Art is You: Go Forward & Retreat

Last week Tonia and I told you about the Art is You contest, and how each week here you’ll have a chance to nominate someone to win a fabulous (and generous!) prize package to make attending a retreat possible for someone. This week, I asked the organizers, Sallianne & Ellen, to tell us a little more about how the retreats change lives and create community. Here’s what they had to say:

Go Forward and Retreat: How meeting face to face can cause a shift in your life.

Ellen walked around the registration table, put her arms around a woman and squeezed tight. She had a smile so wide and her excitement was palpable. She was a first timer. She was on her own. As she gathered together her registration pack, I turned to greet the next artist. She was one of our alumni but the hugs and welcome were no less intense or meaningful. We introduced our alum to our “newbie” and within moments they were gone, off to connect over schedules and art.

Our family was assembling. We are the guardians of this family. No matter what the story, no matter what the mindset, we are there to nurture the art…crafting a face to face movement of belonging.

Many of our family are already connected through various forms of long-distance technology. Some have created friendships in online forums and groups, blogs, and online workshops. However, using the internet to get away from the internet is where the real transformation and the real stirring happens. They come looking for something more and it finds them. New paths are forged and they gather united face to face, hand to hand, sometimes for a week or even a few days at Art is…You.

Our family consists of men and women from all walks of life. Some work, some are retired. A number have left frozen dinners in the freezer for family while others have organized doggy daycare. Many have saved all year for this moment. There are the handful that comes pulling a rollaway truck of supplies, workshop and itinerary details neatly printed and collated.  While others fly through the door, their Michael’s plastic bag bulging with last minute purchases. No matter how they arrive, they all have something in common…they are finally listening to what life is telling them and giving themselves permission to play.

The laughter of anticipation can be heard and the deep exhaling of many who have held their breath for a whole year can be felt. At the end of each day the atmosphere is overflowing with joy and celebratory glee as our faculty and their students come together to gloat over the beautiful pieces that were created with their own hands. To stroke and treasure another artist’s piece, rub shoulders with their joy, and to hold their hand while they share their process is life changing for many.

The communal time is very important. Mornings are a mix of powerful messages and motivating moments. Luncheons are large, loud and festive. Intimate and low key art evenings round out each day. When there is not an official function, you can find artists grouped together over coffee, over wine, over dinner and over art…old friends greeting new friends like they were old friends. This is an experience bursting with inspiration, friendship, and art.

At the end of the week, we all go back to “real life”, but for many there is a shift. Awareness and priorities change. Fresh ideas surface. Instead of jumping back onto life’s treadmill, and feeling bound by routine, artists are incorporating what they have discovered into their lives. Discovering that the impossible becomes reasonable and the unfeasible becomes simple. This change for some is immediate, for others it takes time but once you have held the hand of another artist, that shift is inevitable.

Building a weekend retreat for artists to come together was intentional. However, the formation of our generous family, the remarkable life that it has created and the heartwarming journey that it has taken us on was something we didn’t imagine and we couldn’t have predicted.

Song writer Gary Portnoy put it so succinctly in the first line of the theme song from the Cheers sitcom: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, Our troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name.”

We encourage you to join us!
Sallianne McClelland (The Information) and Ellen Legare (The Decoration)
June 2013
Find out more about Art is You here.

Remember: To nominate someone to win the prize, leave a comment here explaining who it is you’d like to see win and why. At the end of the month, Art is You and Create Mixed Media will select the winner. And . . .one winner will be randomly chosen from each week’s batch of comments to win the North Light book of their choice.

001_009_Z9582_01FM.inddTo find out more about art retreats, check out Destination Creativity.





Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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7 Responses to Art is You: Go Forward & Retreat

  1. This piece captures beautifully the essence of Art is You, my heart was beating faster reading it, knowing the days are ticking down till October x

  2. tristanrobin says:

    This article expresses my first impression of Art Is You … I was “given” a gift from a friend who was unable to use her class registrations due to a family emergency.
    I was immediately welcomed into the group – ran into people that I knew from online life – and became friends with people who I am still in contact with, both online and in real life.
    It’s a wonderful experience – one I look forward to – I recommend to everybody.

    (One other thing – as a man in the crafting world, I was not – as is often the case – treated as an exotic creature from another planet! I was quickly absorbed in the activities and never felt odd-man-out!)

  3. thewritepursuit says:

    I would like to nominate Miranda Ackerley. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for 14 years now (and being married to her for 5) and she has always amazed me at what she can accomplish in a wide range of artistic mediums. I’ve watched her deal with all kinds of turmoil in her life, and fall back on the arts as her lifeline, as a means of pulling herself through the tough times. In my eyes, she deserves the world.

  4. LauraAnne says:

    I would like to nominate my sister in law Lorraine Lopez. I was diagnosed in January with Major Depressive Disorder, she was my saving grace, she would come to my home to do mixed media, hoping it would be therapeutic. We have always attended art classes together, so she knew how art was a way for me to express myself. She suggested the retreat in Petaluma, and after consulting my husband we both registered to attend. Right after she made her deposit, my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a bone marrow cancer. Needless to say, my world turned upside down. Not knowing what my husbands prognosis would be, we thought it best to cancel our reservations. He is now doing better, his cancer is not curable, but the doctors believe he has many years to look forward to. She continues to text or call me, and even will come spend the weekend for mini art vacations to my dining room table. This would be a wonderful way to thank her for her selfless love and support she has given me this past year.

  5. embeeaye says:

    I would like to nominate my sister, Bonnie. Bonnie has had a very difficult past 18 months which has left her seriously questioning her abilities and value as a person. Bonnie is the most generous and giving person I know – who else would stay up all night on the phone in order to keep me calm before a second and unplanned spinal surgery and then go to a business meeting? Bonnie does not feel she is creative and yet her ceramics are so unusual and unique that I know they would be pick up immediately in any studio. She is teaching art to grade schoolers part time (only 4 hours per week for 12 classrooms) to supplement her income and her ideas have been so creative as to how she encourages and keep the wandering minds of school children totally drawn to the art they are learning. I truly feel that awarding this scholarship to Bonnie would make such a difference in her life as it has in mine. The Art Is Retreat made me realize that I am creative and helped me go outside the box. This is what I want for Bonnie. We live on opposite sides of the country this retreat would encourage her and give her back some confidence in herself that was taken away this past year. She is fun, outgoing, creative and very talented. Thank you.

  6. paleopal says:

    I would like to nominate my friend, Vicky Briggs. She is a very giving person and always ready to help her friends! She put her business on the back burner and spent 2 1/2 years caring for her parents full time, until their deaths. After that, she has dealt with her brothers, who did not help at all, take away the few things her father gave to her for helping. They even accused her of forging her father’s signature. She just gave in to their demands, rather than fighting over money. She could really use this after the chaos she has one through the last few years. Thanks for considering her!

  7. Robyn Woodrow says:

    I would like to nominate my friend, Trish E. Over the past years, Trish has put her needs behind all others, and has provided particular support to me and my family. After a 12 month illness, my husband passed away, and now I have been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Trish has always been there to help. (I’m only 50 and have teenage kids). Trish has always been creative, but has put beside her own creative development for others. (She often starts a project for herself, and then ends up working on one for someone else instead.) She never asks anything from me, and just gives – I’d like to give something back – give her a chance to focus on her own creative development, rather than others, for a change. She has been a primary school teacher for 25+ years, and gave up her long service leave to work in an orphanage in Africa – that’s the sort of woman she is. She would never consider spending money on herself – but she so deserves too! Thank you for considering this application – it’s the least I can do for her.