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Showing posts from 2018

A Case for Coming to Art Later in Life: Part II: Late-Blooming

There is a timing for things. It isn’t a mistake or a sign of weakness when a person comes to art later in life. The time hasn’t been right for them to arrive any earlier. Like late-blooming plants, they’ve weathered the heat, the winds and the fierce summer storms and now, the autumn is their time.

In nature most plants and trees bloom in the spring and summer. But some are only ready to flower in the late fall or winter. In Southern Ontario where I live, some fall and winter-blooming plants include Chrysanthemums, Burning Bush, Amaryllis, Christmas Cactus and species of Witch Hazel. The magnificent Saguaro Cactus, which grows in the Sonoran Desert between Arizona and Mexico, can live for 150-200 years but only blooms after 35 years. And the Madagascar Palm Tree blooms with hundreds of tiny flowers only once in 100 years.

 Like the Saguaro Cactus, I bloomed late too, attending art school in my late 40s. It was the right time for me to go through that experience, as I needed maturity an…

A Case for Coming to Art Late in Life-Part 1

There are a lot of us out there who have come to art later in life. My workshops are filled with women (mostly) who are between the ages of 50 and 75 (The baby boom generation). Probably most are between 60 and 75. And what interesting people they are! They bring their life experiences with them to their art––their heartaches, joys, achievements, worries, and gratitude. And they are, for the most part, committed artists. They are embracing art like it's finally their time. It's what they've been waiting their whole lives to do. They come with their souls on fire.

"and there was a new voice 
which you slowly
recognized as your own, 
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do––
determined to save
the only life you could save." The Journey by Mary Oliver

 It doesn't matter how old you are if you have passion for life.

That passion can carry us a long way. And while recognition is important in the way…

Painting Place

In the workshop I recently taught in Spain, I gave a slide show where I presented a survey of my work from the past 12 years of my 35 year art career. I hadn't seen the slide show for a while. The last time I'd presented it was for a talk at a public gallery a few years ago in conjunction with my show.  It's a good exercise to look at the development over time of your work now and again. I realized again how important place is in my work. Place and light. Both. And travel.



 While I love coming home, I equally love to travel as you might know from my recent introduction of Workshops in Wild Places. I expect my work will continue to grow and change as I travel to the various places where I've organized workshops. Connecting to place is something that's done with the heart. Not all places resonate with my heart. I'm happy to see them and take photos, but not all places make me squeal with delight to be there. The workshops I'm planning are in places that make…

A Painting Workshop on the Camino

You feel the energy of the Camino right away at the retreat centre in the small village of Castrillo de los Polvazares. I've just returned from teaching  a workshop in Northern 
Spain with Rebecca Crowell. Even though the Camino is about walking a sacred journey, about contact with the earth, I felt an ungroundedness, a sort of lightheadedness, an open vulnerability.  Basia Goodwin, one of the owners of the retreat centre, Flores del Camino, talked about the idea of the Camino being divided into three stages of personal growth, corresponding to the three distinct geographical regions. The first is the physical part, which is all about the difficulty of walking, the energy required, the blisters, the aching muscles. The second third is the mental/emotional part where the pilgrim is walking through the vast, treeless plains of the Meseta. There is much time for thinking about self, about life, about the reason for the journey. In this expansive place, doubts, fears, regrets and sorr…

About Place: A painting workshop on the Camino

Rebecca Crowell and I are staying in a gorgeous retreat centre on the Camino de Santiago called Flores del Camino. It's in the small stone village of Castrillo de los Polvazares with a population of 100.  Voted one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, the streets are cobblestone and each of the unique earth-coloured stone houses is joined to the next in rows that wind through the town.



There are no yellow arrows or brass shells embedded in the village road marking the way of the Camino, as there are in larger cities. It basically consists of one-street and the  Camino resumes at the edge of town.  Paying attention to the moment doesn't stop though when you come into the village because walking the uneven cobblestone streets is an exercise in mindfulness itself!



The owners of this retreat centre, Bertrand Gamrowski and Basia Goodwin are committed to supporting pilgrims who are walking the Camino, offering them a place to stay as well as offering dinners (payment by donatio…

Behind the Scenes

For the past six months I've been focused on organizing a travel workshop program. I've been researching remote locations in small comfortable lodges where there is immediate access to the land. The idea is for artists  to spend time on the land and through various contemplative activities, discussions, and creative exercises, to develop an artistic response to the environment. The idea began in January of 2018 when I was meeting with my good friend, the artist  Rebecca Crowell in her home in New Mexico. We thought of the idea of continuing to teach together, as we will be doing in our upcoming workshop in a retreat centre on the Camino in northern Spain. We had such fun planning that workshop that we thought we'd try to do the same in another location, but in New Mexico this time. We searched for possible retreat centres but couldn't find any that were suitable: one had only outdoor toilets, one said to beware of scorpions on their website (yikes!), another has a long…