Guest Post by Sylvia Lippmann
I’m not entirely sure what made me write a note to Ann after 40 years of making excuses not to paint. Perhaps it was the fact that my best friend, Dotty, had a personal connection to Ann. Or maybe the upheavals of mid-life had made me acutely aware that life is too brief and precious to ignore things you love. Whatever the reason, the yearning to paint again had become so strong, that I could no longer ignore the inner voice urging me to reconnect with my creative self.
Sylvia Lippmann, 2009
I found myself pulling up Ann’s website over and over again, until I suddenly felt compelled to take action. Silencing my doubts, I dashed off an email.
Hi Ann, Dotty is one of my oldest, dearest friends, and she introduced me to your work. I am mesmerized by your paintings and would love to be a student of yours. I read on your blog that you recently taught a class of beginners. Although I took a few painting classes in college, I have hardly painted since then. However, at the age of 62, painting is calling to me again. I don’t usually write notes like this (!), but I was pulled to make contact with you.
Much to my delight, Ann responded immediately. Within a week, we had arranged for her to fly to Chicago for some private instruction. As soon as Dotty heard about my upcoming adventure, she decided to join us! The morning after Ann and Dotty arrived, we sat at my kitchen table to plan our “retreat,” as we began calling our time together.
Sylvia Lippmann, 2009
Every fantasy I ever had about participating in an artists’ retreat was realized! We started each day with a long walk, followed by a healthy breakfast. We then spent the morning painting, with Ann instructing, encouraging, providing feedback, and painting beside us. After lunch, we painted for several more hours, before we each withdrew to a quiet place to meditate.
Refreshed, we painted for a little longer before eating a dinner. Our after-dinner conversation revolved around art and painting and all the other topics women in mid-life talk about. We then went to bed tired, and often over-stimulated!
So, how can I describe what it was like to reconnect with my artistic soul? When I first picked up the paint brush, I felt a little nervous, unsure, rusty. Slowly, old memories started to kick in. My hand remembered how to hold the paintbrush. The experience of applying wet, thick paint to canvas suddenly felt familiar and joyful. My mind swung between over-thinking each color choice to being completely silent. Then came waves of total absorption. Time and place fell away. Nothing mattered except giving free reign to the creative impulse arising inside me. The brush strokes and colors beckoned, and I followed. My body, mind, and spirit danced together on that first canvas.
By the end of the weekend, I was filled with gratitude. I silently thanked myself for the gift of uninterrupted time to paint. I openly thanked Ann and Dotty for their wisdom, support, and companionship. It was wonderful creating beautiful works of art together, but even more wonderful creating sacred space and time in which art could emerge.
Red Tree in Summer. Sylvia-Lippmann, 2014, completed
Red Tree in Summer. Sylvia Lippmann, 2014, in process
Moving forward, I know it will be challenging to make painting a priority in my busy life. However, I know I am worth the time it takes to create. The sweetness of our retreat is imprinted on my soul, and no excuses will do.