Sunday, April 10, 2011

It was supposed to be about art.....

This time last week I was lucky enough to be taking part in a fabulous workshop run by the awesome Flora Bowley.

I don't consider myself a painter, but thought the creativity that oozes through all other aspects of my life and work might carry me through.

I had heard about the workshop from Tinniegirl, who spoke of Flora's workshop with such excitement that I had to investigate for myself.
With the description of ' A heart centred workshop, exploring a whole new way of painting from a place of freedom, non-judgement and experimentation. Learning to loosen up, let go and have fun. Allowing paintings to unfold and learning there are no mistakes.'

How could I not be drawn to the idea of such a freeing creative experience.

I did the math to see if it was affordable, I checked the calender to see if I could manage between all our work rosters, school and childcare and fortunately it was all aligned so I could skip away for a weekend without needing to rearrange a single thing.

There were my usual travel demons...having to deal with travel sickness and social situations, which both often have me saying no to new experiences. But I felt i needed to do this, like there was some cosmic pull, making sure I was there for the weekend.

My wonderful, calming and kind travel buddy, did all the hard work booking planes, cars and houses and didn't even run screaming when warned of my travel sickness. I sooo could not have taken this wonderful adventure if it weren't for her letting me tag along. Cathy....forever grateful xx

So bags were packed, canvas purchased, travel meds organized and we were off.

Our destination was amazing, staying on the most beautiful block of land in Jervis Bay N.S.W. Surrounded by nature, kangaroos and not much else.

Ahhh the serenity.

Day one of the workshop was all about letting go, having no preconceived ideas of what we would paint and just playing. Playing with color, shapes and techniques.

We took time out to stretch, breathe and eat, reminding ourselves why we were there and being grateful for everything and everyone that made it possible for us to be here.

Day one was so freeing and fun indeed.

Day two was all about letting something emerge from our canvas. Concentrating on just one bit we liked and building on it.

Great advice, great leadership, techniques and demonstrations.

But I....who lives in the land of opposites, Did not heed the advice of 'find a bit you like and build on it', no...
I translated it as, find a bit you hate and get rid of it.
So starting of from a place of hate and backwards thinking,which me off track.
I got rid of all the orange on show. I hated it's overly orange appearance, so I proceeded to cover it up. This managed to take away all the beautiful depth and markings I had spent the previous day creating ....Ouch.
I didn't think of that at the time.

I then had darkness, and blobbiness and pretty much mud.
Nothing was emerging from my mud except the need to make something pretty like everyone else was.

The more that people walked around looking at each others saying "wow, so beautiful, deep, and amazing" , the more I thought I didn't belong.
I just wanted to pack up, go home, and stop pretending to be an artist like all these amazing people.

Seems I wasn't the only one in a dark place.

Flora must have felt the tension in the air and called for another re-group. She reminded us that we weren't there to learn to paint like her....sounds strange, but i needed to here that.
We were there to take these techniques and find ourselves.

I just wanted to cry.

I realised, I was most definitely trying to be her. I was trying so hard to paint something deep, amazing and beautiful. something that flowed from the heart and soul of an experienced painter.
Me, a novice...never held a brush and I wanted to come home after 48 hours with two amazing pieces of art worthy of selling in the shop.

Somewhere along the lines, of being free, letting go, and having no preconceived outcome, I realised I was not free, I was not letting go and I had a very preconceived idea of how this would all go.

I don't hate myself for being like that, cause so much of my job depends on my creativity being speedy, and appealing to many with the possibility of needing another 20 made exactly like it. So it has been ingrained. That's how it works.

But not this time.

I wasn't able to sit and say....I will paint a duck.
I was not there to have an idea and make it a reality.
I was there to let go, to play, have fun and let something emerge.
Shit....shit....shit..... I just don't work like that.

big breath. I had to let go.

I can't begin to tell you how hard this was.

Let go of the out come and just live in the moment.

Have no preconceived idea of what I would make and let what would be made find me.

So backwards for me. So hard for me.

So I headed back to my canvas, obsolete of all orange and started slathering orange back on.
Then I attacked it with black paint and started etching words into the black so the orange popped through.
I just had so so much anger, and resentment for being so stupid and so many words, ideas, thoughts and images in my head that I had to get it all out so I could start fresh. It was nonsensical and somewhat mad, whatever I wrote, but I just let it flow, so I could get it all out.

Hence finished piece number one being somewhat dark.

A real piece of my mind, so to speak.

I could then move on and let it flow.
I had reached my 'aha' moment for the weekend.
The realisation as to why I was drawn here, to this workshop.
It wasn't about painting. It was never about painting.
It was about learning to let go.
Learning to come from a place of playfulness, gratitude and exploration to be truly creative.
Learning to let go of preconceived outcomes and embrace the ability for things to emerge.

Wow. .......That was all I could say at the end of it....... WOW!
I did not know I was gunna learn so much this weekend.

Painting number two, had a very different direction to number one.

One of lightness, a sense of flow and happiness.
It's not finished yet, but i like where it's heading.
I like where I'm heading ..... and I'm so glad I took this amazing workshop.

Here was me thinking it was supposed to be about art!
Jay xx

If you read all the way to the end thank you.
Bit of a rant, but I just needed to get it all out and share how something amazing came out of something so scary to me. xx


  1. I'm so glad you two had such an amazing weekend. Loved your post - it makes sooooo much sense. Sometimes it's impossible to stop thinking and just let go and have fun.

  2. Painting #2 is lovely, not sure if you were aiming for peacocks, but that is what I see!

  3. Haha. But so good you were able to learn the lesson. And no orange that I can see in the second one. I like the dragonfly in the corner. Cherrie

  4. Jay you have taken home more than two paintings from this workshop.

  5. After the way you'd talked down your paintings I had prepared to agree with you. But the absolute truth is I like the first one. The layers of bright colour broken up by the black make it look like the stained glass ceiling in NGV.

    I can't imagine trying to immerse myself in a completely new skill, but I've always been very shy of 'art' art. Won't paint, won't draw.

    I hope you find time to keep going with the second one!

  6. They are both powerful pieces just coming from two different places. The contrasts between the two are striking and lovely.

  7. Jay it sounds as though it was an amazing experience, one that you sounded like you needed. I actual love your first painting, it looks almost like stained glass :)


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