RAW night :: ready to create some togetherness?

September 1, 2010

by jenica mckenzie
photos by amy

inspiring RAW woman

Random Art Workshops was born out of the FIRE that was lit underneath me after attending a super rad art retreat. after being surrounded by so many like minded and hearted women i found it difficult to come home to the everyday. i ended up feeling isolated despite being around people, because i didn’t feel like my heart was understood. (i could only take chit-chat about shopping or tv dramas for so long before i felt like my ears would bleed from boredom. ha!) my husband noted the timing and called my funk Squamorse: the let down we feel after coming home from heaven-like bliss. i was happy to paint at home by myself but i missed the sisterhood that was created there. when i open myself up to art it opens a vulnerable part of my heart as well, having the right people there in that moment can create a place of safety to let it all spill out. so i began to reach out, racking my brain for every creative friend i’ve come across, we had our first night, and it quickly caught on. monthly just really didn’t seem like it was often enough!

RAW jan

we’ve worked on art journals, collaborative paintings, word canvases, knitting/crochet, and photography, (i even got the opportunity to take RAW on the road once and we painted rocks on the beach!). we each bring our own talents (and insecurities) to the table, but in the process of getting messy with our hands, our hearts also have the space to get messy. to let our true selves spill out onto the table. you don’t have to be an artist, you don’t have be amazingly creative, you just have to be open to the notion of getting messy.

as long as there is more than one person and you’re doing something creative, consider it a RAW night. mostly it looks like this.


sometimes, because i’m a dork, i read a devotional from this. organizationally speaking, for the utah peeps this is what works for us: we rotate houses, not by a schedule, but just by who is open and we all chip in on snacks and food. one of us will pick a project and we all bring supplies to share. but you can be more organized if you want! we sometimes only have 2 of us, other times there have been around 6. we each invite people we know will hold up the net of safety, this is not a place to gossip, there is no room for cattiness in these circles, just love and kindness.

there is a facebook group that may work to help connect people geographically as well as to share ideas for raw nights.

the RAW mantra is: just get messy!

we have a few other groups who meet regularly…

southern california :: written by sarah, pics by mccabe

“My kids began participating in Dancing Mermaid’s art camps a couple years ago. Meeting Mccabe opened my heart to the world of mixed media and art journaling, but it was so hard to find the time I needed to even start my own journal. With work and kids and home stuff, the time just always seemed spoken for in advance. But I started collecting the SUPPLIES!!! This was my shop therapy..but then I realized, I couldn’t just keep hoarding this stuff! We started our group because many of us moms and other hard-working gals just weren’t taking time for ourselves or making the time to do art. Some of us were in book clubs, and we could read and go to a meeting once a month….so I thought, let’s do an art journaling club! Then Mccabe told me about Jenica’s RAW…and the name really had a ring to it. (Thanks, Jenica!) We’ve had two RAW Nights so far and no one can wait until the next one! We have a little potluck and drink wine and get messy. It’s AWESOME! Everyone who’s participated is now completely jazzed on making stuff! And we all agree that it is pure “heart” therapy…it makes us all so happy”

alberta, canada :: pics and writing by darlene

“When I first read about Jenica’s RAW nights, I was awed and excited because I so badly wanted to hold my own RAW nights but it seemed a little intimidating and would my girlfriends really be interested in something like that. I had no idea. Turns out everyone is always up for time with their girlfriends and the opportunity to get messy and make art. My life is like your life – filled to the brim with the busy, running from here to there and managing the family schedule, meals and scrubbing of the tub along with the daily bleary eyed commute for a day of work. not to mention exercise, spiritual and creative pursuits while juggling friendship time and social engagements. Taking time out to just laugh and share and fill your hands with the beauty of creating is worth finding time for. It is pure beautiful magic.

I had some creative friends visit me in May and I invited more friends and planned a day long RAW. Because I don’t like to do anything halfway, I dragged out tables and had stations for jewelry making, painting and collaging and sketch books. I taped a huge piece of thick watercolor paper to one of the tables and over the course of a day filled with much laughter with some soul sharing and serious conversation, we collaboratively and collectively made a work of art that currently hangs in my studio. It always brings me back to my heart and I am so grateful for the introduction to RAW because it has opened up a space for me to share what is often a solitary exercise with my beautiful sisters. For me that is what makes RAW beautiful – creating art is often a solitary endeavour but it doesn’t have to be, it can be about community. RAW reminds me of the quilts that my grandmother used to make at a table surrounded by women. Our hearts open up when we are creating and its nice to share an open heart.”

mountain plains of Colorado :: words by lisa

My art journal cover

RAW nights are amazing, magical, soul nurturing and healing. Getting together with women that I know and spend time with, but doing it in this little safe cocoon of creative exploration give all of us a chance to connect in deeper ways. So much more gets said, expressed and felt journeying together, with our focus on that. At our last meeting, I found myself exploring my fears and my longings in a way that I just would not do alone. I feel safe to explore deeper waters, knowing that the women I Iove and admire are all around me.

wild desert of AZ :: pics by jessamyn and words by latisha

crochet book

I am a solitary person, a hermit of sorts. And I’m one of those analytical, serious not so artsy types. So I surprised myself when I got really excited to hear about R.A.W. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I pestered Jenica about joining a Phoenix group, but wasn’t brave enough to start one myself. I mean who was I to call myself an artist? All I do is smear some paint around and draw stick figures. But it is the desire to make something out of what’s inside. The necessity to say what is felt in a vibrant and visual way. Then, there was this amazing artist blogger who lived only a few miles from me that I had been reading for a while, but we hadn’t met. I was too afraid, didn’t feel worthy, she seemed so surreal to me. But she decided to host the first Phoenix R.A.W. night. And I was invited. During the week I mustered up as many excuses as I could but in the end, there was only one thing to do.

When I walked into the door of this virtual stranger’s home carrying my basket of intentions, I had no idea the transformation that was to occur, the bonds that were to be formed. That first night there were 5 of us, all strangers to me that I had known since eternity. When the paint and yarn came out so too did the heart of these women. The sharing so vulnerable and soft, yet celebrated not judged. Fears, self-worth, doubt, anger, frustration steeped in love like a warm cup of tea. Each creative soul creating her truth, right then, live. It was here that they fell into being for me. Their souls danced off the monitor and into my heart. Pedestals and perceived perfection traded for a big couch and received truths. These were Real. Authentic. Women. It was here where I thought for the first time in my life, I could be an artist. I love blogging for the doors it has opened for me, but being able to hold a moment in time with a real live beating heart, was the piece I was missing. In the days following, a creative monsoon washed over me and I couldn’t keep up with my ideas. This once non-creative type was a mess of paint, glue, and fabric every single day. And each time I questioned myself I remembered the energy of that night.

10 Responses to “RAW night :: ready to create some togetherness?”

  1. Clare B says:

    I am so drawn to starting this in my neighbourhood of Berlin. A wonderful way to connect and create. Thanks for the inspiration

  2. suvarna says:

    Jenica, I love the inspiration that comes from women gathering together to create, and your photos really capture the essence of that.

    Darlene, that was a day filled with warm memories that will live in my heart forever, beautiful pics.

  3. mccabe says:

    this is sooooo wonderful.
    thank you for including our group as well!
    great work, miss jenica!!!!


  4. jenica says:

    a few of the links didn’t come through. but here’s the facebook group:!/group.php?gid=101765281747&ref=ts
    hope you’ll join us! xoxo

  5. g says:

    love this. i miss raw! i haven’t painted since.

  6. Zoƫ Kate says:

    WOW. This sounds so amazing and exactly what I need in my life! I want to start one in Toronto!!!

  7. shelley says:

    Thank you so much Jenica! My words cannot describe the beauty RAW and You bring into my life. I am blessed to have you as my friend!

  8. Jill Nalette says:

    this is just amazing!! i got a warm and teary feeling reading this…. it’s just SO beautiful!
    jenica you should be proud of yourself and i thank you for creating RAW i hope to join in a group very soon(or maybe start one…eeeekkkkkk)!!
    xo and smiles~ jill

  9. Lisa says:

    I simply adore this idea! I’ve signed up for the FB group and so hoping to find some local Hoosiers…otherwise, I’m just going to have to go out and find them. Honest, heartfelt creativity…nothing better.

  10. latisha says:

    they are already so hoping to be found so go and find them!! thank you jenica for inspiring such a beautiful gathering.

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