Chasing Down the Muse: The bloom of the artistic mind

…the world offers itself to your imagination. —Mary Oliver

Spring has sprung! It brings with it an awe and appreciation of many things.

Finches and wrens greet each morning with their cheerful songs. The mourning doves coo their soft, underlying refrain. Sky color at dawn seems to have greater depth, as does the mingling of blue shades at twilight. The mockingbird gets in his licks by serenading through the night with his many tunes.

I am reminded of Oliver's words on gratitude — questions really — meant to bring us to greater awareness of the beauty around us.

On gratitude, the questions ask what you noticed, what you heard, what you admired, what you found astonishing in a given moment. What would you like to see repeated? What was most tender and wonderful? And, last, she asks what you thought was happening in that moment.

On a beautiful spring morning, I think of these things as I wander the Sawdust Art Festival grounds. The booths are long gone. The crowds, too. The stately eucalyptus trees stand sentinel on the mostly empty grounds. Birds sing from the trees. Sun wafts down through the gracefully drooping branches.

In less than an hour, students will arrive for their Spring Into Art classes. Today, it will be glassblowing and forging a silver bracelet. One of the special treats of my job as director of Studio Art Classes here is observing the instructors and students in the learning process.

Some students approach with gusto and an eagerness to try something new. Others, more watchful and wary, move more slowly into this learning realm. To see all of them at the beginning of the process, throughout and then at the end is truly tender and wonderful.

While I admire the eager ones, I also admire and am in awe of the more timid as well. What is especially wonderful is the process of learning that takes place and the pride with which they show off their own unique creations at the end.

What will these folks today bring to my awareness? Eagerly, I await all of them. What would I like to see again? More and more of the same. Learning is a wonderful thing. I am grateful for the many opportunities I have to watch it occur. That this occurs here in the wonderful setting of a grove of eucalyptus trees, with the sun shining and birds singing, well … I am just filled up by it all!

Spring Into Art takes place at the Sawdust Art Festival weekends through April, and studio classes are offered year-round. Check out the possibilities for learning at

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer and director of the Sawdust Studio Art Classes in Laguna Beach. Always fascinated, inspired and titillated by the beauty and the ever-changing mysteries of life, she can be reached at or by phone at 714/745.9973.

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