(Have you been making plans to attend an artist retreat but have questions about what to expect? Sherre attended her first retreat recently and in this article, she shares with us, her experiences.)

By: Sherre Hulbert
I recently was able to attend my very first art retreat this past May; Art & Soul at Asilomar, CA. I was really looking forward to the concentrated time spent creating and also catching up with a good friend whom I hadn’t seen in three years. Asilomar is located in Pacific Grove, CA. right on the Pacific Ocean. Near Pebble Beach, it is a lovely area to go for an art retreat. Even daily fog couldn’t hamper the excitement of the attendees at this Art & Soul event. Everyone was friendly & welcoming. I also got to meet with some online art friends as well as make a few, new friends. I liked being able to sit with a variety of people at each meal. My roommate’s and my accommodations were rustic, but clean. The staff at Asilomar goes out of their way to respond to not only special dietary concerns, but even come to the aid of those needing a fire laid in their room’s fireplace.
This was a small venue for Art & Soul, around 132 attendees. I had made 50 items to trade, which was too much! I think 50 would work well for one of the larger venues that have closer to 600 attendees. It seemed as if most attendees did not make trade items for this particular retreat.
Maria of Collage, in Portland, brought a lot of fun goodies to purchase in the on-site store. She also had a half-off sale on a lot of items the last day. This was great because my local stores don’t have the same items and I was able to pick up quite a few wanted supplies.
Now, for the workshops themselves! I took Misty Mawn’s “32 Flavors” 2-day class and Stephanie Lee’s “Crack it” class.
Misty’s class had about 20 students. It was held in a large room were we could cluster around her large work table for the demos and all were able to see. Misty did a lot of demonstrations for the class. I believe the aim was to show us 32 different journal ideas. We concentrated a lot on faces, which disturbed a few attendees who had also signed up for her faces class. Misty was a patient and personable teacher, gently encouraging the students to relax, play and not get overly stressed over “mistakes.” I enjoyed playing with paint and drawing, but didn’t really have time to actually finish any one project.
The biggest critique I have of the class was for me a major one. On the class supply list we had been asked to bring our “favorite markers.” What the list failed to specify, was that the majority of what we would be working on REQUIRED water-soluble markers only. Guess who had permanent markers as her favorite?? The on-site store also didn’t have any water-soluble markers; though it did have water-soluble crayons that I bought (had to leave class to do so). This was stressful for me because I had brought some really nice markers in a lovely range of colors and couldn’t even use them.
Stephanie’s class was in a cozy room with a fire going in the fireplace. This was needed for the plaster technique we were doing. The fog made for humid conditions, so the fire helped to dry the plaster and keep the air warm and dry also. Stephanie was enthusiastic and fun. She was able to give a lot of one-on-one attention and her demonstrations were easily seen. There were 13 of us in this class. I loved this technique. I could have kept glazing and glazing on my pieces without ever “finishing” any of them. I didn’t get any of the three canvases totally finished, but did come away with a good grasp of the technique so that I can make more of these at home. Stephanie also had each person show their pieces at the end of class and commented on their work. She also asked each student if anything was confusing or hard in the process and what they enjoyed. It was nice to get to see the projects and hear from each student.
So, although, for me the classes didn’t have me leaving with a finished project, I feel I learned a lot and was inspired to keep on using Misty’s journal ideas and also have plans to enter a canvas in our local Harvest fair this fall using Stephanie’s "Crack it" technique.
I would attend an art retreat again, but perhaps double-check with the instructors regarding the supply lists, so as to avoid having the wrong materials in the future. I also noticed that both teachers did not have detailed instructions to pass out to their students. If you didn’t take notes (I did), I don’t know how you would remember the different techniques demonstrated.
I also found it interesting that Art & Soul did not ask the attendees for any kind of feedback. Having a form to fill out would be beneficial for the organizers and for the instructors.
Wanting to end on a positive note, I would highly recommend an art retreat for anyone wanting to escape the daily grind and getting to play with art supplies all day! I shared my critiques because I feel they are important issues, but, overall I had an extremely enjoyable time and would attend another retreat. Art & Soul was a great opportunity to immerse into “art for art’s sake.” It was refreshing to have time to have fun with my art supplies; there was no need to produce a finished product, no demands or expectations to meet. I loved the retreat for that!
What will we be doing for the month of July? Carolyn is hosting the Monthly Designer Paper technique which will feature the use of colored tissue paper. A unique, fun technique with unpredictable results!
The July workshop and swap will be hosted by Cindy (me) and will be featuring clay pendant jewelry! Here is a sample:
I call this "Grunge". I used a metallic alcohol ink for the faux metal finish on this piece.
Over at: Sherre's Arttechniques Yahoo Sherre will be hosting an Artist Pin Swap and since I was already working with clay, I decided to make my pin by combining techniques from the new book "Ancient-Modern" by: Ronna Sarvas Weltman and an article in the June issue of Polymer Cafe' magazine. Here are a few samples:

I really like the combination of the textures, the color of the metallic clay and the shine from the metal wire.
We hope you have enjoyed this month's Zine and we would like to invite you to join our ever growing, on-line family of friends, at our Yahoo groups. Sherre & Cindy

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