Friday, August 16, 2013
As the leader of another art group to Italy in September of 2014, I am particularly focused on cultivating the role of reverent participant within the communities we visit. How? By encouraging students to slow down, sit in one place for awhile, and focus on one detail to sketch or paint. In sketching a particular wall, fountain or lamp post, one's senses will be ignited by the fragrant smells of coffee, flowers, baking bread, or the musical sound of the ebb and flow of surrounding conversations. Indeed, as morning turns to noon in any small town piazza, the crescendo of voices and activities is a remarkable thing to experience. Inevitably passersby will stop to offer comments or to start up a conversation when one has a sketchbook in hand, and locals typically express pleasure when they notice that a visitor is quietly taking time to observe the beauty of their town or village.
But what about the missed sights of a particular area? It is true that there are limits to staying in one location. However, the trade-off is "depth over breadth," and as I have noted, by slowing down, one is more likely to engage with and actually SEE the place and it's people.
Back at our monastery home of La Romita, we can continue our slow and reverent pace, working quietly in the studio to develop the sketches or paintings done in the field, and to write about our experiences. As we become settled, it becomes clear that one need never leave La Romita to have a full, delightful, authentic experience of Umbria. Whether enjoying the local, healthy cuisine in the dining hall, noticing museum quality paintings and artifacts in the studio, walking among ancient olive orchards or painting the lovely flower-filled gardens, there is much to delight and engage all the senses.
Breathe. Sit. Observe. Write. Paint. Draw. Through slowing down we learn to see, and wherever we are, we become in tune with the heart and soul of Umbria.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Where is January and the birth of a new year? I scrambled to keep up with the continuous unfolding of events: childhoods' end, rites of passage, cataclysmic change, and looked up to notice it is August. The year now worn with months of days fully lived, wanes into Fall. I fall into tears of joy and anguish as I prepare to let go, to release my child into the world. Never mind the words of Khalil Gibran, "your children are not your children." Even so, they move through our lives with such epic force as to bring us humbly to our knees and change us forever. Our hearts remain tethered no matter how far afield they go, the bond intact, unyielding.
Alone I turn inward to that familiar still and unmoving place, the one untouched by outward concerns, pregnant with infinite possibilities. A child moves on and art remains. Home.