Monday, March 31, 2014

Ring in Spring Workshop

Ring in Spring was the name of the all day art/sketchbook/journal workshop presented by Brother Brian, a Marianist. The location was at the Marianist Retreat Center in the Marycliff House. Brother Brian made me want to smile more with his own non-stop enthusiastic smile. There was no doubt that he absolutely loves what he does, and that spills over… in turn, inspiring the group.

We started with breakfast. After we ate, we gathered at the table, and we all introduced ourselves and why we came. Such interesting and lovely people.

I had learned about this workshop last year from my sister Ruth and her husband Buddy, but I was unable to go. When I heard what I missed, I made sure I jumped on it this time. It was interesting for me because earlier in the week, I had visited another monastery (The Abbey) in Conception, Missouri for a few days of writing. Two beautiful places in one week... how blessed I am.

Buddy is nephew to the late Brother Mel Meyer, artist extraordinaire. My best friend from grade school, Susan is Buddy’s sister. (Are you confused yet since Buddy is also my brother-in-law?) I grew up around the family, in the presence of “Uncle Mel” not realizing what an amazing, prolific artist, and man he was.

Brother Brian worked with Brother Mel, so I knew this workshop would be awesome and inspiring.

After introductions, it was time to play and have fun – a requirement of the workshop. And that we did with a warm-up exercise.


Then we did blind contour - you're not to look at your paper, only keeping your eye on the object while drawing.

blind contour

Brother Brian took us step by step with basic shapes to draw a cartoon. Boy, my Bugs Bunny is no reflection of his direction, but I ended up having fun with my bunny anyway.

basic shapes - cartoon

We did ‘imagination and abstract’ by free drawing and then filling it in. I remember doing something similar to this as a kid and always loved it.


Brother Brian shared parts of his personal journals and went through all the different ways you could keep a sketch journal. I journal everyday with writing, but never thought to incorporate drawing with it as well. I’m so inspired.

How quickly time flew by, and a delicious lunch was served. After we ate, we were free to explore the Marycliff House and the grounds. We could go wherever we wanted. When Brother Brian said there were swings on both the porches, I knew where I wanted to go first. I love swings. Now this swing was the swing of all swings—handcrafted, and it was more like a ride. Jessica, Rita (my two daughters) Buddy and I swung and drew. Even though it was a little chilly, it was so worth it. By the way, Ruth had another commitment and had to join us later.

Here are my sketches from the swing. It's kind of hard drawing while in movement. Bud has the "Mel" gene and clearly, he had no problem.

  Jessica and Rita on swing

 cartoon on swing

I could have stayed on the swing the entire two hours of free time we had to explore, but I made myself get up and roam around the house. I ended up on the upper porch to check out that swing. It was more like a regular porch swing, but the view of trees was awesome. As a lover of trees, I did a blind drawing (sort of – as I’d look up now and then). I filled it in with some free drawing.

tree one

While doing the above “filling in” it was quite contemplative and I had a lot of ideas rushing through my head which made me want to stop and draw another tree, but I heard “patience” and “be in the moment” and so I finished. I also wrote: “It doesn’t matter which way we go, as Soul, we all make our way home to God. Our journey is to experience LOVE.”

My next tree, I stole the design from my friend Sioux and her zendoodling. But I knew I had to finish this later or I wouldn’t have time to explore outside. I recalled seeing this cool old stone structure when we pulled up and I wanted to check it out. (When I got home, I finished filling in the tree.)

 tree two

I walked around the house and ended up sitting on an old stone bench while sketching this cool birdhouse.


Then I looked to my right and in the wall of the stone was a chain. Inspiration from a chain, go figure.


It was pretty chilly, so I made my way back inside, but before I got there I spotted a group of daffodils. I plopped down on the sidewalk and did some blind drawing.


Blind drawing, for me, allows me permission to draw without feeling the need to be perfect. Not that anything I draw could ever be perfect, but it sure took the pressure off. It was so much more freeing.

I went back inside to the first (way cool) swing and filled in one of my windows (abstract) that I had drawn earlier on the swing. (I filled them all in when I got home.)

windows to spring

Brother Brian had a T-shirt on that said: Earth without Art is just “Eh”

And isn’t that the truth?

Brother Brian conducts these workshops throughout the year, so if you’re looking for some creative inspiration, I highly recommend you check it out. He has a blog: abz paperless sketchbook journal. Even if  you just sat and watched Brother Brian, you’d be inspired just from his beautiful smile.

Thank you, Brother Brian!


  1. This event sounds wonderful. To be inspired through art or even a smile...I can see this as a wonderful release of tension. Next year, maybe the WWWPs should go.

  2. I know you enjoyed this and would to if I had even a tad of drawing talent. I don't. I long to express myself visually but just have not ability. Your drawings show you do!

  3. I agree with Linda. I think this should be a WWWP thing next year (if they'll let us in ;)

  4. What a wonderful experience, Lynn. Your drawings are soulful, and I love the words on Brother Brian's tee-shirt!

  5. Lynn, you are one talented gal. Love the sketches!

    Critter Alley

  6. What fun and what talent! I too vote for the WWWP field trip. And I too love Brother Brian's t-shirt as well as your words about soul!


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