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  1. Tribal gathering

    Over 1500 years ago, this misty mountain land was home to the Ohlone Indians.


    Thought to have been descendents of aboriginal tribes that came to North America from Asia across the Bering Strait, the Ohlone were sun-worshippers, hunters, and fishermen. They were also keen crafters, and their womenfolk wore deer skin aprons and bead necklaces. They found cinnabar at the Almaden mines and used this bright red clay to paint their bodies.

    Fast forward 1500+ years and the mountains of Los Gatos are visited by another tribe. A tribe of women who have migrated from all over North America and further afield, armed only with Golden Gel Medium, Shiva’s Artists’ Paintstiks and Tim Holtz Distress Ink, collectively beating out the war cry “Let us paint!”

    I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this tribe, tightly bound together by a shared passion for creativity, a curiosity to learn and a love of life. Our aprons aren’t made of deer skin and we haven’t come here to weave baskets, but we feel the same magic in the redwoods that has been felt by tribal women for centuries before us.  


    We were gathered in Los Gatos, California, for Cindy O’Leary’s ‘An Artful Journey’, an art retreat which could have just as easily been called ‘A Heartful Journey’. It was a rare opportunity to indulge in the luxury of a four day creating adventure under the supporting guidance of inspirational artists, and in the company of some very special souls. Safe in the knowledge that ‘there are no mistakes’, we happily painted, laughed and told stories into the early hours. It was absolute bliss.

    Thanks to Kelly Rae Roberts and Mati Rose McDonough for being such fantastic instructors. You shared your wisdom and techniques and talent so generously. And thanks to the rest of the tribe for leaving the everyday behind, and wholeheartedly diving in. Together we made many things – a chunky book, a happy mess, and a whole bunch of wonderful new friends. (Workshop photos to follow in the next post)

    Although everyone came to the retreat at a different stage of their artistic career – some full-time professional artists, some art teachers, some just starting out – we all, in our own way, unfurled our wings, dusted them down and prepared to take flight. I am so excited to follow this group of talented artists as they begin to really soar in their creative lives.
    Magic happened on that old Indian Reservation in the shadow of the redwoods, and I don’t think any of us will be quite the same again.
  2. Doing what you love

    The other day I was pottering around Covent Garden and came across some powerful words scribbled on a hot pink wall: “Do what you love, because the world needs more people doing what they love.” How true is that?

    It made me stop and think. And think. And think. What is it I really love doing, and am I doing enough of it? I love to explore, discover, create. I love a nice cup of tea and a sit down, chatting and laughing with old friends. I love spending time alone in cafes, wandering anonymously through far away cities and wild landscapes, meeting new people and learning about other ways of life. I love using my hands to make things which carry the stories I have seen and heard. And there is always more of that to be done.

    Are you doing what you love? Tell yourself about it. Tell someone else about it – or tell me about it!

    I have just returned from an incredible adventure of the soul in California (more on that to follow), where I made a circle of precious new friends who are all fellow artists. What a learning experience – each and every one of them taught me something, and they were all doing what they love. Just what the world needs.

    Books of the week this week:
    ART: Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts.  The book that inspired me to go to California and meet my soul sisters (see www.kellyraeroberts.com )
    ADVENTURE: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robin Pirsig.  One of those books everyone should read at least once, but it’s even better the second time around.  It is both the story of a road trip and a meditation on values
    STORIES: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.  She makes English a more beautiful language ( see http://www.weroy.org/arundhati.shtml )