Wednesday, April 2, 2014

retreat with me

*The beginning of a three-part series on Art Retreats | Artist Dates*


With being a bit of a word-nerd, I often peruse the meanings of simple words.  I find that subtle treasures usually hide right below the surface.  May I share this word with you?

    • move back or withdraw.
      synonyms:go out, ebbrecede

    • change one's decisions, plans, or attitude
      synonyms:change one's mind, change one's plans

  1. 1.
    an act of moving back or withdrawing.
    synonyms:withdrawal, pulling back 

    • an act of changing one's decisions, plans, or attitude, esp. as a result of criticism from others.
      synonyms:about-face, U-turn

  2. 3.
    a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax.
    synonyms:refuge, haven, sanctuary; 

    hideaway, hideout, hiding place, escape

    "her rural retreat"
    • a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation.
      seclusion, withdrawal, retirement, solitude, isolation, sanctuary
      "a period of retreat from the world"

    • __________________________________________

Nurture Your Creative Seed | Winter 2014

I wanted to go on an art retreat years ago.  I don't even remember the first one that caught my eye, but the words and images called out to me...and I labored over the idea.  I wanted to go so badly!

At the time I was busy with too many little boys and endless days of tight schedules. I didn't know how to take time off. Traveling alone and the thought of traveling someplace full of unknowns was frightening. Spending time and money on myself was frightening too. Have you wished and been so scared too?

Then an art retreat came to me.  

At my local college I met an artist that I had admired.  We talked about how she occasionally taught out of her home.  I invited myself (of course) into this opportunity to paint in her studio/kitchen. No long drive. I already met her and liked her.  I would invite my parents as a holiday day gift and we could paint in a beautiful (but unknown) space -- it would be my own mini-retreat.

Gina Garner Studio | Spring City, Utah

After this beautiful experience I realized I had been severely limiting myself.  I had learned so much from a great teacher and I was much more brave than I knew!  Getting to know her was something I loved.  The adventurous aspect of stepping into a new space became a new dare (in my creative life) and planned to take the next opportunity without so much fear.  

Then it happened.  

I loved Serena the first time I met her: beautiful, grounded, nurturing, and perfectly made for this kind of art-world women's-work.  I grabbed a spot in her Nurture Your Creative Seed Workshop at the last minute and with all of the chaos of getting ready and getting there I really didn't have time to get nervous.  

The women attending were wonderful and the teaching was inspiring.  I only had a few moments of freaking out when I realized I was amongst all women (it happens every time with every retreat), I am just so used to being around boys and men.  I remembered laying on the floor in my room telling myself "I am okay."  

I am sure I am not alone in first-time-freak-outs.  

Overall, the weekend painting foray went splendidly and I was not only captivated by the place, the Pacific Northwest, but by the friendships I made and the inner connection I felt to each of the women attending.  

It was really that good.  

Teresa Ryan wrote beautifully about her experience at the retreat, she captured it better than I can ever retell it and it may touch your heart like it did mine.  HERE.  (

 See life in a new way  
step back for a moment   
take a fresh accounting of life
try a new path  
open the door to possibility 
try a new palette
sketch something new
see what you didn't see before  
turn the page
laugh and cry at the same time
hold hands

My Artist Date | NYC

I believe that every Artist Retreat I venture into is loaded with divine reasons.

With open hands and an open is always a gift.  

I am meant to be here, We were meant to be here.  

 In my explorations this spring, I want sort through some of these good things.  I think it is valuable and helpful to see, with an honest eye, what helps move my life forward as a "whole-hearted" artist. 

I have my own inside/insights into art retreats & artist dates - I am no expert, but I have some deeper thoughts.  I want to give you a fresh picture of what some of these amazing women and men are doing in this aspect of creating.  I also want to share with you my favorite retreats and where I am going next.    

 Beginning this week, I will be sharing:  what I have most recently loved and adored, the growth/challenges in building a creative life with others, what I have learned from big groups and intimate settings, how you have to risk to build brave muscles (it will make sense), and what my take aways are from these blessed events.  Join in with your questions and comments, I would love to hear.  

I do love these two

Always, in grace & peace,


  1. Awe Junelle! You made me blush! Love you!!! I love reading your retreat experiences. I'm so happy you were brave and started this journey that not only blesses me, but so many others! xoxo

  2. I have never been to an art retreat. I think it would be scary and exciting at the same time! Art people are so sweet and kind:) blessings to you, sweet Junelle!
    Karen from Ponder, TX

  3. Yes, yes, yes! Big risk for me a year ago, big pay-off with sweet friendships that continue. Brave muscles growing, learning, reaching. Anticipating the blessings of more goodness to come!

  4. I love this insight. And the idea of an art retreat! I have big, secret (but not so secret now) plans to maybe host one on a day long, long away. I'm a stay at home mama to a one year old and two year old. I suppose the idea of a retreat sounds lovely but not very do-able right now. Unless I found a way to bring the retreat to me :)

  5. Junelle: I am *almost* as big a fan of your writing... as your art {and art-heart}. I am thankful that I 'stumbled' upon Christy's site, to discover the God-love in you! And... I've been hooked ever since. Enchanted, I am with the idea... the popularity I sense in so many art retreats "out there" in the big, wide-open spaces of the world. I often ask myself, "what would it look like ~ in the wide-open spaces of Big Sky Country ~ here in Montana?" I can get all dreamy just thinking about it, but practicality, timing {which is indeed, most of everything in this life}, and expense... so! I live somewhat vicariously {and hilariously at times} through YOU! I adore the art classes... I so enjoy the art we all share... and I look forward to hearing more in all ways, in all things, {great and small!} Blessings on your family's lambing season. xo

  6. I am so grateful that I took the plunge and ventured forth to my first international art retreat. Words cannot describe the amazing gifts I received from all the amazing ladies. Companionship, understanding, nurturing, open hearts and true friendship. I got to meet amazingly talented artists and women with open giving hearts. Meeting you was a true blessing I will never forget and I would happily follow you ANYWHERE for a retreat. xxx PS Yay Spring!!!

  7. Junelle, I love that you have stayed true to Jesus and yourself in your writing and in your art. We all love your are a true inspiration to all of us....We love you so...Toni

  8. What Toni said--exactly! I feel rested and restored just from reading your writing...your art, and learning from you, are icing on the cake.

  9. I always enjoy your writing and your art...and am going to my first "retreat" the end of the month. It is a little bigger and not quite the peaceful event that you are describing...and I am terrified!!! I really want to grow in my skills this year and have long hoped to have a space someday for the more quiet (and Christ centered) version. All in His perfect timing :0)

  10. I love love love your artist date photo....oh it's so awesome. The layers of images, some behind glass, some reflected, you shadowing the sun, you blocking reflections in the glass...clearer where you are...and if it were me, ha! the coffee all clearer inside...are you a coffee drinker? It seems so metaphoric--the layers, hard to see what's what- to discern is that in the shop or a reflection--but you are clearer. Just like life. Just like your experiences are helping you to see clearer.

  11. Looking forward to your posts, Junelle :). I have never been on an art retreat, but love the sound of it and the thought of the chance to hear my Self more clearly. Your writing always resonates for me ...

  12. Right now Junelle I have tears in my eyes. Your post has touched my very sensitive, raw heart in a way that is making it difficult for me to express in words. This part of your post,

    "At the time I was busy with too many little boys and endless days of tight schedules. I didn't know how to take time off. Traveling alone and the thought of traveling someplace full of unknowns was frightening. Spending time and money on myself was frightening too. Have you wished and been so scared too?"

    I could have written this paragraph. Except change one boy for one girl. LOL. Anyway I am here. I am scared and I am so desperate to attend an art retreat. My biggest hurdle apart from the scared, busy, frightened stage is also that I live in Australia. I am finding it so difficult to find something here that will meet the desires I have. That is why I do so many on line classes. Anyway because I struggle to find what I am looking for in Australia I went to God. And do you know what He has revealed?? His path for me, includes facilitating art retreats here in my home town. I fully believe that is where I am heading. And I am so scared about that too. LOL Anyway I am babbling sorry. I just wanted to say that I am encouraged by you and your story inspires me. I am looking forward to what you will be sharing soon. And I'll continue to dream about the day I finally get to attend an art retreat with you as my teacher. Thank you sweet lady for being so real and authentic with so many of us around the world. You are an amazing woman. Jo

  13. Your neighbor reminds me of my first experience with art. our elderly neighbor, had an bible art book. she would write messages in the margins of her bible and then use smashed colorful flowers to do watercolors, just beautiful
    Laurie May

  14. Junelle, I'm so thankful for you and all that you do and share. I've told you that so many times, anything you do will be a moving and loving experience for me as well. I love how soft and quiet and god love you are, so encouraging to me, the way you let art into your life and use it to express yourself is so amazing and beautiful.
    Going on a art retreat is a dream of mine, would love to be in the same room with artists that get it and the joy of our painting and sketching and silly laughs and art. Seems all the retreats I want are on the West coast and I don't have the funds to travel and pay for the retreat both. I so wanted to come to Donna's when you were just here but that didn't work out either. It's on my wish list and one day maybe just maybe it will happen, YAY!!

    On another kind of retreat though, I have done scrapbook ones. It's a different way of sharing our story but still so near to my heart. I love keeping our family's memories in these albums and knowing one day my grandkids will be reading them. I was scared to go on my first retreat but enjoyed it so much and the ones that followed were just as awesome. I've even had some in my own home for the day and everyone had fun and I loved teaching them and helping them to get their words and pictures down, that's all I need is the words/photos not as worried about how pretty the page is. When we have others around us with the same interests it can be inspiring and helpful, love that too.

    Looking forward to what else you will be sharing here and loved these photos. I agree with all the comments here too. Amazing how many people you have touched around the world thanks to your classes and blog. THANK YOU!! HUGS!

  15. I was sooo disappointed not to get into your retreat at Donna Downey's. :-( but I am hoping you'll come east again and I can jump on it faster. Until then I will have watch you in video form and dream of an in person date!!


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