During the times in my life when I’ve felt exhausted, confused, backward, numb, or just generally depressed, I have found solace in creative space. That’s why writing has been such a shelter for me, a place to sort myself out.
I’m learning, as I approach the very grown-up age of 35, that making time to create is actually a necessary part of my life rhythm and not just a luxury when the time permits (because, if we’re honest, it never does). Actually, I think this is something I’ve known all along as writing and painting and “making” were intuitive parts of my childhood. But maybe I’m just now learning to give myself permission to do these things that promote joy and freedom.
I often wonder if other women feel this same way. Like life just works better if they do something with their hands that is an extension of their souls. But maybe they don’t know where to start and the enterprise feels too overwhelming.
So every once in awhile I offer a found art workshop, where I create some space for a group of women to self-reflect and self-express around a theme I’ve provided.
We do some writing and some talking and then some collaging and then some more talking. Maybe I read to them a bit. We usually pray. And the alchemy of these acts produces something mysterious and golden. I remind the women that our time together isn’t about making a “product” so much as engaging in a “process.” I always have to remind myself of this because I’m like a junkie when it comes to perfectionism. So I try to help us all remember that what we’re doing is a prayer.
In the end, you would not believe what comes out of these women. I cover tables with scraps and remnants and ends and leftovers, and give them just a general direction to head, and the stuff that pours out of them is absolutely amazing. Inspiring.
I’m preparing for a workshop on December 6, and I’ve been looking for a good deal on some picture frames for our project. But I want them to be cool and architectural-salvage looking. Not just something you’d get at Target on clearance. I went to Pat’s, my local junk store, but I couldn’t get excited about anything there.
I found a listing on Craigslist that seemed too good to be true, and I followed up with the guy. Immediately I was scared of him as he was gruff and crusty and bothered on the phone and I kept apologizing because that’s what I do when I get uncomfortable.
When the babies went down for a nap on Saturday, I drove to this guy’s house—a 40-acre ranch here in San Diego—and I left the address for Steve in case he had to send a search and rescue team after me.
BTW, Steve seemed completely unfazed by the fact that I was going alone to this compound. I kept telling myself that this exact scenario was the stuff of thrillers: Stupid girl is wooed to a ranch by Craigslist Killer and thrown into a pit with a dozen other girls who fell for the same trick.
The man who posted the ad was every bit as crusty as he sounded on the phone and his two huge dogs were terrifying and his compound was something from Steven King meets Hoarders. I could honestly spin an entire novel out of this guy’s habitat.
He led me into his storage area and closed the gate behind me – “so the dogs wouldn’t get out.” Creepy. I tried to be aware of any muffled cries for help. Surrounded by the strangest assortment of junk, we began loading frames into my car . . . until the entire car was completely filled. I was euphoric, yet vigilant.
I so badly wanted to nose around the rest of the premises as untold treasures were surely buried in this place. But I decided I had to get out while I was still alive and mostly untraumatized.
On my way out of the chain-link gate at the perimeter of the property, I noticed the handwritten sign, “Trespassers will be shot” and said a little prayer of thanks.
So if you’re in the San Diego area and you want to attend my December 6th found art workshop, I will be providing a frame for you that was practically purchased with my very life.
But I’ve found that, most of the time, the price of art is worth paying.
If you’d like to attend the upcoming workshop on December 6th, please email me at Leeana@GypsyInk.com. We’ll be meeting from 7:00pm to 9:30pm and the cost is $15. Our theme is “A Year in Review,” and we’ll be reflecting on our own personal themes from 2010.