Category Archives: art retreat

Returning to the flock…

Wow, over a year has gone by since the last Artful Journey retreat, and even more time has passed since I posted here.   I took 2015 off from holding an event so that I could get my house in order (literally and figuratively).  Last spring and summer is a blur as I did some remodeling, upgrading and landscaping (yes, all at the same time) to my home. Now that the major work is done, I get to tweak things a bit and just enjoy my new surroundings.


I love watching the birds bathing in the little bubbler, gathering on the feeder, even making a nest in one of the (what I thought was just decorative) birdhouses.  I watch them as they care for one another, sharing their new home with the hummingbirds, the squirrels, lizards, and even MadMax.  It’s a little community with their own language and understandings of how to live together and support one another (unless Max has other ideas).


It reminds me of how much I miss my ‘flock’ of students and instructors who I’ve come to know over the years.  For a brief moment, I thought that 2014 would be my last retreat…but I was wrong.  I was given the clear sign that it wasn’t time–that those connections made over art and nature and stillness are too vital to my well-being.  I treasure the times I’ve spent up in the redwoods with all those talented souls, and I’m not nearly ready to move on.  I still have new friends to make, and old friends to meet up with.  I’m excited about the possibilities for next year as I start working on both retreats.  I’m ready to join up with the flock again and see what adventures and new memories are in store for us!


This photo pretty much describes how I’ve felt a good part of the past few weeks. The change of seasons and a few of life’s curve balls hurled my way took the wind out of my sails for a bit, leaving me with little energy. I hate it when that happens! But I’m now back in the swing of things–getting excited for the holidays, looking forward to time spent with friends, and preparing for the February retreat. Lots of good stuff coming up!

Fortunately, I did manage to get up to Oregon to visit DJ for a few days–we spent some quiet time exploring country roads; meeting up with a fellow friend and fabulous artist/instructor; eating good food; and of course, taking photos. I didn’t take many good ones, but I do like this one. Now you know how she gets all those great angles…lol!

And we came across this sweet little face in our travels one day.

The second part of our visit was back here in northern CA–we drove back down here, where DJ was finally able to go to the Alameda flea market with me. As we were nearing the end of the day, I was thinking I was getting off easy, having bought only a small handful of goodies. And then I saw this…

And this…

And what do you know, they both fit in my car perfectly! I had no intention of buying a mirror and a dresser, but as I walked around, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. That’s when I knew they were meant to come home with me! DJ shared some great photos of the day on her blog; she has a special way of seeing things, and captures images like nobody else. I’m so in awe of her work, as a photographer and as an artist.

And it thrills me that she loves to come up with ideas for the retreat! We got some felting needles, and she went crazy making these little flowers. So guess what I’ll be incorporating into the Journey goodies?

On a completely different note, look what I got in the mail the other day! Another good friend found out that I’d never had a pear from Harry & David, so she surprised me with this goodness. I am so grateful to have such generous, uplifting souls in my life.

Ping pong, anyone?

I’ve been feeling a bit like a ping pong ball in a clothes dryer lately (with bouts of stillness in-between), so bear with me if this post jumps a bit too! There are so many things that I’m excited about doing, that I find myself bouncing around between them all. Good thing I can still bounce pretty well, even if my bones do creak a little.

One of the highlights was a trip down to Santa Barbara a couple of weeks ago to visit my oldest son, Ryan—what a treat that was. I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with him.

Ryan and the dog he wishes he had

Because I’m always looking for inspiration and cool artsy stuff for the retreats, we headed south to Summerland and Carpinteria, poking our heads into various galleries and antiques shops. A friend said that Just Folk is a must-see, and wow, was she right! A great selection of folk art and outsider art. One of their recent acquisitions is a collection of works by Bill Traylor—small pieces painted on bits of cardboard. They start at $85,000, so they were a bit out of my price range (!), but I did pick up a poster that the gallery had put together. Now I won’t worry if the grandkids run into it and knock it off the wall! It’s a really wonderful gallery, and the owners are very personable and interesting. Highly recommended!

On Sunday, we went down to the Arts and Crafts show down on the beach in Santa Barbara—beautiful weather, great company and lots to see. The one artist that really caught my eye was Neal Crosbie—I love his work! The photo doesn’t do it justice at all, so check out his website. Best of all, he’s the nicest guy; so genuine and humble. We spent quite a bit of time chatting with him, and getting to know him a bit. That’s always the best part. I’m looking forward to purchasing a piece of his work, along with his book, Everything Be OK. I’ll buy that.

Now, I’ve heard of people who look like their dogs, but never one who looked like their car…lol!

In stark contrast to the colorful art show was the Arlington West War Memorial display—it was on the other side of the pier, so I would have missed it if my son hadn’t told me about it. Very powerful. No words needed.

I wish I could have stayed longer, as there’s so much to do in the area, and a few people that I would have liked to have gotten to know, like these folks. They seem like they’d be very interesting, don’t you think?

I’ve also been attempting an online class here and there. I say attempting because I have an irritating habit of signing up when I don’t really have the time to fully participate—it’s on my ‘do better’ list. (I don’t like making resolutions, but a ‘do better’ list sounds reasonable to me.) Even though the classes have ended, I’m doing the exercises and playing every chance I get, bouncing from photoshop to stitching cloth, and then to my new-found obsession with zentangles (how did I miss this?), along with a sudden compulsion to carve rubber stamps. These last two are very meditative (the stillness part), especially when I’m sitting in the backyard with the sound of the water fountain in the background.

On the business side of things, registrations for the 3rd AAJ retreat next February are going great! It feels like a very special group of attendees (as are all of them), with a lot of repeat customers—always a good sign! There are still openings in all the workshops, but only a couple of spots in two of the classes. I’ll be highlighting each class/instructor in future posts, but you can check out their blogs/websites by going to the Instructors page. A seriously talented, awesome, generous group (did I say talented?)—I’m so fortunate that they want to teach here!

We’re having a bit of summer here (finally), so are doing our best to keep cool. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

On why I’ve been MIA…

I could write a list a mile-long to explain my blog absence, but then you’d get bored and fall asleep by the time you reached #137. I considered doing blog “installments,” but then I realized it would take me at least another 3 months to finish, as I tend to make things much more complicated than they ever need to be.

Once I remembered the old ‘KISS’ adage–Keep It Sorta Simple–I started breathing a little deeper and was able to start in on this post (yeh, I know it’s supposed to be ‘keep it simple, stupid’, but I never liked the ‘stupid’ part, so I changed it. It suits me much better now).

But if I HAD done installments, these would likely have been the general categories:

1. Preparing for the Journey retreat (including lots of silly fun with DJ here)

2. Being swept up by another awesome Artful Journey experience…truly amazing! (Go to my Flickr page to see lots more pics)

3. Continuing the playtime after the retreat

4. Catching up with loved ones

5. Gathering goodies for the next Artful Journey retreat — February 17-21, 2011. (Registration opens next Tuesday, August 10!)

6. Taking care of myself…
Anyway, that’s what I was thinking I might post about. But since I’m not, I’ll just leave you with a photo of a chap I met up at the retreat. He reminded me to slow down, be still, and appreciate the small miracles that surround us each day.

Pure Magic…

(photo courtesy of DJ Pettitt)

An Artful Journey retreat ended a week ago, but there’s still a soft buzz in the air around here. I’m still floating along, not nearly ready to move on from the incredible aura that was created up there on that mountain. A community of artists, most of them strangers on that first day, came together and created pure magic.

(photo courtesy of Chrissy Gardner)

It was a combination of the peaceful venue, the talented and giving instructors, the Presentation Center staff, and every single attendee, each of whom arrived with an open, willing spirit. Just look at these beautiful faces.

Even the weather cooperated. The forecasts were for rain every day, but we had just a day and a bit of drizzly soft sprinkles. Amazing.

(photo courtesy of Chrissy Gardner)

There was a collective consciousness in that sacred place among the redwoods, and I’m so grateful to have witnessed it. I know that the effects of that time together will ripple out and touch others, as it touched us when we were there. What a gift.

Words don’t do it justice. All I know for sure is that we were meant to be there together—no doubt about it.

(photo courtesy of Chrissy Gardner)

I’m excited about where this Journey is heading—I hope you’ll join up with me somewhere along the way.