BIO: Shiloh Sophia McCloud

“Each work of art created with love, is a prayer.”

Shiloh Sophia McCloud experiences life as a great adventure and a cause for celebration! She is a visionary entrepreneur, artist and writer who has dedicated the past 16 years of her life to practicing and sharing the creative arts. From her desire to share the blessings and healing possible through intentional creativity, and her belief that all beings are inherently creative, Shiloh founded the tribe of Cosmic Cowgirls, a Community, University and Magazine, owned by women and girls. Shiloh was raised in a matriarchal household of wild creatives and has been painting since she was just a girl. Her fine art paintings are represented and collected all over the world, and she has owned a gallery for over 12 years, featuring women’s artwork. Inspired by her love of combining word and image, she has illustrated many books and published over seven books of her own, including interactive creative journals. She is currently working on a book about leading a legendary life. Through her work with tens of thousands of women in her coaching practice, workbooks, workshops and online classes, she has come to believe that creativity is our seventh sense. Shiloh says: Through cultivating our seventh sense–creativity–we open ourselves to a rich world of inner wisdom, symbols, stories, and gain greater access to the gateways leading to our own calling. When we answer that calling, everything we do takes on a different meaning, and we begin to be able to make choices that are in alignment with our life purpose.

Shiloh lives and teaches a philosophy that all art forms are tools for individual, social and spiritual transformation. Art is her creative spiritual practice, and each painting is a prayer, and a connection with the divine. Shiloh can often be found in her studio, the Red Thread Cafe, in her red cowgirls boots and jeans, working up a cosmic storm with a swirl of glitter on the end of her magical paintbrush. She lives in Northern California with her husband and business partner, Jonathan Lewis.

Everything I create is rooted in my desire to ease the suffering of the world. Some of us serve in soup kitchens. Some of us are marching. Some hold the hands of the dying. Some of us teach. Some fight. Some pray. And some of us, create art.

Artists touch the suffering through our creations. Some say that art is not as important as other works, and that to paint or sing or write a poem is not of the same worth as planting and digging carrots or volunteering at the (fill in the blank). But I believe that when the artist is committed to art as a form of service and devotion, it is as important as any and every other form of service and devotion. I encourage all beings to be creative and that every bone in our body is a creative bone.

“The work of a woman visionary is to the know the past, dream the future, and take powerful action in the present.”

Words from Shiloh

I work with women who have not painted sometimes in 40 years – and have felt repressed all that time. Through accessing her own internal wisdom regarding her creative self, healing occurs.

I believe that it is through our creativity that we are able to unviel the self that we most wish to be and the gifts that accompany that self. Creativity gives VOICE to the soul. And so…I put my energy into inviting women to create.

As a full time artist and teacher everything I create is a prayer for our possibility. I also create Rights of Passage experiences with young girls that include painting, journaling and ritual making.

Through our publishing company, Cosmic Cowgirls Ink, LLC we work to create a venue, platform and community in which women have an opportunity to share their work. Our books and cards are represented in venues across the United States and Canada.

I am passionate about giving voice to the work of women and girls. In my lifetime I am committed to working together with others to change the way women and girls are viewed in the media. One of the ways I do that is to publish alternative media so that there are options for us to choose that represent more of who we experience ourselves to be. I am also VERY
passionate about the practice of intentional creativity and making that available to others.

I am rebel. And a woman in process. So all of my projects, from my books and paintings to my resume are rebellious works of love and outrageousnes in process. One of my gifts is that I am not a perfectionist. I don’t try to get it right. I just share what I have and I hope it reaches someone in a way that they need to be met. I don’t fit into fill in the blank spaces,
and most folks don’t. When we try, we end up looking and feeling crunched.

I did not have traditional art training and I had to leave art college to save my own creativity from the depths of conformity. So when folks ask where I got my training, I just say, my family. Because I did. My mom taught me, encouraged me, to be as different and unique as I felt like being. I stopped trying to fit in at about age 14, and not a moment too soon. I was done with all that. I became a punk rocker without the anger. And I was proud of it. But how can you put punk rock princess on your
resume? Where is the space for writing, ‘I have been drawing all my life’ on a resume? Or, ‘I am the one my friends turn to when they are in need’ or ‘I am inventing my own legend’ or ‘I have written 100 poems”.

SACRED ART Statement 2009

Shiloh Sophia McCloud

I believe that art is a Spiritual Practice.
I believe that art is a Path of Healing.

I am an artist who performs my work as a Spiritual Practice. I think of my paintings, which I call Sacred Art, as: Prayers for the world; Offerings of love and hope and rest; Alignment with wellness and beauty; Devotions of gratitude and praise to the Divine; A most delicious outpouring of my soul.

I am not speaking of all art. I am speaking of Sacred Art. Art specifically and consciously committed to revelation, to inspiring healing and wholeness. Art—like a hearty soup cooked with love, a garden planted and tended with care, a song that raises one’s spirit—art that is intended to lift the soul of humanity. Art in which we FEEL the soul of the work, speaking to us. This, I call Sacred Art.

I began working with intentional creativity, and sacred art over sixteen years ago. I had one of those mountain top experiences in Northern California. My heart had belonged to Jesus since I was a kid, but as a young adult, I felt that I desperately needed to speak with my Mother—my Divine Mother. Although I am not sure if I even knew there was one at that time, my earthly mother recently recalled to me that when I was a child, I had asked if Jesus came from a broken home. She said I wanted to know where his mom was since people always talked about his father, but not his mommie.

Some might call my mountain top encounter an awakening. Surely it was, for it was when the Mother, in the form of Mary, revealed herself to me that I truly became me. I was twenty-two at the time and had been seeking my art form for some years, but with very little fruit. As a result of becoming me, my art also became. It is no surprise that the very first art I created that I KNEW was my life work was a Madonna and Child.

My call to create rang out from the heart of the Divine and I answered, YES!! I have not ceased to create since that time. This work is informed by something that is always challenging to put into words. Before I did not know what to create, and for whom, so my work lacked vitality and originality. But with the coming of the Mother Mary—my precious Mary Ma—came information about the suffering of the world. With that, came responsibility. I knew of the suffering and tragedy, but I had been removed from it. It was “out there,” not “in here.” It was as if parts of my heart had been veiled and had suddenly became illuminated. I had access to more of my feeling, my seeing, my loving. I also felt profound agonizing emotional pain.

This awakening was one of the most mystical experiences of my life—almost a third “birthing.” First was entering the world, second was connecting with Jesus Christ, and third was this awareness of my Divine Mother, her relationship to her children, and my call to art. I prayed to her about what I was supposed to do about all of this newfound pain. Art was her answer. In order to contribute to the healing of our world I was to create, and teach others to create. I have not stopped since!!!

As soon as I began to paint, the pain transitioned into knowledge, and knowledge transitioned into wisdom, and wisdom informed not only painting, but teaching. Clearly, my gift was to be, not only the product of painting, but the sharing and teaching of the process, and to prosper the work itself.

With the love, encouragement, and support of my life long mentor, Sue Sellars,  and my wise mother, Caron, my career was launched. I had my first art show exactly one and a half years later. I sold everything. I went to seminary in Boulder Colorado to become a Reverend in the mystical Church of Grace of Sophia. Through my training there, the depth and breadth of my artwork as my ministry blossomed. I had ongoing shows at local cafes and galleries, and I published my first journal book, Color of Woman, at the downtown Kinkos.

Now, twenty years later, I have consistently made a living through my sacred practice of creating and teaching art. With the continuing help and support of my family, I opened a gallery about ten years ago. I began having workshops and events designed to raise awareness around important issues. For example, we worked with Parsa, to connect with women artists in Afghanistan (pre-9-11) to create prayer shawls for women in our community. We educated people regarding these women and the conditions under which they lived and labored. They risked their lives to create those shawls for us. Their work arrived that November following 9-11.

Many of my works reflect family, friendship, lovers, healing, possibility and moments of joy, and many of she who inspires the work—the Madonna, Our Lady, in her many manifestations. She nurses her child, she hears our prayers, she creates miracles, she heals our hearts. My delight in painting her is beyond belief. I experience hours of what can only be called bliss as I paint and pray.

I believe that all of us are creative beings with stories to tell and gifts to share. Art may be a natural talent, coming more easily to some than others, but I now know that it can be learned. Trying to make images look like like something that already exists is what thwarts our efforts. If we invent from the soul, with our focus on the good, what comes out will be true and original. It cannot not be so. I have taught hundreds of women to paint who did not think that they could. But they did! And they loved it! And they learned that art can be a sacred practice.