Play. Such a small word. As adults we don’t get to use it much, as in, “Let’s play.”
Remember when when we were kids and someone said, “Let’s play,” how electrically charged the air would become with possibilities. Play what? Who knew? It didn’t matter because we knew it would be fun.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I got to “play” in Vermont at a creativity retreat, courtesy of my husband, who understands and supports my artistic cravings. I attended “Let’s Play,” a weekend of creative play led by four creative sisters at Geryunant in West Dummerston, Vt.
Geryunant is a retreat center that offers all sorts of wonderful workshops centered around focusing and artistic expression by Helen Hawes and Gena Corea. Helen’s three sisters joined her in leading “Let’s Play.”
I had no idea what to expect. And there was no way to anticipate the imaginative ways of approaching creativity that these talented and inspiring women came up with for the 13 of us during the weekend.
I have to admit that I struggled to resist my own reluctance. As I admitted to the group, I am a control freak. Well, “freak” may be too strong…no, I am indeed a control freakazoid.
I constantly need to control things and I need to know exactly where everything is heading and what the outcome will be. It’s my way of keeping order in the world. Letting go is difficult. That is my challenge as an artist, too—tucking away that need to know exactly what my creative efforts will yield. I have paintings framed in my mind before I even start the canvas.
Once again, at this workshop, I was reminded of something that is critical to being creative:
Art is a process, not a product.
Taking part in the Creative Every Day Challenge has been helping me with this concept, as well. Even as I write about art as a process, I’m realizing the activeness of the phrases—being creative, making art.
I won’t go into all the details of this weekend (including the fact that the item above is an object I chose from a table of the most intriguing objects I’ve ever seen. Each participant was asked to select something that served as a metaphor that we explored in various ways for three days.) I’ll just say that “Let’s Play” was an important experience for me. It took me out of my comfort zone and made me view creativity from many different perspectives that I would not have taken on my own.
And it was so touching to see how a group of people who had never met each other before the weekend could allow themselves to be so open, so vulnerable, so trusting and so giving. Inspiring, really.
And what a lovely thing to spend a weekend in a quiet home (thanks Gena) surrounded by woods, where the dominant sound is the wind whispering in the trees and the brook babbling by. No cell phone. No TV. No computer. Just permission to do “nothing” and focus on self and creativity…and breathe.
Did I mention that there was a personal chef? Every meal was so carefully prepared and presented that it felt like love—all organic, fresh eggs from the chickens raised by the chef (artist Tim Allen); zucchini from his garden; plenty of grains. We had edible flowers in our salads! If I could have packed up that man and put him in my suitcase, I would have brought him home.
I hope I can hold onto all that I took in this weekend. I hope that I can remember to let go, to breathe and truly embrace that being an artist is a process.
Of course, I could always go back and get a refresher. 🙂