Saturday, July 31, 2010

Idyllwild Arts

Idyllwild...I could not believe I was so lucky as to teach in this venue. 40 miles away from the dry dusty desert of Redlands, CA, where I graduated from high school, hidden within the San Jacinto mountain range, it is a mecca for the arts community, as well as the adventuresome looking for a challenge in climbing Tahquitz Rock. I spent time here when I was young, hiking and camping with friends.

Teaching again for Judy Wise, who was still recuperating, I was here to teach two classes - journaling and encaustic collage. I flew into Ontario Airport, where to my delight, I was met by my sister, Jill, who whisked me off and treated me to a delicious lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. I was glad for the opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with her. So much better than a text or a call and savored our short visit. Too soon, it was time to leave to to check in with Idyllwild Arts, my teaching venue for the next three days.
I was delighted to find that I had been assigned a cottage in the trees all to myself. Aptly named the "Artist Cottage", it was snuggled well off the road. Hansel and Gretel-like in appearance, I opened the door and found myself looking at a huge stone fireplace, an oversized sofa to snuggle into and read a good book and a cozy kitchen nook to fix meals and I knew I was in my own personal paradise. The air was filled with the raucous calls of the jays and musical notes of songbirds and small grey squirrels scurried across the grounds. I settled in and went to sleep to the quiet noise of the midnight forest...
and woke up to the beauty of the early morning sky and air filled with the perfume of pines.

I followed the signs back to the campus to grab a quick breakfast and set the classroom up. The campus is set in the pines, as well, and full of life, both human and animal. As I walked to my studio, I watched five or six Hairy Woodpeckers flit back and forth in the trees and listened to the hoarse calls of Stellar's Jays. In the evening, I watched swifts circle and swirl around me as they caught flying insects floating lazily in sunbeams that curled around the trees like ribbons.
I was assigned to the Mellor Studio, having the luxury of spreading out in space that was mine to keep for all three days.
Outside was the forest, filled with colors and shadows that seemed to have spilled from uncapped paint tubes in shades of variegated greens and browns. On a picnic table in the back, was an abandoned pair of shoes looking as if their owner had danced off into an enchanted forest, never to return or grew wings and joined the fairies.

My first day was filled with 12 lovely souls who joined me for Journaling: Romancing the Muse. So much to cover in six short hours, we set down to work immediately, experimenting with mediums and techniques to create a multitude of background and designs before journaling our thoughts on our pages. And what wonderful art was created!!!

Too quickly the class came to a close and still with so much to do. I wish I would have had a week to more fully cover the techniques and writing cues that would do justice to journaling in art.
That evening, I bought food at a local market and came back to the cabin. I luxuriated in the quiet as I watched the sunset and curled up to read myself to sleep. I had forgotten how quiet the world can be and yet still be noisy, filled with the birds singing their twilight songs and small creatures shuffling through the pine needles on the ground.
Friday morning I set up for my favorite class by far, Waxy Layers, a meeting of collage and encaustics. Who can resist the warm perfume of melted beeswax!! I met the five students I would spend the next two days with and we set down to create the collages that would underlay the wax and allow us to experiment with the many surface techniques.
And the art was amazing. Having two days for this class allowed us to freely experiment with carving into the wax, colored waxes, oil color patinas, foils, transfers and so much more. And of course, the best of all for the last layer, shellac and fire.

All too soon, class was over and it was time to pack up and go home. Each parting is bittersweet. I feel so blessed to spend hours of creative time with fellow artists. And almost bereft when that times end and I have to say goodbye.
I take good memories with me - listening to the community concert through the windows of my cabin while I ate the delicious food I picked up at Aroma resturant. Watching a small bunny flee when we unexpectedly came face to face outside my car...hard to say who was most surprised. The surprise of finding astroturf on the grounds of a small strip mall. Finding an off label CD of exquisite Native American flute music. Meeting many like-minded people and making new friends. And best of all, being in a place where adventure, art, music and harmony come together in beauty and peace.