My Power Symbol for 2016 – the Violet-Backed Starling

I taught 2 workshops recently on Painting Your Power Symbol for 2016.  My first workshop was so full that I didn’t have much time to work on my own symbol, though I wanted to paint a fish for working on my financial goals and releasing my money blocks.  I never finished that painting but there is plenty of time.

In the second workshop, I had a bit more time to work on my own since the group was smaller.  I was working on my health issues and how I want to break through them this year. I came up with a cute chubby little bird and I looked around online and saw a painting so I based the idea for my painting on that one and painted away.  I painted this cute chubby bird, full of vibrant purples and didn’t think much of it, I just knew I was drawn to these colors and this shape of bird.

image of Heather Shalhoub's painting in progress violet backed starling

Heather Shalhoub’s painting in progress of a violet backed starling

Well, today I was talking with a friend about spirit animals and I mentioned that I keep seeing blackbirds or starlings, especially in large swarms swooping in patterns across the sky, so startling, that I can only describe it as beautiful yet a little scary and overwhelming like I feel like I could be in a Hitchcock movie. I also seem to have starlings live above the tower room in my apartment.  I decided to google birds with purple backs, since that is what I painted and believe it or not…one exists and not only does it exist…it is a type of starling! It is called a Violet-backed starling, also known as an amethyst starling or plum colored starling. Pretty freakin’ cool!

The symbolism of starlings has a lot to do with:

  • speaking your voice while being sensitive to others and being too sensitive to the words of others (too sensitive to what others say, who me?)
  • communication in groups
  • balancing your feminine and masculine power (like this has not been coming up in most conversations I have had lately)  
  • using all the resources available to you to achieve your goals and be fierce
  • holding on too tightly to ideas, perceptions or people (clingy when feeling insecure? who me?)
  • gaining a sense of protection and hope.

That is some powerful stuff. I look forward to finishing my power symbol painting now that I know more about the bird that I was drawn to.

Photo of a violet-backed starling by Anna Eksteen as posted on

Photo by Anna Eksteen as posted on, click the photo to view the original source

My Starling Sources: 

“Animal Totem: Starling.” Animal Totem: Starling. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

“Animal Totems: Dictionary of Birdswritten by StarStuffs ©” Animal Spirit Totems Dictionary of Birds. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

“Wild Facts Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve | Violet-backed Starling.” Sabi Sabi Luxury Safari Lodges. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

“Violet-backed Starling.” TrekNature. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

Spirit Wings with Kelly Rae Roberts – Month 1

I had so much fun learning more about mixed media painting with Kelly Rae Roberts that when she announced her new Spirit Wings Painting Course, I knew I needed this.  The #1 reason I knew I needed this course? I felt resistance to it. My initial reaction to painting angels was a bit of a cringe and my face scrunched up and I felt like a stubborn little kid grossed out by vegetables.  You know you often resist what you need the most.  This was a sign to me that I really needed this.

First, we got to collage and paint and play with texture. Then she walked us step by step through creating the face, the hair, the wings, and the angel’s message. I have an art background so the face didn’t intimidate me too much but others in the online group where we all connect on facebook had never drawn a face before and made beautiful pieces. It is fantastic to see the work people of all art backgrounds are making in this course.

Here is the first angel painting I created in her Spirit Wings e-course.  I am really happy with how she turned out. I have been told by a few that this is a self portrait.  It doesn’t surprise me that she looks a little like me. It is funny to sense a theme with my paintings of things I resist.  At the Super Soul Flow Creatively Fit Coaching Retreat in Nashville, I had to paint Self-Love because I resisted it most.  When I finally painted it, I noticed that everyone else seemed to be painting so soft and light and pink and ethereal and my painting was bold and vibrant and strong. I see similar boldness to this angel with the reds in the color theme and her fiery wild curls.

image of 4 pictures capturing the progression through the stages of painting and collage

Image of Completed Angel Painting by Heather Shalhoub

My Experience with Hello Soul – Hello Mixed Media Mantras with Kelly Rae Roberts

I had been looking for some way to pump  up my painting process and my art technique. I needed to learn something new.  I read books and looked at websites and finally, an email came from Kelly Rae Roberts about a special on her online course for her birthday.  My gut said, Go for it! So I did. Let me tell you, my gut was right. This was EXACTLY what I needed. Not only did this course pump up my art and my technique, I learned a lot of new processes, and it helped me emotionally and spiritually too. You do some journaling exercises that really gave me some aha moments.  I also found that the mixed media process, in the stages as they are taught in this course, really helped me get through some difficult stress going on in my life.  I would get home and instead of wanting to lay on the couch stuffing my face, I wanted to go paint. I wanted to play.  I wanted to let go and lose myself to whatever I was creating.  This course is called Hello Soul – Hello Mixed Media Mantras.

The biggest challenge for me was picking the right mantra, though I can make as many as I want, I felt a strong urge that I needed to make something particular, that I needed a mantra to serve my soul right now.   I looked through my journal, I wrote down ideas, and then I watched Love, Lust or Run. Believe it or not, I got a very emotional and meaningful mantra from watching a makeover show.  I don’t always like shows like this but there is something about Stacy London.  She isn’t just dressing someone to look good, she is trying to do something new.  She is trying to help women and girls dress for self-acceptance, to love their bodies no matter what, ALL of their body, to feel empowered by clothes and about their body.  This speaks to me because clothing has always been a form of self-expression for me but I also have a lot of body image issues and some body dysmorphia tendencies. They recently aired a special, Stacy Revealed, and some of the things she said really struck me to my core. I caught myself crying, I felt something really deep from the words she was saying. I went to paint after watching and when I could not pick a mantra, it hit me.  What was it that resonated with you when you were watching that show? What words spoke to your soul?  I went back to my online streaming player and jumped around until I found the lines that really hit me the hardest.  I wrote them down and sat with them and then my mantra came to life:

“At your most vulnerable, you are most beautiful”

Thank you Stacy London for this bit of wisdom from when you were talking behind the scenes about how hard it was for the women to strip down and remove all of their security blankets and defenses and how you saw them and wanted them to see themselves.

Needless to say, I adore Kelly Rae Roberts and this course and I also really love Stacy London.

So anyway, without further delay, here is my very first mixed media mantra painting:

painting by heather shalhoub of her mantra, at your most vulnerable, you are most beautiful

Feng Shui Immersion: Paint Your Change Pennsylvania Event

I am back from Pennsylvania after a great time painting and talking about feng shui and intention setting. I had the pleasure of co-teaching a mini-retreat with fellow creatively fit coach, Jody Bennett March: Life & Biz Coach.

Our group got to learn some basics of Black Hat feng shui and how to use the bagua map in their homes.  Then we looked at the areas of life where they want to create change and see where in their homes this area of their life was represented in the bagua map.

Jody then led us through intuitive scribble exercises and we used beautiful card decks for more inspiration.  Each person was able to choose the part of their home and life they want to focus on for their painting and selected a symbol to paint.  We had a wonderful time painting and even ran late because we were all in the juicy creative flow of intention setting.

a collage image of the progression through my painting of the Eye of Horus

Heather’s Eye of Horus Painting Progression

You can see the progress of my painting of the Eye of Horus and the progression is took.  First I wrote my intention on my canvas.  I was working on a painting for my abundance and prosperity corner.  I wrote my intentions for abundance and prosperity and then I kept hearing, my cup runneth over so I drew a cup over my intentions and wrote that too.  After that, I started to paint my first layer.  Then I drew my Eye of Horus symbol and started to work on my painting.

International Soul Art Day – My Experience

I discovered International Soul Art Day through various other friends, most likely I was seeing it because they also “like” it on Facebook. I poked around and discovered that this sounded like it was right up my alley and conveniently, International Soul Art Day was just weeks away from when I found out about it. I signed up to receive the free email prompts on Soul Art Day, which was Wednesday, May 27, 2015.

My day was busy, I have to admit, I kept almost forgetting it was International Soul Art Day but I was reminded over and over again by posts of others participating across the world on Facebook in the group where we can all join and share.  There were some live streams from Laura Hollick and other artists working with her for this special day. She is the founder of Soul Art.  I didn’t get to see any of them but I did enjoy seeing photo updates as they shared them.

When I finally got home and got started, it was already 8pm. I went through the workbook and answered all the questions, I reflected and did the magazine picture exercise and I noticed something was stirring. I had not started my art project yet and I was already feeling something ready to shift.  The workbook helps you figure out what intentions you want to set for your art project and what to ask your soul for guidance with.

I went through my blank canvases and nothing seemed right.  I kept going back to this old canvas I had sketched in charcoal on with intention to paint…about 14 years ago.  This canvas had sat around waiting for paint for 14 years. This is not the first canvas like this that I have painted over but it seemed like all my old canvases that were unfinished called to me during the past couple months. They wanted me to reclaim them and infuse them with positive new energy and purge and let go of the past.  This was a bit anxiety inducing to think about at first but the timing was right and it felt very empowering.

I carried this canvas out to the living room with a sharpie and asked my boyfriend to trace me on the canvas for my body mapping. This is how you start the art project for Soul Art Day.  After you complete the workbook and exercises, you trace whatever parts of your body you can or want to on your art surface of any size. Some people only did their hands, some people did huge pieces with their entire body.  My piece was about the size of half of me so I got my head and torso with parts of my arms.

Image of my body mapping traced on a canvas

As I started to paint, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to paint.  I just went with the flow.  You write a quick story as one of your exercises and that story is supposed to show up and be told through your painting.  I started to paint various sections and eventually it all came together. I was up painting until almost 2am and probably could have kept going if I didn’t need to work the next day.  The more I look at the painting, the more I get from it.  I shared it on the International Soul Art facebook page and gallery as well as with my fellow creatively fit coaches and got a lot of interesting feedback.

My painting is shown below.  I may add some finishing touches but for now, this painting just wants to sit and be absorbed and reflected on.

Image of my acrylic painting from International Soul Art Day 2015

You can see my painting and many others from around the world in the Soul Art Day gallery. I see a lot going on in my painting. Everything from the basics of I need to relax (in a hammock LOL) to a connection between NY (the big apple) and a colorful city (maybe in Italy, I got a lot of feedback that it looked like Italy). I see the elements of earth, air, water, fire. I see hearts rooted deeply into the ground. I see stairs leading somewhere. I see a lot of color and energy. I see me getting the relaxation I need with the support of a town or community. I wonder what else I might get from it when I return to this canvas for the next phase. What do you see?