How long has it been since I’ve spent some time with me? Since I’ve looked out and looked in?
Across this wide lake surrounded by pines and blueberry brambles, I hear the rippling waves slapping something that I cannot see somewhere nearby. And the reflection of the pines in the single clear spot from here to the far side. But there are people. And there is laughter. And it is hard for me to separate from that. Where there is chatter ….
This June, I had the amazing privilege of attending the Spring retreat for Squam Art Workshops.
I didn’t know what to expect, I just had a voice inside my head telling me this was something I had to do. To go, to learn, to be inspired, to inspire, to be. I went by myself because I wanted to. I didn’t want to be anything to any one, not a mother or a teacher, or a sister or a friend. Without obligation, I wanted to learn about me.
My two classes were hard to choose from a list of amazing teachers I had been following for the last few years. I chose London Kaye‘s class on so much more than yarn bombing, Unexpected Joy, and Colleen Attara‘s class on creating a place to write, Stories and Treasures.
London Kaye is a woodland sprite filled with positive energy and joy. She began yarn bombing for fun and became not only a street artist with commercial benefit, but a consistent supplier of unexpected joy to the universe. She began, just because, and that was my lesson #1.
We began our course by pulling inspiration from magazines and books and creating a collage of shape, color and subliminal desires as it turns out. I pulled from fashion magazines mostly and found that I am always drawn to both very feminine and somewhat masculine women’s clothing. I am jeans and t-shirts mostly, but I do appreciate the drape of soft pink fabric. These things both make me happy. I found also that my collage was filled with fresh fruit photos the color and texture of which I find sensual.
When I was done London asked me what it meant. I hadn’t been meaning anything, just gathering what popped out at me. I began to think of women and how we are defined. I have always wanted to have a definitive style, but I realize I am too many different things to be just one. I am the leather and the lace.
We all are.
And I thought of a line from my Big Fat Greek Wedding. In the end we are all fruit.
Executing the project which was entirely crocheted was another thing entirely. She had some pieces from past projects that we could utilize, but I worked frantically to create my everything girl in the time remaining.
Here they are together in the end, my girl and London.
I was of course embarrassed and horrified to put my art up next to some of the other amazing artists in the class. That was my lesson #2. Here are some of the others.
My Friday and Saturday class was with an amazing graphic, and so much more artist Colleen Attara.
Colleen had found a way to express her artistic soul while nursing her dying mother. She was always an artist, but found a way to be boundless.
The class was about creating a place to draw you into your writing. I journaled to get through some rough times, but creating the physical journal was something I never had done. We used an old book and every type of media to repurpose the book. I chose Like Water for Chocolate.
The first day of class I was lost. I had never done any paper crafting. I knew nothing of image transfers and page stiffeners (I can’t remember what the stuff is called). Everyone around me seemed to have a better idea of what was happening. I’d heard people say there was not enough direction in this class. The second day of class I saw it as freedom. That was my lesson #3
When class was done, Colleen asked me if there were any words I would like to add to my journal. And the only one that came to my mind couldn’t be written in my hand with my architectural block handwriting style. And so she wrote it for me. And I traced over it to have my hand over hers.
And though the classes were amazing, it wasn’t the most amazing part of my week at Squam. After class and after the bell that made us march like pavlovian ants to the mess hall, we returned to our respective cabins. My peeps were so much like me. They all came by themselves to this amazing place and together we shared our journey – what we learned that day and what we hoped to learn going forward. We would kick off our shoes and grab our knitting and sit on the dock, dangle our feet and tell stories. And after dinner’s bell, we would gather around the fire prepared by the fire and ice boys and tended to by our own Claudia and knit and story tell some more until one by one we headed to bed.
On the dock
From my bedroom window
Just outside Nirvana (that’s me telling the photographer how to use my camera)
Crazy Eye, Marcia and The Fire Keeper
I’m not sure what to say. It’s over and it was amazing.
Do it just because and without structure so our unique creativity can be shared with the world.
Sunsets, trees, inside people, a weasel, mosquitos
and I heard, birds that purr and, flowing water, laughter lots of laughter
and I smelled: jasmine and bacon and bug spray, water and campfires
And the people… well that just makes me cry