I'm heading off to Portland Maine for a weekend-long art workshop. Unlikely but true: I have never been to Portland, and am really looking forward to it. Even if I spend the entire weekend in the hotel, drawing. Rumor has it that the Portland Art Museum is free on Friday nights and very near the hotel--if that's correct, I cannot wait to go and explore!
To warm up, I started sketching another mandala this afternoon after an incredibly hectic day. I have no idea where this is going to go. Every thing I have done on it has been spur of the moment, and I am really enjoying the process. I can see the unevenness at the bottom and will make some adjustments.
On reflection, just about every single thing I have done today has been totally new to me. Meditation, as always, was new. Meeting with an accountant was new. Addressing logistical, legal, and financial issues for opening a new business was new. And trying my hand at this mandala was new.
For some reason, this reminds me of the weekend I spent studying drawing-as-meditation (really a lesson in learning how to see, and a revelation) with Frederick Franck 35+ years ago. It might have been the very first art workshop I ever took, and I remember being terrified. Probably by then I had read his book, The Zen of Seeing/Drawing as Meditation, and loved it; it's still one of my favorite art books. He offered a workshop at a conference center nearby, and once I'd signed up, I realized how truly frightened I was. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to draw and I wanted to do it as a meditation...but after registering I went into a total panic.
When I met him, he was so lovely and kind. I remember he started the workshop by taking a moment to look into the face of each participant. He had such kind eyes. I do not remember much about my drawing, but I do remember him, and what he taught me about seeing. Everything about that weekend was new to me, and I loved it all.
Alas, I did not continue drawing after that workshop, and years went by. My interest in drawing-as-meditation has never diminished, and now I hope to enter into it on a regular basis.
And here is the lotus mandala in stage two. More to come. Right now, it's the end of a very long and productive day.
Around 2 pm today I was standing outside in the lovely sunshine; a bicycle whizzed past and I noticed the cyclist was wearing a singlet, shorts and running shoes--with a Boston Marathon number on the front and a Boston Marathon medal dangling on the singlet above the number. A marathon runner going home!
This person flashed past me so quickly that I did not even have time to notice whether it was a male or female. Doesn't matter. I was thrilled to know that our race went so well this year, after last year's tragedy (and the subsequent triumph of the survivors).
"We own this finish line," Joe Biden said, and it's true. I was impressed that anyone could run 26.2 miles and then get on a bicycle and pedal home. You'd have to shovel me onto a front loader a mile into the marathon, never mind cycling afterward! These athletes have courage, resilience, and stamina.
Congratulations to the runners, the survivors, those who lost loved ones last year, and all the first responders who worked so hard to make this year's marathon a remarkable event.
Seemingly unrelated (but not!): I am just starting to work with colored pencils and here's a first attempt (on paper entirely unsuited to this medium). A lot to learn, and so much pleasure ahead in the learning.
When we draw, paint, act, write, photograph, hook, knit...name your medium...I'm always struck by how often we are disappointed when whatever we produce doesn't fit the original image in our heads. It doesn't "measure up." This is so common. Certainly I experience it, and I hear it all the time from others. What is this tendency to disappointment?...when often, when we let the product sit for a few days, we go back and see something in it that is uniquely ours, and which stands very well on its own.
Does the above photo look exactly like the apple I drew it from? No. Could it have been better drawn? You bet. But it's a start and I like it now that I've let it sit awhile. And with this record of it, I can watch myself improve over time--IF I practice.
I wonder if there are disappointed marathon runners today, people who didn't finish or didn't finish in the time they'd hoped for. If so, I want you to know that no matter how far or how fast you ran, you are my heroes. You prepared. You showed up. You worked it. And if it didn't turn out exactly as you expected, so what? You did something uniquely yours, and you inspired so many others.
And to that anonymous marathoner and cyclist who flashed past me this afternoon: Be proud! I sure was when I saw you.
I made this quilt thirty-three years ago now, and it's been in use ever since. Daily. Every time I look at it, I think of my grandmother, who taught me most of the things I value doing in life, and also taught me the value of kindness. The "doing" things included her teaching me to read around age 3, to knit, crochet, sew, even to rug hook. She was a "maker," and I've inherited the same tendency.
[Now I am very focused on what she taught me about the value of kindness. What is life without kindness? But I digress...]
Art in all its forms is inspirational, but I particularly love functional art. I like to knit socks and wear them. To make rugs and walk on them. To make a quilt and sleep under it. You get the picture.
Recently I've been teaching myself to draw. This has been a long-standing interest, but until very recently I had little time to practice. And as we all know, any form of art takes a lot of practice. Several years ago I took the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain workshop at Omega in New York State with talented teacher Lynda Greenberg. Truly a transformative experience, and highly recommended. I was astounded by my progress in the five day workshop. But I didn't practice when I got home--lack of time.
It's all about practice. No matter what the art. I am hoping that now that I have left the full-time work world, and plan to work only part-time, I will be able to discipline myself to practice. Here's the thing: I want to rug hook, quilt, bead, write, draw, and practice and teach Zentangle. And I want to work part-time. Oh, and downsize and neaten up my house...
Clearly none of this will happen unless I prioritize and focus. Much like the rest of life.
And I know I will enjoy whatever I do most of all if I am fully present when I do it--not thinking about other projects, or bills, or watching tv. Just doing what I am doing, and focusing on that.
Much like the rest of life.
Our own lives are the ultimate functional art, yes? And we miss them when we don't stay with them, fully present from moment to moment.
It's not that I expect to be writing in here every day; I don't. I do hope to start each day, and each moment, with beginner's mind. Fresh mind. Naive mind. Creative mind.
Recently I enrolled in Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene's online Sketchbook Skool. Other life events prevented me from starting the course until two weeks after it formally opened, but I'm determined to begin anyway. I'll go at my own pace and see what happens.
The first thing I noticed was how "comparison mind" came up immediately. So many people had already posted, and posted wonderful, beautiful things...I'll never be able to do that! Comparison mind. Unhelpful. So I'll look sometimes and enjoy, but I'm not going to compare.
Instead, I'll just post this recent drawing of a doorway. I do love looking at doorways...they are so evocative. Where do they lead? What will happen if I open this door?
And finally, here is a post by Danny Gregory on beginning, and on how the monkey-mind wants to stop us from beginning, from risking, from trying new things.
And now I have begun.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm always open to hearing about a good venue in the Cambridge-Somerville area). I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society
Skillful Meditation Project