Thursday, April 12, 2012

ArtFest Afterglow

I really need to get my ArtFest thoughts down before they all fly out of my head! It is nice being on the Facebook group because I can read everyone else's blog posts and see it through new eyes. I truly am saddened that this was the last year. However, I feel so blessed that I discovered it in time to attend the last 2! It feels like the stars aligned to get me there. It happened at a time in my life when I could afford to do it, my kids were old enough to be without me, and I was already in the frame of mind to work on myself. A friend asked me to go with her and then she changed her mind but my mind was made up! It had become my own personal spiritual retreat. I will have to find a substitute for next year. I went alone both years, and for me I think that was an important part of it. I've always been introspective and introverted but not shy. There was an abundance of beautiful souls to connect with when I wanted, but none that expected anything from me. I felt so grounded and confident in who I was. The first year I had that nagging voice in my head saying I was a phony, pretending to be a "real artist" when I was just a wannabe. This year, I was in a place of really accepting myself and being happy and grateful for where I am on my path. Returning this year helped me see how much I actually have grown.

Last year was my first time, and I had my stuff packed probably 2 weeks in advance. I was giddy and weepy and just chomping at the bit. This year, for some reason, I almost wanted to skip it. I forgot to mail in my second payment (I thought I had, but I either lost it or the check got lost in the mail.) Either way, I thought maybe it was a sign. Maybe I shouldn't spend the money. At some point I realized I was being overly hard on myself. I felt like creatively I hadn't made very much progress since the last ArtFest. I expected that I would have accomplished more. Made some huge life changes or something. There was a bit of me that thought I didn't deserve to go. I recognized that bit as being the horrible nasty beast within that needs her ass beat down now and then, so I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and committed to going. I packed all my stuff in the 2 days before I left. I even got up in the middle of the night and banged out 42 fabric flowers for trades, which I didn't do at all my first time.

I feel a wee bit bad because I passed up a few requests for a ride share. I traded the opportunity to make new friends, extra gas money and saved carbon emissions for 4 hours (each way) of peace in the car! What if the person was an energy drain? What if they hated my music? What if they had to pee every 30 minutes? So I went alone. I really relished it. I sang at the top of my lungs to all my favorite songs. I stopped at a Kwik-E-Mart in a podunk town for bad coffee and people watching. It was a good call.

Here's a little anecdote from my drive. A couple weeks before I left, my mom told me a strange thing had happened to her. She saw the end of a rainbow. Quite literally, it was 10 feet away, right next to her in a field. I chalked it up to another of my mom's woo woo, hippie, chakra, crystal, faerie things. She is very much into all things metaphysical. It's to the point that I get a little eye-rolly at stuff I would normally be fairly open to. Anyway, as I'm driving, it is sunny and raining as per usual for spring in the Pacific NW. In the field next to the highway, sure enough, there sits the end of a rainbow. Right next to me, glowing up the field like a disco. Stranger still, I could see the other end off in a field farther away. As I drove on, eventually the end of the rainbow shifted and occupied the lane next to me. I was starting to get a little shaken by this. It was just so surreal. But then, I drove straight through the rainbow!  There was so much mist in the air, and it was so sunny.  I was surrounded by all the bright glowing colors. I could hardly see the cars in front of me because everything was so illuminated. I felt like I might get sucked up into it and wind up in a strange land, like Glomer from the Punky Brewster cartoon, or Rainbow Brite. Very bizarre! I now declare, I've been kissed by a rainbow. My mother is thrilled.

So, fast forward to ArtFest. I didn't take many pictures, so I'll just blab. My room was in the same building as last year. 202, but I only had 1 roommate instead of 3. Cindy from Tuscon. She was the sweetest! Every night we would chat and when she started to yawn, I would slip out and not return until 1 or 2 a.m. I just hope I didn't wake her when I snuck back into bed. How could anyone want to sleep!? There were people to meet and projects to be done. I brought my sewing machine and worked on my lingerie class homework. I finished up the jacket I started in December. I thought I would paint, but after intense classes all day, I felt like I needed a break from those projects. I did some writing and mindless coloring. Friday night I went to the bonfire and talked to old acquaintances from last year, roasted myself a hotdog and drank a PBR, took in the bubbling excitement around me, met my soul sister who I had so much in common with and am excited to keep in touch with (and also turned out to be staying right next door to me), made some wonderful new friends, was serenaded by banjos, and stared at the surf. On the walk home, I realized I wasn't quite ready for bed, so I took a detour and went for a midnight stroll around the officer's houses. I wanted to let my mind wander and my thoughts settle into the places they needed to be. I absorbed the stars and the chill in the air. I savored the insignificant vibration of my minute body plodding against this massive earth. I pried apart the layers of shadows and light. I was floating in a bubble of safety and possibilities. Free. Being in a mountainous place butted up against the sea, surrounded by happy, grateful, inspired, creative souls is pure magic. I met so many absolutely lovely people. The energy was positive and powerful. These feelings, more than the techniques I learned, are the things that really stick with me.

Jesse working on the demo.
Onto the classes! I took Jesse Reno's 2 day painting workshop, "Freedom to Create." It was one of the classes that scared me the most. I took it to shake myself up. I haven't painted on a regular basis since my oil painting classes in college. I loved them, but I sure don't consider myself a painter. I knew there would be "real" painters in there. But from what I knew of Jesse Reno's style, he would take us outside our comfort zone and make us really face ourselves and Hell Yes, I wanted in on that!

Sewing is my main passion, but it can get really damn crafty and kitschy, as well as stuffy and perfectionistic in that realm. I don't hold much love for that craft-kit/perfectly-mitered-corner feeling, and I have been wanting to open up and pull more artistry and fearlessness into my work, so I felt it would be meaningful. It resonated for me in many ways. One of the paintings I worked on started to click and I had that out of body, in the zone, amazing feeling where it's just coming through me. I live for that. But then, I came to a wall and had to decide where to go from there and how to wade out of the muck, and that was amazing too! He gave me some good feedback that felt very validating and gave me some helpful suggestions. I don't know if I've ever met anyone who says "dude" so much.  It's cool though. He is adorable and giggles randomly! He reminded me so much of Naia, my 9 year old daughter. I think they would get along famously. I say that as a compliment to them both. Amazing raw spirits.
Jesse's finished piece.

Two of my pieces. Step one: creating a layered ground by painting with your hands.
My paintings at the end of day 2. Left is nowhere near finished. Right is almost there.  

On the last day I took "Wild Things" with Clarissa Callesen. We made frankensteinish creatures out of porcelain doll parts, found objects, and stuffed animals. I was so looking forward to this class. It was fun and playful and light. I'm comfortable sewing and doing 3 dimensional work, (and we got to use torches!) It was a nice change from the inner turmoil and challenge of the previous two days. Torching pretty doll faces and scorching teddy bear fur is addictively fun! I love the little beastie I made. My grandma called her a changeling. She's right. The poor dear was left out in the snowy woods and needed a metamorphosis so she could drag herself out. I think she's still a little too cutesy.

Clarissa's amazing face painting skills, up close and personal. Too bad I forgot how to focus.

On Sunday morning, before I hopped onto the highway for home, I went down to the beach and happened to discover the old Kinzie armory. It was deliciously hollow and creepy. Nobody else was there, the surf was booming loudly just over the bluff, and I had to tear myself away from all the textures, colors, and gorgeous weirdness. Anywhere graffiti had been was painted in over in these random blotches of color. The huge, looming, starkness of it, and it's purpose... All the sharp corners, and the lack of anything to soften it other than moss, rust, and slime mold really sucked me in. I didn't want to leave but, a tiny logical voice was nagging that it's maybe not the best place for a gal to be all alone. Here are some photos I snapped. 

The puddle! No, I did not go in there.

Mold? Fungus? Perfect place for a fashion shoot.

Driving home. Sun, snow, and mist.

My favorite keepsake. The ArtFest manicure. I resolve to work to maintain it.


  1. Hey! It was fun meeting you that first night at Artfest. We were the 2 gals with sewing machines in 202. We both made flowers to trade, and trade we did. It was great to hear about your experience - sounds like you had fun getting out of the box. That's good - doing something you wouldn't normally do, and seeing how that effects your future choices. Thanks for the road trip!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Nadine. I ran out of time and didn't get to see the old ruins so your pix are wonderful to see. Glad to hear you had a great time!