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October 5, 2006

artist's way guided intent (october)

by gl. at 4:27 am

the warm, rich aroma of spiced apple cider welcomed arrivals at last night's guided intent. the streets were freshly wet and the moon was smudged behind a tattered cloud, which made it a good night to play with abundant paint and learn new ways to respond to art!

we started later than i would have liked and we were missing two people, which was a real shame because we had such a long waiting list. and when your limit is six, you really feel their absence, as opposed to when you have nine or 10.

i asked the participants to close their eyes and listen to peter gabriel's passion (specifically beginning with "a different drum"). i encouraged them to move to the music, letting the brush dangle freely in their hand until it became an extension of their movement on the page. next time i may do a brief body visualization exercise first (i don't do this for my creative clusters, but they're more comfortable with each other by the time i introduce this activity). they painted blind for 5-10 minutes, wrote for another 5 minutes, then painted more with their eyes open. unfortunately, that cd player is still giving me grief! why don't they make cute ones anymore?

afterwards they shared their pieces and i taught them my favorite form of feedback, which involves three different types of responses:

this response process is valuable both to the artist and the viewer. each participant received all three of those responses to help them gain appreciation and associations about the piece they created, and we rotated the roles so everyone got a chance to try responding each way. learning to respond this way to art, rather than focusing on its aesthetics or even meaning, really transformed my ability to enjoy all kinds of art at all levels. it felt good to be able to give feedback that felt gentler and encouraging, or to be able to engage with art i might have initially disliked. and it was a critical component of quieting my inner (& outer!) critic, so i very much enjoy sharing this process with others.

i'm not a neat freak at events like this (i don't think you could really get into a messy event if you were afraid of getting paint on the walls and carpet), but i do lay down sheets & dropcloths, and i tape brown craft paper up on the walls. the studio is small and one wall is windows, so i thought i'd pick up some drywall to put up some temporary "walls" up to paint on. since people could paint on them directly, this would also have the advantage of being less labor to set up.

fortunately, i had a serendipitous meeting with carolyn winkler the week before this event, and i discovered she uses styrofoam insulation panels instead of drywall to create painting spaces, which are much, much easier to set up! thank you, carolyn!

[windows into wall: jen painting on one of two styrofoam insulation panels we used to create a temporary wall. click the image to see other artworks.]

we have just one (!) more spot available at the next open studio event. our free intuitive collage night is all treats and no tricks, with a delicious supply of print materials, found objects, original art scraps and pretty papers for to discover & devour like halloween candy. :)

our next guided intent, though, is going out on a limb for most of the people who are interested in our studio events. in november we will pull light from the early darkness by sharing stories with each other. influenced by the international success of playback theatre, we will find connection & catharsis by recreating theatrical vignettes of past, present & imagined narratives. a process that combines spontaneous collaboration with gentle direction, playback theatre is often touching, hilarious, sad and bold all at once.

this is a little scary for artists who primarily identify with visual or literary arts, which is almost everyone on the meetup group and on the events list. but i strongly believe that exposing yourself to a dynamic range of art forms in a supportive environment fosters creative self-expression and helps you build a richer creative vocabulary. art exploration encourages you to create more fearlessly and truthfully no matter what your dominant art is. i hope they are able to trust the process!

playback theatre has always been a wildly successful activity in the artist's way creative clusters, but it's usually a late-term activity, when the group bond has grown strong and they've experience the power & excitement of exploring mediums they haven't tried before, or activities they haven't dared try in a long while.

posted by gl. | October 5, 2006 4:27 AM | categories: artist's way