Colors of the Season (Inspired by San Miguel de Allende)



Spring Greetings everyone,

I thought I’d send out a little notice that I am home from Mexico and painting again.  There are new paintings in the Gallery so you may want to take a look…

Our trip to San Miguel was beyond my wildest dreams,  amazing. I truly have found a place that has deeply touched my heart/mind/soul.  I posted on my Facebook page during the trip but not as much as I did last year – I was so enthralled I just allowed myself to experience it and was less inclined to take photos as much (still fully documented!).  So, here are a few gems from the trip.  I hope you enjoy them.  The colors and feel of my experience there has definitely inspired my paintings. Happy Spring!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Spirit of This and All Seasons



Each year, as a family tradition, a randomly chosen family member, delivers a holiday time (either Thanksgiving or Christmas) “homily” to be read after the holiday meal.  This year, to the delight of all, it was my husbands turn.  Here’s what he said…


Christmas Homily 2014

Here I am, administering the homily, but I confess I am a reluctant “homilier.”
Among other impediments, there is my distrust of pontification as an agent of growth. I subscribe to the age-old notion that actions inspire louder than words. I believe that the most adherent learning occurs by example.
I am also uncomfortable interacting in groups—even groups of dearly loved ones. As I considered the reasons for that discomfort I realized that the enjoyment I derive from conversation is proportional to the likelihood of deepening my comprehension of another soul; a finely wrought connection that I seem only able to establish with one person at a time.
Finally, a creed is like an old shoe; it is deeply personal. It may be ill-fitting and unpleasant to others unaccustomed to the fit and fragrance.
In spite of my non-pontification vow, in spite of my discomfort, in spite of the mismatch between my inclinations and present circumstances, I intend to make the best of it. I will keep it short—though perhaps a little less than sweet. I will speak directly and, I hope, clearly about the creed that informs my life, minute-by-minute and day-by-day.
Without detailing my life’s circuitous byways, which would surely violate my promise of brevity, I will just say that I have always endeavored to unearth a set of clear principles that could guide my life down to the smallest granules of activity—a beacon to draw me forward in the dimmest light. I have always sought a simple, clarion key with which to harmonize my actions. I knew that such a key would need to persuade two, sometime discordant judges—heart and mind—both equally prominent in the court of my personality. And yet, over time, and in spite of these harsh judges, I have found that personal key, the notes of which reflect the following recognitions:
Suffering, in all its manifold forms, is a dominant aspect of existence. An awareness of suffering, in even its smallest manifestations, deepens our humanity. 

Once I was in a CVS and noticed that the cashier, a teenage girl, was afflicted with terrible acne. Certainly not life threatening, no different than many other teenage girls, but I found myself curiously moved, recalling that age, imagining her likely anguish, internalizing both the particular and figurative nature of her suffering. 

To me, it is self-evident that one of society’s key functions is to diminish suffering in proportion to its degree.
The most important thing that distinguishes humans (and other sapient creatures) from rocks, machinery, and the empty spaces between the stars, is not language. It is not tool-making ability or upright posture. It is not opposable thumbs. It is not even self-awareness—often considered a hallmark. The monumental thing that distinguishes us is, I believe, our impulse to care about beings apart from ourselves and to act in accordance with that impulse.

Think about it. What would existence look like without caring actions? Finding you in the most heart-rending distress, why would I do anything to assist you? Why would any institution or area of endeavor evolve to mitigate suffering? From the personal to the public realm absolutely nothing we hold sacred would exist except as shallow, self-aggrandizement.
But from whence does caring action arise? Surely it is impelled by some, more elementary human particle. Upon further dissection, it seemed to me that compassion is the fundamental fuel that compels us to care—and act accordingly. This active compassion starts with our ability to project into the experience of another and continues with actions intended to reduce their suffering.
The prominent theologian, Peter Gomes, defined compassion as “kindness in the face of the opportunity to do otherwise—more than justice requires.” As he noted, compassion is the central principle that is shared by all of the major religious traditions.
There are several questions one might raise when according compassion such a prominent position in the Pantheon of virtues:
Sometime the reduction of aggregate suffering requires us to act in ways that increase short-term suffering. If I care for someone with a drug addiction, compassion may prompt me to actually add suffering in the present (by denying access to the drug) to reduce greater suffering in the future.

Some believe the compassionate impulse simply derives from evolutionary processes. Others believe, as I do, that it is something transcendent and unknowable that both informs and exceeds those processes. 

This is an interesting question, certainly, but, ultimately, of mostly academic interest. What matters is our recognition of compassion as a fundamental force that fuels our sacred obligation to recognize and reduce suffering.
None of this implies that other grand virtues—such as truth and courage—should not be celebrated. But if one must be reductionist (and apparently I must) it seems to me that compassion must be accorded a special position.
And while compassion is natively present in some more than others, it is also a seed within all of us that can be grown. And how do we provide the requisite care and feeding? Here are two habits that have served me well:
Humility—reality, in all its splendor and woe, even in the small corner each of us inhabits, is ineffably immense and mysterious. As individuals, we can only grasp the merest iota of our own being let alone the vast ocean of the human condition. The only appropriate response is profound humility. In 2011, David Brooks wrote with great eloquence about humility:
Humility is not equivalent to low self-esteem. Rather, the humble person has an accurate view of herself. She can acknowledge her mistakes. She has low self-focus. She is aware of her place in the grand scheme of things and is sensitive to larger and possibly higher forces.

The humble person has the ability to be “unselved.”

Humility is not modesty either. The modest person has a moderate view of himself, but may still think about himself all the time. Humility is better seen as the opposite of narcissism. The narcissist has a damaged sense of self and is consequently self-centered a great deal of the time, reacting in defensive ways to ego threat. The humble person has an accurate and durable sense of self and can see the relationship between the self and the larger world.
If we develop the habit of humility, we are unselved—a fertile soil in which compassion naturally grows.
Listening—when another human speaks to us earnestly and we listen well, a window begins to open. And if the lesser voices within us—judgment, ego, insecurity—are not too indulged, we have the opportunity to peer into the soul of another. It is in that majestic place that compassion, deep fellowship, and love arise.
Of course there is a great body of wisdom devoted to compassion, but no simple formulas for its cultivation (I’ve sometime fantasized about spiking the water supply with compassion inducing drugs).
At Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, one of my son’s asked an archetypal question of the assembled. “What is life’s purpose?” For me, the answer to this question begins with my belief that all people share the same three basic desires: to love, to be loved, to have meaning. Those desires are most deeply satisfied where compassion operates freely. Our underlying purpose, therefore, is to grow that capacity within ourselves.
As succinctness is rapidly slipping through my fingers, I would like to close with two quotes.
From William James:
“I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible, loving, human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride.”
And, of course, from my beloved George Eliot, whose final paragraph of Middlemarch I can never resist quoting. Referring to the book’s protagonist, who lived a profound albeit provincial life, she wrote:
Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive, for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.

IMG_2316Wishing you a warm heart and a peaceful mind, and the presence to “be with” whatever comes your way.


Painting Studies: Flower of Life

Flower of Life 20 x 20 Sold

Flower of Life 

"Flower of Life  7" 6 x 6

The symbol, the Flower of Life has been described as  “the visual expression of the connections of life that run through all sentient beings”. You can google it and find much information about this mysterious and beautiful form.

Of late, I have been somewhat obsessed with painting the Flower of Life in a variety of colors and designs.  They are on view now in my gallery.  I hope you’ll take a look… I love seeing them all together.

Each painting takes a different amount of time to complete. The process is very meditative and engenders a welcomed tranquil state of being-ness.   First I paint the background and let it dry completely.  Next, I begin to draw the “flower”, choosing which lines/curves to emphasize as I go along.  Next, for some of them, transparent colors are added for that “stained glass” effect. To others, I add opaque colors, filling in the shapes in the design. You’ll see all my recent Flower of Life paintings first in line in the gallery –  but I have done some others (scroll through the paintings in the gallery).

Each completed painting has it’s own feel, it’s own sense about it.  Each one can draw the viewer inside to the essence of simply being.  See if you can feel their effect…For me, they stimulate an awareness of the paradoxical hum of great stillness/silence, present in all…that Being behind the curtain,  so to speak.  Visit them and let me know what you experience – Enjoy!

"Flower of Life 4" 6 x 6

Each photo of each painting is marked with a # and with it’s size. 6 x 6 paintings in this series are $135,  and 8 x 8 paintings are $150.  Keep in mind that these photo’s are (good) approximations of how the actual painting looks in “person”.  The photos do a pretty good job but there may be variations in color, from what you see here.  If you are local, you can contact me to arrange to visit them in person! However keep in mind they may not  last long!

If you would like to purchase a painting from the gallery, please email me at, with the name/# of the painting(s) you are interested in (I recommend putting 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices) and the paintings will be sold on a “first come (first email received)” basis.  

  Happy viewing and Happy HOLI-days.

"Flower of Life 15" 6 x 6

"Flower of Life 3" 6 x 6" Sold

"Flower of Life 12" 6 x 6

Meditations on the Day ~ (audio gift included in this post for limited time)


Welcome to my new studio space at Heron Studios/Gallery. We are having an Opening Celebration tonight – Won’t you join us?



The link for the preview song Something Beautiful is gone, but when the new album is out, you will get a free download of it!  Stay tuned…You can listen as you browse through the photos below. You can preview some of the tracks from the upcoming album here.



A warm hearth by the window…Love this old building!


Hanging Mexican hearts in the windows…


Large and well lit, yep, inspiring…


Ahhhh, the natural light bathing the studio in the mornings!


The beauty and gift of light and color…


Each moment setting up here in my new space (like every moment) is an opportunity to open to what is happening …an opportunity to see where I resist and where I can soften towards my own experience, whatever it might be…


I am so grateful for this life and the possibilities that are before me…


Picking bittersweet outside the studio…



Bittersweet, a perfect reminder of our human experience…


Preparing for all the Souls that will pass through Heron tonight…may I make them all welcome, may I see them as the beautiful Souls they are…


Staying rooted in the essence of my being allows my heart to stay open to what is…


Listening, again and again, returning to that which never leaves, I am home.


Welcome, welcome, come home to yourSelf and celebrate your vast heart as it swallows you whole!


May the Grace of God be with you always in your heart, May you know the Truth inside you from the start, May you find the strength to know you are a, Part of something BEAUTIFUL!                  ~ Alexi Murdoch





It’s All Happening…

meditating in Jamaica

Meditating at yoga retreat…Treasure Beach, Jamaica 11/14

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there…
When the Soul lies in that grass, all thoughts shall pass, all thoughts shall pass…

~Rumi/Sean Johnson

New album coming – I’ll be working with Sean’s beautiful melody and his version of this beautiful Rumi Poem as well as many originals and some Leonard Cohen covers — stay tuned…hear samples at

Also, this weekend, Heron Art Studios (where I have a studio now! – post to come about that) is having their 17th annual Show and Sale.  Opening celebration with live music Friday November 14, 6 – 9 PM and 11/14 – 15 and 11/22 – 23 from 11 – 5 PM.


Yummy little panels, rich color/imagery, raven, bears, trees, mandalas, moons and more… Heron Studios Art Show and Sale.   Live Music, refreshment, original art, merriment, unique gifts including pottery, jewelry, paintings by several artists, ironworks, photography, sculpture, woodwork, tile work and more. All at the intersection of Red Hill & Mount Roads (best for GPS) in Aston PA. See You There!


New Music on the Way…Free Samples are HERE!

IMG_9944Just back from a beautiful Philly Shakti Chant Festival where we rocked with all the bands and had a great set ourselves. So much fun – Loved meeting and singing with the beautiful, spirited Brenda McMorrow (from Canada) and with  the gracious David Newman who welcomed Brenda and I to his wonderful community of yogis and yoginis.  A  joyous day and so close by! – a pleasure to spend the day with most of the band – just hanging out and eating great food and enjoying the beautiful weather and the music – oh the music!

In other news, I have  been working away in the studio for some time now and the tracks are coming along nicely…I like sharing the process of my paintings as they are coming along…well, it occurred to me that I could do the same with my music.  The album should be complete mid August. It always takes longer than you think it’s going to… and it’s always finished in perfect timing.  So  here are your free samples (note, click the buy button and it lets you “pay what you want” – just put a big ole “0” and you won’t be charged a penny to download.

Hope you enjoy!

Fresh Tracks from Clair Oaks

Love, Clair

“Explorations: One Artist’s Path” First Solo Show!

My first solo show is up at Hobbs Coffee in Swarthmore PA, – my home town.

We had a really great opening – lots of fun, the walls were filled with the color and light of my work. Many friends and many new folks as well. Great music by my friend EJ Simpson (and my dears sisters of Anjali and I joined him for a few tunes).  3 paintings from the show will be going bye bye after the show, so far.  My dear friend Martha helped me hang the show – which is a varied group of pieces including some of my photographs from my recent time in beautiful Mexico.  If you are local, I hope you’ll stop by!

Here is my artist’s statement for the show, along with a few pictures.  Hope you are all well and enjoying the fact that SPRING has finally arrived! Blessings!


Here’s the show “statement”:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”~ Joseph Campbell

“Explorations: One Artist’s Path”

Mixed Media, Acrylic Paintings and Photography of Clair Oaks


April 11 – May 9, 2014

In my work as an artist (musical and visual), I have long been compelled to express my soul’s yearning to remind me of who I am. Not who I am, as in: Clair Oaks, mother, wife, friend, daughter, yoga teacher, musician, and visual artist, not as one of the varied roles I play in my life, but the deeper “me,” as a soul, an expression of consciousness, of prana, of life — that essence which connects us all as beings on this beautiful planet. During the past year, my total infatuation with painting still strong, I also began to branch out and experiment with mixed media, creating pieces using acrylic paint along with collage elements, and playing with new textures and images. The natural world still figures prominently in my work, perhaps because nature so clearly expresses Consciousness just by its presence and beauty.

For many years, I have been a lover of photography (practicing and appreciating) in addition to painting. Strangely though, I never printed my own work. I am not sure why, but after a life altering trip to Mexico (San Miguel de Allende) this winter, I decided to play with printing some of the photos taken in that beautiful place. I am sharing some of the results with you in this show.

“Explorations – One Artist’s Path,” is a body of work that represents my creative meanderings primarily over the last year, with a few pieces from earlier stages of my development as an artist. I appreciate being able to share the show with you and I appreciate your taking the time to look, and see, and feel it. My hope is that the work touches you in that place within, where we are all connected, because we are humans, because we are alive. ~Clair




Beautiful Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende

Gonna try sending several little posts out while we are away – from my iPad…we will see how it works.
Today like most, is spectacularly beautiful in San Miguel (I send love and a warm hug to all my friends and family back home!) We started out in Mexico City – We stayed at the Chillout Flat and B and B – I know, sounds kind of funny but it offered exactly that! David and Eloise (proprietors) were gracious hosts. He is a yoga teacher and has painted the beautiful B and B with gorgeous, saturated, Mexican colors – so vibrant and alive. We loved it. We started our trip there because since my trip to San Miguel last year, I have wanted to be able to go see the wonderful Frida Khalo museum. After reading up on her life, we were able to visit the Museum as well as the studio where she and her husband and fellow artist, Diego Rivera lived and worked for a particular time in their marriage.
What strikes me over all is the incredible suffering she endured and how her art really saved her and gave her the gift of expression. She was a strong spirit for sure and Mexico is so very proud of her!


This was the common room at our B&B that we shared with our friends who are traveling with us…


Frida’s beautiful studio which is in the house, called the Blue House, where she grew up in and lived for many years after her parents had died, with and without Diego.


The beautiful garden courtyard of the lovely Blue House


The spiral staircase that leads up the Diego’s studio.

Ok, more soon – hope you are all well, and safe and warm!


Sunset on our first evening in San Miguel de Allende

Life Lessons


For as long as I can remember, at our family Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, my dad has delivered a “homily” after the main meal.  Usually he would bring an article or something he’d recently been mulling over, and add his thoughts and feelings about it. Usually it expressed some particular meaning, viewpoint, or idea that my dad shared or disagreed with and he’d make his point and leave it to us to ponder.  As an adult, especially in the past few years, I have really appreciated this tradition and the time and energy that it takes for him to prepare said homily at these events. –Thanks Dad xo.

A couple years ago, he came up with  a new idea. He said he realized that there were plenty in our crowd ( large family) who had their own “wisdom” to share and that he was going to, by way of a lottery system – aka, names/hat, choose a different family member, each holiday, to deliver the homily.  This year, surprisingly, I volunteered…It was surprising because ever since I heard about this idea I had a sense of  dread about the day my turn would come… until recently.

And I am going to share what I said to my family on Christmas Eve,

with You.




A couple weeks before Christmas, I had lunch with my dad,  and we had a conversation which led to me to contemplate ,why the idea of offering the homily, filled me with dread.

Was it actually dread? And if not what was it…


Fear of not “performing” well ?

Fear of what I shared, not being interesting to others?

Fear of not “doing it as well as others who have gone before,  or who would come after…

As I considered it more, I realized that while some of those things did contribute to my emotional cocktail about it, the most compelling reason I didn’t want to be called on to do this, was because I just couldn’t imagine having anything to say…

It’s not that I lack passion, everyone in my family has seen me express myself passionately about a variety of things over the years…and it isn’t that I don’t care,-  and care deeply about many things…but honestly,   the older I get, the less I feel “sure” about,  — and the less I feel like “espousing” my wisdom”.


Some may consider that a scary thought, or that it means I have lost my way or have fallen into a well of insecurity…no, quite the contrary actually.  For me, it feels liberating.

I feel a freedom in realizing that some of the strongest beliefs I have held for the better  part of my adult life,  have, overtime  without my even realizing it, just dissolved or become personally irrelevant.  There are many ideas, concepts and beliefs that used to consume me, that, now, I  just don’t spend much energy considering anymore.

Not because I don’t think that at least some of them have value in and of themselves,  – I realize that  many lives are deeply enriched by their spiritual beliefs and social/political viewpoints… but somewhere along the way, I came to understand, that my relationship to many of these things had more to do with me trying to prove my own value, than their value. Or… something like that…

As these transformations have occurred, they have brought with them a greater acceptance of things as they are – whatever that looks/feels like — a deep stillness, a quiet joy, that has begun to purr along like a serene, silent, soundtrack that weaves it’s way in and around and through my life.  I’d bet this partly has to do with all the beautiful practices (primarily years of therapy, yoga, meditation etc ) that have been a part of my life for so many years now…but it also has partly to do with aging.

Aging certainly has it’s bummer aspects, to which I am not immune,  but I am, at the moment, appreciating one of it’s gifts…the gift of greater perspective.  Not that all people avail themselves of this particular gift, even though, if we are lucky, we all age.   But simply living longer means you have seen more and experienced more than  you had when you were younger, and that information can, if you let it,  inform our lives, who we are, or are becoming – our very fabric, changes, grows and evolves.


So I am not saying that with aging, one can expect themselves to become better than, or know more than those who haven’t lived as long as the aged.  My experience tells me that some people are just old souls and they are wise, beyond their years…no matter their age.   But what I am really saying is that as we age, we seem to have the opportunity to grow, change and evolve, relative to where we started out.  The aging process for me,  seems to be one of moving away from an orientation of who I am in relationship to others, to who I am in relationship to myself…who I am deep down, not who my ego says I should be according to, say, FaceBook or magazine covers in the supermarket check out or…(insert any cultural yardstick here).   So… I guess my homily is really a call for me to be ME and to figure out what that means as the days pass, by living and loving, sharing and caring from the most authentic me that I can…

And,  it’s an invitation for you to join me,  if inspired — we’ll support each other.

LOVE and Happy New Year,


I Took a Wee Break…

I am back with a little post to say I am happy, healthy and doing just fine!

I am painting, back in the studio making music – 3 pieces/chants that the band and I performed many times but never recorded, and that I had a beautiful summer, with lots of quiet with spurts of activity, travel, friends and family.  Giving myself a break from breakneck speed was a really good idea.

IMG_7130Lots of quiet equals lots of presence for me. Sometimes that’s what it takes for me to deepen my awareness.  Grateful to have had the chance.

"Go Within" 30 x 30 Sold

“Go Within” 30 x 30 Sold

Just finished a lovely weekend at the Svaroopa Yoga conference where I saw many old friends and met some new ones, talked to so many who appreciate my work and use it daily in their work/life. For an artist/musician, it doesn’t get much better than that.

The Swarthmore Friends of the Arts Group Photography show opening (that my friend Martha, and I are responsible for) was the same weekend.  We had a lovely time there as well.IMG_1906

Getting ready now for a wonderful show with the Heron Studios Holiday Show and Sale in Aston PA. Honored to be asked to join them this year and as a special bonus, my son Elijah – musician extraordinaire, will provide music for the event the second weekend of the show. And, I’ll be debuting this baby there as well.

"Buffalo Medicine",  24" x 48"

“Buffalo Medicine”, 24″ x 48″

Hope our paths cross sometime soon. xo, Clair