Art Camp Adventure

Around the time I would usually leave to go to work on Friday, I instead packed my car with a sleeping bag, pillow, fold up chair, and a back-pack full of toiletries, clothes, and Art Supplies!! Off to Art Camp I went!
I love traveling on the I-17 anywhere in AZ! It’s a beautiful drive that winds through the mountains and carves a vein through a vast desert landscape. It’s the mountains that makes my heart settle softly into the center of my being—they’re everywhere…so royal, protective, and proud.

But here’s the thing….Yahoo Maps led me astray. I had it timed out, at least I thought, that I’d arrive a half hour before my first workshop would begin. That would leave me enough time to check into my cabin and scope out my new surroundings for the next couple days. No such luck. I made a turn that led me deep into a forest in Prescott. The road grew narrow and more and more primitive. Two charming deers jutted in front of my car (pictured above)—which made me stop and decide to call 411 for information…in hopes to get someone to answer the phone at the camp and lead me back in the right direction. Unfortunately I had to drive for another half hour back in the direction I came from until I got reception on my phone again!! I finally made it to the camp….a half hour late for my first workshop.

No worries though…this is Art Camp…not Boot Camp!

This Art Camp was for all Arizona Art Educators….there were teachers nearing retirement, students in university that still haven’t completed their student teaching, Artists/teachers that teach independently, and everyone else in between!

I was assigned cabin Pine, as you can see above, and my fellow campers were my district supervisor, and two fellow Art teachers also from my district. I’m the one in black–can’t miss my trusty ol’ headband!!! (This photo was taken before we left today.)

The best part of the entire Art Camp…was hanging with my fellow campers. Being an Art teacher can be challenging sometimes being that you are the only one in a whole school. It’s nice to bounce ideas off of another person and have someone that sincerely understands your circumstances.
I didn’t really know these ladies…but we hit it off instantly!! They were definitely there for a good time and are extremely intelligent, positive, and inspiring individuals (plus all Obama supporters!!!). All three of these amazing women raised a family while pushing their way through school to follow their dreams to be an Art teacher. These chicas feel passionate about Art…and truly love kids. It was an honor and way too much fun to share a cabin with them!

The temperature in Prescott actually felt Autumn like. This morning I crawled down from my top bunk, quickly dressed in long sleeves and pants and went for a solitary hike.

I started to wonder how Sandy was doing—if she made it on her white water rafting adventure yet….and just as I thought of her, I looked down and saw this rock shaped as a heart. I knew she must have been thinking of me too. (Sandy, I saved it for you…expect it in the mail soon. You’re own Prescott, Arizona souvenir!)
Unfortunately I do not have any photos…but four times an eagle flew closely above me. I can’t explain how this made me feel—that feeling I’ve been overwhelmed with lately…that feeling that only can be described as Autumn…it flushed through my body once again. But I knew each time this was an oracle…a sign…a signal telling me something. Oh dear Vicki—if you could leave me a little of your animal wisdom I’d be forever grateful.
So with that all said, let me tell you a little about the Art. First, you need to remember that all the workshops are created for Art Educators. So there is a lot of talk of standards and organizing supplies…and blah blah blah. Once you shovel through all the linguistics and methods talk it was pretty fun having the opportunity to be the kid…and actually create something that is being presented to you—just like kids do in school.

My first workshop, the one that I was a half hours late for, was to learn about Dia de los Muertos Skeleton Sculptures or the Day of the Dead. I missed the little lecture at the beginning and had to jump in and start making my doll. It didn’t come out super because of my lack of time…and…I just don’t dig that Crayola-weird-marshmallowy-sculptee-stuff they have out there now.

My doll is the one on the left…the Asian influenced skeleton with a mohawk! One of my fellow cabin mates was also in this workshop..and she made a girl doll. By the end of the evening these two were dating!

I’m a bit embarrassed. But that’s good. Now I understand a little more clearly why kids instantly say “mine sucks”…its that uncomfortable feeling you get when things just aren’t clicking for you. The time factor, the feeling rushed, my distaste for the material—all of this influences how one enters into and interprets the creative process. That’s what I took away most from my first workshop. Except–I did have a lot of fun creating and sewing the clothes…and this sparked my interest in making more dolls!!

The best workshop I went to was titled Non-objective Plaster Sculpture. I have always been an admirer of the Artists Henry Moore and Jean Arp, that is what influenced my decision for registering for this workshop. The only experience I have working with plaster was in creating molds for ceramic pieces. I was excited to explore a more sculptural approach.

Little did I know….

These four photos are of the same piece. I’m not finished yet…I still have a little more carving to do, followed by sanding, then applying a sealer.

This workshop took place in a log cabin right next to a raku workshop. It was also raining outside. Maybe it was the sweet smell from the raku firing, mixed with the rain, but all thirty students in this workshop became mesmerized. Honestly.
The teacher mixed up a 25 pound bag of plaster while she gave us all the Art teacher info. Once the plaster began to set, we each had a little plastic baggie that she poured a cup of plaster into. We then twist-tied it shut and sat with it resting in our hands for awhile till it became hot and started to solidify. At that stage we then began to manipulate it a bit with our hands and then sit there holding it in that position.

No one spoke. Not even the teacher. Well, occasionally someone would speak up to note how no one was speaking…and the teacher informed us that the same things always happens when she does this with her high schoolers. There was something incredibly meditative about this entire process. Having to sit there while this substance performed a chemical reaction in your hands. It was pretty cool the way the plaster starts to heat up on its own as it hardens.

Finally, probably after ten minutes, we took the bags off and started carving our pieces. The aim was to have no front, back, sides, or bottoms…just a beautiful organic piece that flowed all together. I couldn’t help but think of this piece as having a soul of its own. There was no way to have a preconceived idea what it would become. You had to feel it, chip away at it, accentuate what was there, and incorporate the things that came up–like air pockets, and plaster that chipped off too much. Nobody spoke the entire time. We carved until the end when then everyone couldn’t stop talking about how amazing this experience was.

I know just looking at these photos it’s just a piece of plaster in an organic shape. But the pure act of creating this piece…the meditative, blissful state everyone fell into…that’s Art baby! That’s Art! I can’t wait to finish this one with great love…and bring more of these amazing white creatures into existence!!
Last, this morning I went to a glass fusing workshop which was pretty damn cool! Unfortunately there were issues with the kiln and the teachers took everyone’s pieces with the promise to fire them later and send them to us via mail. When mine arrives I’ll be sure to post it on Dirty Footprints.
I had one more workshop to go to….sock puppets. But I decided to cut Art Camp short and go home early. My dear Hansel was in a mountain bike accident late Friday night. He called me at camp in absolute pain. His back and shoulders are a bit out of alignment and inflamed. I just couldn’t sit through a sock puppet class knowing that the love of my life is suffering at home. So I decided to head back to help heal my honey with some deep massage, restorative Yoga, and LOVE!! He’s definitely getting better!
Peace & Love.
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