This week I am fulfilling the lifelong dream of taking a painting class at Esalen Institute. I am “out of my mind” excited about being here, and each day is a gift. Here’s my first painting, which I just finished yesterday. This is process oriented art, which I find is just as “developmentally appropriate” for me as it is for children.
To be painting for five days straight in an incredible environment overlooking the ocean, this is the stuff that dreams are made of.
I am painting with 25 other adults who came here from all over the country. None of us knew each other three days ago, but we all came in search of relaxation and restoration. We come from a multitude of professions but we’re all searching for something authentic and meaningful, and we’re finding it here as we paint away in this large white canvas “yurt” by the sea. Esalen has five different workshops going on this week and most people here are steeped in gratitude for this opportunity.
I love immersing myself in creativity with a group of adults. You can feel the sense of community as we paint together, share materials, and observe our creative process emerge. Here are a couple of my new “best friends” – one a therapist from Montana and the other a widow from Sebastopol who is reinventing her life. Isn’t creative companionship grand? And isn’t it amazing how the creative process can magically break down the barriers between us?
Most people taking The Painting Experience are not artists, and many have never painted before. Stuart Cubley created The Painting Experience to help people find pleasure and meaning in process oriented painting. His book Life, Paint and Passion is wonderful, but there’s nothing like taking one of his hands-on workshops. Some are just a weekend long, and others are a week or ten days. The Painting Experience embodies open ended for adult “non-artists” in the same way we encourage open ended art in early childhood education. I encourage you to try it for professional development, or as a vacation treat that will make your spirit soar. Imagine walking along this pathway to your painting class every morning. That’s something to dream about for 2012.