My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird–
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Last week I went to a Nature Journaling Workshop held at the Sitka Art Center on the Oregon coast. I went with my sister Carol Ann, Carol Carson, and her sister Jan Crockett. The class is taught by Jude Seigel, and we have all taken lessons from her.
Taking classes from Jude is not only an art lesson, but the four of us consider it the most relaxing form of therapy. It has also taught us to look at things more closely and slowly–a good exercise in the fast-paced lives that so many of us seem to have.
Jude starts each class with a reading–a poem, an excerpt, sometimes a short essay. I enjoy the readings as much as the painting. The verse above was read the first day of our Sitka Workshop from a poem called Thirst by Mary Oliver. I chose the first sentence of the poem to be on the cover of my journal.
There were 15 in the class, and it didn’t take long to get to know each other. The weather cooperated wonderfully, and we were able to do sketching outdoors–we drew sprigs of plants, leaves, moss, sticks, tree trunks, weeds–Carol C. even picked up a fat slug and put it in a clear plastic cup to use as a live model. (If you really examine a slug closely, you can sort of see a little face, and it is a part of nature, after all.) The idea is to find beauty and charm right in front of our very eyes.
The first two days, we painted our drawings in the studio after lunch. The last hour of class is always “sharing” and each student’s work is put on display. With Jude, this is a positive experience, definitely not a competition, and after students get used to the idea, they find it is helpful and actually fascinating to see all the different interpretations of art.
The last day, we all hiked 10 minutes down to the Salmon River to sketch and paint Cascade Head. We carried our paint supplies, stools, water bottles, and I took my camera. I snapped the photos below in between sketches. The first photo is Carol Ann busily painting away–no easy feat while holding paints, journal and water.
The next photo is Jan who was in front of me. (Notice how teeny these stools are)
The next photo was taken from my vantage point of Cascade Head. I really did feel like I was “loving the world” at that moment.
I will share with you the painting I did that day–keep in mind that this is a page in a journal, done for personal pleasure–definitely not an expert watercolor. But that is part of the fun of it….knowing that I can keep learning.
Another bonus is meeting new people and every single person in our class had an interesting story. And because the world is so small, I discovered that Heather Brunelle in the class lives on SE Rural St–a block from Stars, and she has furnished her house with goodies from Stars Antiques.
And I sign off with another excerpt from the poem by Mary Oliver and read to us by Jude…..
“Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished…”