Changes in the New Year


Happy New Year! Like all years, 2015 saw lots of growth and change. I received my Master’s in English and Creative Writing, I moved, I became and atheist and a vegan, and lots more. 

2016, baby!

2016, baby!

As I plan to focus even more on my writing this year, I have decided to consolidate my blogs into one. I will still be writing about the same things, but all on one site.

If you would, please visit for all my latest musings. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know who you are as well.

Here’s to love and growth and passion in 2016!

Peace and love,

Raven Burnes

The Show is On!

So, my show in El Camino Library is currently on display this month and next, June 2014-July 2014.  Unfortunately two of my paintings were censored:

Eostara, 16X20, oil on canvas

Eostara, 16X20, oil on canvas

Lughnassadh, 16X20, oil on canvas

Lughnassadh, 16X20, oil on canvas

The curator warned me that this might happen because the director is a southern conservative Christian. So, I found out today that it was “not the proper venue” for these two paintings.

But, happily, the rest of my work was approved.  It is unfortunate that the human body is considered obscene, even when reproduced in paint, but that is the world in which we live.

In any case, if you’re in the area and would like to check it out, the location is the main library in El Camino College, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, CA  90506.

Until next time, peace and blessings on the path towards your most authentic self.

Love and Light,




21 Hours of 21 Artists – Trunk Gallery Show in Los Angeles, CA

This past Friday I was one of 21 artists who showed their work at the Trunk Gallery in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles, CA.  Due to my early morning tutoring gig I usually try not to stay up past 9 p.m. (I know!).  So I was a little worried about my stamina for an art opening – with its always-attendant wine, conversation, and (with any luck) random mayhem.

I need not have worried, however.  I had an amazing time!  I enjoyed some extremely interesting conversations with very cool, smart people, saw some beautiful artwork from my fellow artists, and had only one beer!

Special shout-out to Quincy, Conrad, Jacob, Marty, Clarke, Cynthia, Von Paul, and the gallerist-extraordinaire Ann!  It was especially great meeting/seeing you all, but everybody was great!

The show was originally meant to last only three days but it has been extended to Friday, August 30, with a closing reception 8-11 p.m.  If you’re in the area, please come down and take a look (and buy something, damn it!).

The artwork is a broad compilation of everything from pop-art to more traditional fare.  The artists themselves range from newbies to veterans, with no one taking themselves too seriously.  The beauty of such a varied show is that there is something for everyone.  Whether you are into portraits, abstract art, sculpture, photography, or something in between, you are bound to see something that speaks to you at this show.

There are too many pictures to post so I have included a slideshow at the end.  This was a great way for me to end the summer since a new round of classes starts tomorrow at El Camino College.  Even though I have graduated, I consider myself a lifelong learner (plus I still have some scholarship money to burn through!)  If I thought I was sleep-deprived before, I ain’t seen nothing yet!  But, as always, I am totally excited about my continued unfoldment.

Please join me this week and follow your bliss!

Below is the rough sketch for my next painting, the second in an 8-part series on the Wiccan wheel of the year, as well as the one I just completed, which was the first in the series.  Blessed be!

rough sketch for next painting

rough sketch for next painting

"Lughnassadh" 16" X 20" oil on canvas

“Lughnassadh” 16″ X 20″ oil on canvas

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The Search For Love In A Patriarchal Society

There has been a persistent theme in my life over the last few weeks of analyzing romantic relationships and how I feel about them.  I just finished a wonderful book on the subject entitled Communion: The Female Search For Love by bell hooks.  Hooks is a feminist writer whom I had heard of but had never read any of her books.  The book was an excellent analysis of how patriarchy impacts romantic relationships.

Hooks’ basic premise is that enlightened women, especially feminists, who have been largely successful in fighting patriarchy in so many other areas, want romantic relationships that are deeply intimate and fulfilling.  At odds with this goal is the patriarchal tenet that says that real men are unemotional, closed, and unwilling to talk about their feelings.  This is a learned social behavior, not something innate in male babies.  Male babies cry for the same reasons female babies cry.  But, over time we learn our roles within the patriarchy; and these roles provide built-in conflict when it comes to relationships.

Happily, more and more men are embracing feminism, knowing that equality and decency towards one another is not merely a “woman’s issue”.  Every living human being has had a mother at some point, so women’s issues affect everyone.  In addition, the happiness and success of our daughters, sisters, friends, and coworkers affects the society as a whole, not just those individual women.

While hooks’ book title implies that the topic is romantic love, that is only part of it.  Love is love, and it shows up in many different forms.  Strong platonic friendships in addition to healthy family relationships, where they exist, are key to a sense of community and to one’s overall happiness and security.

What I took away from the book for myself is a confirmation of what I see going on in many romantic relationships and a rational explanation for why I have resisted them.  Within patriarchy, women are taught to find their fulfillment within the boundaries of a romantic relationship.  Men are taught that marriage is a trap and a burden that should be postponed for as long as possible.  Women are taught that being loved by a man is the highest form of validation and the key to a happy and successful life.  Men are taught to find their validation through work, that women are an accessory to their lives, and that a wife’s goals and aspirations should be secondary to the man’s career goals and to the happiness of the family.  Men are also taught that they should be superior to all women in all relevant aspects of life and that a woman’s beauty is a reflection upon his worth as a man.  This is why many men, especially those whose financial success makes them feel entitled, leave their marriages in pursuit of younger women once they reach a certain age.  A woman’s worth, under patriarchy, expires once her youthful good looks and innocence give way to wisdom and maturity.

Given this sad state of affairs between men and women, many women understandably try to navigate their happiness as best they can without directly challenging the system.  To challenge the system is to risk “being alone” – which is patriarchy’s ultimate punishment for lack of conformity.  Society has always taught women that the worst thing that could happen to them is to end up a “spinster” or “old maid” (notice that there are no male equivalents for these derogatory labels).  So women try to find love anyway, within the system, and often tolerate a lifetime of disrespect, uncertainty, and a lack of love.  Those who are luckier either find loving enlightened men or “benevolent patriarchs” with whom they are able to forge reasonably happy unions.

The whole topic is fascinating to me, but I am happy to be a spectator for now.  My goal is to fill my life with love of all kinds.  I love my children, my friends, my career in art, my God, and myself.  I find a great deal of fulfillment in just Being.  Ironically, self-love is the first step and represents the only real shot any of us has in finding romantic love.  But a general sense of happiness and fulfillment is what’s important and is what we are put on this earth to experience.

May this week be one of deep, profound love and connection with Reality and with each other.  Peace and blessings and, as always, please continue to follow your Bliss…

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad If You’re Single

I have been thinking a lot about coupledom lately for a few reasons.  For one, marriage equality has been at the top of the headlines lately.  Another reason is the approach of the 4th of July.  I used to love to go out on that holiday but after having several years of very bad dates on that day, I have come to dread it.  The third reason relationships have been on my mind is the fact that I had an extensive conversation with a friend on the subject of love and relationships, which brought several issues to the forefront.

It made me think about the following questions: a) do I want to be in a relationship? (b) if so, what kind and with what type of person? And (c) what do I think about relationships in general?  These questions will keep me occupied for a while, but in the meantime I began to pay closer attention to the relationships of the people around me.  It is hard to judge the quality of people’s relationships sometimes, especially from Facebook because people tend to only brag about the good stuff.  So, since I’m not in a relationship right now, I started thinking about all the reasons why I am happy to be single:

1)      I can move wherever I want (out of state, out of the country, etc) without anyone’s permission or approval.

2)      Money never “disappears”; if I haven’t spent it, it’s still there in the bank.

3)      When I am tired and not “in the mood”, I just go to sleep.  I don’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings or getting cheated on.   I don’t  have to force myself to go through the motions in order to avoid an argument. (and when I am in the mood, it’s 100% satisfaction every time).

4)      I can wear whatever I want.

5)      I can cut my hair off or leave it long – it’s totally up to me.

6)      When I am in church services I get to pay attention, focus, and absorb the total experience without distraction.

7)      I don’t have to dumb myself down or fake incompetence in order to preserve someone else’s ego.

8)      I don’t have to limit my dreams to accommodate someone else’s expectations of me.

9)      I can flirt just for fun without guilt or repercussions.

10)  I can still entertain silly, romantic notions about “the one” because I haven’t met him yet.

From a man’s perspective:

1) Getting to keep all your money and not waste it on dates that go nowhere.

2) Not feeling like you have to earn a certain amount of money to keep up with someone’s expectations or spending habits.

3) Not having to justify going out with your friends on a weekday or for a long weekend.

4) Being able to leave when you’re ready to go instead of waiting around for someone else.

5) Not having to feel guilty for so much of what you say, do, and think

6) No pressure to outline the future in detail.

7) Sexual variety

8) Focusing on things that are deeply important to you: work, spirituality, school, etc., without being made to feel guilty

9) Watching movies and television without interruption

10) Getting to entertain silly, romantic notions about “the one” because you haven’t met her yet.

This is not to disparage anyone who is in a relationship.  I hope all my readers have happy, fulfilling relationships that bring you many years of joy.  However, with our culture’s emphasis on romantic love, this is a reminder that it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be.

Whether you’re married or single or something in between, ultimately you are a unique expression of the Divine.  Your first allegiance should be to the evolution of your own soul – and being a blessing to everyone around you.  Then you will know true Joy, regardless of your relationship status.

And don’t forget to follow your bliss!  Peace and love.

Maintaining Creativity – Post Art School

When I first began art school two years ago, I had so many trepidations.  I didn’t know if, as an older learner, I would  have trouble learning something so totally different from what I had done before.  I didn’t know if I would measure up to my classmates, especially those who had done art their whole lives.  And I had no idea what to expect.

Now that it’s over, I am navigating post art-school life as a civilian. I feel that I’m in the intermediate stage as an artist.  I am no longer a beginner but I am not yet advanced.  My sketch-book work lately is a lot more focused on shoring up my weaknesses.  I’ve been focusing on portraits – various head angles, ears, noses, etc.  And I start a new job on Monday, an office (day) job to support my art, which was an important first step for my post-art-school-life.

So, life after art school is looking pretty much like I expected it to look.  I’m interning in a gallery, practicing and improving my art, and working a day job.  But I had been starting to feel as if I was going through the motions. I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired by anything and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted my next body of work to focus on.  I was feeling blocked.  Then I remembered Julia Cameron.

Julia Cameron is the author of The Artist’s Way, and many other books on the subject of “recovering” as an artist, rediscovering one’s latent creativity.  This book was absolutely indispensable to me when I first started art school.  Julia helped me weather critiques and develop art that came from my soul, rather than art that was designed to please professors or impress classmates.  I consider her my first art teacher, and I will always read and re-read that book for the rest of my life.

Julia’s two main recommendations are to write “morning pages” and to take yourself out on “artist’s dates”.  Morning pages are 3 pages that are written in the morning, kind of like a journal, to download your thoughts and clear your mind.  You can write about anything and everything, whatever comes to mind.  You don’t worry about what it sounds like, grammar, etc. and it is unnecessary to even read them over.  The artist’s dates are solo trips designed to inspire.  These dates are important and should be scheduled once a week.  You can do anything you think might spark your sense of play, and stoke the creative fire within.  I have done things like go to the toy store, buy stickers and markers and scribble like a child, go to a museum, etc.

This afternoon my artist date was a trip to the craft store.  Fine artists sometimes turn their little noses up at “crafts”, but this is silly.  When we were children, everything was a potential art project – coloring books, walls, empty boxes; everything was a potential canvas.  Children are fearless, innovative, and bold.  They don’t get creative blocks.  If no one is around, they create tea parties with their stuffed animals, build towering forts out of newspapers, and slay dragons that only they can see.  These are the true artists.

As adults, we have to make an effort to maintain that spirit.  It is very possible, but it requires us to silence our inner critic and embrace our inner child.  Our creativity is like a secret hidden lake that only we know about.  If we don’t take care of this secret lake, it’ll get grown over and disappear.  But if we take care of it and use it regularly, we get to play in it for the rest of our lives.

So my advice to all artists is to never grow up.  Yes, pay your bills.  Yes, be responsible.  Yes, be an adult – but don’t ever grow up.  Don’t try to makes sense of everything that happens.  Don’t try to do everything perfectly.  Don’t plan so extensively that you never actually do anything.  And, most importantly…

Follow your bliss!  Always.

If you haven’t done so yet, please join me on Facebook.  Below is my latest work in progress – in the very beginning stages.  It will eventually be an abstract sculpture made out of random materials around the house.  I hope to finish it within a week or two…

Last Week of Art School

This past week was my final one at El Camino College.  It was a life-changing experience for which I am so grateful.  I sacrificed a great deal in order to complete my studio art degree – namely living on a couch in my mother and uncle’s apartment and enduring an untold number of challenges.

Nevertheless, I am proud of the artist I have become.  I started with almost no skills and grew to the point where I was accepted into more than one bachelor’s degree program.  However, I decided not to pursue a third bachelor’s.  I am content with my existing Bachelor’s degrees in English lit and Metaphysics, and my Associates degree in Studio Art.  I look forward to increasing and integrating my skill sets through continued classes, workshops, and practice.  And I look forward to continuing to grow as an individual.  My ultimate goal is to live a life of deep meaning and impact – to be a beneficial presence on the planet in every sense of that word.

I am grateful for all of you readers who are taking this journey with me.  I hope you’ll hold me accountable to my highest aspirations, ask me questions if you like, and make a difference in your own communities.

And most importantly – follow your bliss!

Following is a video of my oldest son performing in his school’s talent show,  and below that is my work from the final week of school.  Peace and blessings!