Iona who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia loves to paint in the middle of the night. She adores nature. Yoga and gardening. She is now also enjoying Kayaking.
In Iona’s words: “My community goal is to assist you in diving deeply into physical, emotional and spiritual zones where true creative joy resides. Lunar phases inspire me. I apply this inspiration to my mentoring program, Lifecycle. My monthly ‘Luna See’ newsletter helps keep us attuned to creating with the moon cycles. I design studios for The Contemporary Art Center of VA and as a Statewide Artist Educator for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 140 illustrated journals testify my gratitude for being here now. A few ‘Drozda Art Life’ adventures: ~ first gallery sale: 108 paintings to private collector ~ owned a gallery in a bustling arts district ~Chanted with monks in Tibet ~Witnessed the Ketchek trance dance, at midnight, in a forest in Bali ~hospice volunteer and author of book for care givers. Volunteer and on Board of Advisors for Tidewater Arts Outreach ~With its many phases life is simply wonder-full.
Iona and I met online while working on our mutual blogs.
I was fascinated with Iona’s blog posts, her art work and right away signed up for her newsletter ‘Luna See’.
Iona, could you tell me about your relationship with the moon and your ‘Luna See’ newsletter?
First of All, thank you, Dora, so much for inviting me to sit with you for a Dora Ficher Blog interview.
Watching the moon dance across the sky has always lifted my spirit. Since 1989 I’ve been following the cycles of the moon as a way to look at time, and my creative work patterns, in a calmer gentler way.
For 6 years I met monthly with a small dedicated study group and our teacher, Robert Kent Myers. He would record our sessions and send them out to subscribers across the country. Each October several hundred highly creative students of the moon phase work gathered here in Virginia Beach for a seven day intensive at the ocean front. Each year I was one of the lead teachers. We were all interested in living with more creative focus and balance and spent the week learning, sharing, exploring , creating, dancing, drumming and playing.
‘Luna See’, my monthly e-newsletter, helps us to look-up as we consider slowing down. Over time, as one follows these eternal patterns, they discover a natural harmony that aligns with the eight phases of each lunar cycle. Each moon cycle carries a keyword which is then woven through each of the eight phases. This process, cycle by cycle throughout the year, builds a rhythm and offers ways to engage your self expression . It’s a terrific tool for focus. For example; each August is the “Trust’ moon cycle. We can begin to look forward to this time period each year to focus on how that quality is functioning in our lives and particularly in the studio. A few other keywords that we visit during their specific month are: Introspection, Strength, Clarity and Renewal…with each month bringing our total to twelve.
Each phase of the moon extends for approximately three days and within that space there is a specific way to creatively express what the phase represents. For example; at each new moon we can take three days to hold a vision…at the first quarter phase we take an action on that vision… at the full moon we reflect on how the vision is unfolding and what it’s revealing, this is an appropriate place to look for any fear, trepidation or as I call it, ‘Luna See’ regarding what we’re striving for…and at the third quarter we devote time to watching with gratitude as our creative idea matures for the current cycle. That’s just a glimpse at four of the eight monthly phases. Each Monday I do a blog post for that weeks moon phase energy.
I read that on your first gallery sale you sold 108 paintings to a private collector. Wow, how did that happen? Could you tell us about it?
It was so magnificent. Here’s the short story: I worked in relative seclusion for 5 years before the time of home computers. I had no phone, TV, radio or outside distractions. I didn’t have a car. I was recovering from violent crime and invested all of my time in gardening, healing and the study and making of my art. At the close of those years I moved back to the city and made an appointment to have the top art gallery look at a portfolio containing 12 of my paintings. The gallery asked to keep the work to show the pieces to the curator of modern art at the major museum in town and also to a private collector. The museum curator was out of town. The collector came to see me in my studio, went through all of the paintings I had done during that 5 years and contracted with the gallery for the purchase of 108 completed works. I light up each time I think of what dreams may come to meet us.
You say that you love to paint in the middle of the night, what is it about it that you love? I’m particularly asking this question because I also love to paint in the wee hours of the night.
Then you know, don’t you Dora, that there is a quiet and a certain alchemy that happens in the wee hours that simply isn’t available at any other time. That’s what I love. My pattern is to go to sleep at about 10:30 instructing myself to wake when I’m rested and ready to create. This happens spontaneously (no jarring alarm clock) between 2-3 am. I move into my studio and let the muses show me what they will. I generally work until dawn. Then a short nap and the whole day ahead with another nap, of 20 minutes, in the late afternoon.
Could you tell us about your mentoring program, Lifecycle?
Since 1990 I’ve also incorporated living in harmony with the phases of the moon into this studio outreach service. Lifecycle is a personal energy reading and the format is an 80 minute audio CD that’s based on two pieces of your birth information plus a sample of your handwriting (I’m a certified analyst in love with the way we make marks on paper). The information focuses on you and the creative energy that is available to you focusing on the twelve months ahead. Many of my clients get an update each year at their birthday to stay tuned into their own creative rhythms.
I have clients from all across the country and beyond. Lifecycle clearly and gently reminds you of your innate gifts and talents. It’s like a portrait in words or a refreshing energy drink that you listen to! Any reader who may want more information can email me. I also follow up with many clients who sign on for 6 phone sessions which allow time for deeper exploration and cultivation of creative strengths.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
I don’t think I could do any better than to quote Georgia O’Keeffe. “Go to work.”
How do you get your inspirations?
I’m passionate about symbolism and metaphor combined with observation of the natural world. I’m inspired by the opportunity to be alive! How fleeting and what a treasure. I feel that ‘affecting the quality of the day’, as Thoreau said, ‘is the highest of arts’.
What is your favorite medium to paint with?
I mix materials with abandon but Acrylic is my paint choice. I love its versatility and color quality. It stands up fabulously over time. A new media favorite are the beautiful Pan Pastels.
Iona, thank you so much for being part of my “Interview Wednesday” I have learned so much from you in these last few months.
Jennifer, you mention that your work is about transformation, imagination and symbol. I just love this sentence. Could you be more specific about this? I would love to know exactly what you are telling us.
When I am making my art it is a spiritual and intuitive experience. I am looking for transformation—both for me and for the viewer. When all is going well, I able able to work in a state of wonder so that I can stay open to the moment. The symbols come from my imagination—from conscious and unconscious places.
Your show in March called “Reconciliation” “when knowledge comes and life changes” That sentence has a powerful meaning to me for many reasons. One of the things you mention is that Reconciliation is a life long journey and that you created this work with that journey in mind? What is this Journey?
When creating the pieces for my solo show I held the thought of Reconciliation in my mind. What does it mean to me today? I would ask. We all know that everyone has significant challenges to face in life. Sometimes these challenges come from happy things, like getting married, or having a baby. Other times they arise from difficult circumstances, such as a diagnosis, or the loss of a loved one. He gets down on one knee, she takes the pregnancy test, the police officer arrives at the door…there is a moment when knowledge comes and our life changes—in that moment we have a choice. A choice that will shape our journey forever after—we can embrace the change or deny it. I believe if we can, being very gentle with ourselves, choose the path of embracing, of acknowledging, reality—not the way we wish things were—then reconciliation will begin. We can look into the future and imagine the best, most loving outcome of the situation—and we can keep on imagining it on the days of hard work and difficulty that may follow.
What is the best thing about being an artist?
For me the best thing about being an artist is getting to make art, experiment and learn something new everyday. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I have periods of doubt and fear. The ways I have found to combat these feelings are reading books like The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, or Creative License, by Danny Gregory. I read Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland at least once every year. I do what the books say, I do the exercises, I start over again…baby steps. I also talk to other artists, get plenty of exercise and sleep and when all else fails (why it takes me so long to get to this point, I will never know) I decide they are just thoughts and I ignore them.
What is the negative side of being an artist, is there a negative side?
The most difficult part of being an artist is that most people don’t understand it is a real job. But I am finding that the more I take the business side of it seriously the more people respond in kind. I have had my studio and gallery representation at the Fayetteville Underground for a year now and it has been a fantastic experience. I have won awards, received commissions, and best of all, collectors from all over the country have chosen my work to be a part of their homes. I am truly grateful.
Thank you Jennifer for participating in this interview.
Kadira Jennings is a creative artist celebrating and encouraging the creative in all of us. In Kadira’s words, “my works are complex. I am an artist who is constantly challenging you the viewer and also pushing my own boundaries in terms of technique and content.”
Kadira is really excited to merge the digital and non digital arenas together, combining the fine detail you can achieve with digital with the rich texture, colors and tactile qualities of oils. Her next exhibition will be an exploration of these mediums and techniques.
Kadira’s blog “Unfolding Creativity” is a discussion, a resource, and a hub for creatives and those of you who think you might be creative but aren’t sure yet.
Why did you decide to change your name from Bernadette to Kadira?
Last year was a huge year of personal growth for me, a time in my life when many things changed, including the end of a 30 year marriage. I felt like I was in a sense being born again and wanted a name thatreflected who I am growing into being. I chose Kadira because it is different and it means powerful woman. I also had a numerological assessment of it done before I finally accepted it. The on May 24th last year I had a unique name changing ceremony done by my beautiful friend Lani Neilsen who is a medicine woman. I was very privileged to have her perform a special aboriginal ceremony for me which she was given permission to do. Unfortunately one of the conditions was that no photos were allowed to be taken and we respected that – so I have no photos to send of that.
So, since you ask this question to your readers, I will ask it to you: When you look at an artwork, what do you see?
I think the first thing I always look for is beauty on some level. I am always attracted by color first and form and design second. I find that meaning is important to me – I look for what the painting or art work is trying to tell me. How does it make me feel? Does it engage me enough to go back for a second look. I always remember the first time I say an original Monet – it was one of his haystack series. I was absolutely mesmerized by that painting. I must of spent at least half an hour looking at it. Every time I went to walk away I just couldn’t leave it. The color, texture, light – everything about it was so stunning, so magical. It was a painting that had to be experienced not just looked at. I think ultimately that is what I would like to be able to bring to my own art – that experience for others.
How do you feel when people interpret your artwork differently?
I expect that everyone will do that actually. We are all totally individual and as such no two people who look at my work have the same background or reference points. I have always considered art to be a totally subjective experience. I can only express a point of view, an idea, feeling or expression of beauty as I see it. Some people will love it others will not and everyone will probably take away something different. I believe my work can only ever reach a person in terms of their current life experience anyway, however I hope it will perhaps give them food for thought.
What/Who inspires you?
In the past I have been very inspired by Georgia Okeeffe I love her work and her story is such an inspiration in itself. There are so many talented artists out there these days and I draw inspiration from looking at others work on the net. I think we all have much to offer and share with each other which can then be incorporated into and re shared through our own unique lens or viewpoint. Currently I’m finding a lot of inspiration in using photoshop because I’m very into layering images and ideas so Im composing images in photoshop and then painting them in mixed media on canvas.
How do you feel after you finished or while you are painting?
Thats a tricky question to answer. When the paintings going well, I’m in the zone – time ceases to exist and 2 hours usually goes by before I even come up for air. If on the other hand its not going well or I’m not sure what to do next I usually have to just sit down and almost doze off. At about that point inspiration strikes, I jump up knowing what to do next and carry on. The subconscious has had time to get in on the act and I’ve managed to get out of my own way.
Did you ever feel like giving up?
You could say that! In fact for the last ten years you might say that I had given up really. I do remember saying quite clearly at one point -‘ Thats it! I’m never painting again.’ I have been through a long, hard and difficult time personally, during which time I painted the odd painting here and there but some how the creative spark inside me was dead. I just couldn’t find the passion any more. In fact never mind passion there wasn’t even a spark of desire. It is really only this year that it has come back again. A lot of this was tied up with the whole starving artist, syndrome and struggling to make money doing other things which I hated. I tell you, I’ve been there and lived it – all those cliches …..I guess it just gets to the point where you just have to get over yourself and either get on with it or really give it up. I think if there is one lesson that I have learnt it is that for me anyway, ultimately its not about ‘being an artist’ its about ‘being a creative’. The artist label was to limiting for me and I just couldn’t live up to it. However when I think of my self as a creative that allows me to play in many different sandboxes.
Thank you Kadira for participating on the interview.