"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."
- Leonardo Da Vinci
Okay, so a few years ago I was driving down Wilshire Blvd at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday. They say the city never sleeps and I want to amend that to say 'except early on Sunday mornings' because this is when I drive... while the city sleeps. It has become a ritual for me. One that I have mostly stuck to for the past 5 years. It's my quiet thinking time and on this particular Sunday morning I had a major stop light epiphany.
There I was, paused at a 4 way intersection when it hit me (not in the literal sense, it was just me and my thoughts at this red light): a mobile art studio built inside of a vintage camper! You guys, I have been a traveling visual art teacher for most of my 20+ years of teaching. I have jokingly referred to every car that I have ever owned as my "mobile art studio". I have been running camps, and parties, and workshops, teacher trainings and art shows out of the trunk of my car for eva' but it wasn't until that moment that it occurred to me... maybe I wasn't working toward a brick and mortar location. Maybe the natural evolution of this form of teaching that I had unintentionally fallen into wasn't to graduate to the next thing but to own my thing: The mobile studio.
I am pretty sure I called P right then and I am pretty sure that he was still asleep so he might not have shared my level of enthusiasm at six something on a Sunday morning, but trust that it was only a matter of time. For the next two days I was like Leonardo Da Vinci with his notebooks, drafting plans and downloading ideas onto paper as fast as they were coming to me. I started out going in an obvious direction with the name: Art-2-Go, Art-Van-Go... and by day two the name Art Camp had solidified its place as THE name. There was no second-guessing it.
An actual drawing from Leonardo da Vinci's notebook because A) it looks cooler than my notebook and B) when you are building a business out of your home things tend to go MIA.
The next thing that came to me was a deep sense that this wasn't just going to be an art studio on wheels or simply art classes for kids. ART CAMP was going to fill a void. I kept coming back to this idea that creation and connection are fundamental human needs. That the further we get away from each other, from creating, from making with our own two hands, the more isolated and disconnected we become. The more isolated and disconnected we become, the less fulfilled. The less fulfilled we become... you know what happens next.
This is such an interesting time to be alive. On one hand, our connection to each other is coming through screens and text messages. We can buy everything we need without ever leaving the house. With the touch of a button it will arrive at our door in two days or less. On the other hand, there is this maker renaissance happening. It isn't just the hipsters, it's not just the latest trend. I truly believe that this is our essence calling us back to ourselves. So many times have I heard the grownups in my life say, "Man, I wish I could take your art class." "You should do an Art Camp for adults." "I wish I could sit down and draw." "I have always wanted to get crafty... I just wouldn't even know where to start." "Oh to be a kid again!" When and why did we stop?
How many stories have we read... you know the ones: the Wall Street banker who gives up life in the fast lane, moves into a tiny house, and starts baking bread. The corporate lawyer who is now living on an island in the Pacific NW where she hand dyes garments with vegetable dye made from the crops from her sustainable garden. As fast as we are sprinting into the future, we are also witnessing the people around us opt out at very high rates. The thing is, I don't think it has to be this black and white. You can keep all of your gadgets, you can keep your job, you don't need to go off the grid. You just need to make time to create and connect.
It sounded good in theory... but if I built it, would they come? So The Art Camp "test kitchen" was born. Our formal dining room became the studio. The largest room in our house became our living room/Art Camp room. Our first session was a Valentine's Day Camp. I had seven year olds and adults creating side by side and it totally worked. The next 18 months of experimenting would reveal to me that my creation and connection theory was spot on and I would also learn that the most valuable lessons really suck while you are going through them. The camp sessions that worked the best were the ones where I followed my intuition and stuck close to my teaching approach. The sessions that didn't work as well were the ones where I was trying to guess what would be popular. Word to the wise: follow your gut... it will not lead you astray.
The recipe was ready... but was I?
"It's a great idea. What are you waiting for?", she asked. I took a sip of my iced tea and rattled off 5 things. All totally valid things. Very logical, sensible things and yet she didn't flinch. "You HAVE to do it!", she said. THIS was the message I desperately needed to hear, carried to me by someone I had just met. She was right. What was I waiting for? You guys kind of know the rest...
...Being willing is not enough; we must do.
So I did. November of last year I popped my head up over on my sleepy little Instagram feed and I introduced myself to you. I told you I was going to start this blog in spite of what the "wait until it's just right" committee said. I asked you if you would join me on this new venture and you said "heck yes" and boy have you been with me. I want to do a roll call shout out and list every single name who has cheered me on and tagged me in photos and sent me heart felt messages. You know who you are. Know that you are the wind beneath my wings.
The urgency of doing the next thing followed by the next thing followed by the next thing is the thing that has brought me to today. It turns out that I am really good at keeping secrets, especially the really big ones that I want to scream from the rooftops. You know what else has brought me to today? The unwavering support of my family. They have been by my side every step of the way giving me everything they've got from childcare, to financial support, to manual labor. This was a team effort all of the way. I am so grateful for my tribe. I am also hoping that the friends that have barely heard a peep from me in the last seven months will forgive me for my absence because I have not been able to do all the things very well. I have been so focused on doing this new thing. I love you.
So here she is, my "Holly Gobravely", creative renegade, ART CAMP mobile!