TAO of Painting: A ZEN Creativity Retreat on the Mountain


This September I am teaching the TAO of Painting about walking in nature, sharing my practice of creating earth prayers, and learning how to do sumi-e and watercolor in the wild. When I first talked to Shiloh Sophia about doing this class we both knew this class would include some of the teachings passed down to us from Sue Hoya Sellars. Sue was an American master painter trained by Lenore Straus Thomas, a stone sculptor and artist from the 1930s and 40s. Sue was my painting teacher and the one who first taught me sumi-e. She was also Shiloh's second mother and the one who inspired her to found the Intentional Creativity movement. A powerful woman in her own right, Sue never shied away from tough work whether it was personal or creative.

Sue sketching on the Seine River in Paris, 2014

Sue sketching on the Seine River in Paris, 2014

I'll always remember the day she sat me down in front of a good sized moon shell, mixed up some ink with a stone, put a sumi-e brush in my hand, adjusted my fingers, and said, 'write what you see'. I was just a bit intimidated and yet also very drawn to what she was asking of me. And so my creative practice began.

Sue told me when I left, to go home and do sumi-e for 30 minutes every day. That a huge challenge that evolved and shifted as it came into form. Today I carry a notebook with me everywhere along with a sumi-e pocket brush pen. More art supplies when I am on the road or the trail. And almost every single day, I pick that notebook and create.

When I visited Sue up on her land, Terra Sophia, we always walked on the land. When she joined us in a workshop or class, we went out to the river  or somewhere nearby and walked in nature. She would point out the vines and patterns and leaves and dapples and we would sketch and draw, learning how to write what we saw.

This class I am teaching will be up on her land, on those same hills we walked on. We will read from the TAO of painting books Sue told us to learn from and share those teachings with you. We will walk in nature and sit on the lands and "write what we see" connecting to the ch'i of the earth as we draw and sketch. Shiloh will join us to share some of what Sue shared with her. We will see Sue's house and the paintings still there. We will watch the sunset and listen to the bees and the wind and the ravens – and create.

Hole in tree, something lived there, now its open for new life, by Annette Wagner, 2013, Terra Sophia Sanctuary

Hole in tree, something lived there, now its open for new life, by Annette Wagner, 2013, Terra Sophia Sanctuary

You will learn the practice of sumi-e in a style allowing you to take it with you anywhere complete with the necessary materials. This practice teaches you a new relationship with your brush as well as the world around you. And all of that translates in wonderful ways back into the way you paint and teach your own work. Lineage and legacy moving forward and out into the world.

Come join us for one or two days. If you stay for both days, consider camping with us on the land. A slumber party under the stars! September is a glorious month to be on the land.  If you are not up for rustic, there is also lots of lovely options for lodging in the Anderson Valley. Terra Sophia is near Philo, CA.