I just came back from my first ever water color class called “The Watercolors of Life” taught by Rabbi Shoni Labowitz, an amazing powerhouse of a woman who founded Temple Adath Or. She is an accomplished author, artist and spiritual leader for over 20 years.
Rabbi Shoni exudes a powerful presence and uncanny ability to channel divine wisdom from her sharing her life experiences, meditative techniques for how she creates her paintings and sculptures, and insight on how to tap into our creative energy. Her workshops enlighten us with tools for skillful living and bring us back to our experience of our higher power and spirit.
Rabbi Shoni began the workshop by saying “today we will use water as the medium, and we will add paint to that medium. I am not going to teach you any specific technique, but I will teach you how to connect to the sacred feeling and joy of expressing your creativity through the medium of water. To truly create art, you must merge with the medium you are using and become the water.”
This workshop taught in this way made me realize the power of a paper, paintbrush and cup of water. All brought me to a state of deep relaxation, introspection, self-awareness and spiritual connection.
I always thought taking an art class was about learning with our mind about how to use brushstrokes and techniques. The message today was to go within, to connect to the element of water, to the beautiful garden where we sat and to breathe awareness of what color we felt drawn to start with after we dropped the water onto the paper. Creating art for Rabbi Shoni begins with a a prayer where we are allowing ourselves to express the Divine and our sacred essence through our works.
When I began the class, I noticed myself being critical and nervous of whether I was “doing it right.” I hesitated on where to place my water and colors as if there was a “right” way and “wrong” way of doing watercolor painting!
I tried small drops, was very cautious and did not risk being too bold as I did not want to ruin my painting.
As time progressed, I became more aware of how the water took shape as I moved the paper and turned the paper upside down, so that the water would run and spread in different directions. Then slowly I would add a drop of color, and see how the color would run through the water as I would move the paper in different directions.
Rabbi Shoni made us aware of the importance to pause and give time for the water to settle and dry a little before introducing a new water stream and color. She told me to let my painting dry for a few minutes before touching it and doing anything more to it. She recommended that we take deep breaths and even as we paint, to stay connected to our breath, to feel the moment and to see where that sense of being present would take us, rather than to figure out what to do next with our mind to the painting. I notice sometimes I get in my own way too soon, and this approach to painting reminded me of the beauty of allowing things to take their own shape and form from doing less, and being more.
This form of meditative painting was a whole body-mind-spirit experience. It was a beautiful practice of trusting in the process, listening to that inner guidance that is always talking to us, if we choose to make the time to listen and allow things to flow.
I tend to want to get things done quickly and efficiently as do many of us in this fast paced culture. This practice of allowing the water to dry before going on to the next color, forced me to pause and reflect, to breathe and expand not only my breath, but my perception. I became more and more relaxed and the whole group became more quiet, as we all became fully engaged in what we were moving and creating merging water with our paper.
After 3 and a half hours, which flew by like 45 minutes, I had journeyed through what initially seemed a cautious and unsure experience of myself with water as a medium. I walked away from this watercolor painting class as a re-inspired being ready and willing to step out of her comfort zone to create on larger and bolder level.
How beautiful the experience. I highly recommend you take a class with Rabbi Shoni Labowitz on December 2, 2012 Sunday from 10am-2pm in her beautiful nature-filled painting studio in Davie, Fl. For details and to register link here.
Learn more about Shoni Labowitz’s inspiring and spiritually enriching books Miraculous Living and God, Sex and The Women Of The Bible: Discovering Our Sensual, Spiritual Selves here.