Art Is You Guest Post: Lesley Venable

I asked the fabulous Lesley Venable, another long-time Art Is You attendee and instructor, to share her ideas about our contest. Here’s what she says:

Sal, Ellen & Art Is You

How does one convey on paper what an amazing journey I have been on with Sal, Ellen and Art Is You? I could tell you about flamingo races, Dr. Seuss hats, medicinal margaritas and the Mad Hatter’s Tea but that still won’t tell you what it’s like to be a part of this whimsical, wild at heart and wonderfully creative family that is AIY.

Leslie and Sal

Leslie and Sal

There is a specialness, a sort of mojo magic, that you feel when you attend this event. From the moment one arrives at the hotel you realize that you have entered a space where everyone speaks your creative language, where you are able to reconnect with your buddies or forge new friendships, where you get swept up in being catered to on every level and where your only requirement is to be yourself, have fun and create, create, create.

The fact that it’s all inclusive means you get to spend breakfast and lunch with other attendees, Sal, Ellen and the instructors. It’s a wonderful time to share what you have been working on, do trades and talk about that evening’s events. Early riser?  No worries, get your yoga on at one of the morning sessions. Love wearing tutus, speaking pirate and doing the funky chicken? The more the merrier, we’ve been needing some more pirate speaking, funky chicken dancing, tutu wearing artists!!! Yes, it really and truly is that much fun, it really and truly is that magical and no we are NOT a cult!  🙂

Okay, okay…so you now know it’s fun and you may be asking, “what about the art?” Well, amid the laughter and camaraderie that is AIY I can say that there is some serious arting going on. From forging metals, soldering, painting, textile collages, assemblages, mixed media jewelry, collaging and altering just about anything you will see some of the most amazing creations coming out of the classrooms. Sal and Ellen put together groupings of teachers that have the same core values as they and AIY do and they allow them to teach classes that they want to bring to the events.

I have attended Art is You from the very beginning. First, as a student artist and now as an instructor/student artist. I have watched the evolution of this retreat from bare bone beginnings to the “place to be” retreat it is today and I can say that Sal and Ellen’s philosophy has not wavered. Their dedication to the attendees, the instructors, the vendors and everyone involved in the event has only grown stronger. They take care of everyone and I do mean everyone. YOU are their top priority and, I guess you could say, that is the foundation of their magic.

From Ellen’s specialized and highly collectible name tags, attendee packets, group gatherings, classes, meals, shopping, sharing, yoga, journaling and flash mobbing at the bar you feel their dedication to you. There truly is this energy, like a current that you feel humming right under the surface throughout the event. So, can an event’s mojo be translated into print? I don’t know, but I do know that the moment you leave an Art Is You Retreat you are already counting down the days until you will be attending the next one. It’s simply the magic that is Sal, Ellen and AIY.



Lesley V.

Be sure to visit Lesley’s blog.


There’s still time to nominate someone for the contest. Go here.

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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