Back to ArtFest. Day 2.
Thursday morning I woke up bright and early. So early that I actually had time to relax before heading over the Fort Worden and had time to read the next chapter in my current book (The Year of Magical Thinking). It was nice to just take time to sit and drink coffee and read (with no TV, telephone, or email to distract me).
My Thursday workshop was To Map the Treasure of My Heart with Kristin Steiner. Reading the description of this class is what pushed me over the edge to sign up for ArtFest:
"Our creativity is most authentic when it comes from the heart of who we are. Do you know what provides the source of your most genuine creative impulses? With a few simple, non-scary writing exercises, you will come to clearly see what lies at the core of your creative treasure chest. Uncover the themes, colors, collections and longings residing deep within. Then document each discovery in this tiny altered board book."
I will never be able to do the experience justice, but here it is: this workshop changed my life. It is that simple and that wide and that real and that true.
Kristi created an amazing atmosphere where people felt safe to create, play, learn, laugh, and share. We took a children's board book and began to create our own altered book. We learned about dying fabric (this was my first time working with fabric) and using walnut ink (my first time working with inks) to age things. Oh how much fun this was. I learned how to make a simple cut and rip fabric - I mean really, for someone who can't cut straight lines, this was like a dream come true.
But it was the invitation to find the words. This is what changed my life. Kristi had us write. First about our fears. So much came up for me, but I just had this little tiny piece of ledger paper to write them on. And they poured from me. Getting them out was huge. Later, she had us write about the colors, textures, obsessions, collections, longings, trademarks that speak to us, that make us who we are. To pull the adjectives from our hearts and minds. What are we drawn to. One thing became quite clear to me: I am drawn to words...to phrases...to the stories that vibrate in my soul.
As we worked, I stumbled over my fears (what if I do it wrong?) but did my best to just let it all go and play. One of the neatest things we did was create a little altar to our creative younger selves. I used a picture of me that I stumbled across last week. I just love it. Me as a litle girl with a big smile on my face.
At the end of the class, Kristi had us write an accounting on the back of that little piece of ledger paper. How to explain? A way to hold ourselves accountable for what we do, this creative life that we lead, to own it all. To own our part of the experience. The way that Kristi just gets it - how she puts her heart out there so we can learn from her - this touched me so much. Throughout the day, as she spoke about her own experiences as an artist, I often felt the little pinpricks of tears on the backs of my eyeballs. Yes. Yes. Yes. I kept thinking this over and over. I am not alone. There are other people out there who get me. Who get it. Who understand. As she said the words, "what do you own?" I put my pen to the paper and wrote. The gist of it was that I own that through the grief I have experienced I am finding who I really am. It took this grief to bring me to this place where I could be quiet enough to hear the whispers of the little girl inside me who wants to create, live, love, dance, and laugh. (As I write this, I am watching the last few minutes of the movie My Life. Oh how this movie makes me cry and cry. I try not to watch it because it hits me in the gut (for many reasons, one of which is that when I saw it in the theatre, I was with my dad and he cried during it - at the time it was one of two times I had ever seen him cry). The last time I watched it was 10 years ago, after my parents divorced. But what a good movie it is. And perfect for these emotions that roll down my face.)
After we finished writing, Kristi asked us to share a page of our book and something that we own. These amazing brave women shared a little piece of their stories. It was beautiful. And after I shared my thoughts about the little girl, someone said that they felt the same way. That their little girl is waking up too. And Kristi said to me that she believes that we find healing in finding our creative selves.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I learned so much about myself in this class. I did not want to leave. I could have taken a week long workshop with Kristi. She touched my heart with her integrity and honesty and heartfelt teaching. I have a secret hope to participate in a retreat she is leading with another teacher in September. I hope that my life and the stars align in such a way that I can...
After the class, Kelly and I met up to share what we had learned. It was so great to have someone to connect with after this amazing day.
Later that evening, we went to a gathering where people were writing in their art journals. We spent about three hours pouring over the pages of Teesha and Tracy's journals and asking questions of other artists. And talking, talking, talking to each other. I was energized and inspired by these amazing artists and their journals. This is a way to come to the page and let go. This is a way to tackle that inner critic with vengence. This is a way to have fun. I bought a book kit at vendor night (more on vendor night - the crazy amazing vendor night - in another post), so I can create my own journal. I am drawn to the idea of prepping the pages before binding the book together. To get rid of that dreaded blank white page. I can't wait!!!
(I will post pictures of my little altered book. But I want to finish it first. I have my words...the most important part to me...now I just need to put in all the little touches that give it its character. Stay tuned my friends, stay tuned.)