An Irish Adventure
My first art retreat!
New experiences are so important to stay inspired and keep growing. I’m just back from not one, but two retreats in a row (my first retreats ever actually!), not as a teacher, but as a participant, and it’s been so amazing to take this much-needed time just for me, my art and my heart.
The first of the two was a magical women’s retreat with Meghan Genge in Bath, UK, and I will tell you about it in a future post (there is still so much I need to absorb and process from this one…). The other was a painting retreat with the wonderful Pauline Agnew in Clonakilty, Ireland! Here is a little peek at what we’ve been doing last week… Enjoy!
Pauline’s retreat was all about abstract landscapes, and if you’ve been following me these past months, you know that this is one of the main focuses of my work at the moment. But while the emotional “landscapes” I’ve been painting lately are definitely inspired by nature and my surroundings, my process has been mostly based on intuition and imagination.
Yet I am becoming more and more drawn to painting landscapes that are more deeply connected to the actual places that I experience and that I love. In a few months, my little family and I will be moving further from the city, to a place where rivers meet and wildlife thrives… a place where I long to build roots and connect to the land. So on the first day, when Pauline asked us what we wanted to take away from the workshop, this sense of connection was at the top of my list…
And I think I found what my heart was asking for in this workshop: we sketched in a garden and painted at the beach, took photos of compositions and textures that caught our eye, then brought it all back to the “studio”: a large marquee flooded with natural light, in the middle of the hotel’s gorgeously designed gardens…
Pauline was the warmest, most generous teacher, full of wisdom and enthusiasm: a true Irish soul! She knows how to hold space for everyone to grow in confidence and skill.
Ireland has a special place in my soul: I lived there for 2 years as a student and even met the (french) love of my life in Limerick, so of course it was a little bit like coming home, and connecting to the place felt natural and easy. We were very lucky to have the best of the Irish weather: gorgeous sun one day and moody skies the next. Here are a few of the views that inspired me:
Pretty soon I found my way between observing the landscape to build the foundation of a painting, and then letting go. Coming back to the landscape from time to time to find my way again, then letting imagination and emotion take over, allowing things to become more and more abstract, and of course a little dreamy…
Another thing I will take away from this workshop, is a newfound love for painting on paper! Apart from my art journal, I usually paint on sturdier substrates like canvas, wood or plaster. But I have truly enjoyed the flexibility and softness of paper here, and especially the magical moment when you remove the making tape around the edges and the painting suddenly feels finished, framed in white. It truly makes the colors sing and like Pauline said: “Every time it feels like a surprise!”
I’ve come back home a few days ago now, and even though I haven’t started painting again yet (so much to catch up with and so much to percolate…), I feel much more connected to myself as an artist and a woman after those two weeks. Getting together with other artists, gathering and connecting, learning from each other, from oneself and from inspiring teachers... we NEED this in our lives, so very very much. As I keep building a creative community in my own way, I hope that our online connections bring you a little bit of that magic too.