Are you rooted in a particular faith tradition?
I have been a Christian who also honors the Divine Mother for over fourteen years. Previously I was Protestant – but continually longing for deeper ritual and knowing there had to be more available. Right now I am studying to be Orthodox (American) – which is a part of my roots as my great Grandfather founded a Russian Orthodox Church 100 years ago in Pennsylvania. I met Jesus when I was just a kid – and I have been walking with Him ever since.
What is your primary art medium?
My primary art form is arcylic on canvas. They may also be sprinkled with gold leaf, glitter, milagros, prayers and holy cards. My paintings are mostly of women, couples, families, and Madonnas.
How do you experience the connection between spirituality and creativity?
For me, painting is a huge part of my spiritual practice – a time when I am in a golden wordless dialogue with the Divine. A place when bliss is a state of being. It is through the very act of creation and the disappearing of the ordinary – that I am transported into the sacred. It happens suddenly and lasts for long periods – I am transported to a space that feels beyond time – and where I am the most myself. Intentional creativity is a form of spirituality – because we bring our heart into the work. When I create, my paintings are prayers for the world.
What role does spiritual practice have in your art-making?
I make a living doing my art, and so in a wonderful way I get to practice on a consistent basis. There are several factors I believe that makes art making a spiritual practice for me
1. time consistency to the practice.
2. commitment to the process and intention setting.
3. ritual bracketing the time itself.
4. a prayer for revelation.
These are the four components that bring art making into a the realm of practice for me – and this is also what I teach in my workshop, the Awakened Heart, Painting as Creative Practice. I invite women to CHOOSE and learn to use painting as a
What sparked your spiritual journey?
I have thought of myself as somewhat of a mystic for a long time -continually seeking the unseen realms and how it might inform my journey and the journeys of the lives I touch. Teaching painting and the principles of living that are in my workshops is my ministry, my lifework, my offering to the world.
This came about as a wonderful encounter I had with the Virgin Mary after asking Father God and Jesus where my mother was. It is too long of a story to tell here – but let's just say that my relationship with her was born once I asked about her – and she came. And she showed me many things – one thing was the status of women in the world – and the suffering and depravity of our situation. My mind was opened and my heart was broken – but she gave me art to create and teach AS MY RESPONSE to the suffering.
From that time – art would become the medium of healing that I would work with – that was fifteen year ago.
What sparked your artistic journey?
After the Mary awakening experience I began to include art making as a part of my life path. Since that time I have published six books, taught thousands of women and own several sacred art galleries. My art became my business – and since I am offering images that are designed to be a blessing to others – it is not a compromise to me to make art to sell.
This is my work and it is my profound pleasure to have my paintings placed in homes with people who see them for what they are – images of what is possible for our lives.
Do you have a particular process you use when entering into your creative work?
Often I turn on music, light a candle, say a prayer, set an intention and I begin to think – actually – about pain. And about love. About what is needed and wanted in the world at that particular moment. Sometimes it relates to world events, and sometimes it relates to events that are in my immediate circle. Then I begin with my paintbrush to create the antidote, the resolution. I even think of my images as an antidote to pornography or images of women and girls that do not represent who we are.
How does your art-making shape your image of God?
My paintings are offerings to people, which is a form of devotion to Creator. I call it devotional painting. I do not presume to paint image of God/Jesus or Mary in any real sense – but if the image sparks a feeling in someone that brings them closer to the divine, then that is my hope. And certainly when I am painting it – I feel closer to the Beloved and I know that is imparted into my painting on a molecular and spiritual level. Some people have called my paintings medicine for the soul.
Thank you again to Shiloh. Soul medicine indeed! I am so moved by the many layers of what Shiloh has shared here. I love that her paintings are "prayers for the world," as a response and antidote to the suffering of the world, and as a "blessing to others". I also deeply appreciate the way she articulates the four components necessary for the arts to become a spiritual practice.
Make sure to visit Shiloh Sophia McCloud's website where you can purchase originals of her art, reproductions, books, journals and sign up for workshops. It is truly a feast for the senses.
Art from Top to Bottom: Finding Hope, Temple of Love, Self-Honor, Succulent is a Way of Being, Leap of Faith, Faith in the Promises
This Friday I will be reflecting on photography as a contemplative practice and on Monday, February 23rd our next Poetry Party returns!