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The Gift of a Getaway

How an unexpected art retreat refueled my creative soul.

By 'unexpected', I mean, I'll be honest, I was a little caught off guard when I was invited to an all-expenses-paid small group art retreat a few months back. This doesn't happen every day. ;)

This was an opportunity to get away for 4 days, joining five other professional female artists to just 1) be together and 2) paint!

No selling of artwork.

No competition

No prizes.

No expectations.

Just connect and create.

Just the simple thought of it brought tears to my eyes.

And if that weren't magical enough, we'd be staying at the historical site, T.C. Steele's Boyhood Home! And did I mention a stocked fridge, a snack-laden table, AND premade meals?! So I said yes (duh!) and marked my calendar! (click links if you need to be introduced to T.C.!)

The weekend finally arrived (Sept 28- Oct 1st) and this blog post is my little reflection/report to express just how wonderful and meaningful this experience was for me! And the weekend feel over my birthday, so ended up being a very memorable way to celebrate the big 4-2!

Home Sweet Home in Waveland, IN. I stayed on the top level where T.C. Steele once shared the room with his brothers.

Meet the Artists (left to right)

Anne-Karine Bley (our retreat leader)

Lindsey Bridges (not pictured)

Click the links to see their wonderful artwork!

We painted in and around two incredible Indiana State parks: Turkey Run and Shades. The weather was absolutely perfect and the scenery just so soooo beautiful!

Pictures don't do these parks justice....God is just the BEST ARTIST! It was jaw-dropping beauty around every turn!

This getaway was a getaway from competition and comparison.

(Usually when I'm gathered with other artists we are competing in an event together or are at an art fair, selling our work side by side to prospective customers.)

We didn't even really peek at each other's work until the last evening when we did a little 'show and tell' after dinner.

This was a getaway from personal judgment. I wasn't sure I could do this...but I'm happy to say that when I was out painting, I really truly enjoyed the moment and the experience so much! I'm hard on myself, I'll admit it and when I'm plein air painting, it's natural (and not good) that I fall into the habit of stressing out. I so badly want to have painting success and to feel validated by my efforts! But this retreat created space for me to enjoy painting for painting's sake. No judging myself even. Just paint, learn, breathe, and keep painting! Repeat, repeat. I ended up doing 20 painting studies all together!

This was a getaway from isolation. Most of the time, I'm painting by myself in my home studio. This is both a perk and a drawback! lol But even with the pro's and con's of my painting practice, I relished in getting to talk at length with these wonderful ladies about art! What a true encouragement to be with these women!

And remember, this retreat was a gift, didn't cost me a dime! That made it all even more special! Art is important, what I create and what other artists create is important. It's hard, it's tricky, it isn't always understood, it isn't always financially sensical...but it is valuable! And to have total strangers want to encourage me and others in this way is just plain powerful! And so appreciated!

What an incredible gift to have this dedicated time to connect with other like-minded art-loving women!!! I feel refueled and recharged to continue on!

Thank you to Tim and Meg Shelly for your incredible hospitality. I join a large and prestigious crew of Indiana artists who have benefited from your kindness!

Me and my 300 lb* backpack down in a revine at Shades State Park. *felt like!

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1 Comment

Tina Miles
Tina Miles
Oct 03, 2023

I am so, so glad you got to do it! What a wonderful, true meaning of the word retreat. And oy, bringing your 300 lb. backpack back UP that trail from the revine! I feel you!

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