November 2010 ... Flora's workshop in Pennsylvania.
For the first time ever I went to an art workshop, by myself. There is such an amazing community of artists here in the States, people teaching and attending retreats and workshops and blogging ... but for me this was the first time I was doing anything like this.
I had taken Kelly's online course in the summer, and afterwards a group of us from the East Coast who had taken the course and connected on Facebook, met for a wonderful lunch on the Hudson ... laughing, talking, sharing, inspiring, encouraging, (drinking, for what is a good lunch without that!). I floated out of that restaurant feeling like I had finally found a community of women I could relate to - all on very different paths but in so many ways the same.
During the lunch everyone was talking about courses they had taken and artists they knew of who blogged or taught. Flora's name came up a few times and when I got home I found her website and fell in love. What amazing colors and layers and energy and a feeling of freedom in her work. And then just a few weeks after, I found out she was running a workshop in Pennsylvania. I could only go for one of the two days but I was beyond excited, and that day was pure magic for me. A chance to do something just for myself, by myself (although I was happy happy to find that three fellow flyers were going along too!) ... sometimes with children and chores and life just ticking, it's a very special thing to have that pocket of time to oneself. I always love a road trip - somewhere new - and by myself, it was a real adventure for me. And I was scared, just a little.
Flora working her magic
Flora is just amazing and for me the class was a breakthrough on so many levels. Her process of working is very spontaneous and unplanned and for me that was incredibly relevant ... I have only ever worked in oils, slowly, laboring over each layer ... sometimes feeling really frustrated and angry with myself because the spontaneity I start with somehow gets worked over and over until everything is smooth and a little too perfect - not how I plan it to be at all. But it's really hard for me to stop.With oil that is. But acryllics ... well they're just totally different - dripping, spraying, running, wiping, playing. Sometimes that's the key to changing - trying a new medium, a new way of doing things. Remembering to play a little. Something I had really forgotten and just could not find my way back to. I remember at the end of the day Flora asked us what we had come away with, what had sunk in for us the most during the day ... and for me it was that I had been shown how to let go a little, not to worry about the final result, not working over too much.
My two paintings from Flora's workshop ...
I left Pennsylvania early early the following morning, the sun was just rising - always my favorite time to get behind the wheel, with the world still sleeping and only a few cars out on the road .. i always imagine where they are headed, where they come from - i make up lives for them, conversations, what they are having for breakast ... early light and silence ... the crisp cold of almost-winter and pink glows on the horizon. I flew home, and I felt like i could do anything.
Over the next few months I kept coming back to those two paintings and I have to be honest and say I over worked them again - i started feeling like they had to be OF something .. I couldn't just let them be. I started making them into flowers, and then I wasn't happy at all and as I kept working i felt like i was losing something with each layer of paint. But then i couldn't really go back. Funny how that happens sometimes ... you can overwork, go too far, go in the wrong direction.
But I have love love loved working with acryllics this past year ... I have dripped and spattered and wiped and thrown and played. And for me, that's just about the best thing I can be doing. I still did some oil painting in between but less and less - i love the immediacy of acryllics, the quick drying time is perfect for my tiny pockets of time when I get to paint ... an hour here and there. Before, with oils, i would work and then have to put the canvas away for days before that layer dried, losing my impetus a little. But with acryllic I feel like i can get a lot done in a short time, and it's easy to wipe off or work over.
Flora is starting her e-course on Monday and I really cannot wait. The past few months have been long and a little lacking in play and spontaneity ... I so badly want to have that floating feeling again, that feeling that I can do anything, that it's OK just to have fun, to throw on the paint and scrape and doodle and just to let things happen. To feel alive again. And I am hoping this time that I learn a little more about letting be and not pushing too far, not making it too perfect, not planning the outcome ... learning to go with that flow again ... i sense a theme here.
Wishing you color and some time to play this weekend, and to seeing some of you online on Flora's course next week. Happy painting !