In Pursuit of Ecstasy- How About You?

By January 4, 2015Uncategorized

Anyone want to join me to go helipainting?!  Talk about being in pursuit of excitement!  You all know that I love to paint and travel.  It’s become my favorite way to energize myself as an artist.  It brings me joy. 

Water soluble Pen and gouache
The idea that we are in pursuit of ecstasy as artists is so compelling.  I often maintain that once I’m “in the zone” and painting free, there’s a surge of excitement and something akin to joy that overtakes me.  I attribute it to endorphins, but it is definitely euphoric, whatever the source.  
Watercolor, Ink, and Water-soluble crayon on gesso prepared paper

The Oscar Wilde is so descriptive of this phenomenon:
Ink and Water-soluble crayon

“We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible.” 

Oscar Wilde- The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I hope today finds you in pursuit of ecstasy.  For those of you who are inclined, perhaps you’ll be painting, drawing or creating your way to that kind of experience.  I hope so…

Plein Air painting using transparent and opaque watercolor and ink

“Try it!  You might like it!”

If you’re looking for experiences which can light a fire in you, you may want to consider traveling.  Traveling with drawing and painting as an option can help you experience your surroundings more intensely.  It doesn’t mean you need to paint or draw on location…although can be a great experience.  It doesn’t mean you have to be an artist either.  Simply attempting to capture something about what you visit, or what you see can be a wonderful way of connecting with the places you visit.  

Pen and wash- Watercolor and Ink

Sometimes I take photos and draw or paint them later.  Other times I will search for images of the places I go and paint them.  Somehow, I like to create a visual record which has meaning for me in the places I go.  You might enjoy it as I do.  

I love journaling- this entry in my journal was done with Water-soluble pen and watercolor wash

For me, the record which I create helps me remember the places better…in fact, if I paint or draw it, I will never forget it.  

Pen and Watercolor wash

The photos in this blog are from my travel journal.  It is the best way I have found to prevent my trips from becoming a blur of jumbled memories and places.  If you are like me, you forget the names of the towns you visit and what you did when you got there.  My solution has been these journals.   I would encourage you to try this sort of pictorial journal for yourself and see if it doesn’t help you cement the experience in your mind more clearly.  

Transparent watercolor

I would love to give you some suggestions and techniques for journaling your travels.  My class schedule is here on the website calendar.  Your next euphoric moment might just be awaiting you in class…or on my next EAT PAINT COOK tour of Tuscany this fall. I’d love to show you beautiful Tuscany Oct 3-10, 2015.  

Pen and gouache

Painting and journaling will be an OPTION on this trip, as will cooking lessons, but painting or cooking are not requirements.  They are simply additional activities which will be offered to participants.  During relaxation time for non-painters,  we will have a STUDIO for our use, which makes it convenient.  Hauling our art materials with us everywhere we go is unnecessary thanks to the studio.  We can simply do art together when we have some down time..or if we feel the urge.  After all, we don’t need pressure on vacation!  Here’s a link for the details about my EAT PAINT COOK TOUR OF TUSCANY …

Transparent watercolor

Let me hear from you! I read every comment and it means a lot to know you are out there reading.

Rebecca Zdybel
Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor
Art Lessons in all media
Myrtle Beach, SC

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July 11, 2014
In his 1964 book, Religions, Values and Peak Experiences, psychologist Abraham Maslow broadened the definition and understanding of ecstasy. Instead of crediting solely the supernatural for our human moments of inspiration and interconnectedness, Maslow believed that the essential experience attributed to religion could be seen as a private revelation. A sacred consciousness is brought on by awareness, personal action and participation and is illuminated from within.
I once saw Swan Lake at the American Ballet Theatre at Lincoln Centre in New York City. Settling in as the lights dimmed and the chandeliers ascended, organza tutus appeared on the stage like soft, floating objects of meditation, gradating from pale pink to apricot, then an effervescent custard and dove — a rainbow in slow motion of tertiary greys. A universal, intoxicating, multi-sensory eye massage hushed the audience into a state of breathlessness.
After the ballet, I stepped out into the Lincoln Center Plaza. Her central fountain skipped and splashed under a rosy moon and reflected the golden interior lights of the adjoining houses of worship: the Philharmonic, the Juilliard, the City Opera. I floated down Columbus Avenue in a state of euphoric appreciation — a tumbling illumination and recalibrated artistic vision harmonized with the universe — in innocence and wonder, in possibilities and understanding. The meaning of life and beauty appeared to me while bearing witness to the sweat and conviction of generations of fellow travellers in art.
“We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible,” wrote Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Despite Wilde’s sarcasm, as artists, we might build and multiply our highs to harness the awe, the growth, and the feelings of empowerment. Here are a few ideas:
Identify moments of ecstasy and when they occur.

Seek out and create experiences that can be identified as “peak aesthetic moments.”

Recognize when you “switch on.”

Go for a variety of triggers: simple, extravagant, strange, alone, comforting, challenging, shared.

Work the lingering creative edge gained from your revelations. Make it count.

Do it regularly.

PS: “The person in peak-experiences feels himself, more than other times, to be the responsible, active, creating center of his activities and of his perceptions. He feels more like a prime-mover, more self-determined (rather than caused, determined, helpless, dependent, passive, weak, bossed). He feels himself to be his own boss, fully responsible, fully volitional, with more ‘free-will’ than at other times, master of his fate, an agent.” (Abraham Maslow)
“I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” (William Blake)
Esoterica: Ecstasy is worth chasing when the results are your own personal boom of productivity. Possibilities may be close by or they wait in other worlds. Last August Dad and I joined plein-air painter and hiking guide Liz Wiltzen in the Canadian Rockies for an encounter with ecstasy called “heli-painting.” This September 4 – 7, Liz carries the torch with American watercolourist and colour master Stephen Quiller. A few spots are still available for this plein-air experience of a lifetime. If you’d like to find out more, we’ve posted some heli-footage and information at the top of this letter online.

Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at

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