Self Portrait, Portland, Open Art Studio with Flora

How do you begin a post after being away from the things that make you happy?  I'll start with the truth.  I fell down a rabbit hole with work.  It wasn't until some hard truths surfaced that action was required.  No more denial.  Time to find my happy place.

 The start of anything ought to begin in your happy place.  Mine happen to be in an art studio in Portland, OR with Flora Bowley.

The start of anything ought to begin in your happy place.  Mine happen to be in an art studio in Portland, OR with Flora Bowley.

Everyone's process is different for finding their way to back their happy place.  For me it always takes two things done together: (1) Visiting a completely different location than my home.  (2) Do something completely out of my comfort zone.

I opted to visit Portland, OR for an Open Studio art session with Flora Bowley.

This was the best decision.  There is something about spending a full day connecting with a paintbrush, paint, canvas, creative space, other creatives, and the adventure of exploring that wakes me up.  It gave my overworked analytical brain a chance to vacation for a while. 

The first couple of hours were a bit intimidating for me.  First there was the meeting of 12 other artists.  How do you explain that you aren't an artist?  Or, that the last time you picked up a paintbrush was over a year ago in Ireland?  Oh, did I mention I'm an analytical math nerd?  Who doesn't fit in this group?

How wrong I was.  These women were welcoming beyond words.  They didn't care where I was from, what my profession is, or what propelled me to be there.  There were simply glad I showed up to join them.  Relief.

The second challenge was the ever intimidating blank canvas.  It doesn't matter if the canvas is a word document, sketch pad, or canvas my mind still does through a freeze moment. 

This was a particularly special blank canvas.  That morning I had to make a choice between a small water color paper size or a 3' x 3' canvas.  Of course my immediate thoughts were to go small.  Then I remembered why I was here.  To be out of my comfort zone.  Big was the choice.  3' x 3' canvas it is. 

For the record, this is the largest canvas I have ever done with any of my artwork.  Let's compound that comfort zone even more, shall we? 

If your going to go big you might as well have a big intention to fill that canvas.  During morning yoga led by Flora that intention hit me.  "Show me who I am."  It was the only thing that comforted my fears of being an artist for a day.

So begins the process of discovery....

It begins with make a mess with the intention of cleaning the mess up.  It took a while for pathway to make itself known.  Many times along the way it was easy to get caught up in the overwhelm.  Desperately wanting to know where the painting was going.  In those moments all I could do was surrender.  Surrender the thought that I had to know the answer.

Getting out of my own way was easy in Flora's studio.  With all the other artistic styles present it was an adventure begging to begin.  It gave me permission to watch how others surrender into their process.  Watch and learn.  Journal.  Take in the experience that sets you free. 

When you have a supportive teacher like Flora, Pearl dog and 12 other artists it isn't hard to know you will be quite alright with whatever comes.

In the end I saw who I am.  The picture below reflected back to me what I'd been searching for during my time in the rabbit hole.  It colorful, feminine, flowing, flexible, bold, far reaching..... For those that know me they can see it.  For those have not met me in person you might have a better idea of who I am. 

This was medicine for the mind and soul.  Mission complete. 

The next step will be to start down the path to something bigger.  That something bigger I'm hoping will take place by early September.  Time to roll up the sleeves and dig in.  There's work to be done!