Q - What does Salvador Dali eat for breakfast?
A - Surreal
When we sat down for our chat with Autumn, she encouraged us to draw little thumbnails as ideas came to us and she said, most importantly that we remained open to our ideas shifting - and shift they did!
I’d already gone from phoenix rising to perhaps using the rain that was falling outside as inspiration.
I would use the rain to wash away the ‘old’ me and reveal the authentic stripped back version of me - naked and vulnerable.
I would also incorporate an orange butterfly - the butterfly to represent transformation and orange to represent my sexual energy and sacral chakra.
I would also use my Divine Goddess poem I wrote in Java and recent photos from a trip to Cambodia as inspiration.
Each day we all sat together after a delicious breakfast and Autumn guided us through the first stages of our painting.
She said to listen to the canvas.
We talked about light, shadow and form, glazing mediums, paints, brushes, transferring our image to the canvas, projecting and gridding, composition, movement and meaning, horizon lines, tangents, and flow.
She talked about Intuition
and setting our intention on the canvas for this painting.
And then it was time.
Time to paint our own soul portrait.
The little trickle of a tear on the plane had now turned into a tsunami and it was clear there was not going to be much painting that morning.
Apparently, there was a little releasing and healing I had to do beforehand.
I was so pleased to be in that place at that time with so many amazing and beautifully supportive artists around me.
There’s no doubt - they are a different breed.
Nonjudgemental, caring, open, inspiring, thoughtful, kind - they were all these things and I am forever grateful to all of them.
As Autumn was giving me a hug I simply said, “Why is it so hard to be me?”
And then I cried.
And cried some more.
And then I went for a beautiful swim in the river at the bottom of the clearing.
I stood and the current was quite strong.
I stood firm and let it wash around me - just witnessing its effortless flow.
And I was marveling at the beauty that surrounded me.
Its ability to just be.
Adapt to its surroundings.
Not being what it thinks it should be.
Just being what it is, naturally and with little effort.
I went upstairs and Una took me aside and gave me a little talk - she was amazing and said I had come here to paint - what was going to make it easier for me.
I asked if I could paint in the big clearing just outside the studio.
I just felt I needed space to be able to express myself - to throw things at the canvas - to scream if I needed to - just to let it all out, let it go.
No request was out of bounds and no request was too hard.
Nothing was judged or frowned upon.
Soon I was set up and painting in this beautiful vast space and I did let the rain dictate what was going on the canvas - and the music I was listening to, very loud in my headphones, and the sadness, anger, and fear I felt inside.
I was so terrified of even touching the canvas and as I was standing there staring at it, I looked at my phone and there was a little message of inspiration from my sister Millie, it simply said,
“You can do it!!! You just have to unleash it”
One thing I absolutely loved about this retreat was the fact that each person was on their own individual SoulJourn, and each and every one of us accommodated accordingly.
I hadn't sat at the canvas for 14 hours a day, I barely touched the canvas some days.
I sat outside for hours singing at the top of my voice.
I swam naked in the river.
I lay under the canopy of huge, ancient trees and let the rain fall on my skin and I sat in the middle of a storm and I danced - because I love to dance.
And occasionally I painted as I allowed more and more of my soul to come to light.
That night I dreamt of the moon - perhaps a subtle clue I may be doing some inner work on the feminine mystique.
At 8 am each morning we had the opportunity to do either yoga with Una or kundalini dancing with Lila.
No surprises which choice I would make!
The first morning there were many participants and Lila guided us through an hour of incredible dance and movement. My love of kundalini dancing just gets stronger and stronger and the energy shifts that take place over the course of a dance, surprise me each and every time.
As I was lying on the floor after the dance, my body like lead and my energy pulsing, the distant, delightful squeals as a couple of dancers made their way into the freezing but invigorating river could be heard off in the distance.
In the end, there were around twelve naked nymphs embracing life and nature frolicking and laughing in the water and as the sun greeted us with warmth and light the site both innocent and beautiful would now be etched in my memory forever as a freeing and liberating moment in time.
Each day was full and each day peeled back another, deeper layer, exposing the truth and light of our own unique and individual souls a little more.
After yoga or dance, a swim and then breakfast, Autumn talked us through grey scales, shadow, mid-tones, and highlights, bridging and blocking and how to paint eyes, noses, lips, and hair.
Paintings above - Autumn Skye Morrison
1 & 3 -Self Portrait from this year's Soul Portrait retreat in Byron
2 - Work in progress
Then we painted.
We had a couple of hours for lunch, followed by more painting and demonstrations in the afternoon, with a bit of stretching and some chocolate to keep us agile and awake.
Nothing was compulsory and as I said, each individual was treated accordingly.
My favorite part of the day though was when that little bell rang and Autumn gave a demonstration.
My goodness, she is a phenomenal artist and I just marvel at how easily it comes to her. Watching and learning from her is one of the highlights of my life.
We had dinner around 6 then the studio was open all night if we wanted it to be.
I don’t think I painted once at night, but I had a glass of wine or two, some lovely conversation and watched my fellow painters paint.
And they too were extraordinary.
Each and every one of them unique in their own style and it was amazing watching their paintings flow and change over the course of ten days.