Breaking Through Barriers

Finding my mascot


Early in my journey down my soul path, about a month after the dream that called me back to art, I discovered an exercise called a Soul Scribble (What’s a Soul Scribble?). The exercise comes from art therapy and is one of my favorite go-tos for connecting and reflecting. And in my second-ever soul scribble I saw an elephant.

(Not this elephant. The scribbled elephant was much more abstract. You might have questioned if it ever WAS an elephant. But I was sure it was. And that is all that matters in a soul scribble!)

Part of the Soul Scribble exercise is coming up with 5 words to go with the image. I recalled my long-standing love of elephants. As a kid, my favorite place to visit was the “Dead Animal Museum” AKA the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. And the thing that drew me was the elephant herd in the entry. I was mesmerized. My favorite toy was a 10”-tall plastic elephant who, for most of his life, wore a band-aid around his trunk, a badge of love given to him after an encounter with one of our dogs.

I decided to do a web search for elephant symbolism and I was struck by the terms “Breaking through barriers” and "Unstoppable." In beginning my soul path business, I knew that these were qualities I would call upon again and again to get me through.

So I began sketching elephants. A few of my first sketches are here.


Going bigger.

As I sketched I could feel the energy of the elephant growing in me. It was like a huge thing in my chest aching to get out. It wanted to be bigger, it felt huge!

I thought about a painting. I had not created a painting in years, but my recent reading in art therapy books had me thinking about it. At the store, I picked out a 36” x 48” canvas. It looked gigantic. I had never painted anything so large at any point in my life. It would have been daunting had I not been filled with the strong energy of this HUGE elephant magic. It wanted to be be BIG!

But ironically, as soon as I got the canvas home I could immediately see it was too small. It felt encredibly limiting thinking about restricting myself to the confines of that canvas. Not sure what to do, and feeling a bit like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I taped together sheets of 12” x 18” paper until they filled my studio floor, and I drew a charging elephant. I had the tunes going and was singing out "Burn the White Flag..." as I sketched in bold black strokes with my charcoal pencil. It felt great.

But truly, I had to find a solution to making this energy into something worthy of the power I felt. I settled on an art quilt. You can read all about that part of this story here!