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).

Hi, 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 whispers and started playing with paint and everything changed. Now I’m a full-time artist, author and Possibilitarian, who helps women explore their creativity, nourish their souls and build a thriving creative business.

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