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Chasing Down The Muse: Clouds make silver linings

The most regretful people on earth are those …who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave it neither power nor time.

— Mary Oliver, “Of Power and Time”

As I strode on, my mind kept tripping over clouds on another surprisingly gorgeous morning. The clarity of the blue backdrop with its puffs and swirls and clumps of clouds from every gradation of white through the grays to deep charcoal was stunning. A painterly sky. Reflections off the sea and the long stretch of the vistas … well, I felt very alive on that day as I walked. The day was vibrant and vital — a wonderful surprise on a day forecast for rain — and I felt so, too.

Vibrant and vital. I thought about those two words as I walked along the shoreline, watching the swoop and fall of shorebirds against the cloudy sky. Don’t we all want to be surrounded by things and people that are vibrant and vital or is it just me? Experience tells me the answer is that most of us do.


Clouds. How often we hear the words “every cloud has a silver lining.” Lately, our long-running local Sawdust Art Festival has been taking a bit of a bashing. Change — a vibrant and vital thing at its best — has caused problems for a few vocal folks. The silver lining here is that I like to dispel negativity whenever I can by focusing on the good in a situation, so, casting that “rumbling” aside, I would like to speak of the vibrant and vital Spring Into Art program at the festival grounds.

The Sawdust Art Festival is a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public and promoting art created in Laguna Beach. The Spring Into Art program was started in 2000 by then board member glass-blower John Barber and his wife, Rebecca, to fulfill that mission to educate — and at a reasonable cost. Since then, each spring there has been an array of classes offered to the public taught by professional artists. The weekend workshops provide the budding or more experienced artist with all their supplies for a titillating two days of vibrant and vital learning in a somehow both stimulating and serene setting.

In the past, I have taken and taught these workshops. Both sides of the experience have been thrilling and inspiring. The creative spirit cannot help but burst forth in these classes. For this year’s program friend and fellow artist Suzette Rosenthal and I will be teaching together once again. On a recent day I was writing for our semi-monthly newsletter and thought to ask former students for input about what they liked best. I was thrilled by the responses and pass a few on.

Local Tara Stoutenborough, who calls herself a “happy collager,” wrote, “It’s hard to believe anything could be so much fun and still teach you so much. I’ve done the workshop three or four times and am coming back for more. Each class makes me a better artist — and a happier person.” Vibrant and vital? You bet she is!


Others, too! Ann Crutchfield from Huntington Beach says that the classes are so fun and inspirational “you may never stop!” Lorraine Lopez is coming back for more of “a whole new world opened up,” where she was amazed at what she could do. Linda Bucci liked the “treetop studio” and spoke of it being a “wonderful, fun, relaxing, educational workshop.”

These are just a few of the happy responses to our own classes. The others are equally inspiring and fun. If your creative power is feeling “restive and uprising” or if you merely want to hang with other vibrant and vital folks, you should check out the very reasonable Spring Into Art offerings at and join in. You, too, may be amazed. There is everything from flower arranging to glassblowing, painting in watercolor, acrylics or oil, fabric collage, printmaking, ceramic glazing, and our own mixed-media playtime from which to choose. And, to top it off, lunch is provided as well.

Give your own creativity some power and time. Possibilities abound (and silver linings, too).

Where else will you find this caliber of classes with great instruction, lunch, all materials provided, and set down in a grove of stately trees as well? Join us!

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, and creative coach exploring and enjoying the many mysteries of life in the moment. She can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.