Umm, yeah, guess its time to clean up eh?

So many ideas! So many mediums to choose from, and so many images moving towards completion. The last couple weeks have been an explosion of art!! Conscious efforts made to schedule myself "Me" time have paid off huge on every level including a renewed sense of artistic-ness. (Yeah, thats a word!)  

All this accompanied by a buttload of excitement to work on the next wonderful arty thing now that today has proved itself too cold, rainy and windy outside to begin putting the garde to bed. 

Unfortunately, the studio can only survive unbridled creativity for a short time before unbridled Cleaning must take precedent. I can't even find the tabletop!!!  

So, I have satisfied my garden vibe by harvesting the lovely gourds we grew and now I am off to make the studio useable again. What a great way to spend a day. ❤️ 

The 2016 Gourd Harvest

The 2016 Gourd Harvest

Yep, a cleaning required no question

Yep, a cleaning required no question

Upcoming Class! September 27, 2016 7:30-9:30pm. Life ForceArtsCenter, 1609 W Belmont, Chicago, IL

Painting and Spirits with Colleen: Creating your own Green Spirit

Date and time -Sept 27, 2016 7:30-9:30

Join Artist Colleen Koziara for a whole new approach to wine & art parties!

An Intuitive and Visionary Art Experience

We will be creating our own personal versions of the vision we each hold within our mind of The Green Spirit of Nature.

Experience your own creative capacities by enjoying a relaxing evening of painting!

By providing basic instruction and guidance in use of materials and structure of the piece you will have the chance to explore your own vision of the Face of Nature and manifest that vision.  Yes, everyone can do this!!! You will amaze yourself!

We will be working in acrylics, on canvas.All materials will be provided.

BYOBS (beverages and snacks!)

Preregistration Required

Colleen Koziara (Mystical Willow Productions) grew up in northern Wisconsin on a farm, on an island. Seeing the magic of nature and the stories that it told, filled her with a childlike sense of wonder, which she strives to capture in her artwork: a moment of magic from the natural world or ancient legends or tales, the “secret” beauty within simple everyday moments and objects. Each of her works is a doorway through which the viewer may journey – a glimpse into the Spirit of Nature and the Nature of Spirit. Colleen attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and has illustrated more than 20 books. A Reiki Master and Ovate member of the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, she has been presenting, writing and providing art for Circle Sanctuary since 2002, and designed the Pagan Spirit Gathering logos for 2010-2016. Colleen has spent the past 5 years working with a South Dakota Elder and is traditionally trained.  Colleen gives private art instruction from her home for all ages; creates Body Art (both temporary and permanent) and Custom Tattoo Designs; Visionary Art; and Commissioned pieces manifested from the visions and dreams of her clients. She works extensively with Elders teaching art and yoga, and has received awards from organizations such as the American Society on Aging and International Council of Active Aging for designing programs for seniors.

Cost: $45.00

Earth Air Water and Stone

Earth Air Water and Stone

Green Woman Green Earth

Green Woman Green Earth

Cernunnos Rising

Cernunnos Rising

New Projects!

A new book project is in the works!!! I partnered today with the writers of a Wonderful new book! 

Written by a Hospice Chaplain with 30yrs experience in family counseling, this book will be a manual for professionals and parents, to use as they work with children and young people experiencing grief. To support those adults in helping the young ones to find their words, express their feelings and allow themselves to be supported thru their grief. The book features a lovely young elephant as its main character. I am very excited about illustrating this book for many reasons, not the least of which being that I am and have always been, an elephant lover!! She first talked to me about this idea over a year ago!! 

The Reset continues it seems. A month of life change, and health resets in a search for Balance, followed by September, a month that I intentionally scheduled slow and short in program billings. A month with down time, time off, time for art, time for sleep and home and most of all, time to put effort towards choosing my own direction as opposed to just scampering along, keeping up with all the wonderful opportunities that continue to present themselves!! My monetary shortfall for September got covered + with today's illustration agreement!!

I have been blessed 1000x over by a stream of neverending opportunities, and possible journeys, that the universe has for years, dropped in my lap.  More importantly, I have also been gifted by that same universe with the necessary stamina, intellect, creativity and unwillingness to say "die!" that has made it possible for me to take advantage of so many of those opportunities!!! And they have absolutely Rocked!!! (Despite the exhaustion and bruises and permanent scarring they have occasionally caused!!) 

But there is also a downside that must be acknowledged in this neverending stream of adventures. If a person is ALWAYS setting out to conquer the next peak, learn the next lesson, or find the next Best thing (or the next adrenaline rush, or the next brainstorming session because they are not fans of the daily followthrough phase, or the next partner, get it I'm sure, insert here your own preferred escape disguised as an amazing opportunity)...then they are likely missing the opportunity to sit and be still, focus and experience the daily challenge and sense of accomplishment that comes from putting everything you've got into the one thing that makes your heart sing louder than everything else combined. And maybe, just maybe, taking an opportunity all the way not just from start to finish, but instead from imaginings to magnificence. 

For as long as I can remember, back at least to age two, I have wanted to be simply an Artist. I did not ever define that anymore specifically than that (artist ya know, like to keep those doors open!), just simply an Artist with a capital A. Illustrating, and writing and illustrating, more children's books is on my bucket list. Collecting and bringing forth in word and image, the stories of our Elders is next in line. Beginning the journey to the manifestation of this lifelong dream with a book teaching our older, how to help our younger to survive through grief by acknowledging their pain and accepting support and love from the world around them to do so, seems like a most auspicious beginning. 

My horoscope (still havent decided if I believe those things or not), said to move most quietly thru this week beginning on Tuesday, and on Friday something begun in the past would return again.  

Tuesday I added a good measure of silence and retreat to my life by stepping back from FB. Today the past came forward. (So they got me believing this week!!! lol) 

Blessings of the Harvest Moon, and the coming beauty of Autumn, the fullness of the Harvest, Equinox Balance, and most importantly, Blessings of Wisdom to know the difference between opportunity and escape when the universe again presents the choice. 


A perfect pic reference for our main character!! 

A perfect pic reference for our main character!! 


A very busy August filled with some pretty crazy highs and lows of experience, and scary health challenges for those I love, which I rode allll the way Up! And alllll the way back down again!   Remember the old adage of staying within the center so ya dont get spun about on the edge? Yeah, well, I forgot.  See, I have this life now that isnt an incoming drama fest all the time, so I actually can choose my responses to things. Staying calm amidst chaos is possible, riding from my center thru the storm is welcome and doable, but I forgot. Too many years of doing the other. Habits. Hard things to break.  

Good talks with partner, friends and son reminded me of allll this and so August ended very well and enlightening. It ended with a great talk in the park with my son and a very successful painting session with the largest group of Memorycare seniors I have ever had at one time. 

September arrived in quiet beauty. The absolute beauty of the beginnings of Autumn, my favorite season.  I had planned well and set time for me up at the beginning too. Time to be still, paint, plan, think, create. 

Ancient - 12x15, watercolor on 300lb Arches paper

is the result of August. Life will present you with many doorways, it is always up to you which one you choose to walk through. 

Ancient  -  12x15 watercolor on 300lb Arches paper

Ancient  -  12x15 watercolor on 300lb Arches paper


A vacation is not 9 days of intense physical and spiritual activity. That may be necessary and fun and beloved, but it is not a vacation. It is Service, done so that The People May Live. 

Peace @ People's Park  - the painting

Peace @ People's Park  - the painting

A vacation is not 3 days of cooking for 160+ people. That also may be fun, and spiritual and educational, but it is not a vacation. It is Community Service, done in support of family, clan and tribe, it is vital and fulfilling, but it is not a vacation.  

Peace at People's Park

Peace at People's Park

A Vacation (with a capital V) is unscheduled. It does not contain any hard time schedules except for arrival, and departure. All else is negotiable and fluid. All else may be altered or amended at any moment should something more enticing present itself. This is a Vacation, the ability to flow. To sit for an unspecified amount of time looking at the lake and then to wander unhurriedly to other visiting spots and stops, To leave at the last possible moment and always arrive right on time.  To stop at a local watering hole for a couple minutes, which turns into an hour plus because out-of-town friends you haven't seen in five years just happened to be in town and stop in too! With their beautiful spirits and voices, and their guitar and ukelele, and a willingness to share their music immediately upon request with all. 

This is A Vacation. A place where the plans of everyday life are discarded in favor of the magic of just being fully present and letting everything flow as it wishes. 

At Lughnassadh this year I promised myself 2 things. It wasnt til last weekend that I realized one of those things was in reality, to consciously plan and block out on my calendar to experience, one Vacation Day each week of my life at minimum moving forward. 


This might possibly be the first goal I have ever set that I can't wait to start "working" on.  


This image is going to all my clients in the next two months, and onto my fridge tonight so that I do not forget.  

Emotional and purpose review day, no one ever plans these.

I spent yesterday painting with folks. Midday I volunteered my time for an organization that holds monthly gatherings to encourage positive parenting. There were about 25 young parents there, including 3 dads, and lots of children, most under the age of 5. They had been told no kids, but none had childcare, because the entire group is homeless.  They were all under the age of 30, a number were siblings or cousins and all their kids. The kids all got a good snack and playtime, the adults got just a little bit of downtime. This was my first time working with this group, and owing to the excitement about the painting, it was the biggest group they had ever had. Had I known about all the kids I could easily have brought tempera paints and maybe my wonderful artist goddaughter and we could have kept the little ones busy for longer so their exhausted parents could have a longer rest. I am at another session next week with another of their groups, so the tempera paints are getting packed. I cant imagine having tried to raise my son while being homeless. 


Last night I was the Painting instructor for The Women of the New Zion Church in Hammond, IN. This is the third event I have done for ladies church groups, each one a referral from the last. We did a painting focused on the image of the Virtuous Woman, a new series of classes they are beginning. The painting combined the image of the cross merged with the ancient symbols for womens power and the colors black, red and white for the triple aspects of the Ancient Female Archetypes of Maiden, Mother and Crone. These womens church groups have become one of my favorite events to do. They have so much fun! There is so much laughter and joy and community connection! They are all ages and everyone works so well together focused on amd sharing their common spiritual focus. Most have never painted and it is so wonderful to see the joy in their faces when they realize their painting is beautiful and they did it!  


And today, I am home. There is a huge list of things I need to do for work, (I realized the other day I cannot remember ever being fully caught up and having nothing on the "should do" list) my studio is a wasteland strewn with partially empty paint bottles (I did realize today however when I really looked, that the stack of paintings I have completed in the last year is truly monumental! No wonder I have noticed an improvement in my painting skills) and my weekend with nothing to do truly is that. I have work to do. Nothing more. All of my friends are out there busy doing things, and I am not part of any of it. They are running marathons, going riding, moving to new summer adventures, getting together and having fun. 


It has been a thing for a long time for me. I provide something that is valued. My art, my efforts, but it is what I provide, not me, that is valued. The majority of phone calls I recieve are work related or bill reminders. Calls from friends just to say Hi are not a part of my reality. I make them, I rarely recieve them.  


Having a community that is mostly a state away and a small business that takes all my efforts has been challenging. I truly love what I do, but I wish for stimulating conversations and hangout time, and that is rare.  


In less than a month, psg will come and while my community will be gathered, I will be focused upon my duties there and partake, again, of almost none of the connection and community part of things.  


I am not complaining, just comsidering. For my entire life I have known what I wanted to do, what fed my mind and heart and spirit. How to be, and feel healthy and alive.  How I wanted to love and live and who I wanted to be, but life has always somehow moved all my efforts (or just my objective) just slightly off mark and despite a herculean will to overcome the obstacles and disappointments, and an unwillingness to ever give up, I find myself today to be tired and lonely and thoroughly unsure how to proceed. 


In the last week, I have seen 4 different items on caretaking openings for remote farms, living off grid and raising sheep, giving it all up and heading out on the road, and a small ad for a little 12ft sailboat. They all have wakened in me again the gypsy desire to just escape into an adventure and just this once, if the universe's plan for me is to never have mind, body, spirit and soul connected and fed simultaneously, to just bend to that and at the very least, have adventure if nothing else.


So, I am going to hangout with my son, finish my Greenman painting and do my work because that it what I need to do.


As for this blog post? LOL I feel comfortable posting this here because I know no one reads it.  


Tomorrow of course will be a better day.  

The ladies and their painting

The ladies and their painting

The week-end chaos

The week-end chaos

A year of class material

A year of class material

A reminder of who I once was

A reminder of who I once was

"What do Artist's do? They notice stuff." ~Grayson Perry~

Have you ever noticed, I mean really taken notice of a Facebook post and had it stick in your mind for weeks?  This happened to me recently.  It was a silly meme posted by a biker friend that asked this question.  "If you had to wear a warning label, what would it be?"  

I spend a TON of time driving between clients, 5-600 miles in an average week, and as I am not a fan of noise, I spend most of those driving hours just quietly thinking.  Consequently, I have an inordinate amount of time to ponder (notice) "stuff".  Many of my art ideas come about while driving and noticing "stuff".  

Weeks after having seen that silly warning label meme, I was still considering what my warning label might be, and that led me to ponder what exactly a warning label is.  Is it a notice to back away, or just a sign that tells what the situation is in this current location?  or both? Would one of my paintings be appropriate as my warning notice? They certainly show the contents and potential consequences of interaction with me, a personally created notification of what I have noticed as it were.  Does my art need a warning label of its own?  Does it or anyone need a label of any kind at all?  Do our labels (our notices) truly make our lives worse, or better? Do they create challenges or alleviate them?  In the course of these ponderings I of course wandered through the territory of Grayson Perry's quote and noticed a lot of "stuff".  The negative nature of the labels that are being so actively used to create an "us" vs "them" scenario in our country; the dislike I have for labels, and how that difficulty has just increased the longer I work with elders; the difficulty I have labeling even some of my own artwork because I see it as so many different things; the challenge I experience trying to label anything about myself including my warning.

And then there is this: Warning labels really tell people, not the whole truth, but just what we want others to notice. And that information is provided edited through our own prejudices and presented with all our preconceptions embedded handily within our label.  

At the end of all this pondering, I did finally narrow my warning label down to two wordy possibilities and one painted one.  But the topic; labels? that is still as wide open as the initial quote for this writing.. Artist's notice stuff, that is it.  Then we chew through it and regurgitate a vision that may or may not aide your experience.  Our vision not necessarily offering you any further clarification or understanding, but instead existing solely to satisfy our need to create from the well of feelings we hold that was created by the stuff we noticed.

Maybe that then is the label.  But not one individually appropriate label, one instead for all Artists.  

Be Warned:  I am an Artist.  I notice stuff.  

or more simply                              Artist

Art Art Art

It has been a very busy Spring. My Senior Programming & Consulting business is growing steadily and going smashingly well.  The Art part of my life is filled to overflowing and life in general is just pretty wonderful.  I am looking forward to gardening time and hangout time at home this weekend as well as time for some more painting and some research work on the computer.   I am satisfied that the manner in which I have organized my life, or better stated, the manner in which my life has organized me, includes some kind of painting or creating each and every day.  There is much to be said for regular payroll checks, great insurance, 401k and all that.  But, the peace, calm, freedom and sense of wholeness that has come with setting my own schedule and filling my life with art, has been truly indescribable.  I have no doubt that this carried me through a very painful personal time at the end of 2014.  This morning, rainy and chilly and a perfect day to be inside creating, I finished two small paintings and had an opportunity to upload a few more that I had missed in recent months.  I hope you enjoy!


What if the question was Art? Ritual? Play?  Is there one answer to each of these? Is there one answer that fits all?


Spring Spring Spring  and so, in naming this piece I used languages from the three nations that have had a profound effect on me in the last few years.  Ireland, Wales and Estonia

And in the languages of those peoples, Errach-Gaeilge, Gwanwyn-Welsh, Kevad-Estonian, named this latest piece,  Spring~Spring~Spring. 

Please, come see the piece in person during the Next Show at Life Force Arts in Chicago, IL.  The show opens during the first week of May and holds the title that inspired this piece: Art, Ritual and Play.

Special thanks go out to some very dear friends who over the years have gifted me with many of the items on this piece.  Joan, Joey, Marla, Charmaine and Rich.  It could not have existed without your contributions.  Thank you.


Join me for a wonderful evening of painting and exploring your creativity!  No previous painting experience required, all materials supplied!  See Class page here for samples, times and dates of upcoming painting classes for adults being hosted at The Abbey Center building of the Elmhurst Park District.  Following is the Park District catalog link for registration.  This Thursday we will spend our evening with Monet in the "Poppy Fields near ArgenteuilI" I  look forward to seeing you there!


Poppy Fields near Argenteuil by Monet 1875

Poppy Fields near Argenteuil by Monet 1875

A walk down memory lane...

Have spent this week and part of last week doing a research project for a client that requires TONS of on computer time (after 10 hours straight I am currently bug-eyed and numb-butted!)... anyway, this afternoon as I was poking around I came upon these gems. See, while I wanted to be Bob Ross as I was growing up, and figured maybe I could be, the thing I REALLY wanted to do was be an artist for Disney. But not a character artist. I wanted to do backgrounds. Their backgrounds were always the best, but the forests in Sleeping Beauty were the final kicker for me! Man they were just magnificent! Computers are wonderful, but something magical was lost when we turned away, in favor of 3D computer generated art, from all the amazing paint and brush creations of those masters of 2D animation.

not only did I find these images today, but also this wonderful DIsney documentary on the painting of a tree, by four different artists, and the unique vision they each brought to the experience.

46th Annual NSUC Art Fair!

Juried, well-known for its amazing collection of artists.  I am honored to be one of them this year and looking forward to seeing you all there!

April 25 and 26, North Shore Unitarian Church, Deerfield, IL 


Its official!  Beginning in March I will be doing painting and spirits classes in Wheaton at Ivy!

Been looking forward to this for quite some time and looking forward to adding a new twist by helping people to create their own versions of master works.  

check out all the ads on the Class page and on Facebook at Colleen * Mystical Willow Productions 

Ivy is a GORGEOUS restaurant with an amazing menu!  A beautiful old world atmosphere to recreate the works of some of the greatest artists of all time, and to remember while we are doing it, that we are all artists...some of us just don't know it yet!


a difficult art piece, two actually

Bone Fire - Die and Be Reborn Again

Bone Fire - Die and Be Reborn Again



I have lived through a ton of shit in my life.  no big deal, lots of folks have.  I made it through. learned lessons. got smarter and healthier and stronger and on we roll.  

at the other end of so much antics, I am a very positive and optimistic person who is still able to be surprised and awed by life and its wonder, who holds a sincere sense of gratitude for kindnesses and compassion and who still, mainly because of my art, believes in fairytales and magic and whispered promises shared in the moonlight.  ya know, all that little girlie stuff.

none of this means I am not also fully capable of being a rockin single mom and a very successful senior care professional and business owner and artist.  I have actually worked really hard to come to a point in my life where everything is balanced and works together pretty flippin nicely.

that is the healthy part that made it through and that is in charge of my feelings and thoughts for about 90% of my life. 

but there is the other part, left with all its fears and experiences from the pain and hurts of before and it is still afraid and still finds challenge in believing that all the good and the love flowing in are real and will last.  There is no question that seriously abusive relationships leave marks, whether the scars are physical or only mental and emotional doesn't really matter, they are still most definitely there, and lots of folks have em. To have lived through those experiences of the past many of us created internal personas that watched out for us.  The little voice in our head that turned on the warning bell right before that violent spouse was gonna throw something so there was time to duck; or made the silent suggestion within our mind to check the bank account, now unexpectedly empty ...before.... writing the mortgage check; or led us to check the mailbox at a time earlier than usual and find the letters from the attorneys and court system about heretofore unknown arrests and courtdates and fees and fines.  That part of us, our hyper-vigilant intuitive 6th sense takes a long long time to resign from its post!!!!! Years!

It made its living watching and paying attention to the most minute details of behavior, tone of voice and facial expressions.  It learned to "seek and find" better than any military trained attache' or international spy.  It is outstanding at its job, it had to be, being outstanding at its job was often the ONLY thing standing between it and the full on destruction of the person in which it resided.  At least that is how it seemed at the time. 

But what happens when you have corrected all the situations, removed the abusers and created a wonderful peaceful life for yourself?  When you have done the counseling and the personal work and moved your psyche on along to a better and healthier land and a space of relearned trust and confidence and happiness.  Then what? Does that voice just disappear?  yeah, that would be the easiest way wouldn't it... but it doesn't.  It rests.  It fades and rests and seems to disappear.... until.

Yep, you guessed it, new experiences come along, most often when things are looking truly wonderful and awesome and there is that little voice again.  Checking corners, and backdoors and windows for the lock left untended.  Reviewing floorplans and access points for potential infiltation, checking all the chinks in the armor I had finally discarded and while earnestly suggesting I "put that shit back on right the fuck now!" making a very specific map of just where the armor piercing bullet or the well wielded handknife can get through for the killing blow.

Now, you can try and just ignore the voice.  Stick your fingers in your ears and sing "lalalalala" all day long.  This likely will not work for you any better than it has worked for me.  You can politely acknowledge it and tell it to calm itself and go sit quietly, or maybe meditate it into temporary somnolence. You can even try making your point by being like a new made daredevil taking every leap and turn at high speed, pushing the envelope and the safety zones as hard as possible hoping that little sucker will just pass out and shut up once and for all.  

But these approaches will all be unsuccessful because there is only one way to get the voice to be quiet and that is to walk forward, with thought and persistence into new situations that have good, happy, joyful, love filled outcomes so that new experiences are created for the hyper vigilant 6th sense to remember INSTEAD of the ones it does.  Thats it.  That is what I have found works.  That, and art.

There are two pieces of art on my table right now.  One is about 3/4 done and has been in progress for 7 years.  It is a watercolor and symbolizes the rebirth of my self. The self run by that hyper-vigilant voice, finalized and washed and being reborn into something new and freer.  The other, in progress for only a few weeks gives voice to my own personal, magical and mystical transformation through my current work with journeying and my teacher. 

They both illustrate a very old and well understood mystical concept.  That of the Phoenix. Reborn from the ashes of your old self into something that looks just the same and yet is actually new and completely different.

It is easy to paint a picture of a Phoenix, I have done it many times, one time even as a requested gift for one of my more manipulative abusers... imagine that.  It is much more difficult to be a Phoenix. It is even more challenging to paint an image of your own Phoenix-like transformation. So these pieces have been vexing me a bit.  Even the music I am playing in the background as I work has not seemed right.

the one in progress for 7 years will not seemingly allow the details to be added until the wisdom is integrated into my psyche, and we all know how long wisdom takes to acquire, and totally explains why this piece has taken so long!! 

So, this weekend, on the three days of the Full Moon I have every intention of quieting the voice with paints and music and dance and believing in my dreams and hopes and wishes and all that is coming to pass not only in my heart and mind, but in my arms and hands and feet and voice and especially my brushes and I hope to give the Phoenix its two faces, because it seems there are things afoot for me, and to be ready to meet them head on, I need to be fully past my past.  The time to make those new and joyful experiences it seems, is finally here.