Friday, April 11, 2008

The Road to Asilomar

I love road trips. Yes, flying gets you there so much faster, but what would life be without the side trips - you know, the left turn that takes you to the world's biggest ball of twine or the half-man, half-alligator show. So I decided to drive from Portland to Asilomar. And what a perfect first day - the weather could not have been better - high 70's, clear blue skies and a light breeze to keep things just right. Driving is a meditation to me - a study of color, nature and staying in the moment. And I was not dissapointed.

I began on I-5, driving south through the pasture lands that surround Salem and Eugene. The hills were covered with sheep and newborn lambs, looking like fluffy pieces of lint cast off by a cotton gin. And every shade, tint and hue of green found in nature - so good to see after the drabber browns and grays of winter.

I left the freeway in Drain, Oregon - Oregon has some of the most unusual place names I have ever encountered - it always leaves me wondering how the name came to be. This was a small quaint town with several historical buildings.

I took Highway 38 and drove along the beautiful Umqua river that was such a deep and luscious color of green that I wanted to dip my paintbrush in the water and paint a pastoral scene. The crows and hawks along the way rode the thermals rising from the road and almost seemed to stand still in mid air with only a ruffle of wingtips to remind you they were flying.

When I reached Reedsport, I entered the sand dune world of the southern Oregon coast. Sand everywhere. The lower half of the fir trees are buried in the sand with only their Christmas tree tops peeking out, looking like kids playing in the sandbox.

After several twists and turns in the road, the ocean finally came into sight -a deep blue sea with huge breaking waves against the coastal sea stacks. I stopped in Gold Beach to comb the beach for beach pebbles for my class in Hampton and pieces of driftwood to share with friends. And for awhile, just laid back against the rocks and watched the seagulls wheel through the sky overhead.

I headed south again on Highway 101 and entered the Redwoods. I always feel like I am entering nature's cathedral when I enter this grove of ancient trees. They tower far above , forming a dense canopy that only a few rays of sunlight can penetrate. The hushed air and beams of light through trees that were alive before the first European set foot on this continent leave me in awe. I watched the sun set over the ocean through a stand of redwoods as the day came to a close, painting the sky and the ocean with a rainbow of color.

As I headed to Eureka for the night, I watched the first evening star appear and the twilight reflected in the Humboldt estuaries. Words seem so inadequate to describe the emotion of landscape that colors the heart. But when combined with art and music, the beauty of nature can heal the soul.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Elizabeth Gilbert

Tonight I attended a lecture by the author of Eat, Pray, Love at the Schnitzer Theater in Portland, OR. I am always a bit intimidated when I cross the river into downtown Portland and try to find my way through the jumble of construction and one way streets, but I so wanted to hear her speak after finding such inspiration in her book. I was not sure what to expect or what she would speak about, so I was very pleased that she spent the evening speaking on creativity and art.

Her question was why is fear attached to the act of creativity? Why do so many of us fear failure when we create art, or, having created a work of art, fear we will never be able to match our past efforts. Her view was that we in Western Civilization began viewing art differently at the time of the Renaissance and began viewing artists as sort of a breed apart - afflicted people whose creativity is accompanied by pain and who were born with their talents and expected to suffer for having them.

The truth is that art is not the artist - we are the vessel that provides the tools and labor but something outside of us provides the inspiration and the voice. If I understood her correctly, we are the musical instrument but the music is a gift from an outside force. She felt we put too much emphasis on the need to always come up with something new and ourdoing ourselves each time we create art - that doing our art well should be enough.

I can't count how much time I spend in the fear of failing to produce the perfect piece of art and how afraid I am of not meeting the approval of others. Her lecture really hit home for me.

We are so blessed to be gifted with creativity and the ability to create. Why not rejoice in the creation of our art and leave our fear of failure behind? After all, we all share this love of creativity - why not band together and sing each others' praises and thank the muses for our art.