I spent the first week of May in Santa Fe, my third art retreat with my friend Diane. We immersed ourselves in journaling, painting, visiting galleries and talking non-stop about art, creative process and our challenges, desires and directions.
We set up the dining room table in our condo as our pre and post-class painting area. We'd wake up in the morning, eat, dress, go to the workshop and paint big, eat, then have a glass of wine or cup of tea and paint small until we went to bed.
Each day in the workshop I created (pretty much) a whole new painting. On the previous day's painting!
On the first day at Lauren Mantecon's studio for her four-day "Anything Goes: Working Large and More" workshop, I worked in greyscale for my painting start, just throwing marks and elements on the canvas playfully and without any thought.
The second workshop day, I selected the word "place" as an inspiration. Once I did, I could see architectural structures forming on this version. I added color, pushing back some elements and bringing others forward. I tried whatever came to mind, exploring, feeling my way. No matter that it was rough and unresolved, I liked what was happening and felt I could refine and improve it.
On day three, after a chakra-opening exercise, I became deeply aware of my desire for expansiveness and heart-opening. I completely covered up the second day painting start and headed in a new direction.
One of the most valuable parts of a workshop like this one is working alongside other artists. It really brought it home that I am not the only one who experiences highs and lows as I create. Almost every artist in the room had to reinvent each day. They took risks that didn't work, then reinvented and tried something else. It was amazing to both observe and participate in that process, because even though I invent and reinvent on my own in my studio, the sheer scale of a whole room full of artists doing the same alongside me was incredible. Such intense energy!
All the stimulation and perceptions from the week are still percolating inside. As my considerations lead to insights about where my art practice is heading and why, I'll share some of them with you.