My Mom was kind enough to treat the family to a weekend at Canyon Ranch -- a health and wellness spa in the Berkshires.
Canyon Ranch is all about your health. Classes and events cover five major areas:
- Fitness & Movement
- Nutrition & Food
- Health & Healing
- Mind & Spirit
- Spa & Beauty
I'm pretty sure we took advantage of all five areas! However, it will come as no surprise to you that the Creative Arts classes -- which straddle Health & Healing and Mind & Spirit -- were my favorite part of the vacation.
I took three Creative Arts classes during my weekend stay: Soul Collage, Introduction to Watercolor Painting, and Learn How to Draw.
I was unaware of it, but as it turns out, Soul Collage is a very well known and loved art form. I believe it all started with a book and has now grown into a movement. There are classes you can take online and in person, you can take classes to become a trained Soul Collage teacher, and you can buy kits for creating Soul Collage cards. It's huge! So, what is it?
SoulCollage® is an accessible collage process with practical applications that has a growing international community. It's easy to learn and it's inexpensive. Best of all, it inspires individual creativity and encourages good communication in families and groups. SoulCollage® is adaptable to many contexts and groups. Anyone can enjoy the multi-leveled, creative process. All you need is a good pair of scissors, pre-cut mat board cards, images you can find anywhere, and glue! When you have made some cards, you can consult them, asking important life questions and letting your cards speak your own intuitive wisdom back to you. SoulCollage® is fun to share with friends and in groups for personal enjoyment and self-discovery or to work with professionally, as a trained SoulCollage® Facilitator. Founder Seena B. Frost s first book ignited a worldwide interest in SoulCollage®, which invites anyone to be creative and undertake an adventure of self discovery. All you need is a good pair of scissors, pre-cut mat board cards, images you can find anywhere, and glue! After you have made some cards, you can consult them, ask important life questions and let your cards speak your own intuitive wisdom back to you. Frost's first book, SoulCollage®, now out of print, was a finalist for the Nautilus 2002 Book Awards for titles that contribute significantly to conscious living and positive social change. SoulCollage® has evolved into an international community of Facilitators and SoulCollagers enjoying and sharing this simple, yet profound process. SoulCollage® Evolving gives the basic instructions for how to make and do readings with SoulCollage® cards, and describes how individuals and groups are using this process with different age groups and in many socioeconomic, cultural, and religious contexts to discover their wisdom and change their world.
It's all a little bit much for me and the kind of art making I do, but I appreciate that it exists and has helped so many people express both their feelings and their creativity.
In class we each chose a magazine image and then wrote some thoughts about the image starting with the phrase, "I am one who..." and then shared what we had written.
After that we made our collages.
During clean up, I discovered that the way I had cut the eyes out of a magazine ad, it was perfect for a mask!
Introduction to Watercolor Painting was probably my least favorite of the art classes, but that's a bit like saying it was my least favorite cookie. It's still a cookie, you know?!
We were told to copy an image from a magazine. The instructor shared some techniques for copying an image -- block in large areas, using a white crayon to keep certain areas white, etc.
I chose a face:
I actually liked it a lot more at this unfinished stage (above) than at the finished stage below:
I was reminded that I don't use watercolor often enough at home. It really is a wonderful medium for loosening up and letting go of control.
I've decided that this was my least favorite class because it was the most straight forward. That said, I always hope to take one idea away from each class I take and I did manage to do that, so I think it has to be judged a success.
Finally, my favorite class was Learn to Draw with Morris Bennett. I was half-way catatonic when I arrived in class having just taken the most intense and difficult exercise class of my life.
We did a lot of copying upside down drawings:
This is a side-by-side comparison of the original drawing (on brown paper) and my upside down copy:
Can you tell which of these drawings was done upside down and which was done right side up?
I really enjoyed pursuing drawing in a way that is antithetical to how my brain works. It was a fantastic and exciting challenge!
This whole Canyon Ranch art class experience reminded me that we all pursue creativity for different reasons. Classes were populated by hobbyists, neophytes, the curious, the wary, and everything in between.
Experiencing three different teachers reminded me that we all approach being creative from varied perspectives. There's a lid for every pot and a teacher for every student. Often times if a class isn't working for you, it's not necessarily the medium, it might be the teacher. Simply not the right fit. That's why I follow teachers I love and refuse to let them go.
Mostly, I'm thrilled that an institution that is all about health and wellness acknowledges that being creative is a vital part of health. Because it is.
I'm certainly not an art therapist, but I encourage you to try to find some time to be creative today. Even if it's just a simple thirty-second doodle right now. It certainly beats doing pushups. ;)
Thanks for stopping by!