The Artist Journey/Artist Journal workshop this past weekend was extraordinary. I can even say that without feeling toady or too very blustery, because the proof was in the participation. I loved the structure, but if it hadn't been for the participants' generosity, openness, vulnerability and willingness to listen, share and step outside of their comfort zones, the whole affair would have fallen flat. We meditated, we played, we soulfully shared, we made art tools and mantras to get us into the studio and out of our critic zone. This was about seeing the year ahead with out scary deadlines, with lovely life lines and paths forward. And, of course we ate both well and with wicked treats reserved for such events. (Linda always reminds me that the Catholic Church learned long ago that if you are going to put people on a spiritual retreat, you'd better advance the feasting to make it all even out.)
Here is what one participant wrote to a friend afterwards. She copied me (and also gave me permission to share what she wrote):
It was Extraordinary! Big food for the soul. Lots of exciting art making. This one was about thinking through in summary ... Where are you in your life and in your art ? ..... What calls you now? .... What do you have to do to to answer that call? .... and last laying out a specific action that you will do right away, as a result of your work in this workshop, toward that goal. We voiced it and made it into art, more than writing it in a journal. Susie asked us questions that gave us a path to our answers. Almost everyone was pulled or pushed by some very strong need or desire to move forward in some specific part of our lives, to make a change, to heal something or work through something .... to grow.
And then she gave us projects to make art..... and more projects to make art... and as we just kept making art.....you could see what was pushing, pulling, or calling to us, because it just showed up. And it kept showing up. Then at the end, after we had already put the big questions in our lives out there, both in our words and in our work, she transitioned us to another place ..... with playful abstract work.
I truly don't know how she got that much out of us in such short time, that much quantity and depth, because it always felt easy and relaxed. She even prioritized time 1st thing in the morning in the studio for us to meditate, with a guided meditation before we began the artistic journey and work. She is a powerful teacher.... I think maybe she has magic.
And if all that is not enough.... She brought in another fun artist - teacher from Ft. Worth who joined us for the whole workshop and then taught us to make great prints with two different methods...wood block and beautiful colors of hot wax (encaustic). Collaboratively we designed and carved a big wood block, and then each made a print from it for ourselves. Individually we made beautiful colorful prints that were always a surprise as they had their way with the melting wax that we laid out as a design.
It was Big, deep and wide and great.
Now that made me dance, inside and out! I think she said better than I've ever said what it is I hope a workshop here at El Cielo is like. The time is precious and renewing for us all, teacher most definitely first on the list.
We walked into unknown territory and also stalked along making the path ahead clearer and more comfortable, with meditations on what holds us back, what feeds us best and who we need to take along on the journey.
I don't do these workshops alone, in more than one sense of the word. I really call upon the things I have found meaningful, and especially, what turns up when I pay attention around the first of the year to start planning this annual even. MINDFULNESS kept turning up -- and so, that is both my word for the year, and became the keynote strand for the workshop.
Here are some of the resources, the mentors, the writers and wise ones whom we called upon this year:
Eric Maisel's planning process and keys to understanding the dimensions of an artist life, from his book
Making Your Creative Mark
Junanne Peck, a wonderful Ft. Worth printmaker who is co-teaching summer art camp with me again, is sending more pictures and I'll post some more later. I always seem to forget to shoot images when I am deep into the flow of these events. She brought wood to carve, encaustic hot plate and more -- plus her own ideas and participatory genius. Junanne is an AKUA inks demo artist.
If you want to be part of the next El Cielo experience, here's the schedule as it stands now:
The Huipil Reimagined
Feb. 27-March 1 and repeating May 1-3
El Cielo Studio, Pipe Creek
Weekend retreat with optional Friday night potluck.
Participants will design and print fabrics and other textiles, construct a simple garment based on the traditional huipil of Mayan and other indigenous women of Latin America, reinterpreting the story telling and cultural identity of the garment as a personal work of art. We’ll be doing a variety of surface design techniques, stitching, fabric collage, photo transfers and more. $200 includes most supplies. Accommodations on site. REPEATS May 1 - 3.
IPad Art Studio
Each month I'll be hosting a guided iPad tablet creativity studio session at the Cabin in San Antonio, 539 Senisa, near Woodlawn Lake. These sessions, limited to 7 participants each session, will allow for individual consultation, critique, technical problem solving, app recommendations and more as you work on your own iPad, digital and print projects, including eBooks, collage work, Spoonflower digital print designs, photo editing, photo books, etc. When you sign up, send me an email with what you hope to accomplish so I can prepare a bit! Or just call at the last minute and see if there is space available. Each 4 hour block of time (you can stay as long or short a time as you wish) runs from 12 noon to 4 pm on the third Monday of each month. The cost for this guide-on-the-side and personal coaching is just $40 per session. February 16, March 16, and April 20. No reservation fee, but do send an email if you can!
iPad Art Basics
Friday, January 30
The best art, editing and organization apps to start with -- and a world of tips and tricks that will take you from FB or reading on the tablet to a whole lot more -- digital printing, improving photos, making simple (and complex) photo collages and start-up sketching tools. This is a simplified version of the iPad Art Adventure that I have been teaching (by request from folks who thought that one would be too advanced!) This 6 hour workshop includes several chapters of my soon-to-be-published eBook on the subject to take home for further study.. 9:30 am to 2:30 pm with a lunch break (bring your own or walk down the block for soup or tacos). 539 Senisa near Woodlawn Lake. Fee, including supplies other than app purchases: $80
iPad Painting and Drawing
Friday, March 27
The best apps for sketchbooks, travel journals, drawing and “painting” explored in depth with both demo and projects to work on during the workshop (including art prints using an inkjet printer). Bring an assortment of photos that you like, and take still life shots at the workshop then transform them with a variety of apps in a personalized workflow. This 6 hour workshop includes more chapters from my soon-to-be-published eBook to take home for further study. 9:30 am to 2:30 pm with a lunch break (bring your own or walk down the block for soup or tacos). 539 Senisa near Woodlawn Lake. Fee, including supplies other than app purchases: $80
Shape to Symbol to Stamp to Scarves
Saturday, March 28
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Invent a personal logo or symbol after playing around with shape designs and experiments. Move from there to carving, cutting and stenciling on silk with fabric friendly inks and paints to make a personal statement in your attire this summer. You’ll explore creative combination, personal imagery and composition — and even a bit of up-to-date woodcarving and AKUA soy-based printing inks. Fee, including most supplies: $80
iPad Collage and Digital Design for Fabric Online Printing
Thursday, April 30, 9:30-3:30
Experiment with some of the wonderful collage apps on the iPad — cut and paste (virtually), as well as layering, grid designs and free form combining of art images, preexisting and new shape collections, famous art image vocabularies, and more. We’ll also do a walk-through on how to take an idea from iPad to Spoonflower, on the iPad and/or your laptop. $80 fee. App list sent ahead of time.