There was a wonderful peacefulness that came with the Work I was doing behind the scenes at BHIGR. I found common ground with much of the staff and conversation flowed more easily, more readily with each day I came in. I grew used to my supplies being covered in a fine grit of dinosaur bone dust by the end of the day. The buildings had all of the wonderful aspects of a sculpting lab, art studio, writing garrett and maker space combined, necessary for preparing fossils and creating accurate replicas, proper storage, curation and good record keeping. It was a place in which I felt at home with all of my tools and my methodology, which were as follows:
Determine working environment
Determine fossil subject
Ground Center Shield
Say prayer of invocation
Open Daedalus app on iPad for notes
Open Naturespace app on iPhone and plug in to earbuds
I would select my Naturespace loop dependent on which species of animal I would be spending the day with. Theropod Work was done almost exclusively to thunderstorms. The sauropods came through most clearly when using a mixture of drums, chanting, rattles and nature, and the ceratopsians responded to the same, with bells thrown in. The pachycephalosaurs and the hadrosaurs resonated with a blend of subtle music and natural soundscapes combined. The mosasaur and I connected most deeply through sounds of moving water and long, low bell tones. I have kept copious notes and will be publishing in the Artist’s Journal which specific Naturespace loops were used to Journey to and Work with each animal. When further Journey Work was needed for deeper and longer connections drumming tracks were the most effective and useful.
For the drawing, I would lay down a preliminary outline with red pencil and add some blocks of shading to begin forming a shape with planes and different degrees of light interaction. I used negative space to build and double check proportions. I was also given two paper scales by Matt, along with instructions for use, which I employed to great effect with a larger, multiple-animal fossil late in the week. I keep those scales with my project artwork and view them as a very special and connective artifact from my stay at BHIGR, which I’m certain Matt and the other staffers would think sentimental and a bit silly. I’m perfectly fine with that. Such differences have led to some of my most rewarding and lasting friendships, and it is my hope that this will again be the case.
When I felt that the animal I was working with had something to say I would stop drawing and go to a place of deep listening, placing a hand on it gently to deepen that connection. Even with the first generation replicas, the energetic signature was more than enough to facilitate this sort of conversation. The stories, imagery and experiential information that poured out was so overwhelming at times that I would need to walk away for a moment and ground, center, shield before returning to my work station. I developed a strong connection with Acrocanthosaurus in this manner that is continuing to evolve into a deep Working relationship. This was a dinosaur I had merely heard of in passing previous to my visit. I’m more than a little bit in love with this dinosaur and am enjoying getting to know it a little more each day we Work together.
The intensity and clarity gained by being able and allowed to do hands on shamanic Work was genuinely life changing for me. Following this experience, I look at the world differently. I look at pop culture imagery of dinosaurs differently. I experience museum visits differently. I experience nature, and particularly birds and crocodilians, differently. There is a relationship there now which was merely an acquaintance previously. There is a storytelling aspect to all of this that I am being moved to explore, expand upon and continue building my practice and artistic body of work with and from. The Path ahead is not clear, but is it ever? My job is to continue to put one foot in front of the other, red pencil to paper and fingers to keyboard. My job is to tell their story in the way it is being told to me. It is not the only story and it is not the only experience people have with these animals. But it is the story of MY experience and my Work is to share it with all of you. Glean what you are able and use what methods speak to you, remembering all the while that your story will very probably be a different one, and your mileage may vary.
The Dinosaur Journeys Artist’s Journal will be available for sale after all of my backers, mentors and staff at BHIGR and TCIM, who generously made this possible, have received their copies. I will update here when it is in the Shop.