(Quick note: all images drawn by Amanda Lyons of VISUALS for CHANGE. Ask to use.)

I couldn't decide on a title for this post, so I went with a few written above, and I introduce the app I'm using where you can support my work....

Why elephants? Lots of reasons (and if you haven't been following along via Patreon or instagram, you may not know I'm in an elephant phase - painting, making, thinking a lot about elephants in many ways). I want to bring your attention to some metaphorical elephants . You know how we say 'the elephant in the room'? I think that there's usually there's more than one. Dialoguing about these elephants just might bring on some laughing or crying or I hope they instigate an important dialogue about what it means to live as an artist.

Meet some of the elephant(s). Money. Worth. Value. Assumptions. ALL the things that often create complex relationships to art and making art.

Gratitude for giving me the opportunity to share these elephants, to grapple what it means to me to be an artist. It's been a process of letting go of other people's assumptions and examining my own.

What did I let go of?

The idea of a starving artist is so problematic in so many ways. It devalues art before even defining it, making huge sweeping unseen assumptions. Some of this thinking is based in cultural systems that tell us how to make meaning. (We could get super lost in this philosophical discussion, so I'll leave it here for now....)

I work every day at disciplining my mind to align with positive thoughts, allowing those energetic, mental, fear-based walls that I've created myself to fall away and no longer get in my way. Some days I'm more successful at this than others - part of the experience of living as a human!

Also, I've decided to let go of using other's maps for success. Lots of folks have told me that I need to do THIS or THAT as an entrepreneur/female/business person. Yet when I lead from my own core and make decisions that make sense to me and my working style rather than what someone told me, I tend to have better results.

Many of these things I've let go of devalue art and don't acknowledge the PROCESS of MAKING art. They create low expectations and low morale among artists thereby affecting those around them and further spreading negative energy about artists and art. I want to change this. I have great respect for art and artists. Let's explore our own expectations and assumptions of artists and art!

I'll invite you now to take a pause in your reading and answer the questions (also in the above image) for yourself. Be honest - you've got nothing to lose and might gain some insight into better knowing how you think!

What assumptions do you have about artists?

What are your assumptions based on?

Did they come from someone else's thinking box or are they your own?

What did you learn? Where did your thinking about art and artists come from? Have you ever thought about this before? How does it affect how you are with the artists you know in you life? Do you consider yourself an artist? Oh, I have soooo many questions!

The value of art is a topic that has been a long, long, long controversy - one we've tried to address with agents and distributors such as galleries, debates and definitions and degrees, etc. Even still, there's a fuzziness to it. There are lots of opinions and views. It can feel a bit overwhelming. Hmph. What would it take for this to instead feel inspirational and accessible? After all so much of what art is about is having a voice, a say, something to share.

What if we embrace art AND the process of making art in a way that best serves our artists, viewers, want-to-be-artists (which, wait, is this really a thing? we're all ARTISTS! so really it's want-to-be-a-specific-kind-of-artist?), our young folk and our elders, our organizations and our individuals, our environment, our community fabric? How can we do that?

How do we change the way we see, think and interact with art as a society?

How can we change how we see, think and interact with art and artists individually?

There are some experiments currently in the world that speak to these questions. One such experiment is a service and app called Patreon, think patron with an 'e.' I thought I'd try it and have been a part of the Patreon community for about 6 months now!

Wait, what's Patreon?

In short, Patreon is a place where you can support ARTISTS and their ART!

Artists can share their artwork (of any kind - music, storytelling, comics, painting, etc) and patrons choose a monetary tier (or follow for free) that both supports that artist and their artwork AND gives that patron membership to that artist's page (set up a bit like a blog with posts and comments).

Patrons get to interact with artists! Artists get to make their art!

Curious to know more? Each monetary membership tier is either set up as a monthly payment or payment per 'thing made' and has different perks associated with it, defined by the artist themselves - as is the actual amount. Many artists choose to have tiers that are super affordable, like $2 per month which comes to $24 per year. Patrons who choose small amounts can make a huge difference to an artist, as can of course medium or bigger amounts. (These words are all relative. I know. I'm trying.)

Support ART + you are supporting ARTISTS! ART! The art PROCESS!

Art is what gets us through, what helps us see new perspectives. Art instigates laughing, crying, and asking questions in the spirit of being creative and sometimes in the spirit of better understanding our lives! It's part of the social fabric of who we are as humans - creative and always changing, always learning.

The process of making my own art has taught me that ART HEALS.

Art has a way of helping me get through all the bullshit to see what's really there, what's really meaningful. It's helped me move through challenging feelings and come to peace with how things are. It's helped me navigate difficult conversations where there was a knot in my stomach or my throat was tightening. Whether it's everyday muck I can't seem to stop thinking about, monkey mind that's running me ragged or overwhelm at ALL the choices I have in my life today, ART and the process of making art have been humongous guides for me - taking me back to my present moment, to my core intuition, to that which matters.

The process of making art makes me feel alive. It reignites me, allowing me to be myself and show up to each moment as best I can. I'm crazy appreciative for having found this way of processing what it means to be human. It's saved me lots of money in therapy. (Disclaimer: therapy is great too! And this isn't a suggestion to replace your therapy with art. Art works well for me and yet I don't consider what I do art therapy, that's different. This is self care, essential for me to be fully human.)

My art includes journaling (writing, drawing, scribbling in journals), drawing, painting and dabbling in other materials and fields such as wood cut prints and collage. Oh, and in a way cooking too! And facilitating!

Your art might be music or the way you string words together in story or how you move your body in dance or....


It's priceless.

(Oh, hmmmmmm, and still I'll ask! As an artist, asking is another thing I'm learning over and over again!)

Want to help me pay for my art making? Want to help me make a living as an artist practicing and sharing the process of making art? Become a patron of VISUALS for CHANGE on Patreon. Either download the app on your phone and then look me up (I'm @visualsforchange) OR find me online at patreon.com/visualsforchange

THANKS a million! I have so much gratitude for my patrons!

If you feel called to donate but don't want to commit to a monthly, you can also make a 1 time donation via patreon or reach out directly to me.

Or if you want to hire me to facilitate an art workshop in your office, virtually, or at a family party, reach out!

Happy weekend y'all!

To deeply respect (a person, animal, plant, place, thing or...) is to be open to letting them change your mind - which therefore changes who you are.

“We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.” - John Dewey

I have deep respect for Jackie Stevenson, her horse herd and the community that comes together in Spirit of Leadership. I’d also like to acknowledge the ancestors and teachers who have come before. I'm honored to know Jackie and full of gratitude for everything she's taught me. My facilitation style improved after experiencing her workshop as a participant. I began to allow more ‘space’ in my workshops and consultations, allowing for the most important part of the engagement - processing time / reflection of the learning experience.

Jackie's facilitation style is one of incredible flexibility, building a plan that shifts as new things emerge (and are revealed) from the individual or group, or as other environmental factors such as weather come into play. In this you can see how open she is to people and animals of all kinds, making sure to take everyone's needs into consideration, and inviting richness to their experiences.

She helps us appreciate that labeling what happens as good or bad is subjective and personal - and a dichotomy that doesn’t always serve to acknowledge that which fits into neither category or both. When we approach others with curiosity instead of judgement we find ease in living a more generative life, drawing out people’s stories and getting to the core of our individual and collective truths.

"For the last 20 years I have fully integrated into my coaching and consulting work my personal respect and passion for nature, horses, the intelligence of our bodies and experiential learning. I bring this approach to my work and the work of my clients at a time when we struggle with the changes brought by a highly evolved technological culture and a less evolved relational culture." - Jackie

It's Jackie's "respect and passion" that are contagious in the best way! She naturally and subtly encourages us to relish opportunities for relating to it all… a person, animal, plant, place, thing or…. Before we know it we’re evolving into better versions of ourselves.

Want to learn from Jackie with me?

Hire her as your coach or bring a team to the ranch for a custom program! You won't regret it. Also, read her new book, Someday We'll Live Like Horses; Authentic Presence in Leadership and Life. It feels authentic itself - right from the soul - sharing Jackie's experience eloquently.

Join me in participating in the October Experiential Learning with Horses Professional Practitioner Certificate Program from Oct 17 - 21, 2018 at Pebble Ledge Ranch in Novelty, Ohio!

The program is hands down amazing. I keep going back! It's 5 days in nature with the community and horses at the Ranch where you are invited to notice the qualities in you and around you - a practice that can lead you toward personal mastery in your professional practice and personal life. It's not about riding the horses, rather understanding how each horse relates to self, each other and the humans in the field, contributing to the social and emotional intelligence of the herd. There's opportunity to connect and learn from others in the community. Oh! And there are boatloads of skills to pick up when we geek out on the theories behind the exercises, too!

ALSO, I'll most likely be facilitating a Visual Communication Mini Workshop with Horses on Friday night (October 19, 2018). We'll take notice of human language and comprehension (which includes lots of visuals from seeing physically to visualizing and imagining and drawing) and perhaps begin to understand horse language.

How to appreciate visuals? How can we use drawings to solve problems or find insights in big complex systems? How might the horse herd inspire us to expand our understanding? This mini workshop will integrate into Jackie's longer program and ALSO stand on its own if someone wanted to come out for just this!

#experientiallearning #jackiestevenson #pebbleledgeranch #spiritofleadership #horsesheal #lessonsfromhorses #equinefacilitated #emerging #selfmastery #professionaldevelopment #facilitation #experientiallearningwithhorses #workshop #ohio #SomedayWellLiveLikeHorses #book

How might drawing - literally - help us connect with each other, our content and collaborations? How do we connect authentically?

Authority figures give prizes for speed and efficiency. Our bosses always want us to move faster, and marketing scientists (we haven't even met) have literally rewired our brains by using intense physical, mental and spiritual biases via television shows and social media. We are starved for connection - for meaning - for love.

I have the great joy of collaborating with two amazing women, Denise Easton and Barb Siegel. Together we are building a program based in complexity, art, communication, and neuroscience called DRAWN to CONNECT (currently in beta).

We're designing a program consisting of three online workshops and one in-person retreat. Our first online workshop, DRAWN to CONNECT: Meet the Technique, ran in June 2018 and was a valuable experience from many angles. It's multifaceted, allowing participants to benefit in ways that best suit them.

As facilitators, we're always re-learning what it takes to build and sustain a community. We asked many questions and had great fun experimenting in our first workshop by attending to what emerged from the group - and WOW!

We've learned to share information live only when it needs to be live in order to make the most of our time together; to allow for different levels of interaction thereby honoring the intention (and personality) each person brings individually. Individually experimenting with how we pay attention, how we present information, ask for input and respond to suggestions can lead to different insights.

There is a subtle art to hosting interactions that fit the group’s collective personality while inviting each individual to show up in their own way.

Shifting the content and modes of engagement to the needs and preferences of those who are present can make for a dynamic experience rooted in complexity. Operating in this way creates a mirror for us as we begin to see how our human experience is mirrored in nature AND how we are part of that nature. This means having a plan and being willing to deviate from it!

As we progress through our daily lives with technology at our sides we begin to find that the clear cut edges of efficiency (of how our apps work in a linear way - and how we interact with these apps) is how we try to live our lives - fitting them into linear processes and clear dichotomies. Hello, frustration!

See, we’re wired for change, for adaptability. Our bodies and minds hold so much information (energetically embodied and knowledge based), simultaneously taking information in and giving it out. What does it mean to feel free? We explored this question as a cohort. Everyone’s drawn answers were different. Below is my drawn response to what freedom means to me.

In the image, there’s a wave of a sort, dots of potential engagement and a few figures (or various perspectives of one figure) emanating energy. One could interpret this drawing in many ways. There is no ‘RIGHT’ way. As we chatted about what freedom meant for each of us we found smiles and laughter and were struck by emerging patterns.

We found through conversation that being open and honest in our conversation brought a sense of freedom, inviting us to be in touch with our most authentic selves. We were able to continuously keep the collective in mind and heart - allowing differences to exist in harmony (rather than always seeking agreement).

As for our DRAWN to CONNECT program, we'll be formulating our next steps soon! Want to be one of the first to know when it's up? Stay tuned via PlexusInstitute.org or email Denise at admin@plexusinstitute.org or reach out to me!

#drawntoconnect #plexusdrawn #onlinecourse #workshop #plexusinstitute #complexity

© 2020 by Amanda Lyons

drawings + photos by Amanda Lyons

(unless stated otherwise)

ask permission to use!

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