Evening view from Our Lady of the
Prairie retreat house
Artwork from Our Lady of the Prairie workshop, Sister Moon and Brother Sun focusing on care of the earth
I traveled to Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat near Wheatland, Iowa to facilitate a workshop on Contemplative Prayer in Watercolor, as part of a Winter Sabbatical for Religious Sisters. It was a restful day of painting and writing in our journals using contemplative creative images. We took the risk to be vulnerable to the challenge of not knowing what to do next, just seeing what God sees. We had the humility to be an instrument of God’s design and it freed the Spirit of Creation to move through our humanity. It is called the “flow” and we discover glimpses of who God is in the freedom of the unburdened watercolors of goodness, truth and beauty. The Sisters were on Sabbatical from the United States, Canada and Australia.
“Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat is a ministry of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary and is located in rural east central Iowa on a 200-acre native grass prairie woodland along the Wapsipinicon River.” Its grounds include trails and a labyrinth for walking meditation.
(Photo courtesy of Mike Coverdale)
When I was in central Iowa recently, I was seeing my daughter’s family but also teaching at the farm home of Judy and Mike Coverdale. Judy and I spent two days painting and we came up with the idea to offer watercolor retreats at their home near Nevada, Iowa.
The Coverdales have a beautiful setting to paint, out in the country with a creek, trees and gardens. We can focus a bit on drawing and composition and move into painting. Bring along your ideas and photos and we will help you paint them.
Right now we are planning two separate Saturday retreats, March 4 and May 6, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m on each day. The cost is $35.00 per student per day including a simple soup lunch. I will bring one sheet of 140 lb. watercolor paper for each person and a few supplies for new painters. Others can bring their own watercolor supplies. Mike suggests I inform folks that there are a couple of cats in the house, in case that is a concern.
Join us for a playful day of watercolor! There is room for a maximum of 10 people on each date. Send me an email (email@example.com) if you’d like to join in.
Watercolor journal and sources of inspiration
Spiritual retreats have helped me focus on what really matters, not only for me but also through listening to others’ journeys. On February 25 I’ll be facilitating a workshop through Emmaus House in Des Moines, inspired by the small book Living Like Francis Today by Marci Blum, OSF.
The workshop is titled “Living Like Francis Today: Journal Painting and Day of Reflection”:
This one-day painting workshop offers an inward journey of discovery, meditation and release. You do not need to be a trained artist to participate fully in this experience with the beauty, freedom and surprise of watercolor. The process is gentle and unburdened by critique or artistic expectations. Whether you are working in ministry, seeking renewal and revitalization, or someone hoping to reconnect with what is important in life, this workshop offers an opportunity to draw closer to God and to become aware of the beauty and holy within you.
You can find registration information on Emmaus House’s Upcoming Events page. The book is not required for the workshop, but if it sounds interesting to you, there is a sample chapter posted on the publisher’s website.
Demonstrating the shower
curtain in action
With a shoe sculpture
I continue to meet more of the arts community in Iowa City as it is thriving here. In December I was pleased with the turnout at the Eastside Artists Annual Show and Sale (shown above). Besides my shower curtains and pillows, I had some slumped-acrylic sculptures and wrapped horses — I wanted to use up my supplies and had been meaning to do these little projects for the show. Would you believe I have saved these small plastic horses for 25 years, only to still be inspired to cover them with bright fabric and fine wire and wear them on my coat.
Colorful chicken and fancy wrapped horse
The rest of the horses are raring to go
Last class lunch and paint
I have wanted to replace the overhead demonstration mirror I was using for class members to watch me paint. The class had helped me move it back and forth from my apartment to the Senior Center, and we were quite a parade getting 8′ long two-by-fours on the elevators and a 4′ by 5′ mirror. Plus, it was limited in the number of people who could get a good angle to see the demonstrations.
Not wanting to purchase fancy equipment. I did what I always do — improvise using what I have on hand! I bungee corded my laptop to a chair and used the camera to show my watercolor demonstrations on the big screen. It is sorta fun with me the computer wiz, getting control of that thing for a bit. The class loved it and are signing up for next session. They learn more by watching me and repeating the technique shortly after.
My new series of Monday Watercolor Workshops starts January 9th at The Center, and runs twice a month through April. You can register online or see The Center’s Spring 2017 Program Guide (PDF) for more information.
My demonstration on the big screen
Photo courtesy of Joanne Shaffer
I participated in liturgical dance as part of this year’s Call to Action Conference, fun stuff. Albuquerque was amazing, it was a great time to be there.
St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church has some videos of the dancing posted on their website. I am usually in the back row — it was really fun and moving, but I was the only one with no experience! I could still dance at an elevation over 5000 feet, even after my surgery 10 months ago for a tumor on my IT band. It was a dance celebration of my health.
Painted quilt square, and a sample cloth showing different techniques
Groups like Achieving Maximum Potential (AMP) and the Franciscans have been working to spread awareness of the problem of human trafficking. Starting with a retreat in Dubuque, I’ve been helping others paint quilt squares with empowering phrases to be sewn into lap quilts for young people in crisis centers. The painters take the techniques back to their areas and make more quilt squares for their towns.
This seems to be really going over well — I think there are a lot of quilters out there and they just want to be part of it, showing support for victims of trafficking or domestic violence. I have been painting on fabric for years and bring all the supplies and techniques to the group. I think the energy is in the hands-on, not-machine-perfect designs and heartfelt messages on the squares. These are made with love.
(See previously: Working together against trafficking)
From a workshop in Ames — each person paints quilt squares with empowering phrases.
I’m willing to come and show techniques to a group and just charge for the
supplies and mileage. It is my service project to bring awareness to trafficking.