcing them to seek Light. It is a yoke that, if we knew our true Selves, would already have been accepted without question.

Woman by Sybil ArchibaldEverything that is created in this world comes from the Divine Womb. To create the artist must access this uncreated well which gives birth to Being and Light. Therefore act of creation is itself and act of Light. To be successful as artists we have to choose Light in everything we do to secure our own creativity. This doesn’t mean the superficial avoidance of anger, pain or sadness because this avoidance is actually darkness. The Light artists must seek is found only by embracing chaos, by diving into pain and sorrow in order to emerge in the Womb. This Light is the complete surrender of self to the yoke of the Divine (and I don’t mean religion). Without this surrender God seems cruel and unforgiving; with it the Divine becomes the fecund well that nourishes the artist without ceasing.Woman by Sybil Archibald

The goal of the spiritual artist is to be the microcosm of the Creator. As written by Rabindranath Tagore about above and below:

My Song

This song of mine will wind its music around you, my child, like the fond arms of love.
This song of mine will touch your forehead like a kiss of blessing.
When you are alone it will sit by your side and whisper in your ear, when you are in a crowd it will fence you about with aloofness.
Woman by Sybil Archibald
My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams, it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.
It will be like the faithful star overhead when dark night is over your road.
My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes, and will carry your sight into the heart of things.
And when my voice is silent in death, my song will speak in your living heart.

Woman by Sybil ArchibaldThe Divine stream of creativity which flows into this world is the milk of life. It is nourishment. Art can heal; art can transform; art can nourish and succor the world. As artists, it is our choice to make.

Self Portrait

New drawing…
Self Portrait

Hildegard of Bingen: Illness & God

When I was first introduced to Hildegard of Bingen in 1987, it was a revelation to me. First I was taken by her visions and writing, but it’s the story of her life that has really effected me. Hildegard lived a life of Divine direction. She was the youngest of 10 children and, as was common at the time, was place in a convent at a young age probably to defray costs. It was placement that she had no voice in. Early in her life she had visions. At some point she received a Divine message that she was to write down her visions. When she refused God’s will she became ill, when she wrote she was healed. Later, she had a vision that she was to leave her convent and found her own. Again she refused and again she fell ill. This time she was so sick that she couldn’t even be lifted from her bed. And again, when she accepted her calling she was healed. God literally directed her life.
Interpreting Hildegard (c) Sybil Archibald
Interpreting Hildegard #2-full series

Much of my life has been about forcing things to happen, pushing for my own desired outcome. But since I became ill with scleroderma, that has gradually changed. God has taught me through my illness to surrender control. Ironically, now even though my life is more limited in some ways because of lower energy and other issues, I am happier and more satisfied with my life. Things, people, guidance, you name it, flow easily into my life because now there is space; space that was filled before with my own pushing, my own foolish will. Now, I wait and God comes. Illness is a road map to the Divine- a precious gift.

When I first read Hildegard’s life story I only perceived her connection to God through her mystical visions. But really God spoke to her through every aspect of her life. I am grateful to have account of her life to guide me.

Hildegard of Bingen Sculpture

A couple of people have asked me to post about Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century German mystic and visionary. Today I’ll post about some of my artwork she has inspired; tomorrow I’ll write about Hildegard’s life & why it’s is so important to me.

About 20 years ago (Now that in itself is crazy!!) I made sculpture of Hildegard. I was recently looking for the documentation of it and it’s vanished. So, I’m going to describe it here.

The sculpture was of Hildegard undergoing a mystical ecstasy. She was standing naked, writhing in that sweet agony- somewhat akin to this etching detail.
Etching detail

I rigged a door in her stomach which when opened, played Hildegard’s music. Inside were stashed my Hildegard drawing series. But the door was locked with a padlock. I placed the key inside her womb. You had to reach up into her birth canal into the womb to get it.

So, I arranged a trap. I briefly attended Mount Holyoke College, women’s college. Probably a good school, but I was trained to be such an elitist at my high school (Crossroads) that I couldn’t interact with the other students. They hadn’t read Rimbaud, man was I a snot! Fortunately, I am nothing like that now. Also I wanted art school, but promised my Dad to get a liberal arts education. Anyway my trap:

I invited my Medieval Spirituality professor along with my class to view the sculpture. I asked him to open the sculpture. He accepted and found himself sticking his arm up to his elbow into Hildegard’s birth canal in front of a group giggling girls. He was beat red. It was a beautiful thing! Everyone was thinking about sex all the time, but no one ever said anything. The only men were the professors and it was kind of like turning the tables. When the stomach panel was finally unlocked and opened, the sound of the music was shocking. Music entered a charged space. Very dramatic, but also a lot of fun.

UPDATE: I want to say a little bit more about yesterday’s post. When I had that professor stick his hand up into Hildegard’s birth canal. It wasn’t meant as a sexual moment, although it obviously has those overtones. That professor was afraid & self conscious when he did it. He didn’t know what he would find and he knew he was being watched by his class.

Hildegard’s womb in the moment of a mystical ecstasy is charged with the Divine. It is the microcosm of the Divine womb, the source of all creative energy. Remember the mystical rule, as above so below. So I meant to evoke the terror that we feel when approaching God: the fear of the unknown and the fear of annihilation. Squatting down and reaching up into an unknown darkness, all the while feeling you are being watched and judged. To me that sounds a lot like entering into the mystical path.

Interpreting Hildegard #4 (c) Sybil Archibald
Interpreting Hildegarde # 4

Interpreting Hildegard #8 (c) Sybil Archibald

Interpreting Hildegard #8