An Artful Journey, art, art retreats, book arts, California

More photos from An Artful Journey

Stenciling gesso onto bookboard makes both a nice raised design and a resist.

My work area in Albie’s class. The bookboards above have been trimmed down and painted, and will be bound with a coptic or French stitch using the papers drying in the rear of the photos. A very wee book – I like small.

This is probably my favorite of the paste papers I made, even though I don’t usually work with these colors. I found that I was most satisfied with the papers that I didn’t think so much about. Even the “worst” papers I did will be useful as backgrounds or in pieces for collage or strips for paper weaving so I kept everything I did, and some of my classmate’s “trash” as well!

An Artful Journey, California

Heading back east

I’m sitting at Gate 4 in the San Jose Airport, where I have already purchased my required refrigerator magnets, one for San Jose, and one pack of art magnets which I had to purchase all four in order to get one that is titled “Guido Cat.”

This retreat was such a wonderful event. I like that it was much smaller and more intimate, the three-day format is much more suited to my needs, the setting was fabulous, and the organizer took incredible care of us with many friendly extras. I would definitely come back to this one, but the problem is that it happens during my busiest time at work. I didn’t get to explore the grounds because the weather didn’t clear up until Sunday, and by that time I was squeezing every drop of goodness I could get in the classroom. Monday morning gave me a few minutes to walk around and gaze up into some redwoods. Then I spent most of the day in my hotel room just decompressing and watching Showtime, which I don’t get at home. I did get out to a restaurant across the street for some Fat Tire drafts and seafood.

Part of the reason that I stopped blogging was that my camera batteries died and then would not recharge. I think that I have talked about my camera addiction before. I love to take many many photographs wherever I go and I use them a lot in my personal journaling or as jumping off places for other art ideas. It is when I am deprived of my camera, especially on a trip to a beautiful spot like this, that I realize that I don’t experience the present moment because of my addiction. I am always looking for images instead of really looking at what I’m looking at. I would like to find a good balance.

The blue sky that I spotted on Saturday morning was very temporary. It quickly turned back to heavy rain and then snow off and on all day. The snow didn’t stick but it was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that looking out the window distracted me while I was cutting bookboard and I cut my finger. Luckily, Albie was ready with Liquid Skin, and then although the cut was not deep or that bad, I nearly fainted. She was ready for that, too, and took good care of me without getting anxious or overreacting. She told me that her daughter does the same thing and that it is called vasovagel response. I’m glad to have a name for it so that I can warn people before I get a shot – maybe I won’t get another nurse who treats me like a toddler if I make it sound like an official diagnosis.

An Artful Journey, art, art retreats, book arts, California

Day one of Albie’s class

I need to take more photos, but as usual, I became entranced with what I was doing. I kept going until I absolutely could not do it anymore. Today I have to remind myself to SIT DOWN. My hands are not too bad, but my feet and back were letting me know it last night. We are doing a lot of stenciling and stamping and tearing papers, which means it seems more natural to stand slightly bent over a table. My spirit was willing to keep going; my body said NO.

Albie is teaching us a lot of tricks and it was hard to believe how fast the time went by yesterday. I spent most of the morning on only two papers, neither of which I was particularly happy about. Realizing that I was over-analyzing, I managed to change my mindset to play and produced several more papers that I was much more satisfied with. I would like to produce a large amount of papers today and tomorrow for books for the gallery and Etsy, and take advantage of being able to use so many different stencils. However, Albie has several examples of sweet book structures that don’t require a lot of fancy stitching so I’ve decided to make one or two books here.

Cindy O’Leary is the organizer of this retreat and I have to say that we are well taken care of! There are lots of good snacks including amazing homemade chocolate chip cookies, coffee and tea 24 hours a day, good meals, and last night at the instructors’ sale she had some much appreciated wine for us. It is a beautiful, old place with some modern facilities, although the rooms in my building are what you might expect for a 100 year old convent turned college turned conference/spiritual center. I love the simplicity.

Prayer flags sent in by the Artful Journey attendees hanging in the dining hall. The Pueblo building where I am staying and taking my class is in the background.

Now I am looking out my window at 7 a.m. and I see the blessed blue sky, something I haven’t seen since I’ve been here. Yay! Listening to the rain come down through the pipes in the hallway, which apparently used to be an outside courtyard, was like listening to a waterfall, but I am tired of wet.

Time for breakfast, but I believe that I’ll just grab a piece of fruit and go on back to the classroom. We are doing some techniques with gesso today that make the paper look like embossed leather. I am so happy that I made the decision to come here. This is where I need to be right now. Albie is a wonderful teacher, and the knowledge that I take home from this will sustain my imagination for quite some time.

An Artful Journey, California, Marvelous meals

The first day of my next half-century!

Here I am at Great Bear Coffee in the lovely little town of Los Gatos, California, celebrating my 50th birthday all by my magnificent self! It has pretty much been raining since I got here, but I came armed with a good raincoat and an iffy umbrella that tends to blow out in the gusts. I forsook a purse for a small backpack to tote around my laptop and camera and the few other necessities for the day.

I flew through unusually warm weather over the United States, but Illinois was still covered in snow. Although the flight from Chicago to Denver was packed, I got lucky on the other two flights and had two and three seats to myself, allowing me to catch a little sleep. I looked out the window a lot this time, something I don’t usually do because of a tendency for motion sickness. The terrain fascinated me. I didn’t take photos of the farmland much, although I loved the patterns of squares and circles and textures. However, the farmland in central California was disturbing. It appeared so humanly constructed. There were hardly any trees and each stream seemed to be carved by human hand into the landscape. I may try to photograph it on the way back.

The Garden Inn in Los Gatos is very nice and I would definitely recommend it on the basis of my one night here. Reasonably priced and in walking distance of many shops and restaurants. Here’s the courtyard, and an idea of the weather I’m dealing with.

There are palm trees here – I didn’t expect that, because I thought I was farther north. I hear that there will be redwoods where I am going tonight in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I’d love to take a hike along the creek trail here but it looks really muddy.

Yesterday I stopped in a shop that had a lot of beautiful imports from Africa and Asia. I wanted a piecework blouse that looked beautiful on me but the shopkeeper only took cash or checks, and I didn’t bring much cash and no checks. I didn’t think that there were places left that weren’t set up for credit and debit cards! I did buy a nice light mudcloth scarf. Her prices were so low on those that I felt a little guilty. She took the cash and said that she would pay the sales tax so I guess that she’ll report it stolen! Oh well, that’s her business, I guess. We all have our little ways to rebel. If I can find an ATM I might have to go back for that blouse.

Then last night, I was so tired that I almost skipped dinner, but made myself go out to a little Italian place across the street named “i gatti.” So clever a name for an Italian restaurant in Los Gatos! I hoped that they might have a t-shirt for sale but they were much too nice a place for that – they were a locavore place. I sat at the bar and had organic roasted beets with a crispy Manchego cheese wafer, microgreens, and candied nuts. Best salad I’ve ever eaten. I was too beat to eat a heavy meal. Since that was so good I figured that they would do a good job with tiramisu. I’m spoiled with tiramisu because we learned to make it at Spannocchia in Italy and there has never been a tiramisu since that has come close to being so delicious. This one came pretty close. The bartender was friendly so I didn’t feel weird or lonely. Then I went to bed at 8:30, woke up at 4:30, but managed to go back to sleep until 6:30, so I hope to be on a Pacific time zone schedule today.

I have to go back to the hotel and check out at 11:00, but I’m leaving my luggage there since my ride is picking me up there at 3 p.m. Until then I’ll be roaming around in the rain and stopping to hang out in coffee shops. I find it funny that I have not found a book store, used or otherwise, yet. I usually make a beeline for those. My quest today will be to find a fibers shop and the Trader Joe’s.

Hopefully I will be able to blog the art retreat if I am able to get a connection. If not, you can assume that I am having too much fun to mess with the computer.