Recreate and Create!

Lakeside Studio

Special summer spots…

Summer is a time to play in the great outdoors. Maine is called “Vacationland”, a perennial place to recreate and create in a beautiful natural environment. Our state offers limitless organic vistas with miles of rambling rocky coastline, and nearly 3000 lakes and ponds fed by pristine river systems that run through green mountains and valleys. It’s July, and wherever your special summer spot is, get there and get creating. Physical activities and travel get mind, body and spirit moving. Going to a destination where we see places and people, new and familiar, can be inspiring and exhilarating.

Creativity kits are a good thing to have in the field of play. This may be a picnic basket with goodies to eat and read, or a fishing rod with tackle and fresh bait. A creativity kit is something you can personalize with the things you love to do when you can get away and play. I am a painter and my creativity kit includes a set of watercolors with brushes, drawing materials, sketchbook, and paper for various media. Being a fresh air artist I dress for the weather and pack my camera, a bottle of water, snack and all my materials in my well-loved LL Bean tote. It is enjoyable to prepare my creativity kit with the anticipation of getting away, beyond the mundane and the horizon.

Part of recreation is getting your gear and getting there. When recreating in the woods, camping requires us to make a little home environment with shelter and the ability to cook and care for personal needs. Carry in and carry out, leaving no trace on the natural landscape is the way of the happy camper who takes home memories of unplugged moments without tv and indoor plumbing. The sound of woodland birds, the color of the dusk sky, the smell of earth and water. These are the best moments when we are in-the-moment of a creative experience that is so special, it keeps us looking forward to next summer and more cozy campfire chats, raindrops in the tent, and the mosquitos who welcome yummy visitors.

Day trips are a wonderful way to get away and have new creative experiences. A day at the museum or a drive in the country can offer recreation and refreshment. A single day or that long awaited week off from work, vacation is an annual time to do what you love, while visiting the places you love with the people you love. Discovering new destinations, meeting new people and learning new things expands our life experience and is key to social well being. Vacation makes us vacate our everyday routines and get out of town. And its always great to get back home, use your own shower and sleep in your own bed. Unwatered houseplants and pets left with babysitters will be happy to see your vacation is over so that the creative part of life we spend between vacations can begin again.

For me…rest, swim, paint, and time with those dear. Get away in creative ways. It’s summer. Enjoy!

Thriving in Full Leaf

Art HOPE Creative Wellness Walks

Strong, beautiful and thriving.

The northland is a sea of green with every tree in full leaf. A fresh shot of fresh oxygen that invigorates and inspires, and with one deep breath…aaah…THRIVE! Alive, well and thriving. This first Sunday in June marks the 27th annual National Cancer Survivor’s Day in honor of the over 14 million Americans living with a history of cancer, from diagnosis to death, and the healthcare providers, family and friends who support them on the journey. We are “thrivers” in full flower and affect, celebrating milestones and recognizing the challenges we have overcome. More people with cancer are living longer and with a better quality of life than ever, supported with medical interventions and therapies in combination with a wellness-based lifestyle.

Universally, trees are a poignant metaphor for personal thriving and wellness. We root ourselves in the fertile ground and grow upward toward the light, our buds, leaves, blossoms, and fruits all radiant in season. Now in full bloom, take creative wellness time and enjoy the shade and fresh air of your favorite tree. Sit under it, on it, hug it. Yes, talk to it. Like the tree, embrace your perennial strength and beauty in full leaf. The textures, colors and sounds of a tree’s canopy can enliven the artist’s senses. As you find your tree retreat, you may sit in quiet meditation with a creative medium close at hand. A journal for writing and drawing or a set watercolors are organic ways to let words, images and musical notations find their way to original expression.

Art HOPE is offering a perfect opportunity to experience some of southern Maine’s most spectacular trees, get a little exercise, breathe ocean breezes, and take time for creativity. Our summer series of Creative Wellness Walks at Laudholm Farm will be held on Tuesday June 24, July 29 and August 26 from 10:00 am to noon. Located at the Wells Reserve, the historic site is located on 2250 acres of protected coastal habitat and includes the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Artists of all ages are invited to enjoy a gentle hike and fresh air arts studio on the great lawn overlooking the estuary. I will demonstrate simple watercolor techniques and discuss the benefits of everyday creativity for health and well-being. Walk, observe and create with nature inspiring the senses. Visit our summer calendar for more information about this and all our upcoming free programs.

To all who’ve survived to thrive, from barren branches to full leaf, harsh times to lush moments, through war to peace…you are strong and beautiful like a tree. Blessings for a summer of thriving and visiting trees often.

Thanks to volunteer artist Elizabeth Hopkins for the oil pastel of a “tree in full leaf”.

LOVE Your Mother, Ask Her to Dance!

Natural Love

Celebrate your birth mama and earth mama!

May! Our senses welcome the fertile green landscapes, warm blue skies and bright yellow sun. Birds singing and the radio music from an open air vehicle with the tank-top clad driver crooning in harmony, are the sounds of a warm day. Lilies of the valley and lilacs scent the air with an ambrosia of spring flowers and rain. A part of us was sleeping and now Mother Earth asks us to awaken our creative senses and dance! Embrace the life-giving energy of May in bloom.

Creatively celebrate Mothers this month, the one who gave you life and the one who sustains all life. Creating life is creativity at its best. Mother dances with father in a loving tango and creates a baby. The Mother Earth has soil, seeds, seasons, and other miracles that create all we need to create life. Our birth mother and the earth mother are soul sisters, rocking the cradle and the world with nurturing abilities that provide the habitat needed to survive in the maternal womb and the material world. Mama mia and mothership earth provide a home base, the place where we can love and be loved. Mom and nature are our first teachers, guiding our senses and helping us learn about our presence in our environment. Modern mothers face challenges everyday to balance responsibilities and home life, and are the first to show up at the soccer game, help out with homework, cheer brilliant accomplishments, like our posts, and be good grandmas. Our modern Mother Earth faces challenges everyday that threaten her resources and sustainability, and still she gives natural gifts that grow our food, maintain our shelter, fill our senses with beauty, and provide a good life. Let’s celebrate the Mother Earth and all Mothers everyday!

If your mother has passed, or you are not close to your mother, or never knew your mother, I’d like to offer this truth. Everyone is a child of the Universe and your Mother Earth is with you at all times. So dance with her, gently and joyously. Also, know that in the womanhood of all loving hearts that you are loved by the Eternal Mother. We can re-mother ourselves throughout life when we have nurturing, loving relationships with our friends, family, partners, pets, and special places, and most importantly, ourselves.

Celebrate motherly LOVE and dance like the animated heart in this wonderful artwork. The painting is by an Art HOPE retreat participant, depicting her love of creativity and the natural world. Now, if you’re not motivated to dance and get your body moving, you can visit the Maine woods where black fly season is just beginning. In the north country all those May Day dances have been practiced for centuries, and evolved as a tradition to keep those pesky flies away. oooh! dance, mama, dance!

Nothing Wasted, Everything Gained

Nothing Wasted Everything GainedSpring is the season of creative renewal. After this abominable winter, the lively energy of spring sweetly stimulates the senses. The bright sun warms the garden and hardy perennials return with greenery and the first colorful blooms. Birds sing and mate. Breezes are fresh and fragrant. Earth awakens and it’s time to get busy creating and recreating.

Starting with home and personal items, spring signals annual cleaning and organizing projects. Out with the old and in with the new, and sometimes the old becomes new again. Rearranging, repainting, replacing, replanting, redesigning. Renewing our environment, personal and planetary, renews our attitude of gratitude for what we have and how we can cultivate our individual and collective resources for the good of all. It is fun to roll up our sleeves, dig through our stuff, contemplate its history and future use, and recycle it for a better purpose. Nothing wasted, everything gained.

Recycle, reuse and repurpose in ways that celebrate the Earth everyday. Earth Day is April 22nd, when we globally acknowledge humanity’s responsibility to green our shared planet with clean technologies and sustainable practices. Every country, corporation, organization, city, town, family, and person can help green the planet. Start today and feng shui your personal spaces, structures, and stuff. Individually and collectively, when we honor the Earth and create a harmonious environment it regenerates the spirit and inspires positive growth.

This April recycle your useable things for a good purpose and donate all the great stuff you clean out of those closets and cupboards. Take your donations to The Fabulous Find Thrift Shop, at 139 State Street in Kittery, Maine. This is truly a fabulous place to shop, and this month the retail proceeds will benefit three local non-profit organizations, including Art HOPE! Donate and shop! The grant will support the summer creativity workshops and retreats we offer for free in southern Maine. Nothing will be wasted and everything gained by our community.

 A shopping tip for stylish secondhand Roses: Lucky prom shoppers at The Fabulous Find this month will find my collection of vintage designer clothes and shoes that are still as gorgeous as ever. Great dresses for high glamour and there is a pair of Charles Jourdan stilettos with rhinestones that I danced in at Studio 54, and they would love to be recycled at a 21st century prom. Fashion wellness tip: Bring a pair of flats for the after prom.

Creative Affirmations for Living Well

Have HopeHave hope, spring approaches. Earth is beginning the regenerative cycle of spring and every living thing feels the native confidence to create. Snow squalls with rainbows, crocuses that dare to bloom, and the sounds of birds on a sunny morning signal the vernal change in Maine. The fresh white ground and ice beautifully catch the light, though we’ve all had about enough of northern winter and it’s time for a little cabin-fever reliever. Before the weather moderates, early March is a good time to plan and take a personal inventory of resources and needs for the growing season ahead. It is also a good time to retreat and reflect on our inner creative power, our strongest belief and greatest hope. March is celebrated as Spiritual Wellness Month, and like many sacred traditions, this is a time to affirm faith and commit to being our best.

Here is a positive way to express what affirms your creative spirit. Find some blank cards, index or art paper will do. Write and/or illustrate the vibrant ideas and emotions that strengthen and inspire you. These can be quotes, bits of ancient wisdom, lines of faith, poetry, healing phrases, things your mother said, or just pictures. Use words, symbols, imagery, and your favorite materials to make Creative Affirmations for Well-being. When we create a physical manifestation of what is important to us in life, it can be an artful reminder of what we hope to be and become.

With a wishful heart, leave your winter den to shift into meteorological spring and join volunteer artists at the Art HOPE Creative Affirmations for Living Well community event at the York Public Library on Tuesday, March 4th from 4:00 to 6:30 pm, located at 15 Longs Sands Road in York, Maine. Uplift yourself and others at the drop-in studio with art cards that affirm health and well-being. We are making the colorful wellness cards for cancer patients at York Hospital Oncology Care and the artworks will be showcased in the Art HOPE Gallery online. Participants can make, take or give art cards with the support of local student volunteers as part of the Art HOPE Youth Service in Healthcare Program sponsored by a grant from the Bingham Program, a Charitable Endowment of Tufts Medical Center. The wonderful art card “Have Hope” that brings this blog to life, was painted by a talented student volunteer. Our project is a work-in-progress with the goal of creating a series of printed cards that will be available at the cancer center and at York Hospital’s upcoming celebration for National Cancer Survivor’s Day on June 1st. This free expressive arts program is made possible by a grant from the York Hospital Breast Cancer Living Well Fund. Check out our event calendar for details and we hope to see you there.

Our faith in action gives us wings to fly and be our best creative self. Art is a beautiful way to celebrate spiritual wellness that affirms our strongest belief and greatest hope.