Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Post Card from Squam: Day 2

Outfit for Day 2: wearing the
Making Waves cardi and hand knit socks.
Thursday, June 6

Hi again! How are you? Things here are good. With the birds and thin cabin walls and the excitement of what was in store, I had no trouble waking up early and making it to the 7:30 breakfast. I usually don't do breakfast, but I knew better than to skip when there was no food available until lunch. Besides, I was awake at 5:30 (!!) so by 7:30 I was mostly ready to eat anyway.

After breakfast I sneaked down to the lake to snap a picture or two before class:

It's really lovely there.

Then off to class! First up was Painting as Alchemy with Alena Hennessey. The class description said you didn't need to have any experience, and it mentioned collage and multi-media, which were key words to tell me that I might enjoy it.

Alena gets a lot of inspiration from nature and wanted us to start there as well. For the first 15 minutes of class, we left the building and walked around the woods and gathered things that caught our attention and that we liked. (She would say something more like, "Things that speak to you.") I enjoyed the jaunt, took a moment to enjoy a different view of the lake, and came back with these items:
Mostly green (there wasn't much blooming in the woods), but the red berries surprised me when I was almost back to the classroom.

We were then given general instructions on working with India ink to start. I really like India ink and especially the bright, bold colours it comes in. After the India ink, we could use acrylic paints or add printed papers that she had brought. Another student brought a supply of papers as well, and it was a lot of fun just to dig through them all! There were also some paint pens for fine details and glitter! :)

There wasn't a lot of instruction on how to paint or what to paint. The intention of the class was that you just create something. Don't think too much; don't judge what you're doing; just go with what you want to do. Play. And I think most of us were able to do that. Some people had painted before and they did more traditional painting on their canvasses. Others of us stuck mostly to collage. Very few of the paintings were "realistic" in any way. But as far as I could tell, they were meeting the goal of "going with it." Things that I never heard in class were "I can't do this," "I'm no good at this," or "Yours is so much better than mine." What a relief. Not everyone was in love with what they did, but they were able to accept it as a work in progress, or as an indication of where they were right then, not a final word on what they could do. It was a good vibe.

The class was broken up into morning and afternoon sessions, 3 hours each. By lunch time I had one canvas mostly done and India ink on the second. I figured it would be dry by the time I got back.

I think it was at lunch that I had the first person ask if I was "the one" who had knit the lace coat. They recognized me from Ravelry (probably from my name on my necklace, not my picture). I had another group tell me that they will be looking for it when I wear it. The excitement is building!!

My roommate and I had a short conversation with Stephanie Pearl McPhee (let's say the Justin Bieber of the knitting world, except she writes about knitting) on the way out from lunch. My roommate is from Toronto and had met her before so she was able to break the ice. It was a short conversation, but fun to have met her. The teachers ate in the main dining room with everyone else and attended the evening events so there were plenty of times to bump into them if you wanted. I didn't actually approach any of them because it just feels weird.

Lunch was a good mental break but even with that, by 3:00 my head was exhausted and I went outside for a break. Creating stuff is hard work!!
Once last push before the class ended and I had two canvasses:
The left one was the first and has a lot of botanical objects on it: flowers, feathers, leaves. It also has the word love stamped on it, a pair of "kissing" humming birds and a dictionary page containing the words "amour," "amplify," "amount," and "ample" on it. The second one (on the right) has one word: Vreugde, the dutch word for joy. It also is contained in my mother's maiden name. She commented once that the word "joy" was in her name, and it has stuck with me. Ideas have floated through my head about what to do with it, and this is the first trial. I suspect there will be more things on this theme, if I keep doing stuff. The papers under the word look a lot like a prettily wrapped gift. The colours of the India ink were chosen to be very bright, cheerful and airy. A lot of people in class commented that it also looked peaceful, which is a something I think is necessary for joy. Joy and peace go hand in hand.

At the end of class we all shared our pieces and spoke about the process, where we were coming from or what certain symbols meant to us, and the rest of the class gave (positive) comments and feedback. It wasn't too...I don't know...what's the word? Emotional? Woo woo? Anyway, it wasn't too much of that and that was good to me! But the comments were personal enough and it was a nice way to wrap up the class since the act of painting itself was a very personal and individual thing to be doing. Ending this way brought us back together again as a group. It was also good just to have a chance to look at everyone's work. It was all really good. (And it was interesting to see the same papers get used in many different ways. Fun.)

At dinner time they have tables out for everyone to share their works in progress (or finished works). It's a very open and accepting environment to show your stuff. (I actually forgot my paintings at the cabin so they weren't displayed.) It was wonderful, though, to see what people had done in other classes. Little knitted samples; mail boxes, tool boxes, sewing boxes from the wood working class; embroidery; fabric stenciled by woodsy items; sewing projects (pajama bottoms, smocks (tunic-style dresses), and sling bags); etc. It was fantastic. After dinner, you just take it home with you.

Later in the evening, I went to the evening event: Story Telling. There were a lot fewer people than what was at the opening ceremonies, but it was still a nice group in the Playhouse. They started the evening with a few students from the "Story in a Day" class. Since they aren't really able to share their work on the table at dinner, they were given a chance to read their stories that evening. Two students read before the main event--a story from David Anthony Durham--and two students read after he was done. They were really great stories and it was a lot of fun listening to them. (One of them did point out that the class wasn't "Public Speaking in a Day" :) but they did well.)
David's story was written for his daughter's 13th birthday. She apparently had "lost" a lot of cats in her young life and the story was about cat ghosts and how they stick around the people who had loved them while alive. The story had a little adventure, a little heart wrenching, and a happy ending, of course, because that's what you need for a 13-year-old and for Squam.

Then it was back to the cabin for a little catch up with the cabin mates and another early night for me, but not before making my way down to the dock to capture the warm welcoming light glowing in all those windows:
Wish you were here!

-christina

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