I’ve been back from points west for several days, though the day after I got back from my 8-day trip (bringing first child home from college for summer vacation), second child came down with a nasty virus, I got a miniature version of it myself, and I’m only just now getting back to any serious blogging.
What a trip! For the first six days of the journey I was at a zen arts retreat in the Catskills. The mountains, I’m happy to report, are in their spring finery—stunningly, whack-you-upside-the-head beautiful. Dogwoods and azaleas are in bloom, lilies-of-the-valley are just opening up, and the grass is full of tiny amethyst violets and the milk-white blossoms of wild strawberries. I saw deer, woodchucks, a snake, chipmunks, birds of every color, but no bears.
The 25 or 30 of us in attendance were kept plenty busy with sitting meditation and with taking care of the buildings and grounds (and of each other—we learned, unhappily, of the serious illness of our teacher), but the afternoons of each day were devoted to art. We played with color itself, with watercolors, with finding and using nontraditional media. We worked alone, worked with partners. We painted with our hands, our teeth, our toes. We gathered information through our ears, our tongues, our eyes. We did hands-on work and got a great lesson on the zen arts (more about that in another posting, soon), we heard about our instructor’s own experiences as a young art student and what they taught her, we immersed ourselves in each other’s work and learned from it.
Throughout the week, I kept thinking, “I have got to blog about this.” “And this.” “And definitely this, too.” But now that it comes down to it, I’m not sure how to put into words everything I learned and realized and tried out and experimented with and experienced. I’m guessing that, over time, I’ll figure out how to share more concrete bits and pieces.
I would love to tell you that I came home with a fat folder full of wonderful work that I created. Reader, I did not. In fact, none of the week was really concerned with creating “good” art. But I came home with some things that speak to me, and that are already generating more work, more ideas as they percolate. For instance, this:
More to come as I digest it. For now it’s just nice to be home.