left handed dragon

Dragons.  In the West, something to conquer and in the East, a sign of good fortune.  Dragons first appeared in my art back in October in a painting from a retreat in Sedona, AZ.  The image resonated and I chose the word DRAGON to be a theme for this year.   {Before I even knew that 2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon…}

Dragon Girl

Since then, dragons have shown up on the corners of morning pages and in my journals and paintings.  Even on coffee mugs.

Page Dragons

Coffee Dragon

Sometimes they’re pointing to something that I need to face and sometimes they’re simply a reminder that I’m empowered and live in good fortune.

I encountered one of my something-to-face dragons this past weekend while painting in Athens, Georgia with my Fearless sisters-in-paint.  A handful of us met last year when we painted together in Sedona, AZ, but others were gathering in “real life” for the first time.  I still don’t have words for what it is to be in the same room with like-minded creatives to paint.   It is like oxygen for my soul to come together with people who validate my practice by simply being themselves.  Who increase the trust in the room and thus expand art and expression just by sharing the same space.

“Just bring a little money for tips!”  {One last message from Jennifer as we were wrapping up details for the weekend.   I confess it made me wonder – since there’s a strip club across the street. 😉 }  In reality, we had reflexology treatments, yummy homemade food {Jennifer’s chicken salad is to die for!  Welcome to the South ladies.} Plus, gift bags filled with hand-rolled chocolates and fun artsy stuff.   Oh, the surprises!  The weekend was full of deep conversation, moments of healing and surprises.  Several surprises.  Lots of surprises.  Our hostess, Jennifer Schildknecht of Over the Moon Creative Possibilities, not only opened her studio and hosted this mini reunion, she tucked what my mother-in-law calls “happies” all over the place.  One “happy” was 2 to 3 hours of  figure drawing w a live model.  {Jennifer’s studio provides figure drawing classes for local artists and art students.}

Yikes!  Drawing is one of my dragons.

Embellishment Dragon

My drawing skills always feel Not-Quite-Enough.  I know the raw talent is there, but the skill remains under fed and neglected.  So, when one of our surprises was figure drawing – for hours – I’m not gonna lie; I panicked a little.  When it comes to drawing, especially from life, I struggle.  I know what I WANT my drawing to look like.  {Michaelangelo or DaVinci’s studies would be the standard.}  And that’s NOT what my drawings look like.  The truth is a 25 year gap since I did this last + a little panic was a bad combination.  I wasn’t getting the results I wanted.  The little misses and the inability of my hand and eye to cooperate to capture the magic that I see in every shadow, line and detail left me frustrated.

And frozen.

I stood there.

Charcoal in hand, trying to calm down.

Trying to start.

Wrestling with perfection.

Seeking to open my hand.

Despite the panic, I’ve learned enough over the years to just start moving when I’m frozen.  I don’t have to understand, I just have to move.

So, I moved.  I pushed and pulled.  Drawing all the way from my shoulder.  {The lesson from Sedona}  I put aside the timid movements from tight fingers and opened up.  I began to listen.  To hear and pay attention to my INSIDE VOICE.  At one point I made eye contact with Hali.

“I’m having a little art school angst.”

“Yeah, me too.  Time to change this up.”

And so it SHIFTED.

We moved.  We invited paint to the party.  We turned on music.  We moved to the floor.  We even turned drawings upside down.

At the end of the day, my drawings were average, but with encouragement from my sisters in paint, the shift to intuition was beyond powerful.

The next day, with bags packed and coffee poured, we settled in for a last few hours of quiet and paint.  I decided to tape up a study and and a blank page and face the dragons.  Before I chose a color or picked up a brush, I asked the drawing:

figure studies

What is Your Message?

and then I painted.

mountain woman

I don’t fully understand yet, but the mountains and the snake, the gold and the red, the full moon, the circles and the pouring drips were like my Inside Voice climbing out onto the page and making Declarations about what’s coming.

oh, Dragons.  Challenge + Good Fortune.  Welcome to my life.

Journal Dragon