Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An Introvert's Retreat

My art group has been going on art retreats twice a year for ten years now.  We go to the beautiful Menucha Retreat Center in the Columbia River Gorge for a weekend in May and again in Oct.  This weekend, Menucha was in its May glory with freshly budded trees, huge rhododendrons, irises and lilacs.  The grounds are reason enough to attend.

The company though is even better.  18 creative artists in one room, each working on her own project and sharing her expertise and new discoveries.  The room is full of a huge variety of media and tools.  There are new books and websites to explore.  People volunteer to lead mini-workshops.  This time Suzie took us through some very fresh approaches to making paste papers, and Paula taught us a fun little journal made out of file folders.  The room is full of individual interpretations, ideas, recommendations, and lots of laughter.

And the introvert in me is completely overwhelmed.  Over the years I have found myself taking fewer and fewer art supplies.  Only this time did I finally realize that that's my way of controlling an over-stimulating environment.  Some people crank out all sorts of different projects over the course of the weekend.  I sit and do a straight running stitch, over and over.  I work slowly.  I have one simple bag of materials.  And I'm perfectly happy.  I enjoy absorbing what others are doing, but that leaves me with very little energy or focus for my own projects.  I can't even dream of ever painting in that environment.

So slow stitching it is.  Calm and meditative.

I finished a journal for an upcoming trip to Scandanavia.  I started this at the last Menucha and just needed to add the inside pages and the perfect little vintage button from my aunt.

Inside there are pockets and lots of blank watercolor paper.

Most of the weekend was devoted to the slow kantha stitching on the beginnings of this new journal cover.

On this one, I used my hand-dyed variegated cotton threads, and I like the flickers of color they give.

I never get much done, but I do come home in a whirl of inspiration and possibilities.


Suzanne Reynolds said...

Ditto on the minimal supplies (and projects). Never thought of it as an attribute of being an introvert but think you're on to something. I came home worn out from all the creative stimulation alone. It was a very good weekend, as always. Your journals are lovely...love those dyed threads, too.

Robin Olsen said...

I know. It's funny to me, Suzanne, that it's taken ten years for me to make the connection to introversion, but I do think that's at the heart of it.