Friday, March 4, 2016


How often do you get to walk in the woods? If you are like me, not very often.

Last weekend, I walked on the Presentation Trail in the hills above Los Gatos. I felt the dampness in the air, smelled the pungent pines, and bounced on the springy loam under my shoes. The path through the woods reminded me that life is a series of decaying and renewal. New lichen, moss, and green shoots pushed their way through the rotted tree bark around me. The trees overhead kept all noise except birds' songs away from me. I felt as if I had stepped from one world into another.

Who do you see here?

I attended an art workshop at the Presentation Center. The Center began as a 'wayward boys' school, changed to a thriving convent, and, today, though still a convent, functions as a conference center for various groups. A handful of nuns still live on the property in an old adobe building with a chapel attached. The center is surrounded by woods and offers the chance to be away from our hustling everyday world.

I spent the weekend with my Tribe -- a group of creative women who test boundaries, experiment and encourage each other. Thirteen of us sat/stood/danced in Orly Avineri's Art Journaling class. She is a terrific teacher who led us on an investigation of ourselves, asking questions that needed more thought than the first response we gave. She pushed us to "Let Go" of our attachments. While we pondered her questions, we layered paper, paint, distress ink, and other bits and pieces. We tied bundles of paper, metal, twigs, flowers, and moss together and sank them into a big pot of black tea overnight. The next day we unrolled the bundles to find transformation. Some of us used the pieces in our journal pages.

These papers started out as paper towels, plain paper, some with ink marks. Tied together and left in tea they became luscious pieces to use in our journals.

I came to the class because I resist covering up work that I like. I hold things precious. I want to stop when I have a good image or design. Layering gesso, acrylic paint, papers, and photos stymied me. In this class, I finally let that resistence go. Any mark that I made could be covered by other marks. Nothing was finished and could always be changed.

My walk through the woods also gave me a better understanding of layering, destruction, letting go, and renewal. Nothing in the woods is permanent. Nothing in life is permanent either. Even the manmade pipes that I found in unexpected places had crumbled and rusted. We all do.


Check out Orly Avineri's website: 


Next week I will feature some of the contour drawings that have been sent to me. They are terrific!


  1. Beautiful thoughts. Nature certainly holds the key to our lives. Sounds like a truly creative group of women you meet with.

    1. Thank you, Letty. I agree with you about nature. The too-short retreat was a far more powerful experience than I had anticipated. And we hope to continue the connection.


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