Watercolor in Raffine sketchbook (to enlarge, click image, select “All Sizes”)
I hadn’t planned to paint this evening, being tired and over-stimulated from day one of our two day annual staff meeting/retreat combined with a little too much urban grit. But I realized that painting was exactly what I needed to calm and center myself.
We used to hold our staff retreats at a lovely Sonoma wine country retreat center where we stayed overnight and relaxed while doing the learning, reflecting on the past year, and planning for the next year. But it became increasingly more difficult for people to leave growing families and other parts of their lives for work retreats so we started having them in Preservation Park, a charmingly restored group of Victorian buildings in downtown Oakland.
Walking back to our office at lunch time, about a mile away from the meeting, the things I saw made me wish that there was such a thing as iPods for the eyes; sort of like rose-colored glasses, I suppose. Just like listening to an iPod can tune out the sounds of traffic and annoying people talking on cell phones, putting on these glasses would allow you to see lovely gardens, the ocean, sunsets…like music for the eyes. Much better than what I saw today: various mentally ill or drug-crazed people ranting; a man peeing on the sidewalk as we passed by, requiring us to step out of the path of the urine heading towards us; an old woman lying on the sidewalk screaming in pain surrounded by paramedics; the many empty, shuttered storefronts. Even in our nice meeting room we couldn’t get away from the grit–a homeless guy in a bright blue wig wandered into our meeting room but fortunately turned around and left.