On August 18th five friends from the downtown Eastside gathered together with us at Linwood House for a three day, art themed Journey. With a smaller group, Jen, myself and our five dear friends tucked ourselves into “the station” off the main house and prepared ourselves for the creative journey that awaited us.
On our first night as we gathered in our circle, candles flickering around the room, we reflected on where we were in our personal journeys – where we had come from, the truth we stood in now, and where we were going. We opened ourselves up to what this weekend of art was going to teach us, and we declared that we were all creative women who had a place among all of the artists that would be gathering at the house throughout the weekend.
The next morning we woke and greeted our guest artist, Ron Stevens, professionally known as Rogest. He is a world renowned artist, environmentalist and humanitarian. He also happens to have a very big heart, a hilarious sense of humor and a deep belief in the potential that lies in each person and so was the perfect person to lead us.
The day was perfect, sunshiny and warm. We gathered outside of the station by the pond, and set up with our canvases, paints, smocks and open hearts. By the end of the day Ron said we would each end up with a beautiful landscape painting that would be auctioned off in the Linwood House Art Experience later that weekend. Really, he promised!
And so we began the process. First, covering the canvas completely with color. Then the sketch on paper. Next, transferring the sketch onto the canvas in a faint and easy outline. Then painting in the layers…..first, the dimension farthest away, sky and clouds. Then the next dimension and the next and the next. Layers and layers of paint added to create depth, dimension, texture.
The process was an interesting one. At times there was pride and excitement in what was unfolding on the canvas. At other times there was fear of being unable to meet the task at hand. Or disappointment at the way one stroke was too dark, too faint, went in the wrong direction, “ruined” what was already there. Sometimes, standing back to look at the canvas, only to wonder how this was going to turn into anything beautiful.
Ron encouraged us to press on, let go (ok, that might have been specifically a direction to me!) and trust the process.
He was right. At the end of the day, together we stood with 6 beautiful canvases and a deep sense of awe and pride at what we had accomplished. We had tapped into the creativity within us that perhaps had been dormant or that we didn’t even know we had, and you could see and feel the expansion in each of us……of hope, of possibility, of deeper, truer identity.
On Sunday, at the 5th Annual Linwood House Art Experience each of us gathered on the side lawn as featured artists to have our art auctioned off. Nina, Elizabeth, Carol, Grace, Marcy and myself had the opportunity to share a little bit of our story and our art before it was auctioned off to the highest bidder. There were many tears shed and victories honored as the guests heard stories of homelessness, addiction, brokenness and most of all, hope.
The response to our collective art was amazing! Close to $1000 was raised in the auction alone! As for our group…….the affirmation of our work, our process, our stories and our creativity was nothing short of joyous!
In our final circle together as a group that weekend, we shared about what this experience meant for each of us. Here are some of our reflections:
“My life was like that blank canvas. Coming to Linwood House for the first time, and connecting with God has put the color back in my life” – Nina
“I was always told that I would never do anything in life because of my learning disability. This weekend has helped to encourage me that my life does have potential and purpose” – Marcy
“I am grateful for the gift of finishing. This experience has reminded me to have perseverance in my life, that I can overcome any obstacle that comes my way” – Grace
Finally, I want to share with you the lyrics for what became our theme song for this wonderful weekend. From “Living Proof” by Mary J. Blige:
Anything you say to me
And everything you do
You can’t deny the truth
Cause I’m the living proof.
So many don’t survive,
They just don’t make it through
But look at me, yeah
I’m the living proof!
Thank you for your support, in every way, of the Linwood House Art Experience, The Journey and our amazing friends from the downtown Eastside. We are grateful!
~ Sue Todd
Be sure to check out our photos from this great weekend! Do you have any to add to the collection? Please let us know.