I was at the Sanford Museum & Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa in January for a watercolor workshop and the opening of the Poetic Expressions in Watercolor exhibit (which runs through February 17). In addition to scientific and historical programs, the Sanford hosts exhibits of artwork throughout the year. It’s a lovely space to show and to have a reception. There is often a lecture to go with an exhibit, and for this show Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander brought her books and gave a talk on Farmscape that evening. Her book Driving the Body Back had resonated with me as I was travelling to bury my parents’ ashes near their original hometown, and several of my paintings in the Cherokee exhibit relate to Mary’s writing. Through them I could show people my journey and how I worked through my pain.
The theme of the workshop was also “Poetic Expressions in Watercolor” and we had a wonderful turnout of 25 men and women of varied ages. The workshop focused on basic watercolor techniques, along with creative inspiration and “painting your own story.” Participants had brought a quote or image that was meaningful to them.
We start with gratitude — painting symbols of what we’re thankful for — and then go “into the shadows.” As we deal with losses and pain, we start to see the light that is always with us. As we come out of the shadows we find our creativity and are transformed, usually involving some type of forgiveness or acceptance.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the day’s activities, and to Michele Deiber Kumm of the Sanford Museum for these workshop photos!