My He(ART)-Full Life

Friday, December 8, 2017

Paint Fearless Mexico!!!

I'm pretty sure that no-one reads my blog's been well over a year since I've been here. Life happens, time zooms by but I've *really* missed being here. Of course I've still been painting, micro-blogging (on and following my heart. So much has happened during this time...too much to go into right I'm going to write about an art retreat I went on last month to Oaxaca, Mexico. Where would I even begin??? I'm still trying to process it all but it was amazing!!!
 There was a fabulous group of ladies headed by the one and only Connie Solera of Dirty Footprints Studio (I LOVE this lady!!). We stayed at Art House Oaxaca where there is an attached outdoor art studio plus a restaurant/cafe...I mean...what more could you want, right?? We were mentored and taught...we wined and dined, we laughed and cried and were open, honest, vulnerable. It was truly a transformative experience for me.

Oaxaca (pronounced wah-haak-kah) is a fairly small old town, rich in history, that centers around a huge church. It's soaked in art of all kinds...otomi fabrics which are rich and colorful handmade embroidered tapestries, handmade wooden sculptures, paints, all sorts of handicrafts and folk arts. I arrived there just a few days after Day of the Dead celebrations so all the gorgeous flowers and murals were still up. Just waking up early in the morning and taking a short walk to the park or corner store was an adventure! But...let me share my experiences with Connie Solera and Paint Fearless.

So, right from the start, I felt so supported by the Universe, my family, Connie and the entire group of ladies (there were 8 of us). It's really difficult to put into words... it was a deep knowing, a visceral feeling of "I am totally meant to be here in this time and space with these people". I arrived a couple of days early because I wanted to settle in and be relaxed by the time classes began. And seriously, friends...without sounding too "out there"...everything aligned for me. One after another I began to experience internal shifts in regard to my art. The things I was struggling with just slipped away when I opened my heart and truly began listening to Connie. Because I trusted her implicitly, all my self doubts and fears went away. I mean...of course I was terrified but...she made it really easy to relax, trust myself and be in the flow.She provided a safe and loving space for us to incubate our creativity, our heart and our female-ness (Shakti energy on steroids!!).

Now none of us had ever met each other before and here we were...going to spend 8 days together painting!! Yikes!! All of us ladies were from very different backgrounds...all artists, of course...but we had each come for different reasons. Yet there we were... open  and willing to learn, love, laugh, grow, paint, be vulnerable. It was an incredible experience of community! There was no completion, mean spiritedness or toxic jealousy. Each of us were on our own path and engaged in our personal creative journey. Rarely (if ever) have I ever been in an environment where I felt truly accepted, appreciated and supported. I desperately want to create more of these experiences in my life.

And...the way in which art is experienced here is inspirational and eye opening. Amidst so much material poverty there was also "art as a way of life" that coexists. Flower arrangements everywhere that were simply stunning...doorways adorned, murals gracing the walls, old architecture and even the flowers and trees are poets and dancers. And then there is the ancient mixture of cultures that I only got a brief glimpse of. Folklore, magic, mystery, a melting pot of old and new, Christianity that is melded with indigenous beliefs. Art is so entwined with everyday life over here it was like stepping into a painting. Also...Frida Kahlo's mother is from this place so everywhere you go, you see these stunningly gorgeous outfits she used to was magical.

And...I was totally in my element here! I loved being in the midst of the female energy that I was surrounded by, I adored listening to Connie and watching her paint and explain her process to us. It was so empowering to see how she claimed her space, owned her gifts without any pretension or fanfare...she simply lived it! She moves in this world full of Shakti energy, divine grace, humility and empowerment.That was incredibly inspiring to me. And she truly is a brilliant teacher, intuitively knowing what each of us needed. Totally love this lady!! (Have I mentioned that???)
 And every morning after we all had breakfast together, we walked just a few steps over to our outdoor studio and started painting!! I felt enriched and alive...pulling images from the other world to this. Experimenting with color and form. Playing and letting go. Listening to my intuitive heart knowing that this was a completely safe space for me to navigate the furthest reaches of my heart and mind.

On our last day we each had our own art show.Yikes!! Each of us got to hang up our art, talk about it and listen to feedback from the group. It was wildly exciting and terrifying all at once. But so so good. And then...we had our last dinner together...lots of laughter and tears and good juju.

Goodbye sweet, magical city of Oaxaca. You have worked your way into my heart and I love you. I miss your outrageously beautiful colors, your heart and your art, your flowers and old buildings. Your food is delicious, your pastries decadent. I love your noisy bustling streets, the small shops with treasures awaiting. Most of all, though, I miss your people so full of kindness and love. Thank you so much for the riches you have given me, your sacred secrets and holy kindness. I will keep you and Paint Fearless forever in my heart. This experience has enriched me beyond my wildest dreams. xxx

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