For quite some time I've considered signing up for an art retreat, but I haven't found one close enough to KC that allowed for driving rather than flying. ;-) Sometime last year I saw that Art and Soul scheduled a retreat for The Elms, a resort hotel up north of KC in Excelsior Springs, MO. I was flabbergasted. Their retreats have always been held in Portland or Vegas or Virginia Beach, or some other far off place, much more exotic than KC, that would involve getting on a airplane, driving for days or hauling a locker full of art supplies half way across the country. So distance was no longer an obstacle, only my fear of painting with other artists in the room. It's been a very long time since those college days back in Lawrence and Ft. Collins.
I signed up and actually eagerly awaited the beginning of April for the retreat date to arrive. I took two classes at Art and Soul: Whimsical Landscapes by Jenni Horne, whose blog I'd been following for quite some time and who was a participant in the Get Your Paint On online workshop I took a while back (in the comfort of my private studio. Jenni's whimsical and uplifting art was attractive to me—her use of color, incorporating words, and I'd read about her black line technique. She's a very energetic, fun teacher, who's probably tried just about every creative outlet I'm interested in under the sun, with a great sense of humor and loves to share her tips with students. I decided to incorporate my Judaic sense to the painting I created in her class. My painting wasn't completed during the class time, so I spent the evening in my hotel room enjoying a quiet evening of painting.
The following day I was enrolled in Jane Davies Abstract Landscape class. A complete departure from the kind of painting I've done, Jane taught us mixed media techniques using handmade collage items, acrylic medium and lots of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, her favorite paint color. Wow. So many amazing techniques I took away from that day with another great teacher who's style is very down to earth and giving. I was intimidated at first while we worked on small studies, moving back and forth between pieces, layering on collage and paint and waiting for the layers to dry. Rather than having a plan in mind, we laid down paper or paint spontaneously and then responded to that composition when moving on to the next layer, often completely covering what was put down in the beginning. It was fascinating to see how the images evolved. In the afternoon we moved onto a larger study and we were encouraged to try a larger canvas. I attacked all of those with my typical bright color palette, and even Jane was impressed that I didn't hesitate about working on a cradled canvas any more than I would working on paper. I enjoyed our discussion about that. At the end of the day we had a critique of sorts, where everyone shared their constructive and positive comments after we introduced our work. It was a great experience, and I learned I don't have to be afraid about painting in a room full of talented people. Kansas City and The Elms made for a successful venue for Art and Soul, so they've scheduled for next year already and I'm looking forward to going back.