On Monday, November 30, from 7 to 9 PM our featured guest speaker is Jack Laws. Naturalist, educator and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws delights in exploring the natural world and sharing this love with others. He has worked as an environmental educator for over 25 years in California, Wyoming, and Alaska. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is a research associate of the California Academy of Sciences. His illustrations capture the feeling of the living plant or animal, while also including details critical for identification. He teaches classes on natural history, conservation biology, scientific illustration, and field sketching. His most recent book, The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada, is an illustrated field guide to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals and is beautifully illustrated with 2,710 original watercolor paintings. We welcome him as a special presenter for our course as we explore the wonder of creativity in nature together.
On Saturday, December 5, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM we will be at Foothills Park and our facilitator is Jana Tuschman. From childhood Jana has been involved with a wide variety of artistic pursuits and passions. She was trained as an art therapist and worked briefly in that field before she began facilitating art-making with children in the Palo Alto and Los Lomitas School Districts. Currently Jana is painting with acrylics and mixed media as well as encaustics. Another major interest is dying fabric and hand stitching art quilts. Recently Jana has begun to volunteer at Art for Well Beings, an art studio in Palo Alto serving artists with special needs.
As we approach the Winter Solstice, we will experience the coming of winter outdoors at Foothills Park. After our evening with Jack Laws on Monday, we will be coming to this place with a new sensitivity and the perspective of the artist that is in each of us.
The natural world invites heightened awareness and expanded presence. The way one discovers these expanded states, as well as the nature of the states themselves, are vital to the creative process. We will explore our innate creativity by immersing ourselves in nature.
Sensory awareness practices, simple meditation, drawing and writing exercises and experiments with shifting perspective will stimulate curiosity, wonder and creative expression. The focus will be on qualities that are central to cultivating creativity,
particularly close observation, interest in process, playfulness, passion, and the ability to proceed regardless of expectation and judgment. These qualities are part of any creative process, whether in art or a wide range of other endeavors.
As a starting place for experimenting with creativity and a sense of place, here are some inspiring quotes:
“I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.”
— Frederick Frank from The Zen of Seeing 1973
Every creative act involves. . . a new innocence of perception, liberated from the cataract of accepted belief.”
— Arthur Koestler from The Sleepwalkers, 1959
“To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large – this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone.”
— Aldous Huxley from The Doors of Perception, 1954