ANOTHER REASON TO SMILE
Written by: Heidi Elliott
I have heard it said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. That was the case in the summer of 2020 when I made the move to Jacksonville to begin the next stage of my life. What an amazing place to live! Everything here inspires me to focus on art, nature and connection. My teacher, Day Schildkret, appeared online sharing his beautiful, healing nature art. His work inspired a further spark in me. He uses natural things such as leaves, rocks, feathers, flowers and shells to create impermanent art. The practice and steps that go into his artistic creations are so deep and meaningful. I had no idea how enriching the journey would be in becoming a student of his first-ever Morning Altars Teacher/Practitioner Training.
Last June, a cohort of over 100 like-minded people from around the world embarked on the path of study together. It has been a year-long commitment that turned out to be so much more than just learning to make nature art. We have used this therapeutic practice to make a difference for ourselves and for those around us. It warms my heart to see the many ways creating simple art can help people heal and grow. It has brought me a sense of belonging, self-awareness and peace.
Our group studied Day’s seven step practice to nourish spirit through Nature, Art and Ritual. We were called to Wander and Wonder; Find Place; Clear with Grace and Intention; Create Spontaneously with Joy and Connection; Gift to the land; and Share and Let Go. We participated in weekly online Practicums where subjects varied from Personal to Professional, each one more valuable than the last.
One of my favorite art-making practices involves using only two materials (maybe sticks and flowers) to make four different creations in a very limited time. The value is in the creative process rather than the perfect outcome. I find it very therapeutic to make and let go, over and over. It is rewarding to create art with the simplest things, focus on being in the moment, setting an intention and expressing my creativity.
I’m learning to be present, to be mindful of nature, to express gratitude, to make life meaningful by slowing down, and to appreciate the glory around me.
This amazing year with Day and my cohorts has taught me the value of accepting impermanence, seeing the beauty in imperfection, and embracing change as inevitable . The practice of creating nature art as a celebration of life and death is now a part of me. It helps ground me with healing ritual. It has taught me that grieving is also honoring and praising. It is how I continue to love those who have died. Creating my own little rituals using art and nature which will return to the earth from which it came feels good and right to me.
Leaving nature art gifts along our road for others to be surprised by is a fun way to share my passion. I hope these bring a smile or brighten a day. I have been surprised by creative offerings from the kind locals, left at the top of my drive. I love the idea of community art creations that are ever evolving with the seasons and with fun contributions from the neighborhood. Sometimes it’s just the little things! We can always use another reason to smile.
About the Author:
Heidi Elliott is a Multi-Media artist in Jacksonville, OR. She is a Teacher/Practitioner of the Morning Altars Practice. Heidi has held hundreds of fun Paint Parties over the last ten years.