Art By Shalley

Using Art to Heal

River Otter

                                                        The Call of the River Otter

                                           Background information provided by client:
    "Many years ago, while attending an herb conference, an older woman I did not know appoached me and asked if I knew that I am "an otter." I was a little startled because up until that time, I really knew very little about "totems". Yet I've always had an affinity for woods and rivers and creeks, even when I was small, and I liked the idea of being associated with an animal that seems filled with joy and delight.
    Since then, I've learned more about totems, and learned that the otter represents female energy, and , as such, her elements are earth and water. I also learned that she is always on the move, very curious, capricious, unpredictable, impulsive, whimsical, playful, changeable, and quite intelligent. The otter is loyal and mates for life and is content to enjoy and share in the good fortune of others. She will not inititiate physical confrontation unless she or her loved ones are attacked, and then she can be ferociously protective. She assumes other creatures are friendly until proven otherwise. I see the  palate for this piece in earth and water colors."

                                                                Artist's process:
    After getting the request I began to carry around with me River Otter, thinking about her, imagining her, sending energy invitations to her, requesting her help, her input, and to know her medicine.
    After a few days, I felt the beginnings of the movement of the background wanting to be painted. I then painted the background based on the color pallet suggested by the client (water and earth colors).
     I then studied the images of 100s of River Otters, read information on their habits, their roles in Folklore as well as the symtolic meaning of the otter. I read the role of River Otter in shamanism from various traditions. I reviewed the medicine that the River Otter brings to the earth. I then meditated, just letting all this information find its place as I began to stare into the canvas. Suddenly, I clearly saw the image of the River Otter and began block it in, looking at various images of River Otter to allow it to emerge exactly as she wanted to.
    Over the next couple of days, it was like the River Otter was moving very quickly. I painted almost non-stop for the next 48 hours, day and night. As I stared into the canvas I saw the female figure and just let her develop as she wanted. Behind her I saw the moon was holding the space for her and River Otter. Three trees emerged out of the background to complete the scene. Although I felt the painting was complete, I let it set on the easel for a few more days, spending time staring into it, just to make sure there wasn't something else that wanted to emerge. But each time I got the sense the painting is complete.
    A few days later I did another journey to speak with River Otter to see if she had a message. This time River Otter spoke. she said, "I bring her courage to jump into the stream of her life. I am with her, watching, guarding and guiding her. Her feminine power awaits her." I then go back to bed and either I dream or have a vision. In this dream/vision I go to a pond and call to the otter. Suddenly I begin to tingle throughout my body and start to rise. At fist I feel afraid and then decide just to go with it. I hear in my left ear the call of the otter. I call the painting "The Call of the River Otter."
    For me, the painting honors a call to a feminine way of seeing, honors the healing ways of the moon and the feminine. River Otter is the guide.
    I am both honored and humbled to be able to paint this painting for not only the client but for the Universe and all beings who accept the call to return to the feminine way of healing.

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