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Art for the Soul
By Pattie Moon
I never thought I could paint. It wasn't that I hadn't tried; in fact, the arts were a big part of my life for many years. I even studied and was classically trained at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. Oh, I had a "flair," I guess you could say, but I didn't consider myself an artist in the true sense of the word. I didn't believe that I was in that league of genuinely creative people who could do something new and original.
My limitations were reinforced many years ago at the painting studio in Paris. One day the Maitre asked me, as he looked at the portrait I had been laboring over: "What are you so afraid of?" I was stunned when he then continued to expound on my fear of using color and truly creating; that I needed to loosen up, dig deep and let out an honest expression. I recognized that he was right. It was as if he had looked at my very soul - and it came up wanting. So I accepted that I wasn't a painter and found other directions in my life.
But, something was still calling me to paint and -years later - I was given the opportunity.
It happened, as most good things do, quite by chance. I live in Steamboat Springs, an incredible Colorado mountain town known for its world-class skiing in winter, spectacularly beautiful setting in summer and cultural events all year round. One day I happened to be looking at early season perennials at a local nursery. The shopping was interrupted by a gentleman apologizing for hitting my car door with his and - one thing led to another - we ended up sitting and talking for an hour about his new creative "camp" for adults: Arts for the Soul. It was to be the inaugural year for these week-long seminars for adults who want to reconnect with their creative spirit. Classes were being offered in classical music, writing, photography and - yes, painting. I signed up and participated in the art classes for the next three summers.
I'd like to say that I immediately found my creative groove and that I began a successful career as a painter. That would be a good story, but not the honest one. Painting, like most anything else for me, is a process, and the learning curve isn't always obvious. I had to paint a lot of bad canvases. I had to feel alternately elated and frustrated. I had to experiment, accept, reject and then do it all over again. Mostly, I had to look at my fear of letting go. What the Maitre, all those years ago, had identified as my lack of soul expression. I realized that I had been painting from the outside, not the inside. I knew what I wanted to focus on now, but how to change this and tap into my own creative spirit?
Last summer I was given the opportunity. For the first time Jean Perry was on the Arts for the Soul faculty. A Steamboat resident and world-famous plein air painter, she took six of us in hand on early morning outings to paint the area's barns, streams and vistas. We were taught about composition, light and value as they apply to outdoor painting. I had to paint fast to catch the light and keep the oil from drying; I had to learn to ignore the bugs and trucks and wind; I had to decide on color as it related to how the morning felt as much as how it looked; I had to just let the creative process take over. In doing so I became part of the scene I was painting and gradually loosened up, found color, became more open to being in a genuine relationship with painting. I became a painter.
I saw Jean the other evening at a gallery opening for her work. Her paintings are phenomenal - they evoke all that I believe is beautiful and inspirational about fine art. I realized how much I had learned from her. I also realized that I may never have my own show, but I enjoy my own creations. My soulful paintings. Jean gave me a big hug and asked if I would like to go on painting outings with her this spring. Would I?Back to articles