This week I realized something. For the last couple of years I have been very focused on building my business and didn't have enough time outside of my "real job", to both grow a business and to just play at art. I have been so focused on making jewelry to sell & art that I can teach, that I stopped making art just for the exploration of it. What a startling revelation! I who prides herself on cheering others on to do art just for the joy of it-caught myself not practicing what I want others to give themselves! Oh! Really??? ME?? YES!
So now I'm taking time to step back, and let things spill onto paper without the intent of selling, of finished project, of caring at all. To journal, splash, paint, doodle, let loose. I share ALL of this just in case, you - or someone you know, may share my AHA! moment and pause to nurture their neglected artist.
There is something intangibly nourishing about making art. It is a hug for our soul. A place to allow the unknown to unfold. To play, to imagine, to create worlds. So, Dear Ones...Run- don't walk- to play with your art!!
Yesterday, I found this journal entry that I wrote 2 years ago and thought I'd share it with you.
"Generally I can be too critical of my work. When I show things to people I look for their reactions- for affirmation that I got something right. But I've noticed that if I just make something with a full intent to delight the part of myself that loves forts, shiny colorful things, and planting flowers in newly dug holes, that things turn out better all around. That I'm happy in the act of creating and I stop placing all the emphasis on the end "product". Funny- those things are often the ones that bring the greatest delight to my viewers. So in the act of getting lost in the delight of creation- I find my voice. I find my happy self and I find that others find a part of themselves too. I think that anything we enjoy looking at, somehow reinforces the way we like to see ourselves-it's affirming, supportive & creative.
Saturday, April 14, 2007, 6:40 p.m. after a dinner of fresh baked cornbread with butter and maple syrup [Editor's note: highly recommended!]."
We've had a couple of unseasonably, warm days (70 degrees) here. One of those mornings I quietly snuck out to the yard and took pictures, just as the sun was beginning to wake up the flowers and light up the day. I hope Spring is happily dancing in her sun-drenched and frilly petticoats through your place too.
"Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time"
When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, our hand outs warned us that the hardest part of Peace Corps is coming back and readjusting to our own culture! And it was so true! I think it must be true for Artfesters too... some of us never quite readjust!
Here is but a small sampling of all the talent that converged at Artfest this year. On the last night we had "Show & Tell" where everyone was invited to put out the art that they had made. This is really wonderful-first of all, you get to be wowed by how talented everyone is-second it's a great way to get ideas of what classes you may want to take next year. I asked permission of many of the artists to display their work on my blog-however not everyone was near their art when I was there. If you'd prefer me to not display your work-email me and I'll remove it. Also many of my photos were blurry due to my camera battery getting low-so if your work isn't up here it sadly may have been one of the blurry ones.
Thank you for waiting so patiently (or not) : )! Here at last is Artfest from my perspective...
My new studio is now fully broken in as I push to make new goodies to sell at vendor night. As I promised awhile back-here is a "real" photo of my studio. Piles of colorful enticements, a sleeping cat, a glass of ice-tea...
Packing Wednesday morning while it is SNOWING outside-but thankfully not sticking. Kathy & I toss our bags and boxes into the car and set off. The ferry ride is stormy gray and mysterious...
We arrived at the fort and were greeted by the beautiful old park buildings dressed in their crisp white paint and dark green trims...a friendly place away from home.. and all those beautiful old trees..
At the Commons building we picked up our welcome packets and went to find our dorms...
Above is Dorm 225, it is the last one in the row and looks as if it is eager to spring off the bluff and take flight with the seagulls... Below is a journal page I did of my dorm room. I got a private room this time and was SO glad I did. Teesha, the queen organizer of this retreat chose a friendly sea-creature theme for the retreat this year-hence the octopus...
After dinner Wednesday, Teesha & her husband, Tracey greeted us all and all the teachers did a brief introduction. Outside it was still cold and windy. As we all walked quickly back to our dorms... I had a funny conversation on the way with a woman whom I didn't know..
Her, "If I had known it would be this cold I would have brought my Eggs."
Me, (?) "Your eggs?"
Her, "Yes, my feet are freezing!"
Me, "Oh! Your Uggs!" (it was windy and hard to hear-what can I say?)
I had the best class on Thursday. It was Copper Enameling with Richard Salley. We cut and formed shapes out of copper sheet and then learned how to apply the ground colored glass and fire it with a torch. Oh!!! I am in love with this technique! It will definitely be added to my repertoire. After all, what beats fire, instant gratification and COLOR on metal? I love making jewelry but have such a love affair with color that I've never been drawn to strictly metal work. Even patinas don't have enough color for me. Photos below... Richard filling up cups with flux... a student firing her piece-her apron was so pretty! (it was hot from all the torches so many of us were in our tank tops)...Kathy hammering...all the pretty enameling powders... and lastly the piece I made in class.
After dinner on Thursday many of the teachers were kind enough to sit on 3 group panels and each answer the same question from the students. I really liked how Susan Wooldridge talked about how we forget that as artists, we need to remember that we are part of nature, and like nature, we have our seasons of producing art and also naturally have seasons of lying fallow. Many of them shared how they got to be artists, and whether they were full time or balancing making art with other jobs. Many confessed to being procrastinators. They all love what they do or they certainly wouldn't have chosen this path which has no predetermined stepping stones. They encouraged everyone to pursue their art if they were passionate about it and to put it out there and make it happen. The last panel was of all artist couples which you can imagine was pretty hilarious-several said their mates were their best critic but they didn't always want to admit that they were right!
Afterwards I went down to the bonfire and journaling party on the beach. Every year I say I am going to bring my journal and join the crowd of happy artists snugly working in the wood stove heated picnic shelter... but where do I always go? The bonfire! I can journal at home with friends but I can't have a bonfire at my house! I have no idea how many roasted marshmallows I ate!
After that I went back to my dorm, still very awake (all that sugar!) and found some happy artists working in the communal room. I visited with them and with Susan Wooldridge, who was also in there setting up the room for her class the next day. I really enjoyed reading her book, Foolsgold. In it she shares that going for long nature walks and gathering objects and arranging them in little boxes helped her through some life transitions. It is very inspiring. We talked about her book and she showed me photos of the wonderful boxes she created. Finally I went off to bed!
I had a wonderful PMC charms class with Catherine Witherell. She did a great job of demonstrating and explaining her techniques. Here are our charms while they were drying-before they were fired. I'll have some final photos in the next post.
At 3:45 I left class early to go set up my table for vendor's night. My friend Kathy and I set it up, ran back to the dorms to change, back to get dinner, and arrived at the vendor's hall at 6:25 which I thought would give each of us 15 minutes to go look at everyone else's tables before it began at 7 pm. Alas! The program had the time printed as 7pm in one place and 6:30pm in another and we had only 5 minutes to do the final touches! I had a lot of fun talking with everyone. Thanks to everyone who came by and said "Hi!" and for making it such a fun night! Below is a silly photo of me at my table...
At 9 p.m. it ended and we packed up and went back to the dorms. I was still energized and stayed up late reading and (don't tell anyone) eating salt & vinegar potato chips.
For some unknown reason I woke up at 5:30 a.m. every morning there! This morning was especially lovely. Here are photos I took from my bedroom window...
Many people did trades at Artfest and though I didn't make any, a few souls generously gave me theirs...
My last day of class was Theo Ellsworth's, Mystery Play Inside. The weather warmed up and the sun was shining as we went down to the beach where our class was held in the natural history classroom. Theo entertained us with fun facts about the brain and doodling. He gave us a diploma BEFORE we started class, and having graduated already with honors we settled down to some serious doodling. Here are my doodles-my friend Marde aptly remarked that I must have been channeling my inner henna artist. It was a great class for me that day because I was so tired that I wasn't thinking that clearly anyway!
After class Kathy and I explored the sunny beach...
Saturday night was "Show and Tell Night" where everyone was invited to put out their work with artist, class, and teacher names so we could all walk around and admire the amazing talent that this one place held. I took a ton of photos and I'll share them in my next post.
Afterward Susan Wooldridge rounded up many people in our dorm and got a group of us up and dancing to the Big Chill soundtrack, this amusing vignette was completed with wine and grapes! One of our members joined us wondering what was going on and showed off dance moves in her lovely silk pajamas! I did not take photos-I was too busy dancing and I wouldn't do that to anyone anyway!
Oy! Packing up...saying good-byes...dropping our keys off by 10 am. Kathy and I went down to the beach for one last visit. However it was so warm that we stayed longer than expected. She roamed around looking for sea glass. I was so tired I just sat in the sun and watched the waves and enjoyed the gentle breeze and calls of the seagulls.
In my next post I'll show you some of the cool art that everyone made.
Oh! What a wonderful time it was. So many delightful & creative souls all learning, teaching and playing together. Thank you to each and everyone one of you who went, for making it such a special and fun experience! I'm unpacking, doing laundry, and catching up on everything I put off doing before Artfest. I'll share my experience and photos later this week. Happy Creating!