The boots are off, suitcases finally unpacked. As are the art supplies (also, finally). Tony did a quick turn and has found himself in DC visiting our eldest who’s working a concert series at the University of Maryland. I just couldn’t. I feel I have done nothing but nap in recent days. Sometimes twice a day. Always with this sweet soul nearby.
Provided she gets a good run in, she is all for settling into naps. I am grateful for this, as she is, after all, merely a puppy. 8 months old today actually.
I’ve been slowly getting myself situated here at home. Batting off feelings of overwhelm and too-much-ness which often plague after a successful journey. And what a journey it was. It was the kind of road trip that makes me want to sell all and get a camper-van and hit the road. This is, of course, all very well until I once again feel the call to get my hands into familiar soil. And so, we strike a balance via travel.
A page from my own travel journal.
I want to welcome those of you reading this who aren’t familiar with my long time musings. This post itself is a “public” post meaning anyone can read it, as I want my recent Taos workshop participants to have access and to read my words about the work accomplished and the magic made during our time together. Patrons who choose to sponsor my work month to month get more posts all their own, and occasional thank you gifties as well. (The post cards are coming!)
I did get a question about whether one might sponsor my work somehow without doing the monthly billing thing through Patreon. I punted this question to my tech handler, John, as it’s a good question. But alas, it appears I am firmly wedded to this platform for the time being. So far it’s working. A fair few lovely folks, many long time (we’re talking 14 years!) readers of the blog, are chipping in a few dollars a month and more and this is sort of feeding the whole thing. I can pay the tech handler without worry that I took a year off for the pandemic. Maybe eventually I might invest in some stop motion gear. Who knows! But I must, always, say thank you. Patreon, with all its modern day baggage, is a good thing for me for now. So that answers that. Now onto the post trip report!!
I never quite know what I am walking into when I do a workshop. This year in particular was a little anxiety producing as I was so out of practice! (Weren’t we all?) There are a number of things which might call someone to attend a “travel journal workshop”. In my work I attempt to make room for all of it. Sketching, collecting words and ephemera and experience, writing all go into these vessel-books. And in the end there is a collection of evidence that the experience was had, and that it was rich and soul-full. Year to year, every Taos week is different and I knew this would be the same, especially with the year we’ve had. I had people self-identifying as “complete beginner” and others who are accomplished artists in their own right. I’ll admit I was a tad daunted on day 1. But I remembered that this process isn’t about how “good” one is at art or writing. It’s about the act of paying attention to what thrills the soul when traveling. That is it. And this is different for everyone.
In the end, the beginners made strides I couldn’t have predicted. And the artists in the group took away a small toolkit of new ideas and approaches which I hope will serve them. I think it went well.
Here are a number of photos of the work done by those who attended the workshop. They were so focused and fully present. I couldn’t help but be the same as facilitator.
Mabel’s front door. always a welcome. (Judith)
Barb took an exercise to the next level and made an abstracted painting she was quite pleased with.
More beautiful work from Judith
I love how Judith used the hole punch to peek through to the next page. an idea from Melissa which many of us utilized.
Melissa, already an accomplished urban sketcher, lit up this page with the day’s exercise and her own sketch of the same scene.
Loads of trucks made that week. I love the purple in this one.
another work from Melissa. Such a fun sketch of this iconic sign. She showed a real mastery of technique on this one.
Rosemary’s trucks. They are slowly sinking into the fields out there.
Beautiful use of quote and sketch together (rosemary)
another from Rosemary. She prints out little photos to add to her book with her sketches which makes for a lovely presentation on the page.
just gorgeous light here from Rosemary
This truck, believe it or not, is by one of my self-professed “beginners”. Melinda, you’re a natural!
Not all beginners bravely go for a full page spread to draw. Well done!
getting into subtleties (melinda)
We take in so much when we travel. This is a good example of choosing one thing to spend time with. In this case a gorgeous stained glass window at Mabel’s. Loads learned on this one drawing.
This is truck one from Lily. She was working on getting her values nailed and mitigating the pigments in her watercolor set. later in the week…..
She’d learned to really see what was in front of her and she figured out how to get her paints to do what was asked of them. Beautiful work Lily!
Bj has been attending my classes on and off over the years and her work has grown in depth.
Her work is always such a capture of her experiences and impressions.
And I have always adored her sense of color!
Here Ruth tackles the birdhouses, not an easy task.
More lovely work from Ruth
I really love the sensitivity and delicacy of this page from Ruth in particular.
Kris too made lovely work during the week, getting playful with the typewriter and all the flying curses therein. For some reason I don’t have more images of her work. She does this lovely splatter thing on many of her sketches and I think I might add that to some of mine. Cross-pollination with other artists is the best thing really.
Soon, it was friday. (all too soon, really). We gathered as a group in Mabel’s dining room for some delicious chili rellenos and lovely conversation, as we’d done all week.
and just like that, it was time to go. Saturday morning was all a flutter, with last minute coffee and packing. The goodbyes were tender but hopeful. We’ve somehow survived this last tumultuous year, a til next time didn’t feel quite as painful as in years past. Though I will admit that I was a little choked up at our final good byes to Harold and Esther outside of town. They were the first to greet us and the last to see us go. Always making a place for us. Welcoming us home.
Rosemary, Steve, Tony and I had one last meal together before we all headed home to pack for an early start.
We left at the crack of dawn.
Drove through the mountains and plains and back into humidity and humanity. Springfield MO offered up a brewery open late enough for us to get a meal and a beer which we gladly accepted.
All in all it was an uneventful journey.
But gosh I’m tired. I forgot how hard the work is, in spite of how amazing it is. Being out of practice didn’t help. That said, I could not be more grateful. For people willing to trust getting back together with strangers once again. For Mabel’s who opened up just enough to allow our arrival, even though they often weren’t sure how or even if it would go.
It couldn’t have gone any better really. I plan to continue catching up here at home. I’ve hand painted post cards to finish and send to you patrons who are in those “tiers”. Thank you again to all of you reading. Between words and paint, I somehow am managing to make a small mark in this world.
Til next time.