Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the thirteenth with thirteenthstory: an art retreat

Last winter was a mild one for Boston, but despite the lack of
blizzards, by the end of March I was sick of being inside. At work I
had been saving up my vacation time to someway-somehow devote a large
chunk of time to making art. It was all I wanted, to see what it felt
like to be a full time artist, even for a little while. Ski season
was over, but the leaves had not even begun to grow back on the trees.
So I went online and found a fabulous deal on a Vermont Hotel. It
was perfect. With my car packed full of paper, paints, inks, brushes,
spray bottles, pencils, and project ideas, I headed northwest for an

The artwork I created on that trip is among some of my most popular
pieces, and when I got home I had enough original material that when I
was asked to participate in a show in the the springtime it was easy
to say yes. Since then, many have asked me some advice for creating
their own art get-a-way. My only tip is to plan well.
  • Choose a time when your family will be okay without you for a little while; find a deal on a hotel during an off-season period (or if a hotel is too pricey, perhaps ask a friend or family member if you can use some corner of their place for a quiet retreat).
  • Bring a good amount of your supplies. Its a great time to experiment with some new method, but not a great time to find an art supply store.
  • Research the area online before leaving. Find any galleries or other art exhibits they have available while you will be in town. Going on an art excursion during a retreat like this is sometimes necessary to combat loneliness or get your creativity kick-started on a slow day.
  • Bring more than one project. I brought a whole folder full of ideas I'd been collecting for years, as well as a book about creativity with suggested projects inside. Having options kept each moment full of opportunity, and I never needed to wonder if I was making a mistake by trying to make art full time.
  • Bring your creature comforts- and not just groceries, clothing, and a camera. It may be surprising, but your favorite mug, blanket, jacket, or music collection can make many places feel like home. At least enough like home so that you're comfortable enough to create. Which is what its all about.

Perhaps you've seen people relaxing in restaurants on a weekday, with
their head bent over a notebook or sketchpad, a cup of coffee or tea
constantly refreshed for them. For a few days I was that person, the
world of the nine-to-fivers whizzing by me, the sun rising and setting
without me ever looking at a clock. My pencil, pen, and paintbrush
were the only things keeping my focus. It was an important time for
me, and since then I look back with thanks that I was able to feel
that freedom.

It began to snow as I was packing up my car to head home to Boston. I
was darting in and out of the hotel lobby with boxes of art supplies
and finished projects covered in plastic, and I noticed a gentleman
parked near me doing the same thing. Except his boxes were all white
file boxes, marked with legal codes and courtroom trial terminology.
I guess everyone needs to get away sometimes, just to concentrate,
just to be with your work. I hope you can, too.

-by Jaye of

1 comment :

  1. what a fantastic thing to do! I've always envied people who go to those art retreats, but it never occurred to me that I could make it happen for myself!


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