So how’m I doing in my quest to re-invent my life, follow my evolving Blisses and create the life I really, really want?
If you follow this blog, you know I’m not exactly Ms. Posts-Her-Posts-At-The-Same-Time-Like-Clockwork, but I am in the habit of posting my Weekly Review on Sundays.
Except when I’m not.
Sometimes a girl has other priorities. Like the Friends of Calligraphy Retreat. Where one of my self-imposed rules is no email, and no internet.
I broke the second half of that rule in order to write a blog post I’d committed to for Shenee’s Story Tour, and I was a very cranky camper indeed. Lesson learned. And new Commandment dutifully added to the list.
The Retreat shall be a space to feed one’s soul.
Thou shalt not do any work for clients; thou shalt engage in Creative Sandbox play only.
However, work created for the express purpose of selling is allowed, if and only if it is embarked upon out of internal excitement and inspiration.
Thou shalt not check email.
Thou shalt not check Twitter.
Thou shalt not check Facebook.
Thou shalt not even check one’s blog for comments. (Verily, thou shalt survive.)
Addendum (as of March 2011): Thou shalt not bring any kind of external deadline unto the Retreat. Even such deadlines as one happily chose to commit to.
Even Weekly Review blog posts. Thank you for your patience.
What I’ve learned about me and the Retreat
1. Finding the True Path requires much patience
It invariably takes a full day to settle in, and at least another full day to find my groove. Until then, I’m a) in sleep mode, as my body finally realizes “oh, I can actually rest!” and b) totally at a loss as to how I want to spend my (waking) time.
2. Feeling lost is part of the process
Should I spend the days drawing? Or writing? Or walking? Or..?
The lack of a clear direction for the Retreat leaves me feeling out of sorts and even a bit sunk. “What’s wrong with me?” I wonder. “Will I ever find my way?”
Can you say “microcosm of the rest of my life”?
Thankfully, after nine Retreats in ten years, I’m pretty familiar with this annual psychological journey I seem destined to take. It always throws me a bit at first, but I have (at least a fair amount of) trust that all will be well.
3. Mistakes are part of the process
As indeed it was well once again this year. After madly cranking out a blog post for Shenee’s Story Tour on Wednesday night, when I would much rather have been relaxing and connecting with old friends (see addendum to Retreat Commandments above), and then sleeping away much of Thursday, I did a bit of sketching.
4. The True Path requires much tweaking
Maybe I’ll spend the rest of my Retreat honing my drawing skills..?
But no, although I admired and envied the amazing sketches some of my fellow retreaters were creating, in art journals and artist books and on broadsides, drawing just didn’t compel me.
5. The only way to find the True Path is to do
So I pulled out my mini-canvases and started to play.
Eureka! By Thursday night I had finally started to find my groove.
Some early layers – including watercolor, linen thread, walnut ink on mini canvases:
And after some more layers – water, more watercolor ground, more walnut ink and watercolor:
And yet more layers – a mosaic starts to come together:
And the final (pre-assembled and pre-sealed) mosaic (and oh, drat, the second-from-the-top canvas on the right is in the wrong orientation, but damned if I’m going to re-shoot this photo at 11:22pm at night…):
6. Small successes lead to confidence to try bigger challenges
I’d brought a couple of larger canvases with me – perhaps I had the courage to branch out to a single canvas work. A riskier prospect, missing the option of easily moving elements around or even replacing them, but hell, I could always gesso over the entire thing, so why not give it a shot?
Here’s the first layer of the 8″ x 8″ canvas:
And the final (sorry, in my enthusiasm to keep going with it, I forgot to take interim shots…) – multiple layers of walnut ink, water and watercolor ground:
I kinda like it!
7. When on the True Path, the Flow takes over, so much so that the rest of the world sometimes gets forgotten
The 6″ x 8″ canvas (which I somehow managed not to get any process shots of…):
I kinda like this one too!
8. When on the True Path, the Universe will reward you
Inspired by a fun coffee saying I found in my Quotationary, I whipped out the piece below…
…which a fellow retreater promptly bought!
Always a good sign when someone wants to pay money for stuff you do out of love.
(Kinda wish I’d gotten a hi-res scan first, but ah, well, I can make another one.)
9. Much as I long for the Scriptorium during the rest of my year, I get to play in the Creative Sandbox at home, too
True, there’s nothing like creating in silence, surrounded by others doing the same. The air is absolutely charged with creativity.
Here’s my vantage point from the last table at the back of the room:
The difference this year is that I know I get to keep playing even after the Retreat ends. No, not as many hours as I want, every day (with three amazing gourmet meals waiting for me down the hall), but I’ve made my 15 Minutes A Day commitment to play in the Creative Sandbox, so at least I’ll keep my toe in the stream.
Speaking of which, after trying in vain to catch up on 5 days of emails and work backlogs, if I’m going to get my 15 minutes in, I’ve got to do it now.
Playtime! Then bedtime.
Only 360 days til the next Retreat…