tree in morning sunlight, Squam Lake, New Hampshire
Right now, as I type, there is a powerful gathering happening in the woods of New Hampshire.
Kindred spirits have united for five days by the shores of Squam Lake. Most likely there are smiles and hugs; mostly like there are tears; most likely there is delicious food, creative magic and powerful transformation.
I want to be there.
Year after year my journey to Squam Art Workshops has been a pilgrimage of sorts. This year is the first time I've missed it since 2008 and boy did I ever underestimate how much of a void it would leave!
I've experience deep transformation in those woods.
I've experienced safety, acceptance, letting go, healing, friendship, deep, deep joy and an aliveness I've rarely been able to rekindle elsewhere.
Even more beautiful, I've witnessed all of this in others too.
Five years ago, at Squam Art Workshops, I picked up a paint brush for the first time since kindergarten and haven't put it down since.
The week before the workshops, I remember heading to the art supply store with my class supply list not knowing what half of them were. I was extremely intimidated. Thank you, kind and helpful art supply store employee, you helped me fill my shopping basket without feeling the least bit embarrassed.
I remember the first class on that crisp September morn with Misty Mawn, as I collaged random pieces of the fancy scrapbooking paper and vintage magazines I'd brought with me not having a clue what the hell I was doing. But hey, I was doing it.
my first collage from Misty Mawn's class
I remember listening to Kelly Rae Roberts and Mati Rose McDonough speak to us one of those cool evenings in the Playhouse, and how when Kelly Rae mentioned that before attending her first art workshop she didn't know was Gesso was either, I sighed a sigh of relief and knew I'd be OK. (It's a form of primer used to prep painting surfaces.)
And how could I forget pushing through my first ever "big" painting with the gentle help of Lisa Occhipinti, and the tears of joy that sprang to the corners of my eyes as I declared it complete?
my first "big" painting (technically a mixed media piece), with Lisa Occhipinti
Finally, on the last day, I took Andrea Scher's Superhero workshop. I was late arriving and felt a little embarrassed, but Jen Gray was there with her gentle smile and pointed me to some rocks with messages painted on them, making sure I picked one before I entered. I chose one that told me exactly what I'd discovered that weekend in the woods: that I belonged there.
I still have that rock.
There's no way I would be where I am now without crossing paths with Squam Art Workshops and all of its gifts.
THANK YOU, dearest Elizabeth for sharing your vision and your gifts with us, and for creating this space for us to grow and thrive.
Even in absentia, Squam Art Workshops is that powerful.