I’ve just come back from a Mentor Artist Retreat at Jane Davenport’s house. She calls her home “The Nest”. I always thought the name was super cute. But after this retreat, it seems to mean so much more. New beginnings, hatching of new ideas and big art dreams. Funny how things suddenly take on new meaning, isn’t it?
In the week leading up to the retreat I got more and more nervous. I have no idea why because I have done workshops there with her before. But I felt like I was going to have a big breakthrough. Like I knew something was going to happen that was going to be a turning point for me. An obvious signal at the crossroads. And it turns out I was right.
Jane was so open the whole weekend. Talking about developing our own styles more, taking it beyond where we were comfortable, talking about what we want now and our big art dreams. Ooh, that girl is good. She gets you to open up so easily, sharing things you normally dare not say out loud. And the words she gave back were so many things. Creative wisdom. Courage boosting. Unexpected and unwavering faith – this is the one that has been playing on my mind the most. Something she said on the last afternoon really stuck. Not just what she said but how. I keep hearing it over and over. And days later, I got 2 ‘signs from the universe’ literally within 1 minute of each other that reinforced it. It was like the universe didn’t want me to let it go. These few words from her have been a huge turning point for me. A moment that re-ignited a wavering flame in danger of burning out.
Actually, ever since I got back, little things have been shining like beacons and everything around it has faded into white noise. Little quotes pop up that resonate so strongly it’s like they are washing through my soul. Beautiful words from friends that suddenly seem to be just the right words for how I’m feeling. The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes…
The people you share these kinds of retreats with can really make the experience (or not) and I was so lucky to spend time with 2 other arty sistas that were simply amazing. They were open with their art dreams, raw in front of me like I had been with them. And man did we talk! We stayed up until almost midnight each night talking about artists we love, products and classes and techniques. Working in our journals as we chatted like long lost art sisters. Just to have someone to talk to about that sort of thing was sooooo good for the soul.
Over the weekend, we tried new techniques and practiced ones we wanted more guidance on. We had some one on one help from Jane. The shading thing FINALLY clicked for me. Hoo-bloody-Ray for that. And I dove into the discovery of my own signature things which I am loving. To have your art feel like you instead of a copy of the teachers is wonderful.
But one of my favourite things was talking to Jane. Her adventure to arrive at where she is now was facinating – it wasn’t all beer and skittles. She’s worked her toosh off and has taken many different paths to arrive at where she is now. It is not a linear path to paradise. Let me tell you, this girl is fierce and determined (and a little bit stubborn which I love). To see inside the world of a working artist was amazing – again not all beer and skittles. There is still tech stuff and millions of emails and a crazy amount of organizing and things not always going to plan. It’s not just doing art all day people. Her insights around the business of art and licencing and book deals were eye opening. On our way into town for dinner, she started telling us a story about that side of things then stopped and asked if we wanted to hear that kind of stuff. In unison from the back seat, we all leaned forward with a big YES. Think that kind of took her by surprise.
And to see how she lives. What she surrounds herself with really had me thinking. Everywhere in her house was art of some sort. Little trinkets on the tables and shelves, a bookshelf overflowing with so many different types of art books, her studio decorated with furniture that had a soul and collage materials you couldn’t help but touch and artwork from her favourite artists (yep, even girls like her admire the work of others – of course! Never thought of that before. I just thought they glowed in their own awesomeness).
The little bungalow we stayed at is called “The Sanctuary”. I joked with Jane that I came as a Capricorn but left as a ‘Sanctuarian’. Even that had art everywhere. And we were so taken care of. With the ‘little things’ Jane had for us at The Sanctuary, to Angus her (very patient) husband making our meals and snacks and looking after us. Poor fella – dealing with us girls all weekend. Chat chat chat, laugh laugh laugh. He must have been so glad for some quiet when we left. I felt so blissed out over the weekend. I fell asleep to the sound of singing crickets and woke up to the hum of cicadas and the laugh of kookaburras. I wonder if I got so much out of the weekend because I was so relaxed and open to hearing what I needed to. I’m sure we get lots of messages from the universe we are meant to hear, but are too busy with the everyday that we often don’t get to hear them.
As I left late on Sunday, I gave Jane a hug, I told her “I adore you”. She doesn’t really know what she gave me this weekend. How could she? She mended an art heart that had been badly broken by things not going to plan. A feeling the Universe hadn’t seen how badly I wanted things and how hard I had been working (even if it was working in the wrong direction). She gave my cowardly lion heart the courage to stop hiding behind the hurt and take a big flying leap into the life I want so badly. Creative courage is an amazing thing to give to someone. I hope somewhere on my own art adventure, I get the chance to give that to someone else.
A week after the retreat and I still have the waves of bliss with me. The creative boost is still strong. But somehow, I feel more in tune with the things I am meant to do and the day job feels even more like it’s not where I am meant to be. I can feel the shift and my creative heart is taking over from the OCD square bear Capricorn side. I’m excited to see what happens when those two planets collide.