Last weekend I attended the CREATE.EXPLORE.DISCOVER retreat in Truckee, California, near Lake Tahoe. I had a feeling it would be a great weekend based on the instructors, classes, and location, and I’m happy to report that it did not disappoint. I’ve wanted to attend a retreat for a few years now, but I held back due to a number of reasons. While I have no problem traveling on my own, I was slightly nervous about walking by myself into a room full of people -- talented people I respect and admire -- and not only meeting them but proceeding to sit down and make art with them. But as soon as I arrived, all of my nerves and worries and insecurities vanished instantly. Sarah Stevenson from redlinedesign organized the weekend and she did a wonderful job of creating an engaging, inspiring experience. It was so wonderful to be in that room, surrounded by fellow artists and makers and dreamers and learners.
The instructors were Mati Rose McDonough, Courtney Cerruti, Andrea Jenkins, and Anne Weil. If I could pick a dream list of instructors, each of these women would, without a doubt, be on the list. I’ve admired their talents via the internet and Instagram for several years so it was an absolute pleasure to meet them and to learn from them. I knew they would be knowledgeable and helpful, but they were also open and welcoming and kind and generous and thoughtful, in not only their teaching, but in their entire presence and in each and every interaction throughout the weekend. You know how you look forward to meeting someone, or visiting a new city, or seeing a movie, and then when it finally happens, it doesn’t quite live up to your expectations? Well, that did not happen here. There was no let down. Each teacher and each class far exceeded my expectations. I’m still in awe of their amazingness.
On Saturday morning I took an image transfer class with Courtney and it was super informative. She explained several different processes in a very clear, helpful way, and I can’t wait to continue to try each of the techniques that she shared with us (the photograph above includes packing tape transfers I made during the class). Next was a collage class with Mati. Collage is outside my comfort zone, but learning from Mati is such a wonderful, supportive, engaging experience, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I ended up putting together some of my photography with my 6x6 Project watercolors, and now I’m inspired to keep going and make more. I am officially hooked! Then on Sunday morning I wrapped up the retreat by taking a photography class with Andrea. Andrea is my favorite photographer in the world, so it was such a pleasure to be able to sit and absorb the information she shared with us regarding her process and shooting techniques, her general spirit and love of photography, and to observe firsthand her gift of visual storytelling. Amazing. All of it.
There were only 3 class sessions available, which meant that I wasn’t able to take a class from Anne, but the scarves the other participants were making in her arm knitting sessions were so great that I had to buy one from Anne and I absolutely love it.
I went into the weekend as a fan and admirer of all these women – these crazy-talented, kind women – and I left as an even bigger admirer of them, not only as teachers/painters/makers/photographers, but as human beings. I learned so much and to make it even better, I met some talented new friends. What a lucky thing to be welcomed by such a kind, generous, creative community.
I am now back home and feeling inspired and engaged and encouraged and excited for what is to come. I know…. I am gushing. But it is all so deserved. I’ll end with this… If you have ever felt the pull to go to an art retreat or to attend a writing conference or to sign up for a photography class or to exhibit at a trade show. Please do it. Whatever it is that your heart has been telling you it wants to do. Just go. Do it. You will not regret it.