Category Archives: Artist retreat

The Path of Finding Your True Nature

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I recently read a blog by a writer, a kindred spirit, on a DIY Retreat. Do it yourself.  She mentions solitude.  How it can suck you into a place so deep you blink when you come back, face to face with a real person.  The point when one goes away for a month is generally to focus uninterrupted into a deeper level of creativity.  A time to reflect and walk or run and write or art.  To swim and dream and grieve.  To feel. To find yourself flowing in the current of a project from your heart, or simply free yourself from the day to day routine, to allow access to the deeper parts of language.  To beginnings and prompts and pay attention.

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I think back to my own DIY Art Retreat.  The joy of waking each day into one of my own making.  It felt simple.  Though I had no income I did not worry.  My work before me.  My focus.  My abundance on the table.  It was there and rising like homemade bread.  The beauty of being present in each moment.  In the stitch and the idea.  In the walk on the beach.  In the reflection of the cypress.  Sometimes the phone call from a friend felt intrusive as I made my way back to the surface to engage in that voice to voice world.  Emerging from deeper and further and far.

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Since I’ve returned I write a poem entitled “Missing January” as the world runs forward and I scramble to catch up.  Already March.  Spring is coming.  Daylight has sprung forward. Rain in the forecast.  Lovely all and despite the 7 inches of snow on Friday the ground outside my window is already bare.  Warmed by the sun. The snow melt deeply inhaled by the shallow roots of the high desert.

his Solitude (underpinning) --detail

But it is the significance of solitude. How easy to slip into that place devoid of interaction with others.  Face to face. During my retreat there were times I asked myself did I speak to another person today, out loud, or only respond to the thoughts inside my head? I asked myself this nearly everyday for 30 days — though there were interactions. In passing with my respectful host or the cashier at the grocery store or an exchange at the Farmer’s Market. A nod to a person on the path and once a real conversation with a woman at a florist setting out pots of pansies.  She had moved from Michigan and warned me against the road south to Apalachicola and the high crime in St. Pete. Though I went anyway and loved them both.

winterchairsnowInteraction can be dangerous.  The fear and opinions of others can sway or change your mood entirely.  Take you out and away and far, or it can circle back to self-reflection.  That is what I’m learning.  About myself.  The importance to socialize or engage with people; friends or strangers or within a community, is to spring yourself into the battle zone.  Often there is reward.  I am learning who I am through my ability, or lack of, this face to face blink in the sunlight interaction with other people.  It can be painful, tight-in-the-chest want to control anxiety, or equally delightful. An indicator to the better path.  The most true.  The joy of easy friendship and mutual admiration and connection. And to the discomfort of standing up, taking charge, saying no or redirecting and breaking the pattern that leads to nowhere new.  The guilt and letting go and acceptance.

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A friend of mine wrote this line:  the birds are still enthusiastic in spring.  I hear them now this sunny morning.  Monday.  The opportunities are mine for the taking if only I value myself. Enough. Know my heart and honor my true nature: art, writing, photography, walking, wine and travel.  Quietude and ocean and family and friendship.  The occasional roasted chicken.  The possibility of direction becomes obvious.  Trusting that it will.  And always imagination.  To color outside the lines and take the path less traveled by — if that be yours.  Go now.

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Brenda lives in a small casita in Santa Fe, NM where she continues to work on her Primitive Seamstress series. Watch for her work in the upcoming miniatures show at Metallo Gallery in Madrid.  Dates TBA.

 

 

Also posted in Studio Art, Travel Tagged , , , |

Primitive Seamstress: Last week of the Artist Retreat

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Firstly I want to thank those of you that recognize and honor this month away from my day job: Personal Assistant (that has me schlepping from housesit to dog walk, from Point A to Point B,  to the P.O or shoe repair to consignment shop or up the down staircase and no guarantee of income except the consistent 12 hours M/W/F afternoons) that this is an Artist Retreat. It is not a vacation.

Vacation conjures up dinners on foreign sidewalks, frolic in the ocean and the chance for intimate encounter, hmmm maybe an Italian chef who sings and plays guitar.  Paid time off (gasp)! –That is not this.  In the corporate world this might be a business trip with reimbursement and expense account.  Not that either.

This is beautiful.  Perfect.  Present.  — except these brief distractions of explanation–forgive me.  So now I’ve said it.

This is an ARTIST RETREAT.

Granted there are vacation similarities and the possibility of most of the above. Maybe just semantics but still. The Artist Retreat comes with intention and a whole lot of solitude (which is the point).

A time to focus on the pursuit of the Primitive Seamstress, long walks on a long beach, and to thrive in the salt air that is too cold for swimming, in its perfect off-season bursts of fog and red flag days to amazing emerald calm and too early for tourists. This is gifted time away from the demands of daily life. Time to indulge in the creative process uninterrupted by obligation to others, though not completely cut off of course. There is wifi and I partook in the recent Facebook Artist Challenge. Thank you Katherine Coons for the nomination.

True it is of my own making. Thank you Brenda. Best gift I’ve ever given myself.  No Creative Capital or Lannan Foundation funding though I am grateful for the generosity of a few who bought into the art exchange/donation that helped with gas money for the 4 day road trip from Santa Fe to Santa Rosa Beach (1400 miles +).

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And it has been fruitful.  The Primitive Seamstress Series well underway.

An honest beginning.

And the blog and the Thursday poem.

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BrecopperriverI think back to other times I’ve taken leaps of faith for adventure.  A 28 day backpacking trip through the Escalante canyons of Utah. In June. Bare bones. A blanket and a cup.  At 22.  I lost 13 pounds. Ten months later I quit school early to raft the Grand Canyon for 21 days.  1983. Again 8 years later. These were in a life long before I realized I was an artist. Since then there have been trips to Mexico for painting and poetry and Spanish lessons.  A bicycle tour in Tuscany. A month at the Vermont Studio Center and four years at El Zaguan on Canyon Road.

A friend posted a quote on FB recently (below).  Some might find it corny but it resonated with me in my forever search for purpose, identity, a safe place to reside, a creative balance — how to proceed toward ‘the dream’ if you don’t know what it is –and how does a person not know their dream?  Wow! that is the question.

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If you can’t figure out your purpose
figure out your passion.
For your passion will lead you
right into your purpose.
                   —Bishop T.D. Jakes
 

I know that travel is a passion.  Process my vehicle.  That the first step is to value yourself.  To create your own happiness.  To write your own dream. To let go of judgment (self and others) and to take a deep breath and open the door.  Who knows where it might lead you.

 

chugachbest

Sometimes I dream of flying over the Chugach

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives in Santa Fe, NM.  She is currently at an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  Her work can be seen at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage in February 2015 or visit Art Happenings.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

Also posted in Blog, Santa Rosa Beach, Travel Tagged , , , , |

The occasional poet and the cypress

Artist Retreat updates from the occasional poet and the primitive seamstress (we are one and the same in case you are wondering. . .).  On the stitching front I finished number 13 and moving forward.  Lots of threads.  Loose and delicious.  I love it all.  Sea salt & vinegar and fog on the beach –who knew I liked IPA–?  NPR by morning and a daily walk through the cypress where I recently met an Australian labradoodle named Murphy. The turtle evades me though I’ve received this tip to look where the bridge bends to the right.  That place where I spotted two red-bellied woodpeckers.  Common to this part of Florida.

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Primitive Seamstress series #13

 

A few months ago my friend Mike Burwell (the Cartography of Water) and I decided to get back to a writing group.  Small.  Just the two of us.  By doing a poem a week.  We’ve dubbed it the Thursday poem.

It all began the summer of 2005 in Anchorage, or maybe it began in Homer when we all met at the Kachemak Bay Writer’s Conference.  At Land’s End.  In the bar no doubt.  After listening to Billy Collins.  It included myself, Mike, and James P. Sweeney (A Thousand Prayers) who is also on the current season of Ultimate Survival Alaska.  Jim is too busy pissing people off and getting his book published to participate but Mike and I have been sharing a Thursday poem.  It is great motivation, and like everything in 2015, I’ve come to consider them beginnings.  Enough.  A start. Let go of judgement. Write. Share. The editing comes later.  A different approach than in Alaska where we tried to bring our most polished work to the table.  Both are acceptable formats.

Full disclosure:  I have no book.  Not even a worthy manuscript.  (not yet) –In fact this particular day of the Thursday poem I was so inspired (and defeated) by another poet that I nearly didn’t write a poem at all.  I felt unworthy.  How she flitted, like a hummingbird from right to left and tab far to the right and back again and it all worked so well. . . the alliteration, and I so safe (wearing the big panties) with my line breaks and hugging the left margin to the point of boredom.  Blah blah blah.  So imagine my surprise when my Thursday poet partner responds that he loves it all from top to bottom on the first draft.  Wow.  And so today I bring you said poem.

On the 8th day

I am cypress in a residential swamp
not uncommon not   not great my hips
swell wide at the border
in the company of lily pads  waft
across the shadow                            stir
waxy green upon the water                                               
            the turtle        promenade
does not care to win the race
who’s on first does not matter        discipline
            or disciple we are all god gifted
spreading wider        the Great Blue           heron              flies
            not without a scene
            screaming at interruption is redemption
for the unobservant.
 
Pray attention
 
or perhaps I am the bead of water
carefully cupped at the breast of stillness
all gathered wetness
            an offering     back    to sky
shadows long and dark go both ways
            across reflection                                . . .ripple. . .     
I am accumulation of whisper and dew drop
a pause upon the cusp         of Grace
 
The knees knobby (like) amputated stumps
protrude up and out            in sameness
not matched or exact           
            not not twin or triplet          
            not self-conscious or flattered         only raw
not cruel or kind the alligator rests
unnoticed.
 
Brenda Roper (2015)
 
cypress
 

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives in Santa Fe, NM.  She is currently at an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  Her work can be seen at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage in February 2015 or visit Art Happenings.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

Also posted in Blog, Poetry, Santa Rosa Beach Tagged , , , , , , |

Primitive Seamstress: in the beginning

beach

Beginning:  the point in time or space at which something starts. To Begin.   Such as a New Year, rife with opportunity for growth and change.  For personal improvements:

  • err on the side of kindness
  • open yourself to connection
  • let go of judgment
  • practice tolerance
  • give in to adventure
  • nourish your curiosity
  • honor your gifts
  • be true to your nature/direction
  • art and dance and yoga too.

Some call these resolutions though too often they are toasted to at the midnight hour, at the tipping of the champagne into the glass and too soon forgotten.  But the celebration and awareness of said intention is always good.  Right?  Every beginning begins with a kernel of thought or action.  One step forward.  A sentence.  A phone call. An email.  Or simply opening the door and walking outside into a new day, or a new life or loading your trusty Subaru and driving 4 days across the country to a new place.

IMG_9020If only temporarily.  You are forever changed.  The moon jellies on the beach unlike anything ever seen before are amazing.  Thick and translucent and other worldly. A great blue heron takes flight startled by your passing. The cypress is a muse.  The sand is flat and pure like the skin of babies, goes on for miles uninterrupted except for the clearing of thoughts.  Three dolphin dip and roll shimmering through the reflection of late afternoon. And so my beginning (January 2015) brings me to a place of retreat.  A journey and a place. A little cottage near a cypress swamp and a 15 minute walk to the beach.  It is perfect.  I am perfect.  The sewing is primitive.  I am the perfect primitive seamstress.

The threads hang haphazard (I kind of like that) and I hope they hold.  The thread falls out of the needle repeatedly until I pull out the instructions for threading the machine and realize I skipped step number 4 –oh!  Good to know.  Occasionally the bobbin jams.  I waste a lot of thread in trial by error.  But it is freeing too.  To begin.  I sew standing up at the small kitchen counter.  It seems to work well for my start, stop, grab, cut –design, knot, pause.  This is not a scientific approach. Here are a few samples:

IMG_9029panelpocket beginningsgrandma pocket

I come with intention.  To create 100 6”x8” (or so) linen pockets to hold secrets or photos or ideas or forgiveness –sew and knot or wrap with barbed wire or ribbon.  A little gesso. A line.  Graphite.  A cork.  It is a loose plan. In my experience art projects begin with imagination.  A vision that morphs into something long and far and seldom exact.  The logic to the abstract.  Or the abstract to the logic.  It goes both ways.  Eventually.

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When I wake on Saturday in this delicious space –into time and a trip to the Farmer’s Market I wonder at the purpose of “pocket”.  What was the point again?  Is pocket important?  My dreaming opens me to other options.  To stitch a narrative before I sew it closed.  To leave access to experiment instead of backtrack or undo or after-the-fact.  Thank goodness for the subconscious.  It really directs my life.  And so I have both.  Pockets filled or not and flat stitched pieces that I call panels though they are not attached to a hard surface.  Or any surface.  Yet.  The exercise on this Artist Retreat is to simply begin. To create without judgment.  And so I do.

ARTIST    RETREAT

Brenda Roper is a Personal Assistant & Contemporary Artist in Santa Fe, NM.  She is taking the month of January for an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach.  To explore new work in fiber, continue her Thursday poem and other writings, walk the beach and draw inspiration from her newest muse the cypress swamp.  Your support and donations are appreciated.  A little help for the time not working (the day job).  For the just in case.  For the gas (despite the drop in prices). For the inspiration and leap of faith.  For the belief that art matters.  Think of it as an exchange.  A gift that goes both ways.

  • For any donation of $25 or more you will receive a hand-made artist card
  • For any donation of $100 or more you will receive an original print in 11″x14″ mat ready for framing
  • For any donation of $200 or more (if you have deep pockets of generosity) you will receive one of my 12″x12″ painterly photographs

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Paypal is preferred.  Please include your correct mailing address.  Click here to dreamcafe943@yahoo.com.  If you prefer to mail a check please send it to Brenda Roper 991 1/2 Don Manuel Street #B, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  Gifts will be sent as received.  Donations by check will be fulfilled upon my return to Santa Fe in February.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you forever and in advance.  Especially to those who have already donated and you know who you are.

Happy New Year!!

 

Also posted in Blog, Santa Rosa Beach, Studio Art, Travel Tagged , , , |

Happy Holidays!! — ART retreat & Adventure

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Happy Holidays!! to ART & Adventure

As the end of 2014 draws closer to Solstice and the days so dark I find my voice on this blog after a long hiatus.   A resolution to bring it alive in 2015.   A toast to new adventures in art and travel and living beyond my zone of comfort.  In all things.  Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!  And all that jazz.

I went camping in Big Bend National Park over Thanksgiving.  A solo 1,400 mile round trip road trip from Santa Fe in my trusty white subaru.  It was all good –from the colorful pink garden courtyards and pink patio of  Eve’s Garden Bed & Breakfast in Marathon (after a very uninspiring drive from Carlsbad, NM to Fort Stockton, TX) to the gathering of Javelinas around my tent on that first morning at Cottonwood campground.  Apparently they like to graze.  Docile animals. Thank you.  The park is long on vistas and fantastic hiking and Ocotillo.  A highlight was the natural hot springs beside the Rio Grande in the Hot Spring Historic District and that rowboat to Boquillas, Mexcio.  So glad I brought my passport.  I will long remember the color of green.  Lime.  And in the glory of the moment walked right past customs until reminded by a friendly voice “señora. . .”  Here are a few images to bring you closer to my experience, including the chairs in the church above:

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I am a visual artist.  I collect vintage linens and barbed wire and abstract domesticity in a variety of ways.  I am an explorer and adventurer of spirit and okay– an occasional poet.  I have journals under the bed from when I began writing them at 14 (years old) –a long time ago.  Trust me. All those words.  All those feelings pushing their way forward.  Not on the most direct route but on a path none-the-less.  Which brings me to present.  Time. Not in the way of Santa down the chimney put it in my Christmas stocking but maybe it’s the same.  Present time.  All wrapped up in ribbon.  I do love them.  Presents.  Such joy in the gift.  A gracious acceptance and childlike innocence in finding something at your grown up door or mailbox or a card from a friend of long ago.  Thank you.

And so it comes to this.  I am artist who works primarily as  Girl Friday/Personal Assistant.  Walk the dog, carry the books up three flights to storage, run an errand, pick up the mail, check the house, rack the leaves, document your estate, pick up a prescription and a bag of chocolates, etc.  Whatever it takes to earn the rent.  That’s me.  I don’t mind and I’m grateful. Truly.  But at some point I fall away.  The art undone.  The path disjointed.  Too much time passing.   I wake unsure of the day of the week or date or the obligation and remind myself it is Thursday, focus. Etc.  And so I create an artist retreat for this artist occasional poet person that is me and here I am putting it out for donation.  For support.  A request.

I am driving nearly 1400 miles (one-way) from Santa Fe to the Florida Panhandle to spend the month of January in a retreat to art.  Off-season exploration.  A new foray.  A structure of unobstructed creativity.  Goals with a bike on top of a car with 183,000 miles (go Subaru!!).  Bringing the title just in case.  Pack my new & basic Janome sewing machine.  I’m just learning.  My recycled linens and barbed wire, and photographs, and thread.  It is my intention to make 100 or 1000 6″x8″ linen pockets (stay tuned).  To stitch and stuff and blog about it here.  Dangling threads. Primitive.  Unexplored and sometimes the unknown is the only way.  Through. With scissors and bobbin and heart.  And sandy feet and eyes wide open from the emerald shores of winter.

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If you’ve stayed with me this far I have a final request.  An opportunity.  For all.  In the past month I have opened my studio for the holidays in the spirit of invitation and show and tell.  I am subletting my one room casita to help finance my retreat (it just fell through but I have faith) and I could still use a little gas money despite the drop in prices.  Thank you.  A little help for the time not working.  For the just in case.  For the return. For the inspiration and leap of faith.  For the belief that art matters.  And so I ask for your support and donation.   Think of it as an exchange.  A gift that goes both ways.

  • For any donation of $25 or more I will send you a hand-made artist card
  • For any donation of $100 or more I will send you an original 11″x14″ matted print ready for framing
  • For any donation of $200 or more (if you have deep pockets of generosity) I will send you one of my 12″x12″ painterly photographs

bisbeepeacesnow and crossIMG_8852

Paypal is preferred.  Please include your correct mailing address.  I have included a link below but can be found here to dreamcafe943@yahoo.com.  If you prefer to mail a check you can send it to Brenda Roper 991 1/2 Don Manuel Street #B, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  Gifts will be sent as received.  If I am out of stock (due to travel) fulfillment will be made upon my return to Santa Fe in February.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.  Thank you forever and in advance.

Happy Holidays and best for a joyful 2015!!

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