Monday, April 27, 2009

The Trip Created During a Lifetime

This adventure has been a year in the planning. Birthed from a dream I've gestated for nearly 10 years, I am NOW making my dreams come true (hint,hint: you can do it too!). I'd mentioned to a friend, who I'd watched grow thru the pain in her life to graduating with a professional degree in counseling, that I'd like to do a tandem workshop. Finally, all these years later, with both of us having much more experience in our fields, we undertook fulfilling that dream I'd seen in my heart's eye 10 years previous.

April 10, I left to instruct my first international "Women's Mexico Retreat" in Manzanillo, Mexico. The aforementioned friend, Damaris, and I converged the next day and detailed the presentation, placement and logistics of our co-instructed class. I'd focus in the journaling, watercolor technique and design aspects, Damaris would present Mandala exercises and introspective perspective generated from the mandalas and Buddhist meditation. It was going to be a delicious intermingling of creativity & self-exploration.

The week plus retreat began with a "Welcome Dinner" on Sunday evening and continued thru the week, ending on Friday. We included painting techniques, creating stamps, adding WC pages to your journal, abstract emotion painting, and a sampling of mandala creations. Three of our days were spent away from the classroom at: a local Mexican beach, local bus ride to downtown "Centro" and a chauffeured trek north to a smaller town for market day and beach sketching. Our evening shared a variety of dining experiences and coffee/dessert back at the condo was when we took our "talking stick" time to share our own individual stories. All these activities wove a beautiful connection among all of us women. In fact, on my "Retreat Critique" sheet, one participant commented what she liked best about the retreat was that she "connected with everyone and didn't want it to end".

My aim was exactly that, to weave an intimacy, coupled with experiencing "real Mexican" life and dedicated creative/learning self-expression. Although I felt a ripple of resistance to walking a--l--l the way down the beach to a day among Mexican families celebrating Easter Weekend on the beach or taking a bus ride (when a taxi could have been so much more comfortable) to "Centro", I did hear one participant say she was pleased to have "gotten" the feeling of the different culture to which she'd been exposed.

Don't get me wrong, I got my share of lessons too. One was around a situation I could have never predicted and - just had to let go of any expectations (you know those things we get into trouble with if we haven't made everything we'd like people to understand, understood beforehand). Next class/retreat I know to make agreements and confront any mixed messages ahead of time. The other big lesson is around setting boundaries and sticking to them when they are healthy. And that one is hard for this "people pleaser" but, I am learning and growing. AND - I never what to stop doing that. I also had some problems with art materials that I couldn't have predicted and was reminded to allow more time for mingling and conversation that always seems to occur (thank goodness) with women.

All in all, my adventure of watching, visualizing and affirming has paid off. Not to mention a year of planning advertising, contracts, art material and class preparation, of course. But I can't tell you the rewards ... I'm still discovering them. I feel more powerful, have a direction I'm loving and have some measure of the work and dedication with which I must muster up.
I can only encourage you, to take chances, follow YOUR dream and leap into a new world that's been waiting for you all along. AND - if you'd like a day-by-by walk thru the actual "Women's Mexico Retreat" go to:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Obama as Our New President

This is my second stab at an Obama portrait (see 6/14/08). This one was to honor our new President. So I chose an image of him in a moment that epitomized, to me, his character. Once I got started, I realized the child could be a challenge (well, not that Obama wasn't), with his big bald head. Even once I painted it, the round object seemed to project forward, as you see in this First Stage. But I've learned to tell myself, "Just keep painting and see how it all rounds out once it nears completion." So I continued.

After laying down Aureolin Yellow, it warms up and brings to life human body parts, over all but my highlight areas of Obama's face, I begin to layer in other warm colors. I know some of the pinks and intense Quinacridone Burnt Orange look VERY garish, but I need to remember, when I layer over with darker, shadow colors, that brightness will vanish and merely whisper thru as glowing color. That's the beauty of transparent watercolors (bless you Quinacridones! Did you know they originated from car paints?). I continue to layer in darker shadows mixed from my Thalo Blue and Brown Madder, in some receding areas the mix was Carmine and Thalo Blue.

It took me alot of time dealing with the detail areas, his eyes, mouth, and neck. Layer after delicate layer, working to keep him 'glowing' yet needing to get darker. His hair has various values and differing colors too - sparse some places, dense others. His expression of joyful surprise was part of what captivated me and finally, I felt like I captured it! Background was more to bring him out and I chose optimistic colors that don't necessarily recede. I'm still pondering the baby's head size. Some days it looks proportional, others, I want to paint it darker. Then I realized this isn't going on the White House wall and I could just let it be. Love to hear any of your opinions, feedback and/or suggestions.

In the end, the painting made me smile and it reflected how I felt on Inauguration Day - joyful, optimistic and hopeful. And that was enough. The moral - don't be afraid to attempt difficult images, we can only learn by painting them. Happy creating!