Category Archives: Creativity

Happy New Ears!

Reflecting on “You are an artist of the spirit,” quote from Don Miguel Ruiz, photo by Mary Gow
Whenever I go to East West Books I’m blown away by the number of card decks for personal growth. One in particular I bought several years ago still sits on my bookshelf.

One card in the deck echoes the name of my blog.

It says “You are an artist of the spirit,” written by Don Miguel Ruiz in a deck of cards based on his book by the same name, “The Mastery of Love.”

Ruiz writes further, on the other side of the card:

“Find yourself and express
yourself in your own particular
way. Express your love openly.
Life is nothing but a dream, and
if you create your life with
love, your dream becomes a
masterpiece of art.”

He is also the author of a book that I love to reread as often as possible, “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book).” I cannot recommend it enough for the new year or any year, any day, any moment you need inspiration.

I hope this new year also helps you hear with new ears, if you’re tired of what you’ve been hearing, that is. Wishing you and yours peace, joy and love this year and always.


p.s. The image is a pond with a reflection of a mountain that’s behind it. A flittering of light buds from a tree had blown onto the pond. The rock is resolute, and everything else, elusive.

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Scanogram: A New Look at a Rose

"Rose Fuschia," scanogram digitally manipulated, by Mary Gow.
“Rose Fuschia,” scanogram digitally manipulated, by Mary Gow.
My love for making photograms is one step removed by placing objects on the printer and scanning them instead of placing them on photo-sensitive paper under an enlarger in a photographic darkroom.

Not long ago I was delighted to find a stack of compositions produced by placing objects on my scanner/printer, then manipulating it further using Photoshop. I originally created them in hopes of getting into a show, which I didn’t get accepted in. But the images are worth sharing nonetheless!


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What is Nature Healing Immersion?

The mini-retreat begins as we enter Fitzgerald Nature Reserve at Moss Beach. Photo by Mary Gow.
We met at James Fitzgerald Preserve at Moss Beach, a tucked-away-becoming-popular alcove about thirty minutes south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast. Our cars lined the entrance to the trail. A car trunk was open with folded blankets to sit on if we didn’t bring something already.

The mini-retreat’s full title drew me in: “InVisioning and Emergence:Trauma-Informed Art & Nature Healing Immersion.”

Our small group walked up to the bluff that overlooked the Pacific and looking down at the beach there were about twenty or so seals sun bathing. One Kodak moment I saw a baby seal eagerly scooting up to it’s mother.

It was one of those splendid cloud-free blue sky days on the coast, fog-free too.

Jovani, Dr. Lisa Chu and Ann Sullivan (left to right), lead the workshop. Photo by Mary Gow.
The event was hosted by Dr. Lisa Chu, MD, artist and SoulBodyMind Coach, Ann Sullivan, LMFT, art therapist and modern mystic and Jovani, improvisational sound healer and painter.

Lisa I already knew since she’s a fellow Chinese American female artist. I find her one of the most driven people I know tackling the sticky issues of the ancient wounds of women, especially Asian-American women, and at times particularly Chinese women.

When Ann Sullivan she said she was a “modern day mystic” I immediately resonated with her since she explained that it’s a way to say she’s a person seeking a spiritual path in modern times.

Jovani brought musical instruments to play, as she’s an “improvisational sound healer.” She brought a HAPI drum, a small cast iron drum was about ten inches wide and eight inches tall, that made deeply resonant sounds I thought were from a much larger drum!

About Moss Beach
The three workshop leaders created a safe space to spend three hours exploring our own healing.

We took time to introduce ourselves as we sat in a circle. Then we listened to healing music, free to make any sounds we felt like making.

For the next hour we roamed about the woods in silence and could make any sort of art we chose, they brought the materials.

Thinking was discouraged yet I found myself doing exactly that.

There’s no right or wrong though.

"Completion," color pencil drawing by Mary Gow
“Completion,” color pencil drawing by Mary Gow
After that hour we went around the circle and showed what we created.

The music and sound, art making, breathing, walking in Nature soothed me.

Sitting under the canopy of tall trees quieted my inner chatter.

I was practicing just being.

Being with Nature.

Being natural.

What a gift.

I thought how can I create a new habit of ending each week with a bit of Nature?

Nature refreshes me.

Making sounds was healing.

An afternoon of sensory immersion in Nature reminded me that even if we only can spare minutes, an hour, or once a week or month, it’s urgently important to give ourselves the gift of quiet moments in nature. You don’t have to attend a workshop to do it.

But it doesn’t hurt.

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Where You Can Share Your Dreams and Build Your Own Planet

Chris Wayan, founder of the World Dream Bank. Photo by Mary Gow.
Chris Wayan, founder of the World Dream Bank and Planetocopia. Photo by Mary Gow.
Chris Wayan, creator of World Dream Bank
Chris Wayan hugging one of the unique planets he created. Photo by Mary Gow
It’s an online library for dream art of any kind including images, texts, and songs.

At first it consisted of hundreds of his favorite dream stories and paintings.

Since 2000 Chris Wayan’s main project is the World Dream Bank.

“Some narrative dreams just require prose; shorter more emotional narratives may work as poems; stories with striking visual elements or strange creatures or settings are a natural for comics; intensely emotional dreams may work best as songs,” he said.

Dreams, according to Wayan, help resolve issues or offer advice.

“This week they pointed out where a leak in our roof had to be, though my consciousness had missed it for two years! I don’t see how people can ignore their dreams–they’re a huge, vivid part of my life. Only seems natural to do art about the fascinating places and beings I’ve seen.”

Now his World Dream Bank is up to 2500 pages, and nearly half the dreams and art are other people’s contributions.

Wayan also writes poetry, prose, and songs in addition to painting, sculpting, drawing and making comics.

Mostly he creates dream art.

Chris Wayan with a furry creature he created.
Chris Wayan with a furry creature he created. Photo by Mary Gow.

He’s lived on Bernal Hill over 20 years and always considered himself a San Franciscan though he grew up its suburbs.

His biggest non-dream art project is Planetocopia – a series of sculpted globes with online tours of their lands and cultures playing with ecology, feminism, pacifism, and Utopia.

From his website you can also figure out how to make your own planet! Visit Planetocopia at

“Go to to share your favorite dream, or show a drawing of that one dream you can’t forget…” said Wayan.

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