Art Retreat at Home – Day 7

September 6, 2010

My mini-retreat is over.  I’m proud of myself for taking time — each of the past seven days — to paint a small watercolor or two.  I feel that giving myself an art “retreat,” a short-term project, helped to make my unpaid furlough special and meaningful.

I saw the actor and writer John Cleese give an interesting talk about creativity on one of the blogs I follow.  He’s learned that creativity requires no interruptions, which means that you have to set boundaries of space and time to do your creative work.  You can watch his 10-1/2 minute talk at this link:

It certainly was much easier to find the time for art this week than during my regular work week.  Tomorrow the libraries are again open for business, and I’ll be returning to work.  I hope I can maintain the momentum to paint and draw as I transition into a more normal work schedule.

Here are my paintings from Day 7:

Yet another attempt at painting hydrangeas

Watercolor sketch of hydrangea

Watercolor sketch from a photo

I’m going to try to make this week special by creating art every day, even just a sketch or two.  I’ll treat myself to a mini-retreat at my dining room table!  Let’s see if I can actually do it.  I often don’t take the time to sit down with watercolors and pencils, but whenever I do, I have so much fun.  It makes me wonder why I don’t do this more often.  I’d like sketching to become a daily practice.

Here are yesterday’s efforts:

Watercolor sketch of red buttons

Watercolor sketch of poppy pod

Art as Prayer

July 30, 2010

"Art is a medium for prayer."

Making art on our day of silence

The “Praying with Imagination” retreat allowed time for making art, both alone and in groups led by our artist-in-residence, Peggy.  Art can be another contemplative practice for enlivening our senses and deepening our spirituality.  Peggy taught us how to make bound blank books, which she described as “containers.” 

I made these blank books as containers for the expression of my art.

One of my goals for the retreat was to practice portrait photography.  I wanted to make a photograph of each participant, portraits that would reveal (not steal) a small slice of their souls and spirits.  I find it very challenging to make compelling photographs of people.  It’s difficult to intrude with your camera and still be sensitive to the subject’s privacy.  I’m sure I tread on a few toes.  I still have a lot to learn about portrait photography, but I was pleased with the way I captured the depth of character of some of my retreat colleagues.

My “final” art project was a slide show of photos documenting my experiences during the week-long retreat.  I presented it after our farewell banquet.  But I wanted to explore painting and drawing, too, and I did find some time to do some sketches and watercolor paintings.

My watercolor paintings

Ink drawing from one of my flower photos

Painting copied from a favorite print and another ink drawing

More sketches

I was so inspired by my fellow artists.  Here is some of their spectacular work:

Peggy's handmade book

Rose's calligraphy and handmade books

Anna's calligraphy and handmade books

A page from Barbara's Journey Daybook


July 18, 2010

Angel's Trumpet

Today I begin a week-long retreat at the College of St. John’s in Minnesota.  I’ve never been on a retreat before, but I look forward to disconnecting from my regular life for this brief time.  I hope that the week will be a journey inward, a time for reflection, renewal, rest, and creativity.

During this time apart I will not be posting to this blog.  But please check back again in a week.  Who knows, perhaps I’ll have  some new insights to share then.

In the meantime, I’ll be reflecting on the following quote:

“A fully lived and passionate life is not only, or not even mostly, about being useful or useless, it is about being.  Being what?  That we shall discover only when we lay down our arms and rest awhile from being everything we think we are.”
     — Roger Housden, Seven Sins for a Life Worth Living