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Archive for the ‘Journal Workshops’ Category

Arts For The Soul: Steamboat Springs, CO

Monday, September 12th, 2005

Okay, so the reason I was out in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the first place was to teach at Arts For The Soul for the second year in a row. AFTS 2005 had 3 one week sessions – each offering classes in poetry, fiction, children’s literature, drawing, watercolor, oils, nature journaling, flute, piano, violin, viola and cello. It was quite an adventure – both for the students and the staff. I taught journaling and children’s literature workshops – and did a lot of journaling myself. To see some of my unpublished journal pages, check out my other website:

Women’s Artisan Weekend: Adventure Unlimited Ranches, CO

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

This weekend was such a treat! I spent 16-20 March out at the 3rd Annual Women’s Artisan Weekend, held at Adventure Unlimited Ranches outside Buena Vista, Colorado. This is such a cool program. Every year, this group gets together to study some type of art or craft. In the past, they have done knitting and quilting. This year was a little different, though. This time the focus was on journaling. I was asked to come teach the art part of journaling, and Tarn Wilson, a high school English teacher from California, was asked to teach the writing. Tarn is just a little bit older than me, and she began her teaching career at The Principia Upper School, when I was still a student. I never had her as a teacher, but have heard lots of good things about her over the years. This was the first time we’d ever worked together, and it was fabulous. The first night, we introduced ourselves, and asked the 20 women what they wanted to get out of the weekend. Over the next three days, we taught several workshops designed to encourage creativity. It was amazing to see the progress in these few short days. The first night, we heard comments about how the participants thought they weren’t very good at writing, or drawing, or how they felt guilty spending personal time doing something creative. Over the next couple days, we talked about how the journal is a place to practice techniques, to record our own histories, and to learn new things. It’s not a performance. As we worked on writing and drawing/painting exercises, it became clear that taking time to renew ourselves creatively and spiritually helps us be better wives, mothers, sisters, grandmothers, teachers and friends. We have more energy and confidence to share with our various communities. And you know, when we each shared some special piece of writing or drawing from our journals on the last night, I didn’t hear one apology. It was totally inspiring. I learned a lot from these amazing women.

Arts For The Soul: Steamboat Springs, CO

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Have you ever had an exciting adventure just sneak up on you out of nowhere and totally surprise you? That’s what happened to me this summer. (Yes, this is my “What I Did On Summer Vacation” report…) I was all ready to have a nice, relaxing summer break from my school visit schedule, with a trip out to California to see my husband’s family, and hopefully lots of time to work on new book ideas, when SURPRISE!, John Sant’Ambrogio, the Principal Cellist of the St. Louis Symphony called me up. I had no idea what to expect. I packed up a bunch of art supplies and some of my favorite children’s books, and then got in the car with 2 complete strangers and drove the 16 hours from St. Louis, MO to Steamboat Springs, CO. Welcome to Arts For The Soul!

This is a photo of my new friends Emily Ho (a violinist in her second season with the St. Louis Symphony), Davin Rubicz (a cellist from Seattle), Chris Woehr (Acting Principal Violist with the St. Louis Symphony), Dmitri Pogorelov (an amazing young Russian violinist finishing up his senior year at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL), and me – in the middle of the 11-mile loop up to Devil’s Causeway. See the blizzard that is about to dump snow all over us in the background?

I couldn’t even begin to imagine how these two weeks would change my life. Every morning, classes in chamber music, creative writing, photography, and painting were offered. My official responsibilities included teaching workshops about children’s literature and nature journaling. Every afternoon, the students had the option of taking hikes of various levels of difficulty, or catching a ride into town to explore the independent bookstores and coffee houses. All these options offered inspiration for the next morning’s creativity. The students who attended all showed up with different skill levels. Gail arrived with a children’s book manuscript in hand, and made it through 4 or 5 editing rounds before the end of the first session. While Rachel had just begun to play the cello this March. But at the end of each week, everyone had the chance to share their progress with the group. Gail read her story, and Rachel played a piece on her cello composed especially for her by Chris Woehr, an avid composer and violist with the St. Louis Symphony. I can’t tell you how inspiring it was to sit by the fire after that first session and watch all these people stand up and share a painting, a photo, a piece of writing or a piece of music. My job as a visiting author gives me the chance to work with lots of amazing children, but to see adults who were told some time in their lives that their art wasn’t important, or that they weren’t good enough at it, overcome those formidible limitations was just sublime.

As a wonderful side benefit, I think my own art and writing was definitely enriched by getting out of the studio and talking with other professional painters and authors. But I was just floored by the musicians, since I have the musical sense of a doorknob. You know, I just can’t afford to hire a string quartet to play in my studio while I’m creating my children’s books. So you can imagine how wonderful it was to walk around the condo complex and hear Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and Brahms echoing down the cooridors. Sometimes I would sneak into their practice sessions and paint or write in my journal during the time when I wasn’t teaching.

Principia Teton Trip 2004

Saturday, January 31st, 2004

This week was a breath of fresh air! The 14 Principia Upper School students and two supervisors arrived at the Teton Science School on the 25th of January. I woke up at 6:00am most mornings and enjoyed the solitary blue light that comes before dawn. I like to sit in the dining lodge before the students arrive for breakfast and watch the sun come up to light the mountains.

Next, Margaret Holt (the art instructor) and I (the writing instructor) would hold a two-hour nature journaling workshop. We helped the students with their drawing and creative writing skills. The students spent every afternoon out in the field with Robin and Elise, the TSS ski instructors, where they learned about local species and habitats. Evening programs included snow science, a talk about the lives of Mardy and Olaus Murie – a famous naturalist couple, and a folk guitar concert by Beth McIntosh. The students learned to work together as a group, to be more observant of their surroundings, and to be confident in their work. For some of them, drawing and writing in a nature journal was a new thing. For some, it was the physical activity of snowshoeing and crosscountry skiing that was new. Every student learned something outside his or her comfort zone.

The other delightful thing about this group is that the seniors that came on this trip are the same kids for whom I wrote A Walk in the Rainforest in 1992. Only now they’re a lot taller. And some of them are becoming writers and artists themselves.