This is my first blog from Soulfire Art. It's a little scary - but in a good way. My longtime friend and I took our first tenuous steps with this adventure. It felt like stepping out onto frozen water, when we're not quite sure about the thickness of the ice. Still, our first painting retreat was everything we'd hoped for and more! The people pictured here, minus one dear friend, who was little camera shy that day, were our first participants. As always, I'm amazed at the magic in people! Archetypal images bloomed on the paper. We shared a bit about our lives - both within and without - and Barb and I received good and helpful feedback about how to make the next event even stronger.
Retreat at Sol Collective, Oct. 6 & 7, 2017
I was thinking about why we call it a retreat and not a workshop. I love workshops and have great respect for my artist friends who teach them. There in the space of some hours, I learn new ways to do the work that is my art. But a retreat - this is an opportunity to step away from everyday life. To be quiet. To be gentle with our psyches for awhile. To truly listen to our inner voice. To reflect on where we have been and where we are going. To just be. In the way that children are able to be in the moment.
How do we accomplish this? We have a few rules. We turn off our cell phones. Participants let others know ahead of time the they will be in retreat. (If there is a serious worldly worry, we make arrangements.) We don't make any comments about our art or that of others. We don't make suggestions. We don't compliment each other. (I know that sounds odd, but even compliments are a value judgement if you think about it and it sets us up ultimately for comparison and competition.) We witness each other and listen. We don't talk about famous artists or museums or use art terms. Images often travel from one painting to another and that's okay! We use high quality but very simple materials, so that we aren't intimidated by expensive paints and canvases. And we immerse ourselves in the process of painting for hours - and we lose track of the hours until it is time to eat simple, nourishing food. This retreat is about the process - the journey - of painting. It is not about the ambition of being recognized as a great artist or even being the best painter at the retreat. It is about the relief of shedding competition and comparison. Very young children do not say, "My painting is not good enough." They say, "I love my painting!"
And what that really means is, "I love and accept myself."
Our next event is January 27 and 28 in Sacramento.