I said kismet would take care of helping me find Jackie. And Destiny definitely did do that. Just so that you know where to find Kismet, she’s on the same road as my friend Bill’s good friend Serin Dippety.
It was February in Chicago, just two months after my French restaurant experience, when into the door of Al’s greenhouse, walked Kismet. She arrived overnight in the 20 degrees below zero Chicago night storm.
What did Kismet do?
Simply put she froze Al’s greenhouse heater and all of his prize plants in the greenhouse. Al was out on a sales trip and when he returned he found all of his prize plants dead.
Al’s only statement was “That’s it! We’re out of here. We’re putting the house up for sale on Monday.” And in walked Kismet again and the house sold in three weeks. We needed to stay for school year end in June, and that’s how the sale contract was written. But we were preparing.
Al flew off to California, on business and in search of a new house. He found a house immediately in Thousand Oaks California, north of Los Angeles and south of Santa Barbara. I flew out on a midnight flight, met him at 4am and we drove to Thousand Oaks. We had breakfast around 6am at Du Pars Restaurant and Bakery.
Du Pars has been a landmark and one of the best breakfast restaurants in the Los Angeles area. He knew he could win me over with food. He is a really good salesman. And he definitely sold me.
We met the realtor at 9 am. It was in an area called Lynn Ranch. The house was on the edge of a gorge and had a peek view through the canyon to the ocean. The property was perfect for growing tropical plants and palm trees. It was an ideal replacement for the frozen greenhouse. No freezing weather here. By noon the papers were signed and we would be moving to Thousand Oaks in June.
Enter my cousin Evelyn, who was more than family to me. She was my dearest friend and basically my older and very wise sister. I was the oldest sibling in my birth family and she was the youngest in hers. A few years before our move to California, Evelyn had moved to the Berkeley area, and then to Lake Tahoe. So once again we were going to live near one another. How perfect.
Evelyn had opened The Fourth Center and taught classes in meditation and self-healing. So there was kismet at work again. The classes were six week sessions, and perfect for me, since I was in search of finding Jackie. Eight weeks before our move date, I flew to Lake Tahoe and took that first six week set of classes. I stayed with Ev in her incredible two story, one bedroom cabin, with pot-belly wood burning stove, high up in the mountains on the backside of Squaw Valley. Not a place that most city born Chicagoans would choose to live. No fancy clothes, high heels or false eyelashes. The idea was to learn how to live in the unfamiliar. I was feeling more comfortable than I had in years.
On my walk one afternoon, three lots from the cabin, was a brand new house with a for sale sign. I know I was directed to take that little hike up the road. The house looked exactly like an artist’s home/studio that I had seen some ten years earlier, while in Gatlinburg Tennessee. I programmed it, as I stood in those Great Smoky Mountains, that one day I would have a house/studio just like that.
And here it was, in Tahoma California. Yes, the next day I called a realtor, and made an independent Jackie decision. I bought that house, as a second home and mountain studio retreat. The realtor. friend of Evelyn’s, was Trinkie Watson, who has remained my dear friend to this day. When I phoned Al and told him of my dream realized, he said, “Other women shop for clothes” I was not like other women, but I was in heaven. Mot really heaven but 6286 feet high.
The New Adventure
Evelyn came up with a great idea for me. I could come on an art retreat, and teach drawing classes at the center. I would do them in six week sessions. Of course I had never taught. But her concept was that teaching is a way to learn what you know and what you need to learn. Truth is, I discovered more of me in her classes. That more of me became a really great drawing teacher.
What I taught was a class for people who believed they had no talent. Yes I used all that I had learned about the difference between skill and talent. My students, like me, were in classes learning how to find their authentic self, letting go of their destructive past. And giving that new self some creative expression was a perfect healing.
Teaching on the Road To Finding Jackie
This is how I taught. I taught how to use materials, i.e. charcoal, ink, crayons, and paper. I used live models, and taught many different drawing exercises. Draw without looking at the paper. Draw the model with eight lines, Then with seven, then with six and ending with only five lines. Draw with one continuous line. Do one minute drawings for ten minutes, followed by two 5 minute drawings. Several sets of those short poses, made the final twenty minute drawing feel like you had a ton of time.
One of my favorite memories of a student, was from classes that I taught at the original movie theater in Squaw Valley. The movie theatre and bar was first built for the 1960 Olympics known as the Far East Building.
I stood up on the stage with the model, while the students sat in the theater seats, with their drawing boards in hand and against the seat in front of them. One of the drawing exercises that I was teaching was to draw with your non-dominant hand. That’s a way to really loosen-up your drawings.
Everyone was busy drawing when I noticed Robert. I had totally forgotten that he had only one arm. But there he was, charcoal pencil tucked under the armpit of his missing arm. He was leaning over his drawing board and moving his body to make his marks. He actually did a great drawing. Proving that when there is a desire there is a way.
Stardom and Talent
Another favorite memory is of a phone call from a local area resident. His name, Hoyt Axton, singer and composer of “Joy to the World” He said he heard that I was teaching classes for people who believed they couldn’t draw because they had no art talent. His wife was his pianist, and although she was musically gifted, she believed she had no other talent. So Hoyt made a deal with me. If I taught her to draw and helped remove that belief he would give me a very special gift.
On his upcoming Johnny Carson Tonight Show appearance, he would send a car for me to be his guest. And so a Rolls Royce appeared at my house and took me to the green room. And in that famous green room I watched the show until they returned after their appearance
Dinner at the Axtons
Yes Donna did some great drawings and removed the belief that she could never draw. They also invited me for dinner at their home. Hoyt had published several books of his drawings. He proudly gave me signed copies of three books. Line Drawings: Vol. I and 2 Paperback – January 1, 1973 by Hoyt W. Axton (Author) and I Want You To Be Haopy 1973.
So Hoyt believed that we all have talents that we don’t use. Well I don’t know that they’re talents, but I do know that we all have more than we believe of ourselves. It’s just give that more of ourselves some information and tools, and we can all draw, paint, sculpt, do pottery, sew, cook, or do many other creative projects. And then become professional at it, if we stick with it. I call is stick-to-it-iveness. It’s about inspiration and perspiration.
As I said, I really learned to teach. At the end of the six week set of twice a week classes, I would send each student off to draw, draw, draw. They couldn’t take another class with me for four months, and only if they returned with sketch books filled with drawings. Most people only needed two or three series of classes. They were now skilled and ready to work on their own with the artist that they awakened. I definitely believe that the student never grows as an individual, if they become dependent on a teacher. I definitely didn’t need any more dependents.
This discovery of the authentic Jackie worked really well up there on the mountain top. It was all about me doing my own thing in a community of others on the same path.