Robin playing tai chi on a foggy morning at Birch Harbor, Gouldsboro, Maine (still image from video)

Art and Tai Chi–How one feeds the other

What does it mean to feel delight even as one takes creative risks that can feel daring? This past summer, I’ve been branching out in some new directions, both with art and tai chi. These experiences have felt both delightful and daring, but they have given me opportunities to grow and learn. Perhaps my story will inspire you to take a risk and learn something new! I find it refreshing, and sometimes daunting, when I challenge myself. But it is healthy for our bodies and minds to experience new learning when time, space, and finances allow us to do so. Taking a week-long workshop at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts stretched my brain and gave me a chance to experience what Zen practitioners call “beginner’s mind” . And In my tai chi adventures I am constantly challenging myself to refine the practice. This process of refining includes learning the Yang-style 24 form with a wonderful local tai chi teacher and practicing the Animal Frolics I learned at a workshop earlier this summer at Omega Institute. Does one practice feed or support the other? My answer is yes, absolutely. By bringing “beginner’s mind” to the art studio, I stay open to new learning and to the element of surprise.

Robin’s silkscreen classmates at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Jen Hewett, the instructor, is pictured in front with the blue dress and white sweater.

Learning about silkscreen on fabric

Interestingly, I had tried silkscreen printing on fabric many years before but I never felt comfortable with the process. I’m happy with my Spruce Tree print, pictured below. It is the second two-color print I made in the workshop at Haystack. To make this print I translated an ink drawing from my sketchbook into a two-color silkscreen. First I printed the background color which is reminiscent or dawn or sunset. And then I screened the dark green tree on top. Because we were encouraged to try mixing transparent base into our colors, you can see how the two layers merge to create some interesting variations. It felt daring to explore an art process that has so many steps, one that is more linear than intuitive.

Robin Brooks, “Spruce Tree Sunset”, a two-color silkscreen on fabric, 14″ x 11″, 2023, a “delightful and daring” design
The steps at Haystack with a spectacular view of the ocean

Tai Chi at Haystack and at home in Topsham, Maine

I practiced tai chi at Haystack and while on vacation Downeast. During our week at Birch Harbor on a family vacation, I recorded two short videos that can be found on my YouTube channel. Feel free to check them out, along with my other tai chi videos. While at Haystack, I shared some tai chi practice in the morning with other students. While practicing, I felt the creative energy, or ‘Qi’ of this extraordinary place.

And in the meantime, my tai chi classes at Merrymeeting Adult Education are enrolling. There are a few spaces remaining in the Tuesday afternoon beginner’s class and the Thursday afternoon continuing class. So please spread the word. Both classes are “in person” and they begin Sept. 19th and 21st. You can visit my new Tai Chi with Robin page or subscribe for updates.

Robin Brooks, “Near and Far,” painted paper collage, ca. 1990, private collection

Robin’s “Healer Within” tai chi practice group continues on Zoom

Our “Healer Within” tai chi and qigong practice group continues on Zoom from 9-10 AM Eastern on Friday mornings. I emphasize enjoyment, deep relaxation, and finding a path to well-being through practicing qigong and tai chi in community. Attendance is by freewill donation, with $10.00 per class suggested*. Please message me if you’d like to try it out and I will send you the Zoom link. *The first class is free. And in the meantime, take care, be well, and enjoy these late summer days!