There is a feeling of inclusiveness and kindness at the Art-is-You Retreats. It makes it easy for the introvert in me to accept their welcoming community.

Being an artist from my earliest memory, my comfort zone is pretty solitary. Naturally content to work by myself for days on end, I’ve found that teaching art has tapped into a generosity I didn’t know I had. Everyone I’ve taught has had something to offer and I invariably come away with unexpected gifts from my students. Gifts of friendship, vision, laughter, even technique, all surprises received because I left the comfort of the studio.

This year I’m teaching at Art is You in Stamford, in October and in 2016, Santa Rosa, next April. This year my mom died, on July 7th. She was 95 and had been in bad health for many years. She couldn’t see and she couldn’t walk. She couldn’t see us and she couldn’t read, or even turn on the books on tape that she loved. In the last few years her mind was muddled. We had a complicated relationship and she was not an easy person. But I loved her like no other. She was my mother and she is gone. She really was gone years before but I think I’m mourning that period now. There was too much misery and work to do as she was failing.

My mother’s death has made me uneven in my creating and in my head. One moment I’m fine and another I think thoughts that make me feel guilt, regret or just sadness. We all die but she was my mom. We were young together. As an only child no one knows my mother like I do and no one knew me the way that she did. Who but your mother wants to hear you unabashedly brag about your children’s accomplishments and your own? Who else wants to know everything about you?

I knew her many moments of depression and anger and I knew her sense of humor, her wit and her capacity for fun, adventure and the love she had for us.

It’s easier, now that she’s gone, to see her often childlike behavior as playful and generous. I can remember the silly way my family of three sang songs in the car, celebrating our little tribe. I can remember the flip side of her impulsivity, which allowed her to take me to lunch and let me have my dessert first. I remember the way she cut her slip off at the bottom to fit it to my best friend, as we were heading to our first dance and her incessant need for the soup and the salad, when the menu only offered one, the need to always have dessert, with whipped cream if possible. I remember her lack of prejudice and her fair and inclusive world view.

She was a child of divorce in a world where that was not usual. She had a deep, angry need for more, more, more attention and love that I could never supply enough of. There was no more that I could patch her up with and still survive. I think I did my best for her. Along with the tough times together we also had many good times and I was able to share my two precious sons with her.

I’m glad that I’m teaching, and sharing, and leaving my comfort zone, the studio. I’ve heard some of the personal stories of people at Art Is You and I was touched by the honesty and support. I’ll be teaching this year and next, and I’m glad I’ll be in such an embracing community I know my mother (and my father, an artist, who is also gone) would be so proud that I’m teaching, doing art, taking care of myself and continuing to grow. A lot of what I am, good and bad, comes from learning from them and surviving them.

Her death was not a tragedy, she was 95, I loved her, she was my mom and now hopefully, we’re both released.

Doreen is joining us in Stamford in 2015.  Come spend the day with this lovely lady and talented artist:

Thursday October 8: Jiggly Jointed Dolls – Full Day Workshop

Thursday October 8: Beasty Charms Wearing Clothes

Friday October 9: Pods, Plants and Color