Artist’s Way of the Camino

What hero’s journey is this, undertaken in solitude, the portal a canvas or blank page?

The artist’s life is largely interior, the company we keep living “rent free” in our heads. Any demons battled take form as doubt, fear, self- criticism; the holy grail a hard won finished piece. Our pilgrimage begins again and again, each time we pick up pen, brush, pencil, chalk and engage with a blank space, mark followed by mark.

Whatever our purpose as artists, how do we bear the necessary demands of inner work? 

We can reach out and commune with other travelers,  fellow pilgrims progressing towards authentic expression, spiraling through new inner and outer landscapes. A well worn path in Northern Spain is one such landscape offering artists a unique way to commune with self and others, connecting inner with outer—sacred with mundane—experience.

For centuries The Camino de Santiago de Compestella has borne witness to pilgrims and seekers in search of healing, adventure, physical, mental, spiritual challenges. Whatever one’s purpose, the path has a compelling aura of mystique–an ancient and living history.  The daily stream of travelers are a cosmopolitan, multi-national  group of all ages and genders, and their stories of catastrophic loss, sorrow, joyful partnership, hope, dreams, life-altering events step by step are pounded in the camino dirt.

The red Camino dirt is now part of my art. Last Fall I spent a week among fellow artists in a lovely compound called Flores del Camino in the village of Castrillo de los Polvazares, considered one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. Janice Mason Steves and Rebecca Crowell led the September 2018 workshop hosted by the space’s gracious proprietors, Basia and Bertrand.  This young couple, who met in the UK and share a love of the Camino, are timeless and ageless in their deep commitment to hospitality and art. Embodying the spirit of the arts and crafts ethos, they use pigments from the land around them to create iconographic sacred and modern art works for commission or sale. Their beautiful space is available for workshops and retreats, and provides daily sanctuary for camino pilgrims. As part of the retreat/workshop experience, Basia and Bertrand offer participants (and pilgrims) delicious, home-prepared meals, an intimate work space, and more often than not evening fireside ritual gatherings. Workshop participants are also treated to lessons in the history of sacred symbols—including drawing labyrinths and the flower of life— while learning about sacred geometry, the language and architecture of nature and the universe. Foray’s into the nearby landscape are opportunities for gathering rocks for making pigment, and for seeing ancient petroglyphs.

I knew when I arrived at Flores del Camino I would return and thus am  thrilled by the invitation to co-facilitate a workshop there with Basia and Bertrand. Planned with care for the end of September 2020, our workshop will include lessons in sacred geometry, gathering and preparing pigments from the landscape, and creating a “pilgrim’s passport” Book of Ours in response to our experience of this particular place along the Camino.

There are spaces for 8 participants. Please consider joining us for this intimate retreat that offers: 

precious time away from the cacophony of the outer world,;

the delightful company of fellow artists and pilgrims, 

nourishing and delicious food; 

spaciousness to experiment with combining text and image using natural pigments; 

a unique opportunity to respond to the landscape and history of Northern Spain–and the Camino–while learning how to integrate sacred geometry into our art work.

A Book of Ours: Pilgrim’s Passport

Flores Del Camino

Castrillo de los Polvazares, Spain

27 September-4 October 2020

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