To enter the world of artist CJ Shelton is to experience a magical blend of nature, art and spirit. CJ’s studio and gallery with its mystical approach to living “life in the round” is a hidden gem nestled within the tranquil environment of the historic Alton Mill Arts Centre in the Hills of Headwaters, Ontario, Canada.
Visitors and students alike describe it as a sensory oasis of peace and inspiration. With the scent of white sage burning, soft music and the waters of Shaw’s Creek tumbling right outside the enormous sunlit windows, all who enter respond to the welcoming, inclusive atmosphere and CJ’s warm personality.
An professional artist for over thirty five years, CJ’s earthy, mystical images of intertwined trees, animals, mythical beings, sacred geometry, fascinatingly circular designs known as mandalas and dramatic white-on-black paintings of “spirit” horses have a luminous and otherworldly quality that inspire and delight all who view them. In addition to be an accomplished artist, CJ is also an experienced arts educator and instructs students of all ages and abilities in a variety of drawing and painting classes, self-discovery workshops and other offerings that help them discover their own hidden talents and creative spirit.
CJ’s mission is to educate and inspire anyone seeking to lead a more balanced life in harmony with the world. Her beautiful imagery promotes an appreciation of the natural world while at the same time introducing viewers to a rich storehouse of symbolism and wisdom from earth-based cultures and spiritual traditions, all of which provides unique opportunities for interactive arts-based learning and discovery.
The Circular Form
The container CJ uses for much of her artwork and as a framework for her teaching is the mandala or circular shape. Through this form she explores the interconnectedness of Nature with humankind’s cultural, psychological and spiritual development. Exploring this form in a variety of wet and dry media (acrylics, watercolours, pen & ink, pastel, coloured pencil, etc.) her art is stylistically contemporary in its embodiment of universal themes that have fascinated humans for thousands of years.
Through incorporating Nature’s patterns and cycles, sacred symbolism and mythical storylines in her art and teaching, CJ helps renew and maintain our connection with the past. Celtic and First Nations symbolism is of particular focus because of the wealth of wisdom these two traditions demonstrate about the physical world and how to balance that wisdom with the inner worlds of our imagination and psyche.
Background & Training
CJ Shelton is a graduate of the Illustration Program at Sheridan College and has over 35 years’ professional working experience as a technical illustrator, wallpaper and textile designer and graphic designer. In 2004, severe nerve damage to both hands from a repetitive stress injury threatened to permanently restrict her ability to create art, sparking a very personal journey of self-discovery into the world of alternative healing. Over the next four years CJ became fascinated with the more therapeutic benefits of art-making as she slowly regained her former abilities.
From this powerful experience CJ decided to return to school to learn how she could use the experience of what she had gone through to benefit others. Her studies included Social Service Work (Seneca College), therapeutic art facilitation (Arscura School for Living Art), spiritual psychotherapy (Transformational Arts College) and shamanic practices (8th Fire School of Algonquin Medicine Work), all taken concurrently during the four year period of her recovery.
CJ now uses this unique blend of multiple skills to facilitate others through creative explorations that blend ancient wisdom, art, nature and psychology into one seamless and integrative approach to life and the spiritual journey.
With her extensive training and ability to skillfully work within a variety of art forms and mediums CJ’s own art continues to evolve along with the students she teaches and mentors. CJ loves working one-to-one as well as in small groups at her studio, in the community and at local schools, helping others discover the benefits of art as a vehicle for self-expression, healing and relaxation. Her classes and workshops are a magical mix of creativity, fun and inspiration as she artfully demonstrates how we can all live more harmonious and balanced lives.
“The Moon Tree” Logo
CJ Shelton opened her studio Dancing Moon Designs at the Alton Mill Arts Centre in 2011 where one of her original mandala designs “The Moon Tree” soon became her most popular image.
The iconic “tree of life” with its four separate trunks woven together into a balanced whole is representative of the four “trunks” of her business as an artist, writer, teacher and healer. Together they form one single strong core of wholeness and stability for sustaining the seeding, growth, flowering and harvest of a creative life.
Dancing Moon Design’s Mission
The mission of CJ Shelton and Dancing Moon Designs is to educate, inspire and guide those seeking to lead a more balanced and whole life. This is accomplished through the creation of beautiful art, images and thought provoking words, the teaching of symbolic wisdom from ancient cultures and spiritual traditions, promoting an appreciation of the natural world and providing opportunities for experiential learning through arts-based activities.
- To treat every client, customer and student with respect, compassion and understanding
- To conduct all business and interpersonal relations with integrity
- To deliver quality products and services to the highest level at all times
- To be creative, passionate and open-minded in pursuing and providing exceptional opportunities for growth and learning
“I believe it is vitally important as an artist and as a human being to always be curious about both the world around us and the world within us. It is also vitally important that we discover what we are passionate about. When you have passion, dreams come true. I know … I am living my dream and my greatest joy is to be sharing it with others”. ~ CJ Shelton
CJ Shelton’s gallery and studio are located at the beautiful and historic Alton Mill Arts Centre in the Caledon Hills of Ontario.
CJ Shelton – Formal Education
Visual Arts/Illustration (3 Year Diploma with Honours) 1980-1983
Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology
Social Service Worker (2 Year Diploma with High Honours) 2006 – 2008
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology
Spiritual Psychotherapy (2 Year Program) 2004 – 2006
Transformational Arts College
Additional Training & Certifications
Arts Educator of the Year (Dufferin County) 2018
Certified MARI Practitioner (Mandala Assessment Research Instrument) 2013-2015
MARI Creative Resources
Therapeutic Art Facilitation (Art for Life Program and Core Studies) 2004-2008
Arscura School for Living Art
Shamanic Practitioner (Energy Work & Medicine Wheel Teachings) 2007-2009
8th Fire School of Algonquin Shamanism
Reiki Practitioner (Levels 1, 2 and Master) 2003