Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Creative Compost

Last weekend I attended a delicious altered image workshop on Denman Island. Temperatures soared into mid 30's and the lazy little island was parched to summer perfection. The sun beat down and not a wisp of wind crossed the waters. Tall summer grasses bleached golden hugged the roadsides. We ate our meals at a little cafe where in the evenings I sat barefoot in the comfy lawn furniture sipping a glass of wine as a large unseen gaggle of geese laughed in the field across the road. Children swung in hammocks and played in the grass, occasionally popping by their parent's table for a bite of dinner. Our bed and breakfast was run by Ricky the dog and his delightful owners who fed us with freshly baked cornmeal muffins and fresh fruit salad on a property called "Hilltop Magic". They were magicians by trade. Need I say more.

A turn of the century farmhouse that is home to the Denman Art Centre housed the workshop of 8 enthusiastic artists and our generous and knowledgeable teacher, Tony Bounsall. We scrubbed at wet processed photo's with bleach and tools and covered them in clear gesso and weldbond and then recoloured them for exciting and interesting effects. At morning break the thoughtful Linda Weech made us a deep, rich cup of Karma coffee to see us through until lunch. We cured our gel medium image transfers on the old house's porch and filled the late afternoon air with the smell of citra solv as we burnished away at our photocopied image transfers.

It was an info filled weekend with enough time to try out all our little experiments. I love that Tony started the weekend encouraging us to think of the weekend as a time to make "creative compost". It was a freeing invitation. And when anyone felt less than happy with one of their creations they laughingly referred to it as "compost".

It is a wonderful idea that as we live/work we are creating compost. What we do now feeds and nourishes what we will do in the future. Our art, our lives are living dynamic, organic organisms. We are always planting the seeds for the future and feeding it with our actions, our thoughts, our words. If we are harsh and pour poison onto our lives and creations, how will they grow? Will they be tall and strong and resilient, or will they be sickly specimens with shallow roots. It is always our choice. Go forth into the garden of your life, never afraid to create a little vigorous compost!


  1. Thich Nhat Hanh always teaches that we should see compost in the rose and the rose in the compost. Yet, I've never been successful at compost... but you've inspired me for next week's posts. I love the way you dive into your art. It's challenging me to look into ways I can push that edge.

    This is all so new to me and I'm feeling like I've wasted so many years not really getting into this aspect of my life. Sometimes that whole "wait for the teacher" can just be another form procrastination. And here with you and all your art friends, I think I've found a lovely community of teachers.

    Thank you!

  2. Yes, I love that the compost is in the rose and the rose is in the compost. How easily we overlook that.

    We are such funny creatures. When I read your blogs I am truly humbled (and inspired) by the breadth and depth of your grasp of the Dharma and willingness to share. And then I hear you say, "I'm feeling like I've wasted so many years..." In the spirit of compost I say, nothing is ever wasted" with much love and appreciation, Carole