artfest 2008 – grab a cup of tea

Apr 7, 2008 | Entrepreneurship, Life in Progress

where to start? i have been sitting/sleeping here on my red couch for hours, completely doped up on cold meds, waiting waiting waiting for a moment of clarity so i can pour out the contents of my artfest experience here in this space. bear with me as i spill….honest parts, tearful parts, joy-filled parts. all of it.

i am finding that each year i attend artfest, a different personal theme emerges for me. the first year i attended (2006), i came home totally transformed and began a new life as a person who embraced her creativity. the second year i attended i came home with a solid sense of a growing creative community – something that had me feeling grounded in support as i continued to reach and grow. this year, i arrived feeling tender in ways that were hard to explain and capture and it seemed the emotion of it would overflow for me (even in times of trying to contain it all inside) as i tried to navigate exactly what it was i was feeling that first day or so at artfest. when it came down to it (when i got very honest with myself), i realized that i was feeling a bit isolated even in the midst of the very community i worked so hard to find and create. i had strange and ugly feelings of envy as my friends around me seemed to be bonding and connecting in meaningful ways as i wondered how and if i belonged. i hadn’t felt this before but here i was, sitting around a large table of joyous faces and community, feeling a bit disconnected and unimportant which had nothing to do with any of them, and everything to do with me.

liz, my dearest art pal and who i have traveled deep and wide with along the creative journey, listened to me struggle with all of this and all i could think about during that tearful conversation (and even now) was this arabian proverb: “a friend is one to whom one can pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keeping what is worth keeping, and, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away. ”

so, if i’m being honest, then i will say that artfest started off a bit rocky for me this year, but by thursday evening, i was feeling more of myself and embracing the experience, emotion and all. i think a lot of this has to do with that feeling i’ve mentioned lately about growing up. in some ways, i’m feeling the pains of a bit more independence in my creative life and in my personal life. i’m a sensitive girl.

(my mom and liz. can you see the joy?)

on to all the good stuff:
the best part, hands down, was having this experience with my mom. she had the BEST time, was totally in her element, and loved every minute of her experience. i was the proud daughter as she gushed about what she had learned that day in her class, all the ideas and inspiration that were coming to her, the friends she was making, and on and on. so yeah, my mom is totally addicted to artfest now. so cool. it was also really special to me to share this experience with her. i wanted her to see the place where it all started for me. i wanted her to meet my friends. i wanted her to feel the infectious joy that lives in this place and community. i’m so glad she came.

i loved seeing and sharing meals with many of my friends, including judy (who taught for the first time this year and you would not believe the extraordinary art that was born from her classes. judy is also an endearing, sensitive soul who gives the best advice), diane (who i didn’t get to talk to nearly enough but whose spirit is always calming to me), katie (whose happy face had me grinning each time i saw her. her students also did amazing work), misty (who i adore, always), kim (whose exuberance is undeniable), christina, and of course liz elayne (who gets me).

as always, i loved the energy at artfest. the crazy uniqueness. the funky people. the warm spirits. the cars that have poetry magnets all over them. the openness of laughter and joy and tears and emotion. it’s exhausting and perfect all at once. and every years it’s unlike anything i’ve ever experienced. it’s a few days of women gathering in a space where they can be themselves. it’s fluttering conversations. sweet, honest glances. creative stretching. it’s ideas and inspiration being born just when you thought you were dry. it’s magic.

also loved spending some time with new friends including ali edwards (who my mom also adored) and her pals dona and jill and emily. i enjoyed sharing meals and chats with blue poppy and her friend mindy (loved all these ladies), michelle (whose poetry and words blew me away), and many many more friendly faces.

vendor nite was a crazy frenetic evening as always – loved meeting so many bloggers and new faces. there were a few tears as a couple of women connected with a painting or two on my table. made my heart warm and the tears just kept coming for me, too (good ones).

i very much loved my classes this year and can’t wait to show photos of what i made. i even took a poetry writing class which was so out of my element but really good for me to try something new. next to me on the wall in my poetry class was this image (love the message):
so yes, there you have it. in the end, i am richer because of this experience, more whole, more fulfilled, more me. i am learning, navigating, taking flight into territory that sometimes feels muddied, emotional, confusing, but in the end very, very joyous and real. i will always love artfest. always. it is every emotion tied up in one.

more photos soon of class projects and peeps…

oh yes, one more thing! i meant to share this before i left for artfest – my book cover – designed by the talented marissa. here it is!! it’s really, really happening. information on pre-orders coming soon (sign up for the newsletter on my website if you’d like to stay informed on details).

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (32 comments)
  1. Laurie

    Hi Kelly,
    I really enjoyed reading your musings from Artfest…and like others, I too, can relate to the mixed bag of emotions. I appreciate your honesty. It was so nice meeting your mom and your buddy Liz. I hope you are feeling better. Believe it or not, I am still coughing and I just am now getting my voice back! Your book cover is just beautiful. You should be so proud. Take care of yourself…lots of love, Laurie

  2. Michelle (a.k.a. la vie en rose)

    i remeber that albatross…

    it was a real joy to meet both you and your mom. i hope all is well. it sounds like you’re adjusting to being back home…no post artfest blues…

    tell your mom i said hi!

  3. pamelahuntington

    HI Kelly Rae,
    I so enjoyed meeting you – and
    just today opened the lovely
    card “Taking Flight” which was
    shipped back here to Ct., your work
    is just so inspiring and
    I can’t wait to see your book!

  4. Danita

    Wow Kelly!!! Your book looks great!!!
    Can’t wait!

  5. BellaColle

    Sounds like you had a really meaningful and growing experiance there.
    I should really look into a retreat or something to ‘jumpstart’ my creativity!
    hope you feel better.

  6. * mY fRiEnDs cALL mE Rella *

    Welcome home, Sweet Pea. May I simply say from the heart of a woman about 20 years longer in the journey that you…..allow yourself the space and grace to truly feel all that you do without beating yourself up, without apology…as your heart is gentle and always seeking truth. In honoring all that you feel.. you really do allow healing, growth, room for even more joy, and understanding. When you feel weary from enormity of your emotions, take a step back and ONLY look at what you love. It’s magic.

    Sending love and peace ~ Rella xo

  7. Anonymous

    one of the highlights of the week for me was spending time with you– ah do love me a sensitive girl!!

    you are pure magic and I LOVE having your artwork here in my studio– yum

    And? your mom rocks!!


  8. Ms Dragonfly

    S E P T E M B E R ! ! ! i HAVE to wait till September! OMG, how am i going to make it? i was so looking forward to getting your book until i went to order it and it told me i wouldn’t get it till September! i can’t wait, i know it’s got to be good. but aren’t there other books that you may not of written but you were featured, which book are those. i can’t find them on amazon. P L E A S E help πŸ˜€ i know your busy, but i can try πŸ˜€

  9. Angie in AZ

    Girl, you have a way with words. Reading your description of your feelings sitting around a table of smiling faces… wow… I can’t even tell you how many times I have felt that exact same way. More often than not. It’s one reason I HATE parties. i much prefer very small gatherings of 6 or less of dear friends and even then it can be very difficult. I mostly feel like I’m on the outside looking in. Know that you are not alone and I so appreciate your honesty with ALL your feelings, not just the really great ones. Sharing your humanness creates a freedom in others to be themselves too. Thank you!

  10. Tyn

    I had the chance to say hello at vender night-( a huge thrill to meet you in person!) and I purchaced a print, as did my SIL. Your work spoke to us and marked our journey- it was us you painted ( in our minds) πŸ™‚
    I so appreciate your honesty here on these “pages” . it was my first Artfest, what a huge growing experience, and it was not all easy, tears were shed, but good came from it all.

  11. Swirly

    Sounds inspiring and wonderful and I am so excited to see your book cover!!

  12. Ms Dragonfly

    hi, I was hoping you could help recommend some books to get me started. I am very interested in the mixed media, folk or primitive art. I would like to do paintings like that but I have a lot to learn. I would like to do stuff in the vein of you, Suzi Blu, Paulette Insall, you, and Tascha. i’m getting your book but are there others you would recommend? I’ve searched for books on mixed media, it’s hard to find ones that are not just on collage mixed media. I would appreciate it if you would recommend some books to get me on my way.

    thank you,

  13. oksana

    Can not wait to have your book!!! Please….:))

  14. stephanie t.

    You, dear, are a breath of fresh air! It was a joy meeting you ..and loved your momma!
    If you ever need a break from the east bay and a taste of uber-suburbia, just email me and come on by!
    Still processing it all…still ‘there’ and not quite ‘here’…getting my momma head’ back in gear. What an experience!!

  15. Megan P

    One of the joys for those of us not so lucky as to attend artfest is the stories and pictures and experiences that we get to share with all you lucky people. Thankyou for sharing such an honest and open experience of how it can be. I can totally understand that feeling. One of the many reasons I love visiting your blog is for your honest posts about feelings we all can relate to. Thankyou – looking forward to your book.

  16. GreenishLady

    I’m so glad it was a good experience for you – and that you got to share it with your mother is special indeed! I love your book-cover! Hooray!

  17. PixieDust

    It all sounds marvelous… many blessings to you on this journey where you continue to grow…


  18. Rekoj

    Oh Kelly – So sorry to hear that you got sick. When I ran into you at Show n’Tell night you said you weren’t feeling good and I had hoped you weren’t getting the Seattle Crud that had been going around. Rest up and feel better soon!
    Artfest is a bit overwhelming and draining isn’t it? But in a good stretching way. Thank you for sharing your honest experience – the good and the growing. Will we always feel stuck out in times of growth and change? I hope that it can only get better.
    Thank you for the lovely comment on my artfest post. May the sniffles leave you soon!

  19. Wes and Tracy

    That is one of my favorite quotes!

    I have a copy of it hanging on my desk. It reminds me of the relationship I have with my best friend, my husband.

    The version I have was written by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik in 1866, in a book titled, “A life for a life” (p.169).

    Here is the original in its entirety;
    “But oh! The blessing it is to have a frend to whom one can speak fearless on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

    Beautiful quote! Love your work! Even in times that you are filled with self doubt, know that you are really an inspiration to so many. Can’t wait to see your book.


    p.s. – i’m a sensitive girl too.

  20. Cindy Ericsson

    So many big emotions in such a short span of time — you must be feeling a bit of an adrenaline after-shock. Thank you for trying to wrap words around it all for us to share here.

    The book cover is beautiful. I can’t wait to see the rest!

  21. kelly

    oh….one day i hope to go. your book cover is gorgeous and so you!
    very delicate and smooth.
    your honesty is refreshing. glad artfest was a success!

  22. katie

    it was lovely to see you and meet your mama…and i so appreciate the time we did have visiting. your book cover is beautiful, kelly, can’t wait to see the inside too. xo

  23. Cambria

    I just wanted to tell you how much I love your art. It is so beautiful!! I’m 12 and I just started a site on ETSY for my handmade jewelry and a blog about my work. I just love checking out other artists on ETSY. I’m definitely going to add you to my favorites. Cambria

  24. Kim Carney

    Hey Kelly Rae … probably, I am always leaving glasses somewhere! They are not expensive, so if you are going to see Liz soon, you could give them to her, if not, you dont have to keep them. πŸ˜‰
    It was great to see you too! AND YOUR MOM. She is wonderful! I hope to see her again very soon! Maybe a luncheon in Portland in the future!
    Hope you are feeling better.
    Another artfest has flown by and I am still trying to remember the bits and pieces! πŸ˜‰

  25. Kirsten Michelle

    i appreciate the raw honesty of this beautiful post. i imagine it is all a great deal to process.
    i think it’s so amazing that you were able to share it with your beautiful and talented mother.xo

    the book cover looks gorgeous, sweetie!!! i can’t wait to get my hands on a copy πŸ˜‰

    sending you healing hugs…
    hope you feel better real soon.

  26. Tammy

    Love your honesty. BTW…I was able to pre-order the book on Amazon.


    oh yeah….and the book looks GORGEOUS !!!! Mega-congrats !!!!!


    wow…what an experience artfest must be…I wish it was something I was able to join in on….but I have lived vicariously through your post and look forward to more photos. Thank you, Kelly Rae, for sharing.

  29. Chrissie Grace

    Hey Kelly
    I love how Marissa designed your book cover. I can’t wait to get the book!
    Various stages of pregnancy and children have kept me from going to artfest, but one day I will go!

  30. justagirl

    wow sounds like an emotional time, and very exhausting. I too am envious… we don’t have anything like that here.

    take care

  31. Leah

    it was so nice to meet you in person! i know i have a lot of unraveling to do after artfest. i’m emotionally spent.

    it’s kind of nice to know that i wasn’t the only one having difficult feelings!

    (((Hugs))) i hope our paths cross again. πŸ™‚

  32. Deirdre

    I often find that when I push past my imagined boundaries it knocks me on my butt for a while. When I do it in the company of friends who support that process I bounce back quicker and find a whole new “me”.

    It sounds like you had a good stretch and are more creatively limber for it.

    I have to admit to a bit of envy too – maybe next year will find me at Artfest uncovering more of myself.


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I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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