According to wikipedia the Shaman’s Oracle has 52 cards inspired by prehistoric cave art from around the world. Each card represents one of five archetypes: spirits, ancestors, hunters, dancers and shamans and so on.
The pen drawings by Ciel Patenaude hanging in the upstairs gallery of the Station House this month are just part of a series the scientist, healer and artist is working on based on this 52 card philosophy.
They are beautiful images of frogs, salamanders, birds and other animals, but also interesting renderings of images such as the human heart.
The show is aptly called The Knowing and as the show’s introduction states, this finely detailed series of pen and ink drawings explores the ways in which we receive wisdom from the outside world.
Each of the images comes with an inspirational message that Patenaude says she felt intuitively when creating the piece.
For instance the message under the hummingbird drawing is a reminder that “you are the source of your own joy, not any others, nor the circumstances you find yourself in.”
Patenaude says the words mean one thing to her but the illustrations and words should always be about what they mean to the individual viewer.
“You can access happiness at any time and never wait for things to change to choose to be happy,” Patenaude reiterates.
As a child, Patenaude says she was always drawn to art, but she did so well academically in school that her teachers pushed her to pursue a university degree in the sciences, yet she always felt at odds with the decision.
“I was depressed for a long time until I realized that art was missing from my life,” Patenaude says.
Born in Williams Lake and raised in Horsefly and the lakecity Patenaude went out into the world to study and returned to the lakecity in 2013 after what she describes as “a wide-ranging global walkabout.”
She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Victoria and a masters degree in Integrative Healing from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
She has also taken certificate training in crisis counselling and suicide prevention; is a certified wellness coach; certified yoga instructor; and has taken initiation as a Shamanic practitioner after five years of study in a Bolivian lineage.
Aside from a much-loved apprenticeship with sculptor Cory Lunn from ages 11 to 17 she says none of her previous education or training had anything to do with art.
But she says art has been a constant in her life in some form or another, usually accomplished when she is supposed to be doing something else.
She started The Knowing series with just three pieces and completed the rest of the 30 or so pieces in the show over spring break setting herself a tight work schedule. The hawk took about 14 hours to complete, the owl about 12 hours for example, working three two-hour shifts each day.
“The less I thought about each one the better they got,” Patenaude says.
When she is not holding workshops or designing educational programs, Patenaude pursues her art in a variety of mediums, oil, acrylic, water colours, pencil, photography, pen and ink, and digital design, though most commonly in ballpoint pen.
Her influences range from modern tattoo design and Japanese block prints to Carl Jung and Czech Easter eggs, but they are most commonly drawn from the ever-present beauty of the natural world.
A walk around her show is inspirational visually and to the inquiring reader.
The Salamander with the Aloe plant comes with the words: “A need to be sensitive and allow the world to touch your core being. Soothe the wounds of your ego-self through awareness and compassion and stop putting walls up.”
Turtle and Ivy: “A call to slow down and enjoy the details of your existence as well as to honour your ancestry and the continuum of beings that you are part of both in family history and the big connection with all life.”
Honeybee: Hard work and persistence, dedication to a group vision and the willingness to place personal needs and ego concerns to the side in order to create something within the larger community.”
Patenaude will be among the workshop presenters at the Making Peace Women’s Spirituality Gathering coming up in the lakecity this weekend.