It’s been a long time since I have posted to my blog. I have a few excuses, distractions and the like, oh and a major move to Oregon this past August! I have a lot to catch up on, and so many more inspirational experiences to share since our move to beautiful North Albany, Oregon.
But first, I must back track! Let’s start with an incredible experience with my friend Orly at her Crestline Art Journaling Nature Retreat this past summer. I just got the journal back in my hands today after sending it off with the groups work for review for a magazine. Sadly, our pieces were not chosen, but I will not be deterred! Our work was amazing and will be cherished for years and possibly generations to come….and I want to share it with you! So on to the details of the work and the weekend itself!
First all, I have never ever experienced anything like it! Who could resist three days and two nights of friends and art and nature in the mountains? Such an incredible opportunity to really soak in the art journaling classes taught Orly. I am truly blessed to have such a supportive husband sign me up for my birthday surprise weekend this past summer!
So where do I start? The weekend was amazing, start to finish. The group was so supportive, and caring, energetic and pumped up to do some serious art journaling. We stayed the weekend in a small comfy house up at Crestline, near Lake Arrowhead, California.
Each of us were given handmade, hand-stitched journals made by Brian Kasstle. These were INCREDIBLE journals to work in- each was unique and had varying pages that unfolded into long spreads. The paper was so thick and really took a beating-allowing for much play and experimentation.
Since the weekend themes were centered on Nature and natural things- we also played with natural art materials. This was SOO Fun! I played with staining the pages of the journal with wine, coffee, tea and plant matter. Made for such unique results that you can’t mimic with paint. We added tea and coffee stains on the pages to start filling the backgrounds of our journals.
The second day, we took a trip to the lake and had some time as a group but also individually. We took these unique and beautiful little handmade sketchbooks from Orly down to the lake and filled them with thoughts, poems, and sketches. We also took time to pick up all sorts of natural bits and pieces, wood, rocks, leaves, flowers… anything that caught our eye. We looked for different shapes, forms and patterns, really taking time to slow down and LOOK at things, then collected them to use later on in our journals. I topped mine off with a found bottle cap and string!
Back at the warm cabin, we had some great prompts from Orly that really got each of us a chance to be introspective… Using our collections of twigs, leaves, and other tid-bits collected at the shore, plus photos of ourselves as children, and photos of ourselves as adults, we explored…what was our connection to nature? How did we view our childhood? Our adult life? Who had we become?
Because we had the entire weekend, we worked almost non-stop. Time seemed to stop for us! We were so involved with our work that we just forgot about the clock. We did the really messy work outside on a balcony, but it didn’t matter. We were so immersed in the journey of creating that we barely felt the sharp cold wind on the balcony, our hands freezing as we poured and dripped and shook our wet journal pages. We really got our hands in nature that weekend- literally and figuratively. It was incredible.
On the last morning, the world outside was blanketed in snow… a purity of white insulated us in our warm cozy cabin with our newly created journals and friends.
In hindsight I see how each of us were so focused on our work in our individual worlds, but our close proximity made us also so present- I have never had such amazing group experience in journaling. This time, I really got to dive in. When I hit a wall, or had a block- I had the time to stop and reflect and also had a supportive group around me. This was key to journal pages evolution… the time to feel things, work through them in my mind, then jump right back into the material. No stopping for chores, no television, just pure journaling.
The end result was a journal I am really proud of. I can look at it and still explore it. I run my fingers over the rough edges, wrap and unwrap the string, and I’m back there in the cabin, surrounded by close friends, pouring our emotions out on the pages with all things at our fingertips! Paint, glue, leaves, pictures, tearing, pasting, dripping, scratching, smearing, sewing… all at once, working out our emotions on the page.
All in all, a rather introspective emotional, creative, fantastic experience!! The final products ranged from whimsical to modern and classic. Everyone’s own personality came through in their handcrafted journals. I can honestly say that I cannot wait for the next opportunity to do another retreat with Orly. There is nothing like it! Happy Creating!