I am registered. I am really here at Art and Soul. I am really hungry, it's 7 p.m. on night one....
My stomach is pretty disciplined around a lack of food, but not a lack of drink. Thus a visit to the Hampton Inn Manager's Happy Hour was clearly in order. I don't know who this manager is, but I wish I'd been more like him back in the days when I was in management! Free drinks and nutritively suspicious chips for everyone! I didn't have a lot of time, so I grabbed a gin and tonic (the first of many over the course of the next few days until I was actually tired of them and switched to the more artistic merlot), and saw Juliana Coles (my heretofore unmet roommate, and teacher of my first class) in the drinks line.
Juliana is the creator of Extreme Visual Journalism, which is her form of art journaling with an emphasis on raw inner work. She's a bit of a force of nature, and one of those women that just exudes "artist" with her awesome energy and soul and wacky chick vibe. (I mean that in the best way!) Relocating a glass of wine from the hotel to her class, she was quickly emoting in a throaty voice that we should "bear down harder! Ooooohh yeah, harder! Harder!" with our pencils! I'm drawn to gorgeously eccentric like a moth to flame, so obviously an evening with Juliana is far better than the normal dozing in front of "Good Eats with Alton Brown."
First she had us introduce ourselves, then select five magazine images. As you can imagine, everyone thought they were going to express their artistry, their aesthetic values, their ability to select things they might be able to actually draw. When Juliana said, "Now give your pictures to the person sitting next to you, " the lady sitting next to me looked like she was going to have heart failure! To be honest, I wasn't inspired by lovely images of cats (dachshunds all the way for me), nor was she best pleased with my kabuki dude and African women in beads and not-much-else. (actually, the horrified reactions to this exercise was my favorite moment in the whole class.) I think we were practicing letting go. I hope the lady next to me emotionally recovered.
I don't want to give away Juliana's trade secrets, but we did a rather neat and unexpected thing with carbon paper and our journals, and there was no shading of boxes. We then made backgrounds with tape, lots of wild lines on pages (harder! more graphite!), and did some visual note taking of stuff around us. I can't say that I made a gray convention center partition wall look any more interesting than it was, but I did get the idea that really, it's not about the object. It's not about the drawing either. It's about the documentation of your life. You need to practice it. You need to lose your judgments of it, and just get it onto paper. Even if it's harder than it looks. Really enjoyed spending some time with Juliana, and even though it wasn't one of her deep inner work classes, I think I got at least a flavor of why her fans love her.
Yes, I gave the unused kitty images back to my neighbor, my karma is intact.
9 p.m. - still hungry - hadn't eaten since 7 a.m. Is this what they mean by starving artist? I sat in the hotel dining room by myself, and before I knew it I heard a "Yoo hoo! Come sit with us!" from one of my classmates, the estimable Pinky La Rouge. Pinky, another force of nature, is a member of the Bretheren from Juliana's Key West retreat in January. I'd been rather curious to meet her as I've enjoyed her energetic blog posts on Juliana's Extreme Journaling Yahoo group. I visualized her as swathed in a hot pink feather boa, spectacular earrings, and a big saucy grin more or less permanently in place. I'm so glad to not be mistaken! She was exactly who I thought she'd be and was much amused by the Edward Cullen action figure fondling that took place. So, suddenly I was enjoying my solitary shrimp and grits and wine with Pinky, Sandy, Pinky's son and girlfriend, and Juliana.
A note for those of you who have never attended Art and Soul (for those of you who have, you already know this) it is the friendliest, most outgoing group of like-minded ladies imaginable. It's a technicolor swirl of scintillating real women who talk like there's no tomorrow, and who want to enfold newbies and oldbies and anyone passing by into their chat. It's like a United Nations of Paint. If you don't know anyone, you will by the time it'll take you to read this sentence. A simple, "So, what classes have you taken/are you taking?" will occasion at least 20 minutes of gab, an exchange of emails, quite possibly a handover of cool ephemera, and the knowledge that you've found your tribe. And (as I keep insisting) I'm an introvert!
Day Two - Friday - 8 a.m.
I wake up from a dream that Traci Bunkers has told me that I shouldn't put off doing art just because I'm convinced that I need to clean up an entire stable full of manure first. I heard many reports of people having the oddest, most colorful dreams over the next couple of days. Not sure if anyone else dreamed that their roommate told them to not clean up crap, because art is more important. Yes, I got the hidden inner message.
Breakfast and lunch (yay, I'm eating!) with Sophie - wow, what a talented and fantastic person. I really wish that I'd got to spend more time with her; she is just one of those people that I instantly connected with. As mentioned in my previous post, you meet soul sisters at this event that you just know you were supposed to meet in your life, even if just briefly. That's why it's called "Art and Soul" I think. I wear the beautiful crystal necklace that she gave me often, (always to rave comments) and reflect on how lucky I am.
Today was Altered Curiosities - The Illuminated Shrine with Jane Wynn- and it was amazing! Jane is an incredibly generous, kind teacher and gives so much encouragement that before you know it, otherwise well groomed and normal women are getting busy with a drill press. And a butane torch, and a copper pipe cutter. Oh my! What I truly loved about this class, from the pretty bags of mystery objects that we were greeted with to the photo session six hours (felt like six minutes) later was how everyone's individual creativity was so encouraged and supported. We all started with photo frames from Michael's Crafts, and we ended up with fifteen or so completely different illuminated (beyond cool when something is lit up from within!) jewelboxes of ideas. I had no idea what I was going to emerge with - my finished project turned out to be Mata Hari dancing on a glittering stage complete with footlights and a crystal chandelier. My table mates created a winter woodland scene with stars, and a cute little girl with birds. Others created beautiful miniature worlds under the sea, in an English telephone box, and with a glitter queen. For the trimphant class show-and-tell, look at the hyperlink above, my project below (as photographed by Jane Wynn herself.) Just a really inspirational creative class, I highly recommend.
6 p.m. - it's happy hour again! My, that is one generous Manager.
I waded with a "I hope I'll see that person I know in a minute..." look through the crowd, (actually, it was a ruse, I was hoping someone would ask me to sit with them). Sure enough, within seconds I was asked to sit with Jo, Jeane, and Dale. Dale is a patroness of the arts, and the hippest 80-something chick ever. I enjoyed several breakfasts and dinner drinks with her over the weekend, and she is truly inspirational. Jo and Jeane, the Girls from New Zealand, became my new BFF's (best friends forever!) and my great companions over the days ahead. We talked and talked, and closed down happy hour, and kept on talking and drinking over at Harpoon Larry's - and eating some awesome scallops too. By now I'd eaten plateloads of seafood, which just kept getting better and better. We just clicked like friends who had known each other since always, and I laughed harder and more that evening than I have in months. Also, the added amusement value of zooming around the New Zealand Embassy Squad Car to the local WalMart in search of 2 part epoxy at 11 p.m. on a Friday night just can't be beat.
Tune in to this blog for the next chapter - coming in the next few days.
"Chapter Three - Happy Technicolor Dream of People to Meet and Things to Buy!"
(Sneak preview, from "Vintage Metal Deck - Leighanna Light")
We transform ordinary metal into a fabulous thick, chunky, beautifully embellished deck of cards. Each card represents a meaningful word or theme which is further explored in text. Learn several surface techniques using patinas, rust, gesso, and wax.
Patinas! Rust! I'm there...