This past week, I hosted a four-day Paint Retreat and these women were on fire! If you've ever wondered what happens when creative women gather in one place...LIKE around the clock gather in very close quarters...I am here to tell you ALL about it!
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Watch this week's Paint Retreat YouTube video.
Paint Retreat: The River Ranch Resort
I'm going to do my very best to describe the magic that I witnessed over four days. If you ever have an opportunity to attend one of my retreats, or any similar event, my hope is that you will treat yourself!
A lot of planning went into this event! I joined forces with my friend Wana, who owns the most amazing "river ranch" in Brazoria, Texas.
She is so gracious to open her home to complete strangers! She is a server by nature and just loves bringing women together.
Paint Retreat: The Planning
We started planning in November of 2022. We opened 35 tickets and the event sold out in less than 48 hours! I knew right then that the energy at this gathering would be powerful....and it was!
I could go into the details of planning an event such as sourcing 40 furniture pieces, hauling them to location, purchasing supplies (paints, cleaners, brushes, rulers, pencils, markers, aprons, canvases, spray bottles, primers), food selections and catering, bedding for 35, who sleeps where, goodie bags and contents, t-shirts, cups, prizes, coolers....!
Even though having all this planned out is important and certainly sets the tone for the event, the magic doesn't happen until the PEOPLE show up!
It is the PEOPLE that make the magic!
Paint Retreat: The Vibe
Over the course of the first day, women began to arrive, in single, in pairs and even by car load, having traveled from both the east and west coast by plane, car, and Uber drivers!
As the artist and teacher, I have had the opportunity to bond with these people for years in the online space. But very few of them have I ever met in person! I cannot put into words how excited and anxious I feel as they trickle in one by one until I hug their neck!!!
That moment that I get to hear their voice as they say their name, then hug their neck and then look them in the eye and say "I am SO happy to finally meet you" all anxiousness leaves me and a warmth takes its place! It's instant and comfortable and the bond is real!
Paint Retreat: Creating Together
Over the course of four days, 35 women took 35 pieces of tossed-aside furniture and they pushed themselves to create outside of their comfort zones.
They tried techniques they'd never tried before. They used products and tools they'd never used before. They created WITHOUT tools they were used to having, learning to adapt and shift from their normal routines.
They helped their neighbors. They worked in close spaces. They shared skills and tips and tricks.
They supported and encouraged one another (star helper Daina)!
I walked around in awe of what I was seeing! It was COMMUNITY!!!! It's what I believe we are missing in today's fast paced and divided world! It made me both happy and sad! Women NEED to gather!!! We are stronger together!
Paint Retreat: Technique Workshops
I did teach a LOT (thank you Leslie for being queen brush washer) such as three different paint blending techniques (perfect, moody and ombre), dark wax embellishments, glazing with paints, shadowing with paints, paint washing, textured linen finish and of course decoupage, stripes, checks and harlequin patterns.
We also created textured art on canvas and learned to create art on fabric.
The ladies dove deep into these techniques with SO MUCH success and their creations show it!
Paint Retreat: The Food
We didn't just paint, we ate a lot too! And the food was SO good!!!
Nancy (a dear friend of Wana's) of Dido's in Brazoria, Texas created a mouthwatering menu for us that did not disappoint! If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the food!
Some of us may have drank a teeny bit of wine which may have led to a few dance moves, maybe a few hilarious stories, and maybe a karaoke song or twenty! Thank you Lucy and Mer for the karaoke machine and song leading!
We star gazed and bug sprayed!
Some of us preferred sunrises and yoga..... while others preferred sunsets and beer!
It was so nice to have the space and freedom in between paint sessions to recharge in our own ways!
Bob Ross Theme Night
And hey! Bob Ross made an appearance! This was probably my personal favorite moment!
I had NO idea this group of ladies would take me THIS seriously when I invited them to a Bob Ross theme night! I was one of the last to show up in the main house for this party and was moved to tears when I walked in to see SO MANY curly wigs and mustaches!!!
I knew at this moment.....these were my people!!!!! The effort that they gave to participate really touched me! Some were so well disguised that I couldn't even tell who they were! Others painted Bob Ross paintings on their aprons, Sandi WAS the canvas, they wore knee socks, denim shirts, jumpsuits, tattoos and more!
I chose three winners.......Kim (most disguised for sure with the green bowtie), Vicki (Mrs. Bob Ross....with her homemade baked Happy Trees cookies that she brought in her suitcase all the way from Michigan) and Robin (who sewed a squirrel on her shoulder)!
I'm not sure we will ever have another dress up party better than this one!
Supporting a New Friend
I can't wrap this experience up without mentioning our "happy little accident" (Bob Ross) that wasn't so happy. One of our friends did fall and needed immediate medical assistance. Our group pulled together like a well oiled machine! She was wrapped in love and care, an ice pack and support pillow, and hauled to the nearest hospital in minutes! (thank you Heather and Robin).
She did break her wrist and finger, was set in a cast, and sent back to us the next day (thank you Cheri and Kathy). She was catered to, loved-on some more, and carefully escorted out to join us for karaoke night!
Her accident was NOT happy but she just so happens to be one of the happiest and most gracious humans I have ever met!
We wish her a speedy and full recovery!
The one thing I haven't mentioned yet is laughter. There was so much laughter! I encourage you to find your people that can make you laugh!
EVERYONE laughed! We laughed tired. We laughed sweaty.
The quiet ones laughed. The injured one laughed.
We laughed through snoring, mosquito bites and sleepless nights.
We filled our cups with laughter every single day and that in itself was one of the best take-aways!
Paint Retreat: Goodbyes and Final Thoughts
Our Sunday good-byes were bittersweet!
I know many were ready to return home to their own beds and routines but it was still difficult to part ways!
Some shed tears....but ALL of us said "until next time"! There will be a next time.
And I hope you will join us!
I observed each and every person over four days. I observed... watching the extroverts entertain, the introverts absorb, the strangers become friends, the natural servers assist, the perfectionists work hard, the eager work harder and the care-free play. It was as if I was watching an orchestra of human interaction that was so natural as if it was planned!
Paint Retreat Team 2023: Allison, Cheri, Hailey, Heather, Wana, Daina, Lucy, Mer, Denise, Michelle, Liz, Holly, Leslie, Glenda, Marcia, Kathy M, Magi, Helen, Kathy F, Robin S, Leah, Shelli, Sandi, Robin A, Jill, Pam, Leslie, Karen, Sharon, Lorie, Kim, Joanie, MJ, Vicki, Tracey
We made music! Not music that could be heard but music that could be felt!
It was palpable! It was positive! It was powerful!
A huge thank you to Allison for documenting these moments digitally always making me believe that anything is possible and for the fabulous "business breakout" session that you offered to the ladies!
And finally, what an honor it was to have my very own daughter in attendance if even just for one night! Her presence and light always brings me comfort.
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