Ten Blessings from the Creativity and Freedom Retreat

Creating a retreat with Martha Nash Pitcairn, founder of Ignition Academy was a dream. The fact that eleven women joined us, played along, showed up BIG, tenderhearted, open and loving was a dream come true. Though much of what happened from the weekend is hard to capture in words, here I strive to share some of the joy and insights.

1. Being Part of a Team

I absolutely adored the opportunity to create this space with Martha Nash Pitcairn from Ignition Academy. The trust and confidence we had in each other, the passing back and forth of workshop time, working together was equal parts freeing, empowering, and laughter-inducing. I have a lot to learn from this wise woman, and I’m humbled to serve on a team with her.


2. Brave Hearts

Most common phrase heard at beginning of the weekend...”I’m not a painter.” or “I’m not creative.” etc. It took close to 50 hours, but participants finally dropped this ‘I’m not creative.” narrative. Now, it wasn’t our goal that participants become painters. Our goal was that they broke through limiting thinking, that they broke through negativity, that they explored the canvas as a safe space to be brave, to take risks, to try something new, and a place to be new. They showed up with brave hearts and as a result transformation happened.

3. The Ugly Phase

On the morning of the second day people were diving into their canvases. As I worked alongside the group I realized I had forgotten to tell them something. I forgot to warn them about the ugly phase. How many paintings have a moment that is raw and uncomfortable and new and well, ugly. And that it is normal and okay to dwell in this space. I’m grateful for the knowledge of the ugly phase and that everyone persevered through this discomfort.

4. Solitude in Community

There is something profound about being in silence together in community. During the weekend we had five sessions of silent/meditative painting time. There is something about the accountability, the shared showing up that buoys the spirit. The experience is very similar to meditating in a group. You get to be alone and part of the whole at the same time.


5. Unexpected Timing of Breakthroughs

It was awesome to see people continue to step into the creative space. To show up with deep presence and courage. Breakthroughs creatively and on deeper levels came at unexpected moments. It was an important reminder for me to keep showing up, keep creating the space, keep stepping into it, and be curious and open to what wants to unfold, to trust the process.

6. The Blank Canvas

Throughout the weekend, one person painted a white canvas white. A meditation on emptiness, undoing, letting go. It was an awesome reminder to the rest of the group to not take anything to seriously, to let go, to remember the empty space.

7. Painting Outdoors

A few participants (myself included) chose to paint outdoors (hats and gloves included!). I found the experience to be completely invigorating and led to new energy in my heart and on the canvas. I can hardly wait to get back outside. Something about the wind in my hair, the gentle nature sounds, alongside the movement of paint and color is soul-nurturing.

8. Creativity in Community

Though we each worked independently on our canvases, there was some invisible way that we were bonded together. We witness each other's paintings come to life and in the end the lessons that were learned individually were shared collectively and there was a deep sense of belonging and understanding.

9. Sister-hood

From the first moment people started arriving, there were introductions and hugs. I was blown away by the way everyone showed up for each other in loving community. In a shared space of vulnerability a deep bonding happened.


10. Begin Again

It was only 12 hours into the retreat that Martha and I found ourselves beginning to dream and scheme about future retreats. Oh the places we'll go...

The Canvas Wakes Me


The canvas wakes me in the morning before the sunrises. It is a pull that I can't resist.

This spot has been my studio recently. Quite amazing really. There is something profound about painting the ocean while it moves. Reminding me of impermanence. That whatever I'm feeling whether joy or discomfort is passing into something new. The beauty of the sunrise is fleeting, you can't hold onto it. You just witness it. And let it go. The waves come and go. Each one blending into the other and yet different.

I don't paint this ocean because I'm creating something new or remarkable, but because by painting it something new and remarkable is awakened within me.

Art Opening

Last week my first show at an art gallery, Abington Art Center opened! I tried to play it cool when they put my name on the wall, but it wasn't easy! What was easy? Chatting all night about my art. Here were the top three questions I was asked (and my responses):

 "How do I make the time?" I paint early, paint first before kids wake up if needed and before I go to work. I have a plan (just like you put out gym shoes at night if you are running in the morning) so I don't hesitate. I dive right in.

"How long have you painted for?" I've painted in a committed daily way for almost five years. It was great fun to tell the story of how I got started. Sharing my first painting "Radioactive" in the gallery was a real treat. 

"How do you choose your subject matter?" (Also sounded like, "Why flowers AND trees?") I described how I follow joy. I let nature inspire me, I let color speak to me and I go for it.

One thing I realized as I answered these questions and many others is that working on my book (still in pursuit of agent/publisher) has helped me to refine so many of my thoughts and approaches to creativity. Of course these are constantly evolving/growing and yet there is a strong foundation of ideas there. I look forward to sharing more!

Thank you to all who came out! If you are in the Abington area the next 6-8 weeks stop on by. The show will be up through the first week of June.

Missed the opening and want to connect? I will also be part of a morning program on Saturday May 12th 10-12 "Coffee with the Artist" together with local ceramicist Christina Orthwein.

To my delight I will be offering an Open Heart Studio IN the gallery space. This is a special one time offering on June 2nd 10am-1pm. Grab a friend and save your spot!




Laurel House Opens New Office

With each original I sell,  I donate 10% to non-profits making a difference. One of the non-profits I've been able to support is the Laurel House working to end domestic violence.

I'm touched that with Laurel House moving to a new office they chose to decorate with many of my Society6 prints