Category Archives: Art with Others

Art Buddies

 

When I was about 10, an uncle who was a  “Sunday artist” spent an afternoon  showing me how to draw cups and bowls. He taught me about volume and perspective, taught me how to shade with my pencil, and encouraged me to draw  with a “light touch.” He was patient and seemed to enjoy himself. I soaked up the attention. My aunts and uncles loved us all, but it was very rare for one of them to pay particular attention to one of us cousins. They were in their world and we were in ours. I now suspect that this uncle wasn’t so comfortable in the adult world, so for an afternoon, he crossed over.

When I was imagining “Explorations in Art” I wanted the young people who came to experience that kind of attention.  I have often worked with large groups of children and youth. Let the wild ruckus begin! Sometimes big group art experiences are more about handling materials and general chaos and completing a project  than learning about art.

My first ever Explorations in Art student was Lanelle. For the past two years Lanelle has come once a month, sometimes more and occasionally, less. Among her consuming passions are dragons, so we have learned a lot about art by exploring dragons. But we have also explored tractors, wildflowers, pencils, faces, cubes, cylinders, dogs, ski hills. Together with others we have explored art in the city, both in galleries but also in back alleys, restaurants and tattoo parlours. We have visited the horses, skated on the ice rink, climbed the hills and visited Grandmother Willow in all seasons. We play weird games in the car.  Lanelle has brought along her sister, her mom, her cousins and once, eight of her friends! We have favourite snacks – hot chocolate, ginger cookies, pizza. I have been promising her mango smoothies. She has promised me a fiddle concert under the willow tree.

One of the guiding principles of “Explorations in Art” is “Teaching is a two way path”. Nothing could be truer. I have a wonderful group of students and I do not doubt for a moment that they are among the very best  teachers I have ever had. They inspire me to see the world in new ways. Their interests take me in new directions. They shake me up.

While the one-on-one approach of “Explorations in Art” allows me to offer a student my full attention and tailor our time together according to their various interests, abilities and working rhythms, it also offers an unintended benefit – the very best art companions. It is about relationship as much as it is about art.

As such, the way Lanelle and I  create art together has changed. This summer we spent many happy hours creating in the same room…just enjoying the calm, creative, entirely enjoyable, and beautiful world we were inhabiting together. Lanelle is in charge of music – sometime roots music, sometimes calming music and sometimes dance music – for that, we have Marvin Gaye. Sometimes we have to shake it up and dance or do calisthenics. Sometimes we listen to a book. We have the same quirky (and sometimes dark) sense of humour. Sometimes Lanelle is absolutely quiet. She can be incredibly focussed. Sometimes she talks my ear off.

During the spring, we were having a wonderful talk and I had an epiphany. Lanelle is a kindred spirit. Friends for life, I am sure.  Renegades. Art buddies. So, this blog is for you Lanelle – with a thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s also for my long ago (late) uncle who took the time. Another thank you.

(Question for Lanelle: How would you paint the bottom of a heart? Have you ever seen a person’s ear fall off because the other person was talking a lot?)

Lanelle’s most recent project, summer of 2017

Close up

We both love working on the floor. Keeps us down to earth (sort of).

Lanelle’s piece inspired this “Sprites Dancing in Full Moon” .We both love this lovely blue paper and I was inspired by the simple clean lines in Lanelle’s piece.

Lanelle’s first dragon with piles of gold coins plus some wonderful food, fall 2015

Sketching around the farmyard, spring 2016

Spring 2016

Collecting ticks and painting wildflowers, Spring 2016

Painting Pots PLAYshop, Spring 2016

Dominique and Lanelle, Art in the City, Summer 2016

Art in the City, Lanelle’s 7 minute sketch, summer 2016

Lanelle’s surprise Christmas gift for her family. A watercolour (framed by Lanelle) of her family skiing at Mission Ridge, fall 2016

Paper Playshop, Fall 2016

Lanelle’s friends, winter 2017

Self- Portrait #1

Watercolour, Winter 2017

Neve’s mermaid (Lanelle’s little sister) and Lanelle at work

 

 

How Creating Art Benefits Children

 

 We focus when creating art.

Creating art is relaxing. I often notice a kind of “let down”, a “settling in” to the art activity when children and youth come to my studio (or elsewhere) to create art. Most children find it easy to really focus on what they are doing and while they are creating art, they are not thinking about other things. They may be excited about what they are creating but they are excited in a grounded and calm way. Creating art can very meditative. Studies have shown that when tested after creating art, people’s cortisol levels went down significantly, irregardless of their skill level or prior experience. This was most true with younger participants in the study. Cortisone is the “stress hormone” and increased levels of stress interfere with learning, memory, and general health as well depression and mental health.

We can draw what we see in our everyday world.

We can draw what we see in our everyday world.

Creating art helps you look at the world in new and different ways. We have fixed ideas about art. We often think we need to paint something particular like a beautiful scene or a still life. Everything around us can be the subject of our art practice; sketching common items like salt and pepper shakers, your shoes or your pet can teach us a great deal and provide inspiration for more artistic pursuits.

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Creating art helps us express ourselves. There are many things all of us would love to express but have no words for- joy, sadness, delight, confusion, peace, anger. Like music and dance, art is a wonderful way to express some of these emotions. People often feel “lighter” after working on a piece of art. Art is a fantastic way to express yourself without having to talk.

What colour do I choose?

What colour do I choose?

Creating art helps us learn to make choices and problem solve. Every step involves making a decision: what color to use, how to make a line, what size to make something. With every choice the object becomes more and more their own.

Having fun with imagination!

Having fun with imagination!

Creating art stimulates the imagination. It is such a great thing to have an active imagination. For one thing, you will never get bored. The ability to imagine other ways of being helps to create empathy in children. Imagination is thought to be “exercise for our brain” and benefits both the memory and the intellect. Through art, children create something that, until that point, was only imagined. Creating art is a terrific outlet for an active imagination.

What mistake?

What mistake?

Creating art lets us respond to our mistakes in a positive way. Some of my own favourite pieces have come about because I made what first seemed to be a huge mistake. I had to be resourceful and figure out a way for the piece to work. Responding in this way to art can help up use our mistakes positively  and solve  problems in life as well.

 

image-37Creating art brings together the generations. As a parent, I remember dropping my kids off for their activities. I loved swimming lessons or going to the library or hiking because we could do these things as a family. Creating art is something all generations can enjoy doing together.

 

Proud!

Proud!

 

Creating art offers satisfaction and a way to make where we live more beautiful. Children feel satisfied and proud when they have finished a piece. They can put it their room, give it as a gift, put on the fridge or even better, frame it and hang it in a place of pride in their home or school.

 

20160712_132534Creating art is pure fun! Creating art has a wonderful element of play, so that even when we seem to just be “fooling around” or doodling, we are learning new skills and expanding the possibilities in our life.

Commission

 

Definition:

An order for something, especially a work of art, to be produced specially:
Mozart at last received a commission to write an opera

My Definition:

A mission which is shared by 2 or more people, with one being the co-creator or maker and the others having creative imput. Sue at last received a commission to create a rice paper panel in consultation with those who commissioned it.

The mission:

To create a beautiful rice paper plexiglass panel for a bathroom window that would serve as a kind of “curtain” or blind so that people outdoors could not see in to the bathroom.

How we worked together:

We knew two things at the beginning – the size of the window (which suggested the size of the plexiglass panel) and that we wanted colourful rice paper birds to be a part of it. Because the window looks out to trees (bare branches in winter), we decided to create branches for the birds. The branches would be bare in winter while in spring they would be enlivened with the green foliage that could be seen through the clear parts of the plexiglass.

My Part:

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Creating a template for the branches

Tracing the template on to Brown Silk Ashiro Paper

Tracing the template on to Brown Silk Ashiro Paper

Trying the branches in the window

Trying the branches in the window

Trying simpler branches

Trying  a simpler branch

Rejecting the simpler branch

Rejecting the simpler branch

 

I taped the branch with a simple arrangement of birds to the cottage

I taped the branch with a simple arrangement of birds on the plexiglass. Here it is in its “destination window”.

Time to Consult:

I taped the branch and some birds to the plexiglass and brought a whole handful of extra rice paper birds. The couple I was working wanted more birds, especially at the bottom, and especially more birds with red on them to pick up the colour of the bathroom walls. We also hit a problem: you could see through the panel into the bathroom. We hoped that more birds clustered at the bottom would help solve this problem.

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I created more red birds and sent them mock ups of different arrangements of birds on the tree

I created more red birds and sent them mock ups of different arrangements of birds on the tree. This is #3.

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This is # 6, the version the couple chose.

The next part is the finnicky part. The branches and the birds need to be affixed to the plexiglass. I do this using “zots” – tiny glue spots. The design of the branches that overlaps with the bird is cut out so that the overall design is not too intricate and each birds colour shows well. A few birds, such as the red one, on the bottom left, are left with the branches criss crossing their colour. It takes a couple of hours  and a lot of patience for this stage.

Attaching the birds and branches to the plexi glass

Attaching the birds and branches to the plexi glass

Then the 2 panels of plexiglass are screwed together, fishing line is attached to the top screws so that the piece can be hung and it is ready for delivery. Because plexiglass panels shift in different lights and through different seasons, they need be lived with for a while to be truly appreciated.

Some of the challenges in creating rice paper collages in plexi glass are:

  • Can the two pieces of plexi glass be sealed so that there is no condensation in a bathroom? Someone has suggested using acetone and I am going to try this.
  • A plexi panel is like a see through shirt- not everything is hidden. I have used rice paper backgrounds but then you lose the beauty of seeing what is really beyond the window.We did cluster birds at the bottom, but this did not work as well as we had hoped.
  • Plexiglass is great stuff but it picks up dust and tiny bits of whatever – how to reduce its static qualities?

Each new art piece is an adventure for me. I welcome any knowledge or insights. To see more panels, check out http://poachedeggwoman.ca/galleries/rice-paper-glass-collages/

 

 

 

Water, Colour, Paper

Water

Colour

Paper

And  a brush. (But not necessarily!)

“Follow the brush,” writes Lynda Barry. “The paint travels down the brush and the brush travels across the paper. Once I noticed this I found I enjoyed watching the paint meet the paper. I liked watching it so much, I forgot I had a part in it!”

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Here are some photos from a recent Fearless watercolour PLAYshop sponsored by the Lumsden and District Arts Council. With thanks to all who made it possible and for the fearless participants, teachers each and everyone of them.

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A maple bug loved this play sheet

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paying with the "rigger" (brush

paying with the “rigger” (brush

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Fall Scraps of Sunlight

Having just spent two days playing with paper with others, one day being a collage PLAYshop at the Qu’Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts, and the second day taking place here at the farm (Scrap basket free for all), I can honestly say, I would love to spend a whole week like this. Except I might not still be married! My patient husband had to borrow a chair to sit down to eat lunch, his current reading material was hidden under a scrap basket and his usual paths had detours but he managed with good humour. It is all cleaned up now and I am still married.

Following are photos from the PLAYshop and scrap basket adventure. A few highlights first:

  • I liked that we had people from age 9 to over 70, grandmothers and granddaughters, mothers and daughters, aunties and nieces, good friends, people who had come before and people who gave it their first try.
  • Joanne brought a beautiful paper wasps nest, and this paper was used for many creations. See if you can spot them.
  • We visited but sometimes were so absorbed and other than music in the background all you could hear were so many pairs of scissors as they cut through paper.
  • It was November 7th and 8th and “the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all our senses .” (thanks Joni Mitchell). Who could believe this weather in November? The sun was so bright I was uanble to get a picture of Sunday morning’s scrap basket crew.
  • On Saturday, we got to pop in at the pop up market!!

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I have  three big scrap baskets, full of treasure. Today’s challenge was to just use what was in the scrap basket to create something beautiful.
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Joan's beautiful creation from saturday's PLAYshop. She came up to the farm Sunday and found just what she needed to complete her collage. see the next photo.

Joan’s beautiful creation from saturday’s PLAYshop. She came up to the farm Sunday and found just what she needed to complete her collage. see the next photo.

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The Zen of Art and Horses at Ravenheart Farm

three of my partners and collaborators in the Zen of Atrt and Horses

Three of my partners and collaborators in the Zen of Art and Horses (left, Carol Mariott of Ravenheart Farm; right, Kate Hersberger and centre, Charlie)

It was brilliant to plan a retreat just before the longest ever federal election in Canada…..even though avoiding pre-election coverage was not one of our stated goals! Always good to step away from our various screens and take time to be…. with ourselves, with each other, with the animals and with the natural beauty of Ravenheart Farms. Our rhythm was simple – horses, art play, eat, sleep….repeat a few times, add some walks for good measure, and don’t forget the cats, dogs and occasional black bear or bald eagle!! The black bears were imaginary but the bald eagle was not.

Carol Marriott welcomed us to Ravenheart Farms, introduced us the animals, and shared her gentle, respectful and curious way of being with horses and all creatures. Kate Hersberger gave us an opportunity to explore texture and movement with drywall mud on canvas (something like smoothing  (or ruffling) the icing on a cake) and walked us through the process –  drying the canvas, painting it white, letting it dry again, painting it black and rubbing off the black until only the cracks held the black. I offered some art play with watercolours and crayons to help us explore and express ourselves. Our pace was slow and relaxed, our rhythm was comfortable, our laughter frequent. Our absorption in being with the animals, in playing with mud or paint or in quiet mornings offered us a little zen time. Below are some photos to capture some of our time together.

Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger

Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger

Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger

Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger

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Warming Up – Drawing and responding to different music

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Time to Play in the Mud with Kate

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Kate shows us how

 

Right into that mud!!!

Right into that mud!!!

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Drying the mud in the afternoon sun

Drying the mud in the afternoon sun

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Covering the canvas with black paint

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Sponging some of the black paint off

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The result – we will each take our canvas home to add the colour

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In between horses and art, did I say we ate? Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger

Art Play with Sue

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Playing with water, colour and movement

Playing with water, colour and movement

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Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger

Cheryl with Benny, who followed her everywhere (she eventaully took Benny home!)

Cheryl with Benny, who followed her everywhere (she eventaully took Benny home!). Photo by Carol M

Kate with Lacey Photo by Carol marriott

Kate with Lacey
Photo by Carol Marriott

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Saying farewell and thank you to the horses. Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger.

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Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger.

In Praise of Play

The absorption of the simple act of cutting paper

The absorption of the simple act of cutting paper

I recently had someone ask me if my art PLAYshops were for adults. Most definitely, they are for adults. Sometimes they are also for all ages and at other times exclusively for children and youth. Most often I tell people that PLAYshops are like WORKshops, only we play instead of work. I offer PLAYshops in paper collage and watercolour painting, but the spirit of playful exploration is possible for so many endeavours. People do learn techniques at a PLAYshop but almost by accident  as they ask themselves “what if I tried this?” It strikes me as a sad commentary that “play” for adults is often the domain of adult only sexshops or professional football. The recent popularity of adult colouring books is one sign of how hungry we are for pure play in these busy and often serious times.

IMG_1512Here is what I notice about those who attend my art PLAYshops. Many of us learned in elementary school that there are one or two “artists” in the class and that that artist is not us! No wonder there is often initial concern about “getting it right”. Part of my job as a leader is the open up the space for experimentation, exploration, skylarking* and simple play. Once people get past “getting it right”,  and they usually do, I notice the great comfort that comes with the simple act of cutting with scissors, tearing paper with fingers or wielding a glue stick. The same is true of dipping a brush in a tray of pure colour, dipping it again in water and applying it to paper. Many of us have not enjoyed these simple activities since we were in school, or perhaps when we sat down to show a child how to cut or paint. It is as if by cutting or gluing, we are remembering something, some pleasure, that we long since forgot. We feel that pleasure deep in our bodies.

Although there is sometimes chatter as we create and experiment, there are also often periods IMG_1811of silence, when participants are so absorbed  and focused in what they are doing that they forget to drink their coffee or go to the bathroom or worry about when they will buy groceries. I love this feeling of a group of people being being wholly absorbed in what they are doing. I sense a sort of “hum” of contentment in the room.

I have just started taking an art class based on learning some very specific techniques. I feel excitement about trying out new things. What I noticed right away though, is how frequently those of us in the room criticize and put down our own work, even though we are there to learn something new. We can’t help ourselves. We are afraid to make mistakes. We take ourselves pretty seriously.

I understand this terror of creating visual art a little because I am terrified to dance in the same kind of way. I don’t seem to have natural rhythm, I trip over my feet, I try to take the lead. I need  to draw on this sense of play and fun when I hit the dance floor. Well, actually, first I need to get near a dance floor!!

Image 2Part of the appeal of the PLAYshops is the “play” part but another part of the pleasure is returning to work with our hands. We can get this same kind of tactile pleasure in a myriad of ways – carving wood, sewing by hand, kneading dough, painting a piece of furniture, raking leaves, polishing silver or leather. In an era when our fingers and thumbs are so busy sending messages via screens, we crave this ability to touch something real, something not virtual, something that we can transform and something that will transform us, even in the smallest of ways.

 

 

*skylark
n.
the common European lark, 1680s, from sky (n.) + lark (n.1). So called because it sings as it mounts toward the sky in flight.

v.
“to frolic or play,” 1809, originally nautical, in reference to “wanton play about the rigging, and tops,” probably from skylark (n.), influenced by (or from) lark (n.2). Related: Skylarked ; skylarking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Rice Paper Birds on a winter's day

Rice Paper Birds on a winter’s day

Putting Up Paper Preserves

At a collage PLAYshop, paper is everywhere. Large sheets are displayed on laundry racks, rolls on window sills, trays of coordinated colours – old wrapping paper, candy wrappers, envelope linings, you name it. Some of the paper is textured, some translucent, some brilliant and many hued, some flecked with gold, some shiny, some thin as tissue. The people who come to a PLAYshop already love paper. I ask them to begin by picking the paper that calls their name, the paper that brings their hand to their heart, the paper that won’t leave them alone…IMG_2110Sometimes people come with a plan but a piece of paper takes them in another direction. Occasionally, two pieces of paper lying in a particular suggest idea. Magical scrap baskets which contains yesterday’s rejected bits of paper are somebody else’s inspiration.Image 4IMG_1141
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Tania started with transluscent paper but found she could not stay away from bold and brilliant colours. As she created whimsical jars of preserves to keep her spirit strong  over winter, she asked us all “What would you preserve?” A prairie fall day, the hope of a rainbow, saskatoon berries, the buzzing of bees on sunshine… sometimes just a brilliant colour (the new green of spring) or a piece of paper that simply could not be resisted.

Tania's jars of preserves - in process

Tania’s jars of preserves – in process

I have enjoyed thinking about what we preserve and what we let go. Just today, I dug carrots – some will go in the cold room and we will enjoy this delicious root vegetable in another season. Maybe I will think of the smell of rotting apples and freshly turned over soil which I enjoyed as I dug them. Some of the carrots, I ate raw today, with a little dirt clinging to them, the freshness of their taste mouthwatering, their crunch loud!!

Preserves are meant to be tasted and enjoyed at some point. They are not meant to stay in their jars forever. Jellies and relishes, jams and salsas…. their colours, tastes, smells take us back to the warmth and abundance of late August.

Much of the paper collage art I create will not endure – the paper will fade, disintegrate, get torn. What matters most to me is the completely absorbed and happy world I inhabit while creating. Added benefit: Maybe for a few days or a few years, the piece will give someone pleasure.

Sometimes the art we hang becomes so familiar that we no longer really see it.  The rice paper pieces are often in flux –  they catch our attention as the light changes during the day, as the colours outside our windows change from green to oranges and yellows, browns and finally dazzling whites and purples and blues. The translucence of the rice paper sends shadows to our walls as the sun moves across the sky. They look completely different at night, especially from the outside of your home. The art itself is ephemeral, a glimmer, a sheen, always shifting.

Rice Paper Birds on a winter's day

Rice Paper Birds on a winter’s day

In a sense each of us who created something at the PLAYshop were “putting up preserves” for a winter day. For Janet, the vision of dragonflies on a summer day.

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Janet's  dragonfly panels. First time playing with paper!

Janet’s
dragonfly panels. First time playing with paper!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Liz and Karen, a flower garden that can offer light and colour on winter’s coldest day.

Liz's flower panel

Liz’s flower panel

 

Karen, the speed demon,  with her first try at a rice paper panel

Karen, the speed demon, with her first try at a rice paper panel

 

For Darlene, the elegance of a tiny perfect golden flower and birds in flight.

Darlene holding her bird panel and her exquisite miniature cards

Darlene holding her bird panel and her exquisite miniature cards

Darlene's rice paper bird panel

Darlene’s rice paper bird panel

For Jocelyn, a fanciful hummingbird.

Jocelyn and Liz with their birds

Jocelyn and Liz with their birds

For Tania, the abundance of her own amazing imagination – taking form in jars of preserves., some of the jars unable to contain all their contents, bursting with possibility, and sometimes even with flight…

Tania's jars of preserves - almost complete

Tania’s jars of preserves – almost complete.

 

Immersed in Nature

Do you have the patience to wait

Till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving

Till the right action arises by itself?

 Tao Te Ching

Photo Credit:http://thesimplefrontporch.wordpress.com

Photo – http://thesimplefrontporch.wordpress.com

a joint blog entry by Sue Bland and Debra Brown

Sue : I am not a patient person. Mostly, I do not have the patience to wait until my mud settles and the water is clear. To remain unmoving is very difficult for me. More often than not, I rush ahead with plans and lists and schemes. The wisdom of the twenty seven words above seems written for me.

Last year, when I was searching for venues to hold my art retreats and PLAYshops and my friend Debra was considering opening her farm home in the Eastern Qu’Appelle Valley for retreats, we wondered, slowly, tentatively…is this something we could do together?

the view from the top of the hill - misty moiety weather- at valley View Farm (well named)

the view from the top of the hill – misty moisty weather- at Valley View Farm (well named)

This simple question,  and the eventual answer to it, has taken us on a journey together , something we both came to see as a ceremony of sorts.

We talked about the question, let it rest, dreamed about it and slept on it. In time, the answer to our question arose, and it was YES. When would we hold it? We thought about May, dilly dallied, rejected May. Somehow, late August felt exactly right to both of us.

The burr oaks

The burr oaks

Together we came up with the title – Immersed in Nature: An Art Retreat at Valley View Farm. 

We prepared, each in our own way.

Debra: I sorted, cleared, reorganized more layers of 75+ years of family habitation. While this challenged me on many levels, I never lost the clear knowing that offering this retreat with Sue was a gift, the right “next step” to explore the long-held dream of offering sacred space for people at the farm.

Sue: I am so moved by the beautiful hills and valleys, grasses, woods and wetlands at Valley View Farm. How could this sacred place change and inform the way I offered a PLAYshop or an art retreat? If I truly listened, what did the natural world have to say about how we might approach our time together? I wanted our art to emerge from the nature were were immersed in. I wanted to offer exercises that might shift, ever so slightly, the way we see, experience and respond to the natural world. I practised close to home – in my beloved Pheasant Creek Coulee. There I sketched and painted, or simply sat and took in the beauty. There, I considered the visual elements of line, shape and colour.

the colours of the grasses

the colours of the grasses

Our enthusiasms and efforts were buoyed by registrations and expressions of interest. As we got closer to the weekend, a few people cancelled. Should we go ahead? Doubts surfaced. What if everybody cancelled? We determined that we would go ahead, no matter what. The ceremony of this joint venture was well underway, and even if it was just the two of us, we would see it through until the end because we very much wanted to.

Happily, we had three participants, each of who brought her own special gifts and interests to our shared weekend.  What follows are some “moments” that stood out for each of us.

Sue: Coming downstairs to see guests each with a dark coffee in tow in the sunporch, a book or journal nearby; companionable silence.

Debra: the land being received with such appreciation and delight on our introductory misty-wet walk up the hill, and throughout the weekend

Big Bluestem grass with wolf willow

Big Bluestem grass with wolf willow

More Big Bluestem (taller than I am)

More Big Bluestem (taller than I am)

Sue: a silent walk, sharing wonder and delight with others, but not using words

Debra: women moving and creating in their own rhythms, filling the house with waves of peaceful silence and rich conversation

Sue: the smells coming from the kitchen, as Debra created magic… with plates of such aesthetic beauty and such fresh taste, you could die and go to heaven

Debra's unbelievably scrumptious food

Debra’s unbelievably scrumptious food

Close up!!!

Close up!!!

Debra: the radiance of one participant, after a final pre-departure walk (and drenching) in the hills

Sue: the sound of charcoal on paper as we drew

Creating art…blindfolded!!

Creating art…blindfolded!!

Debra: the insistent presence of Nature throughout the program. ‘Immersed’ we were [or was that baptized and blessed?] by the rain, the shimmering dew on the grasses and verdant forest

the last of the blazing star

the last of the blazing star

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Collage- shape, line

Collage- shape, line, colour

Selecting paper treasure for the trip home

Selecting paper treasure for the trip home

Would we do it again? When the weekend was over, we really weren’t sure. A week later we met and talked about all we had learned, what we would change, what we would celebrate. Then, with the need to follow the insistent thrum in her core, Debra said, “There is something new rising in me”. That insistent rising is the seed of Sweet Darkness: A Mid-Winter Silent Retreat . And so, this ‘ceremony’ continues to ripple through our lives and into the world.

Sue's mandala (left) and Debra's mandala (right) . Each created without looking at the other!

Sue’s mandala (left) and Debra’s mandala (right) . Each created without looking at the other!

Beauty Among Trees

Tree PLAyshop at Kerry Farm, Monday, July 28

A PLAYshop is something like a workshop except you PLAY instead of work. (No shopping is involved.) This PLAYshop focused on trees (and chickens), and was the first I have held, at our home, and the first that was for all ages. We were 4 girls and 4 women accompanied throughout the day by canines and felines, chickens, horses, frogs and dragonflies.

We gave ourselves crazy names (Branchy Brenda, Gracie Grass, Climbing Kamijo – you get the idea) – explored trees blindfolded, did tree yoga with sound effects, and followed the winding trail of a scavenger adventure to our lunchtime destination – the Queen Willow tree on the other side of the dugout. Once there we had a picnic, swung on the tire, heard a Japanese story, had a precarious drawing lesson before heading back to create some art. Off the beaten path, some of us learned to hypnotize chickens, collect eggs, had extra wheelbarrow rides, cuddled cats.

Special thanks to Brenda, Linda and Tania for their wonderful photographs, and to Vanneca, Gracie, Lilly, Kamijo for their tremendous enthusiasm. (And to my family)

Welcome to Kerry Farm - -cTrees frame the view out the lane

Welcome to Kerry Farm – Trees frame the view out the lane. Photo courtesy of Brenda MacLauchlan.

 

Poached Egg Woman flew amongst the trees all day - did anyone notice??

Poached Egg Woman flew amongst the trees all day – did anyone notice??

garden beauty

Scavenger Adventure: Finding the “branch pattern” in the vegetable garden. Photo by B. MacLauchlan.

Scavenger Adventure: sit on the willow bench. is it comfortable? What tree are you under? Can you find its seed?

Scavenger Adventure: sit on the willow bench. is it comfortable? What tree are you under? Can you find its seed? All photos with white frame are courtesy of Tania Wolk

Scavengecr adventure

Scavenger adventure! Photo by B. MacLauchlan

I get a ride in the wheelbarrow!!

I get a ride in the wheelbarrow!! Photo by B. MacLauchlan

I give a ride. All photos with white frame are by kind permission of Tania Wolk.

I give a ride. All photos with white frame are by kind permission of Tania Wolk.

Snack time. Photo by L. Stumpf

Snack time. Photo by L. Stumpf

Leaf rubbings

Scavenger Adventure: Leaf rubbings. Photo by B. MacLauchlan

 

Scavenger Adventure: What do you notice in the yard that is made of wood?

Scavenger Adventure: What do you notice in the yard that is made of wood?

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Scavenger adventure: what is in the tree, is shaped like a branch, but shouldn't be in the tree?

Scavenger adventure: what is in the tree, is shaped like a branch, but shouldn’t be in the tree? Photo by B. MacLauchlan.

Scavenger Adventure: the two headed tree. Photo by L. Stumpf

Scavenger Adventure: the two headed tree. Photo by L. Stumpf

Queen Willow. Photo by L. Stumpf

Queen Willow. Photo by L. Stumpf

Bees, who are (thankfully) NOT in the trees

Please stay away from the bees (but Brenda didn’t). This day is about TREES.Bees, who are (thankfully) NOT in the trees. Don’t be a tease. Photo by B. MacLauchlan.

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Photo by B. MacLauchlan

Tania, meet Missy. Photo by B. MacLauchlanc

Tania, meet Missy. Photo by B. MacLauchlanc

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Slight diversion from the TREES because it is time to hypnotize a chicken and collect some eggs

Slight diversion from the TREES because it is time to hypnotize a chicken and collect some eggs. Photo by B. MacLauchlan

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Time to collect eggs. Photo by B. MacLauchlan

A happy chicken with a happy girl

A happy chicken with a happy girl

a surprise nestc

What is hiding? Photo by B. MacLauchlan.

Surprise! A renegade hen. Photo by L. Stumpf

Surprise! A renegade hen. Photo by L. Stumpf

Getting closer to our lunchtime destination

Getting closer to our lunchtime destination

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Scavenger Adventure: What insects do you notice on the windy, grassy path that leads to our dining room?

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Nap time. Photo by L. Stumpf

Nap time. Photo by L. Stumpf

Vanica arrives first, and sets the table! Photo by L. Stumpf

Vanneca arrives first, and sets the table! Photo by L. Stumpf

China teacups in our under the willow picnic

China teacups in our under the willow picnic. Photo by B. MacLauchlan.

more picnic

more picnic. Photo by B. MacLauchlan.

Plates handed UP to diners. Photo by L. Stumpf

Plates handed UP to diners.Lunch is served! Photo by L. Stumpf

Brenda's toes

Brenda’s toes

Lunch on a tire swing? Not!! Photo by L. Stumpf

Lunch on a tire swing? Not!!
Photo by L. Stumpf

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Aaaah…mint tea! Photo by B. MacLauchlan

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Swinging on the tire

Swinging on the tire. Photo by B. MacLauchlan

and the girls are ….OFF again!!

and the girls are ….OFF again!! Photo by B. MacLauchlan

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Photo by B. MacLauchlan

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Girl intrepid. Photo by B. MacLauchlan

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Photo by B. MacLauchlan

Drawing class in the trees

Drawing class in the trees. Photo by B. MacLachlan

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Photo by B. MacLachlan

A beauty in the trees

Vanneca finds a tree chair. Photo by B. MacLachlan.

playing with paper

Playing with paper. Photo by B. MacLachlan