The Orlando Adventure

When I stepped outside to load my car up with my suitcase I checked the tempature. 15 degrees F. Pretty cold, but not all that bad for a February day in Northern Maine. I knew I’d be hitting warmer weather soon, because I was heading to the airport to fly out to Orlando to teach a painting workshop. Off I went to pick up Adam, and drive 2.5 hours to the airport. I’m not a big fan of flying, mostly because I don’t enjoy airports and all the hassle, but at the same time it takes a long time to get where you’re going, even if it is a lot faster than driving. It’s always a long day when I travel to workshops.

Our flights went well and we arrived in Orlando around 9PM. I got a text from my friend Mark to go over and hang out at his house. So at 9PM we drove to his house to hang out with a bunch of people and ended up playing basketball until 1:30AM. We were playing PIG, and some of the guys are well known musicians. I figured I’d have no problem winning a game of PIG, cause I’m the oxymoron of an athletic artist, but I underestimated their basketball abilities. I quickly realized they were in that same athletic artist group that I thought was quite exclusive :). I ended up losing in the end, but I’m going to demand a rematch next time I see those guys. We had a blast over there, but had to get back to get a little sleep before the workshop started at 10AM the next day.

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The workshop was a great time. I had a lot of familiar faces in the group, and we did two paintings over the weekend. I always enjoy having a group of people who are really passionate about painting. We even had a group of ladies fly over from Ireland to take the workshop. They kept us laughing all weekend, those Irish ladies have a great sense of humor! The group did really well painting, and hopefully picked up some new tricks to help in their painting adventures.

I scheduled a few extra days in Orlando to take somewhat of a mini vacation. Usually when I do workshops I’m either heading right out to a new city, or back home, so this was a nice change of pace. I couldn’t pass up relaxing in the warm Florida sun.

The first day off, we headed to St. Petersburg to check out the Salvador Dali Museum. One of the guy’s at Mark’s house suggested we go there. So we took his advice, and I’m really glad we did. I’ve seen a lot of great art in my life as an artist, but was really taken by the work of Dali. There was an audio tour that we took that explained a little bit about most of the paintings. I never realized Dali painted on a large scale later in his life. I’ve always been a big fan of surrealism, and his work is genius. How he composes each painting has to take a mind that only thinks outside the box, because the planning ability it takes to create those works is beyond what you see in normal people.

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The next day I set up an appointment to do a sensory deprivation float. This basically entails you getting in a giant pod full of 12 inches of water that has been super saturated with Epsom salt. It is impossible not to float in this water. So when you lay back in the water you can completely relax your body. The water is heated to your skin temperature, so after about 5 minutes you no longer feel the water on your arms and legs. You only feel it a little bit around your face. There is a small blue light on in the water that fades out, as well as a little music that slowly fades out. Eventually you are in pitch black darkness in this pod with the feeling you are floating in space. It is designed for you to take a break from the constant sensory overload of the world. It took me about 30 minutes before I could relax completely, so I got about 30 minutes of good relaxing because I scheduled a 60 minute float. I started zoning out and going into somewhat of a trance. My mind would drift off into daydreams and sometimes complete nothingness. Its so dark that sometimes you’re not even sure if your eyes are open or not. The magnesium in the water also helps relax your nervous system and muscles. It was one of the most relaxing things I’ve ever experienced and would do it weekly if we had that type of spa at home. It may be the ultimate form of meditation. I guess I’ll just have to make that a workshop trip regular.

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After that great moment of relaxation came a day of stress. When we arrived at the airport this morning our connecting flight in NYC to Bangor was canceled. So we flew up to NYC, but are stranded here until tomorrow. So here I sit in another hotel writing my blog. The wind and rain are pounding the window just beside my bed. Hopefully the weather clears up tonight so we can make it home tomorrow. I’m looking forward to looking out the big windows in my living room. I miss looking at the rolling hills and brilliant winter sunsets allowing my mind to drift into more nothingness. It’s my own Northern Maine spa of scenery, its one sensory overload that I’ll take any day. It was a great trip, literally and metaphorically speaking.

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