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The Artists Journey Retreat-Nancy Hillis-#creativity #abstract

The Artists Journey Retreat-Nancy Hillis-Blog post

The Artist’s Journey Retreat & Workshop

A dream of mine came true last week: The Artist’s Journey Retreat- a workshop where we explore The Artist’s Journey, Creativity & The Adjacent Possible.
Eighteen amazing creatives and artists came together for a week of opening creative channels in their painting.

At the deepest level, The Artist’s Journey is about saying YES to creativity, the adjacent possible and your dreams of creating a meaningful art and life.

 

It’s about crossing the threshold and and saying YES to stepping into the unknown.

I believe that creativity is intimately connected to the UNKNOWN…

 

It expresses itself in the ineffable, the inarticulable, the mysterious.
A deep story for me since I was 17 was Dante’s Inferno
In the opening lines, Dante wrote:
In the middle of the road of my life
I awoke in a dark wood
And the true way
Was wholly lost. 

These words speak across 7 centuries of stepping into the unknown and facing and finding yourself there.

And we’re doing this too, as artists and creatives.
In order to continuously evolve your art- whatever your art is- whether it is writing, painting, sculpting, choreography, composing music, filmmaking- you’ve got to be willing to “not know” ahead of time what’s going to emerge.
It’s about staying awake and aware of the tugging in your heart, the whispers in your ear to create something new, to explore something that calls you, to experiment.

This is the willingness to step out of the way and allow the mysterious to unfold.

It’s the desire to be surprised by what emerges…and to allow for the “ugly” art, the messy manuscript, the flubbed line…and realize that these so called mistakes are valuable.
Confronting and exploring the Unknown brings us to the following concept:

The Adjacent Possible

The Adjacent Possible is a concept in evolutionary biology described by Drs. Stuart Kauffman, Bruce Sawhill and Jim Herriot at the Santa Fe Institute.
This scientific concept describes how each action you take in a dynamic, evolving environment changes not only your perspective but the environment you’re in. It creates new possibilities that didn’t exist before.

The Adjacent Possible is the essence of creativity.

But the adjacent possible matters little unless you’re aware of its existence.

The creative impulse can be subtle and easily missed or dismissed.

Remember a time when you had an experience in your life where something astonishing or transformative happened that you didn’t know was possible beforehand.

It’s the moment when you follow a hunch…and this hunch may come from an entirely different experience such as observing nature or playing cello or talking with a friend or reading a book.

Something new appears in your life and initiates a sequence of events and it’s up to you to say YES to this and allow new things to enter your life and art.

Cultivating The Practice of The Adjacent Possible

Artists at The Artist’s Journey Retreat experienced a sequence of exercises designed to open creative channels. One could think of these as Creativity Calisthenics:

  • saying YES to stepping into the Unknown
  • facing fears and going ahead anyway
  • exploring maquettes or “little studies”
  • activating deep experimentation
  • allowing for “ugly” works to emerge and understanding their value
  • accessing different creative channels through music, dance, sculpture
  • exploring the spontaneous and the considered
  • bringing in structure
  • saying YES to the adjacent possible
  • and much more…

 

By the end of the workshop, the artists were so passionate and inspired by The Adjacent Possible that they decided to call themselves The Adjacents!

 

Below are some images from The Artist’s Journey Retreat and the artists and creatives who said YES to this experience of stepping into the Unknown.

 

 

This is where it began…

The Artist's Journey Retreat- Nancy Hillis- This is how it began

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- This is how and where it began- 1440 Multiversity, Scott’s Valley, California

 

Easels and boards ready for the artists

 

The Artist's Journey Retreat- Easels and Boards

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- Easels and Boards

 

And this is part of the magic that emerged

The Artist's Journey Retreat

The Artist’s Journey Retreat

 

What happens when you bring together 18 fabulous artists…

 

The Artists Journey Retreat

The Artists Journey Retreat- Coming together

 

 

And a particle physicist and mathematician

Dr. Bruce Sawhill discusses The Adjacent Possible at The Artist's Journey Retreat

Dr. Bruce Sawhill, physicist, discusses The Adjacent Possible at The Artist’s Journey Retreat

 

A retired college professor and intellectual extraordinaire

The Artist's Journey Retreat- Vera Tchikovani

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- Vera Tchikovani, retired college professor and intellectual extraordinaire

 

A photographer, artist and tour de force

 

The Artist's Journey Retreat- Charissa Daman. Photo by Cindy Vajtai

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- Charissa Daman- photographer, artist and tour de force. Photo by Cindy Vajtai

 

An artist, author and existential psychiatrist

 

The Artists Journey Retreat- Nancy Hillis

The Artists Journey Retreat- Founder of The Artist’s Journey- Nancy Hillis, M.D.

 

A former Oakland Ballet ballerina

 

The Artist's Journey Retreat- Graciela Acedo.

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- Graciela Acedo- Ballerina

 

50 pounds of clay for the clay maquettes

The Artist's Journey Retreat- Clay Maquettes

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- Clay Maquettes

 

Music from the aria “Batter My Heart” from Dr. Atomic by composer John Adams

The Artist's Journey Retreat-Mark Making To Music

The Artist’s Journey Retreat-Mark Making To Music from the aria: Batter My Heart from Dr. Atomic by composer John Adams

 

…a recording of Yo Yo Ma playing The Swan while artists expressed their own lexicon of mark making

The Expressive Language of Mark Making- The Artist's Journey Retreat

The Expressive Language of Mark Making- The Artist’s Journey Retreat

Reams and rolls of paper for prolific art making and deep experimentation

 

Rolls of paper-The Artists Journey Retreat- Photo by Bob Reid

Rolls of paper-The Artists Journey Retreat- Photo by Bob Reid

 

And lots of fun

The Artist's Journey Retreat- Having lots of fun with mark making

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- Having lots of fun with mark making

 

And imagining the possibilities…

 

The Artists Journey Retreat

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- Bob Reid

 

And reaching into the unknown with those possibilities…through journaling

 

The Artists Journey Retreat- Lorraine Willis' amazing art journal

The Artist’s Journey Retreat-Lorraine Willis’ amazing art journal

 

And conversation about the possibilities…

The Artist's Journey Retreat- Bob Reid and Nancy Hillis

The Artist’s Journey Retreat- Bob Reid and Nancy Hillis

 

And, documenting our Journey- the inimitable Sidharta Pascual, cinematographer of feature films for PSB and National Geographic

 

Sidharta Pascual-The Artists Journey Retreat

Sidharta Pascual-The Artists Journey Retreat

 

My heartfelt thanks to the wonderful artists who now refer to themselves as The Adjacents (as in The Adjacent Possible)

 

Thank you to my dream team: Sidharta Pascual, Vera Tchikovani, Dr. Bruce Sawhill and Charissa Daman

The Artist's Journey Dream Team for the Retreat

The Artist’s Journey Dream Team-Sidharta Pascual, Nancy Hillis, Vera Tchikovani, Dr. Bruce Sawhill and Charissa Daman

 

With gratitude from my studio to yours,

Nancy

 

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts about challenges, triumphs and dreams on YOUR creative journey. Leave me a comment below.

 

 


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