Memories and Art

As I’ve been working on my workshops for Capture the Glow (my upcoming art + yoga retreat in Mexico this January), I’ve been flipping through old art journals and artwork from my past, trying to connect with what once inspired me and looking for tidbits I can share from my life of art making that might inspire others.

I've spent lots of time thinking about all the ways memories have inspired me to create over the years. This lead me down a path of sorting through boxes and the heaping mess of art supplies and other stuff I've hoarded in the basement because... you know, I might just make some art out of it ... someday. But I’ve rediscovered old paintings. And photos of people and places I used to know. Sketchbooks and journals. Little bits of memorabilia from distant parts of my past. 

I never know what to do with these things when I rediscover them, and so they get shuffled from shelf to drawer, to box, to pile on the floor. I have committed to taking action on finding homes for these things, whether it's on a wall, or in the trash/recycling bin, or sending it off to a friend from my past who might enjoy a little nostalgia of their own.

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Some fun memories bubbled up, like: in high school I loved flipping through magazines and ripping out pages with images I wanted to recreate with paint. My younger artist self needed to recreate objects exactly as I saw them, or at least try to. It made starting and stopping (the definition of stopping here is completion/perfection) new paintings pretty hard. Photo-realistic perfection was always the goal and the opportunity to fail was high, so I ended up with so many unfinished, or un-started projects. This painting is a good example of life imitating art, or maybe it's art imitating life.

My old house in Sandy Hook, CT where I lived 2002-2005.

My old house in Sandy Hook, CT where I lived 2002-2005.

Once upon a time (2002-2005), I lived in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in a little house with my landscape architect boyfriend. We spent a lot of time working on our yard, and I spent a lot of time perusing home and garden magazines. Still ripping out pages for all sorts of life inspiration. I found this image of these stunning flowers I'd never seen before, and tore it out with the intention of finding and planting them in the yard. Alas, the sweet landscape architect and I drifted apart and the hellebores were never planted in our garden. As we searched for ways to reconnect, we spent a few hours together painting with watercolors. We each picked a magazine image to recreate, these hellebores were mine. 

Between the breakup, packing, and moving cross country it sat unfinished for nearly two years, but it was one of the few things that made the journey west with me (purging a three bedroom house chock full of stuff you thought was cool in your twenties = very cathartic). My hope for my new Portland life was that I’d focus more on art making, and luckily I fell into a group of new artist friends. We began having weekly dinner and art nights, where I dusted off this old painting and committed to completing it. It was the first work of art I finished in my new city, and I think of it as the start of my new creative life here.

While there have been starts, stops and plenty of distractions along the way, this painting has hung in every bedroom I’ve inhabited since I moved here. A constant reminder of where I came from, and where I’d like to go. My north star, if you will. I’ve since gotten away from the need to create photo-realistic art work, and learned to be a little kinder to myself in the stopping and starting of new projects. Oh! And I finally got to plant those Hellebores in my garden. Lots and lots of them!

What are your creative challenges and fears? How do you work through them? I’d love to talk about it, if you’d like to leave me a comment.

 

 

 

 

Planning for Art and Yoga in the Jungle

For longer than I can remember I've been pondering ways to connect with other creative people and foster a community of sharing ideas and art experimentation. One day, the dream is to own a small farm off the beaten path, with studio spaces and cabins for art retreats and artist residencies. That's in the very early planning stages but in the meantime, I'm thrilled to be taking the plunge and co-host an art and yoga retreat in the jungle! Yes! Come January 2019, my friend Mandy and I will be hosting 10 guests at Tailwind Jungle Lodge, three miles outside of San Pancho, Nayarit, Mexico. (If you or someone you know might be interested, please get in touch to learn more or visit my retreat page)

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Why Mexico? Why the jungle? If you know me, you know I have escaped to Mexico for several weeks most winters for the last 6 years. Going back even further I have been lucky enough to travel domestically and internationally for the better part of a decade, and these adventures ALWAYS inspire me creatively. I carry a sketchbook and draw the people I see in restaurants, on mass transit or on the beach. Sometimes I bring watercolors or colored pencils. Other times I roll up un-stretched canvas, brushes, and my acrylic paints, and find a rooftop to perch on so I can paint the view... or something that the view inspires.

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I find when I travel, I'm so much more open to life's possibilities. I talk to strangers (and have made lifelong friends). I journal and sketch more (every day I'm traveling). I read a ton, because many of my destinations don't offer reliable wifi, and it's nice not to have the distraction of constantly streaming video, emails and social media. And as I've already mentioned, I paint! Traveling me is the me I want to be every day, so it got me thinking more about this idea of art retreats and residencies.

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I love the idea of bringing together a small community and making time to be open and create in an uncomplicated environment. I know so many people, both professional artists and those who simply enjoy the act of creating things, who have one thing in common: they all wish they had more time to relax, reconnect with themselves and create. So this is me, inviting you to do just that! There is no skill level requirement. In fact, the less experience you have making art, the better! This is all about allowing yourself to experiment. 

My vision for the retreat is pretty simple: make space and time to immerse ourselves in nature, and the sites and sounds of the communities we'll visit, and let the creativity flow! We'll start everyday off with a gentle yoga session to open our minds and bodies, then we'll transition to the paint studio where we'll experiment with random mark making, collage, colored pencils, watercolors, stencils, paper, canvas and more. We'll go on daily adventures, with our sketchbooks in hand and share conversations about our daily inspirations. I'm still fleshing out the final "structure" but I know it's going to be a fun and inspirational journey! We'll keep it loose and leave lots of room for play. At the end of the day, it's not about creating a singular "perfect" piece of art, but more about creating a little something every day of the retreat. Allowing yourself the time for creativity to flow, learning how to use art making (doodling counts as art making too) as a tool to meditate and problem solve back in the real world... these are my goals for the retreat!

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The Jungle Lodge is booked, as is the chef, and two spots have already sold. This is so very exciting! I can hardly wait. Stay tuned for more details as the planning continues. And if you want to know more, don't hesitate to get in touch, or check the retreat page.

Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days: September 3

Chugging along finishing up my limbo paintings as part of the 30 in 30 challenge. I started this guy during my August painting trip to New York. Trying to capture the rapidly changing light of a stunning sunset from a balcony in Long Island City... it's hard work! So I snapped a few photos, with my phone and in my imagination and finished it up yesterday.

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