Chasing Down The Muse: Creating art on a beautiful day

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson


The sky shone like a sparkling gold coin as I walked onto the deck after another Sunday afternoon Mixed-Media Playtime workshop. By the time I had put down my boxes and taken off my apron, the sky had turned a warm, yet brilliant orange, touching everything in the canyon and making things glow. As I washed off the layers of paint from my hands the light again changed — this time to fruit colors of mango, strawberry, peach — and finally settled to a dusty pink line of color just over the deep blue of the sea on the western horizon.

What a day! What a glorious, grand-to-be-alive kind of day this had been!

The temperature was perfect. The company was convivial. We got to play at what we love doing — creating art. Myriad possibilities presented themselves as we experimented with the many materials strewn about. Color and texture and image all melded into wonderful creations in the hands of this fun group of women.

Sometimes soft music was playing or gentle conversations were flowing or we were watching as Faith signed the instructions for her sister even as she repeated the words in her own low voice. Birds sang their melodic tunes in the nearby trees. Walkers out enjoying the day stopped by the open door to ask what we were doing. Cindy's friends dropped by after their own walk. Still, hardly anyone even looked up from their work. We all kept on, undisturbed by any of it. That's just what happens in these fun workshops. Intention and focus take over.

I had started the day with mixed feelings, tired after a very busy week with part of me just wanting some time to be quiet and by myself. That lasted about 2 and a half minutes. Suzette arrived early and we started to set up, chatting as we went. Spirits and energy both lifted and we finished setting up plenty ahead.

Such a beautiful day! "Did you exercise this morning?" "No, did you?" Off we went on a quick walk around the hill, chattering as if we had not just spent hours together the previous day.

We had left a sign stating we were on a short walk in case someone showed up early. Sure enough, when we rounded the curve we could see Cindy and Eileen waiting. They, too, had found the day too beautiful to resist and breakfasted at Madison Square Garden and Café before coming to play.

As the other women arrived, talk was mostly on the glories of the day — on the green of the hillsides, of birdsong, glistening sunshine, and temperate weather. The beauty was of course also contrasted with what our Laguna community had undergone all too recently, the aftermath of which can still be seen when one looks in the right places.

In fact, Faith and her daughter had the day before helped with the cleanup out at Anneliese's School in the canyon. We all counted our blessings.

Count our blessings we must, but let's not forget those still struggling to clean up after the storms. There is still much to be done. Please do what you can. Some still need our help as they struggle to return to some sense of normalcy. Help where you are able. Then look to the sky for that daily dose of heartwarming splendor.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, counselor…always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the beauty and mysteries of life. She can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

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