Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Art and Soul

Yesterday was the day many in the art community have been waiting anxiously to arrive - the unveiling of the class list for the Art and Soul, Hampton, Virginia, 2008. Emails started going back and forth, announcing that the list was up. The online forums were abuzz. This is just the beginning. Registration is November 15th. After that things will really get exciting, with conversations about supply lists, swaps, trades, roommates, shuttles to and from the airport, meeting up with friends - old and new... The closer it gets to May, the more exciting, and excited it will all become!

Last May I attended my first Art and Soul retreat. Actually my first art class, ever. The veterans called us "art virgins." One kind, or irreverent, artist handed out some very cool NYC subway collectible condoms so us virgins were sure to practice "safe art" (the condoms were actually one of her trades).

I'm not going to go into every class, though each was an amazing experience, unlike anything I'd ever done. But I want to say a few things about the retreat because it had such an effect on me. I couldn't have chosen a better first class - Paint That Collage with Ann Baldwin. She is an incredible artist and instructor, putting everyone, even me - the scaredy-cat, at ease. Not long after the class started, I began to have a sense of feeling FREE. Having never taken an art class before, I had no idea that you could paint like that! I'm a very orderly,(ok, insert the word, anal), type person. I would have done all one color, then all another color. I was amazed to see her just slapping colors here and there. She would take a picture that she had torn from a magazine - it had lots of extra stuff around it! I just shook my head, I would have trimmed the heck out of that sucker! She just stuck it down and covered the edges with PAINT - imagine! She said things like, "don't worry if you don't like that there, you can fix it later." In the early part of the class, I was having trouble breathing because, of course, I WAS worrying about not being able to fix it later. But by the end of the class, I had learned that I, too, could paint OVER something; that I, too could slap paint on; that I didn't have to be so damn rigid. It was wonderfully freeing. I was lucky enough to take another class with her later in the week, and by the end of that class, I was ripping pictures out of magazines, and slapping paint around like I'd been born doing it! All of this had me feeling pretty good about myself. But then I walked into Misty Mawn's class. Uh-oh, this looked like trouble. Another beautiful artist and instructor, very sweet, calm, BUT, she wanted me to use my fingers to glop paint and gel medium on the canvas. I had this thing about getting my hands messy. This was going to be hard. I could use a brush, but nobody else was. I didn't want to be different, plus I thought I probably wouldn't get the same effects. So, I took a deep breath and plunged my fingers into that messy stuff. Hey, it wasn't so bad. In fact, it felt kind of good, smearing that stuff around. I thought I had felt free in Ann Baldwin's class - but this was oh so beyond that! I had released my inner child and we were having FUN! We were finger painting!

I did not finish a single project in any class that I took. In hindsight, I was busy trying to learn the techniques being presented and I was busy just relishing in the experiences. I'm not sorry that I didn't come home with anything concrete to show others about my week. I know that I gained far more than what can be measured by anyone else. Can you hear it - The Who, "I'm Free, I'm Free..."
ok, please don't barf...

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