Well I had an amazing week in Ireland – it was quite a journey in both the physical and metaphorical sense. Such a beautiful country, such warm people, so many seductive Irish voices I could listen to for the rest of my days …
The traveling was a bit grim and I arrived in a state of pain severe enough for a doctor to come to the hotel, administer a shot and give me sleeping pills. Two days later I started my period a week early – ’nuff said. That idea I talked about recently of getting out on the road to do workshops … well let’s just say I’m not sure how viable that is this side of menopause. Tempting though it is to bypass my remaining few years of troublesome menstruation via drugs or surgery, I really don’t want to go down that road if I can avoid it. I think I just need to give my body a chance to get over the months of long distance house hunting and the move itself, so I’ll just hibernate here in our little corner of Scotland for the rest of this year and put my energy into some online projects I’m cooking up.
The painting and journaling classes I took in Bantry were both incredible experiences in their own unique ways. Orly Avineri‘s journaling class was a guided journey into an unknown world, beautifully prepared and thought out in great detail. Her teaching is poetic and soulful and intensely personal. I had to put aside impatience and resistance and learn to quieten down, really listen and be completely present in the moment. To say much more could spoil it for anyone taking a similar class with Orly in the future and I want to respect the private space she created for us. If you do ever get a chance to do a class with her, open your heart and embrace it with complete trust.
Flora Bowley‘s class was also transformational in a different way. I got as much from Flora’s mental preparation for painting as I did from her intuitive approach to working with layers of colour and mark making. As a child of the seventies, I grew up with some hang-ups about anything too “New Age” or “spiritual”, but Flora’s morning group sessions helped me to open up and embrace the wisdom of starting any kind of creative endeavour with a personal ritual, whether that is quiet introspection, setting an intention, writing an affirmation or letting go of something holding you back.
Right at the start, Flora encouraged us to let go of something and I chose to let go of living in the future (always planning) and commit to being present – something I identified as an issue for me in my journal recently. None of my paintings are finished yet, but one of the other students got some photos of me on the last day with a couple of my works in progress (thanks Janet!).
This one began life as someone else’s painting – we all handed in one of our paintings on the second day and Flora re-distributed them around us all as a lesson in not being precious about the early stages of getting down layers. As I worked on it and looked at my sketches that I had drawn walking around the gardens, I realised I was seeing circles everywhere – drawing the gravel on the path, the cobblestone drainage channels in the garden, the dotty foliage of the lacecap hydrangeas – my sketchbook was full of circles. So I painted circles and the moon like face emerged almost by herself.
This one is definitely inspired by the hydrangea petals around Bantry House gardens and I now have a clearer vision of where I’d like to go with this one. It could take a while to get there without destroying the parts that I love, but that’s the challenge of painting.
And that leads me neatly into the gap quotation by Ira Glass (an American author and radio presenter) which some of us discussed in the bar one evening. If you haven’t come across this quote before, it may just help you to persevere, whatever creative path you’re on. (Click the image to enlarge.)
I have more to share from this very special trip and more photos once my camera and computer have had a bit of marriage guidance therapy and are talking to each other again, so stay tuned for part two!