For more than a decade, the Wisdom School has offered Transformational Art as an integral part of every in-person intensive. These classes ranged from meditative brush painting to mask-making, clay sculpture, drumming, creating portable altars, to haiku-writing, journaling, Qi Gong, soul collage and more. Many students, having not done anything artistic since grade school, arrive in the studio thinking its something they “can’t do.” And yet, by the end of the week, without exception, the most individual and remarkable art has been created. For each student, it was a miraculous process of discovery – and for all of us, a reminder that, given the right environment, that innate creative spark can be rekindled in everyone.
I have recently been through the same process myself, having given up my art work for almost 40 years (until it almost seemed too late to pick it up again). I enrolled in a botanical illustration class and immediately realized that it’s as simple as just deciding to begin. Observing a plant with drawing pen in hand, one simply follows the form, with as little judgement as possible. Gradually one’s seeing becomes clearer, and one’s hand more sure. Our teacher walks around the room offering very little guidance except to say “Just keep going!”
For me, this is the practice that helps bring me back to center on days that become mired in lists and details. Simply to pick up a pencil and remember the famous words of Paul Klee, “A line is a dot that went for a walk,” and begin. Somehow even a few moments of doodling allows the mental knots to untangle, and a sense of spaciousness to open up inside again.
Last month at Ubiquity, we began an exciting experiment offering a live online art course, Energetics of Art, allowing students to receive hands-on teaching, using very basic materials, and working from their own kitchen table. We are off to a successful start, and hope to offer more live art courses in the months to come. But in the meantime – just pick up a pen and take a line for a walk!
Claire Ryle Garrison
Claire has been part of the Wisdom School for 12 years in a variety of roles from Admissions Officer to Faculty Coordinator to part of the Curriculum Development team, and is also one of the Clan Mothers. She is the mother of two sons. For the past 3 years she has been studying botanical illustration. The images here are from her daily quickdraw sketchbook.