Inexorably Drawn to India – Post 1

Drawn to India - RajasthanBack in January of this year my sister Janet and I made a snap decision to do an art tour of Rajasthan, India.  Called Drawn to India, led by visual artist Catherine Parker in conjunction with Lakshmi Tours, it sounded like just the tonic for anyone going through a career, creative or life-in-general transition. (And let’s face it, there seem to be few people who aren’t transitioning through something right now.)

I say ‘snap’ but it truly was a ‘gut’ decision (if you’ll pardon the pre-trip Delhi Belly pun). When I know something is right I know it in my stomach – like a penny dropping into a well with a satisfying ‘plomp’.  India as our destination is not really surprising – people have been going there to find themselves for ages. But a visual art tour where the participants not only see but practice a visual art form en route? It was the one question the left side of my brain kept asking my gut.
Not that I have anything against art in fact I love it.  There’s plenty of original art on the walls at our place. I regularly drag my family along to visit galleries. I did art to Year 12. The art part of the tour wasn’t the problem. It was the active practising of the art that seemed a bit divergent from my chosen creative pursuit of writing.
 At first Janet and I thought we could skate over the art thing and be ‘academics / writers in residence’ or some such on the tour.  Total cop-out because that’s what we do (respectively) for a living and no dice in any case. Our fearless leader, Catherine, informed us ever so gently that in order to join the tour you have to ply a visual art and attend a workshop before you depart.  Bummer. Another thing I needed to squeeze into an already jam-packed schedule.
But then something quite unexpected popped up in my path, as I find things often do when I need to hear them. A Fortune article entitled ‘Why I Paint’ by Michael Moritz, Chairman of Sequoia Capital caught my eye.  My favourite valuable insight from this article is this quote, “As with so many things, painting is about overcoming inhibitions.” I see the word inhibitions here but I hear the word fear. How many of us in times of transition detest the uncertainty or are filled with fear about what’s coming next?
And then came Catherine’s workshop. Once I’d adjusted my somewhat businesslike ‘pre-trip, to-do list’ attitude and surrendered, even a little bit, to the experience of mucking around with water colour paints, I started hearing exactly what I needed to hear.
Make time for play - Who knew said mucking around with water colour paints could be so absorbing and so much fun? I didn’t consciously lean into this art-play, I was quite literally drawn in – and it was good.
Let go of perfectionism – At one point in the workshop Catherine said something along these lines and I had the distinct feeling she was peering right into my soul. Too often I’ve let rule-following and a ‘get it right first time’ mindset blind me to other possibilities. I’m probably not as open to trying new things as I think I am for fear of getting it wrong.  But when it’s my art who’s to say it’s not right? And if all else fails and I don’t like what I paint, I can always pull out a clean sheet of paper!
Go with your intuition – If you feel two colours might look groovy together, try them. If you feel uneasy about about a situation or decision, pay heed to that.
And if you feel going to India on an art tour is the right thing to do, go for it.



  1. says

    Hi Jen – it sounds amazing, although I suspect that given a choice of “Delhi Belly” or having to “tap my inner artiste” (said in a low, breathy hatha yoga type voice) I’d choose the former. Can’t wait to hear how it impacts you and your thinking/feeling.

  2. says

    Jen, I know you and your sister will have an amazing time – regardless of the art that you will produce…just the sights and sounds of india – it’s like nothing on this earth one could even wildly imagine. cant wait to hear all about it – and best wishes for coping with any delhi belly moments!! lots of love, Trish

  3. Celine says

    Namaste Jen,
    I’m already imagining many Namaskars during your exciting and creative Indian journey. Enjoy, energise and return back with a wealth of inspirational wisdom to share. Can’t wait for Post 2 and a photo of you in a sari!!
    Love Celine & the Gang

  4. Madge the Badge says

    Water colours, great curries, curious smells and complete gobsmacking sunsets… bring on India! Go well Jen – and give us lots of details xx

  5. Julie McHenry says

    Jenny–India will be amazing but my sense is the real life-changing impact will be around the art. So excited for you! Looking forward to more posts. XO Julie

  6. says

    well jen! you exceeded I think any of the potential ‘what ifs’ of going to india, making art etc you threw your hat in the ring, danced through the art, made some beautiful paintings and shared your joy and wisdom with your art buddy sisters and our indian brothers. I know you will return . The surface has just been scratched…big happy indian wedding hugs Xxx love catherine

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