Moments To Hold Close

At this moment I am exhausted. Last night I was elated. I am quite tired in general. I listen to the rain on the roof and want to do nothing but listen to it for hours. I miss doing nothing. I miss slowing down. It always amazes me how quickly I get caught up in working and grinding myself down to the fragile bones of my being.

But I am not here to complain. I want to try to reach out of my stupor and fogginess to share some of the beauty and creative energy I have encountered in the last couple weeks. I need to paint very badly, but I need to write too.

First, Squam Art Workshops.

waking up to morning light coming through my window and reminding me that i love mornings

One of my favorite places to be is at Squam surrounded by creative community. SAW makes me feel alive, satisfied with where I am in my life, and full of possibility.

flora bowley with the painting she did as she demonstrated her techniques for us

I love the lake, the things I learn, the space to breathe and think, the food, the ice cream specifically, and most of all I love the people I meet. I know that during the year I often get so crushed and deflated by work and my own negative thoughts that I do not do what I could to cultivate these relationships throughout the year, but every year I go back and the smiles and warm embraces are still there and I feel lifted up no matter what the year has been like. I love that it always seems to pick up where we left off. I love friends like that. Friends that, despite time apart, treat you like they saw you last week and your life is of utmost importance to them. And then the new friends just blow me away. As if the old friends were not enough, I meet new people that I wish lived closer, that invite me to visit them, and that want to know who I am and what I do and want to encourage me to follow my path even thought they barely know me. I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it. And it is always what I need. Love.

My cabinmates were especially cool this year. We had great conversations, wine and s'mores in our fireplace most evenings. Love shout-out to Tammy, Pat, Louise, Meghan, and Alison.

alison, meghan, louise, pat, me and tammy!

I also loved meeting Elizabeth N, Helen, Lindy, Beth, Laura K, Austen, and Hillary. Light in my life!

And even with the magnitude of beauty in my friends, there are also my teachers who touch my life in a direct and powerful way that pushes me forward and further allows me to be myself at the same time. A powerful balance. [One I do not profess to understand with my typical smiling-one-moment-and-screaming-in-frustration-the-next teaching style. But then again I teach 13 year olds who mostly don't give a flying acorn about what I need to teach them. And neither do I frankly, so we're a great pair. Anyway....back to remembering what bliss feels like.] My teachers definitely have found a way to get me working and hold me up in their strong hands to see the world a different way.

flora covering all the white (step 1)

Flora Bowley got us working spontaneously and freely. She taught us to work without over thinking anything until the piece started to emerge with a design of its own. We worked big and we worked fast. The colors were vibrant and we learned from experience which colors made mud. We used cheap brushes and expensive paints. We channeled our feelings into our loosely held brushes and let the paint fly. It was wonderful. And even though my pieces don't feel done, the free way in which they were created taught me to let go a little more and I have something to move forward with on that journey.

judy teaching us how to bind our own journals judy teaching us how to make our own journals

Every year at SAW I have taken a class with Judy Wise. There is something about the way in which Judy teaches that helps me believe that there is hope in the world, beauty happens too, and I have possibilities I can barely dream about. I just popped over to her blog to nab the link and there I was on her blog. *big inside surge of happiness* I feel honored to have taken classes with Judy and to earn her feedback. I had the chance to sit and talk with her this year and as always I appreciated her honesty about the challenges of life, balanced with her calm assurances that people crave beauty, I can be an artist, and that she thinks she lives the best kind of life (which I loved hearing). She doesn't just tell me what I want to hear. She tells me what I want to hear because it is true and she has experienced what I seek and because she has taken the time to figure herself out before telling me about life and the paths that can be taken. I am so glad she also loves SAW and wants to come back. In a moment of internal humor I tell myself that it's because I am so cool. *laugh* No, it is because there is something to SAW that is rare and precious. Those who I meet there usually want to go back. And Judy is part of why I think it is so wonderful. Thanks for everything, Judy!

the journal i made in judy's class

judy & i

It was lovely having Sarah Ahearn at Squam again. So nice to have a friend at SAW that I can see during the year. And she brought the cutest Ada for everyone to coo over (and her mom to help!). And I got to help her carry stuff and package prints, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There is something like a small spark of light that happens when working side-by-side friends and I like it. I took her half-day class on Saturday in which we made space to think, journal, take pictures, remember things, and sketch ideas and inspiration. It was a perfect ending.

sarah and the little lion named ada

can't help but kiss cheeks that cute

The time at SAW was a boost. I just wish the boosts came more often. This year I could feel how I had grown in confidence and skill. I did not cry at the end...not that crying is a bad thing, but I just didn't feel like the end was tearing me apart and I didn't feel overwhelmed by the support of which I used to feel so devoid. It was what I needed, but I didn't need it so badly that the good feeling rushed at me like a tidal wave. I felt wonderful and capable of moving forward carrying proudly the gifts I had received.

at the vision of squam II show...mine are the top, middle right, and bottom

One of the most uplifting experiences of the workshop was the feedback at the Vision of Squam II show at the Sandwich Artist Collective in Center Sandwich. I had three pieces in the show and the small piece sold. It was the first piece of artwork I have sold and that was a wonderful feeling. All three pieces are encaustics, which I have been doing since Judy's class last year on the technique. It made me feel all shy and embarrassed, but in reality it was such a great experience to hear the people I know and love at SAW exclaiming over my work and congratulating me. It is a great feeling even if it does make me want to crawl under the table!



moonlight sparkles on the lake


I must say the the lake itself is magical. The calls of the loons draw you out into the moonlight to sit and take in the millions of diamonds dancing on the surface of the water. Only the promise of the company of friends could draw me away from it.

And then there is the view from above the lake. Two of my cabinmates and I climbed Rattlesnake Mountain Sunday morning and were satisfied with the reward of our climb.

squam lake

sweaty, a little red, and happy with ourselves



made for walking

meghan, alison, and me

The view was a fitting end to 5 days of beauty and friendship. My intentions going into SAW were to learn, think, and form friendships. Support was what I was grateful for. So many memories, friendships and lessons learned to hold close to me now.