I had the good fortune of being invited to spend a week making art with my friend Leslie Morgan at her new Santa Cruz studio, Twisted Wish Studios. I loved it and would encourage you to mix and match of the following ingredients for your own DIY artist retreat. Be flexible and think creatively about what you have -- it certainly doesn’t have to look like mine.
#1 : Passion and Inspiration
I love roosters. I love their quirkiness and character. Usually, I get my inspiration from pictures of them. On my retreat, I was lucky enough to be able to encounter some of my subjects in person, as Leslie had a silkie named “Charlie,” the inspiration for my new series. All of the other hens towered over him, as silkies are pretty small.
#2 : Good People
Working in a room full of other people also working on their art gave me support, encouragement and a great sense of concentration. When anybody had a question, they could ask the others around us. It was easier to get to work done without futzing around because other people were also working. And the sense of competition that it inspired didn’t hurt... I felt both more serious about my art and had fun doing it!
#3 : A Beautiful Environment
Leslie has been creating a really beautiful, and practical, studio - large, open, well-lit, well-organized and surrounded by redwoods in the hills of Santa Cruz. Check it out.
But even if you don’t have access to a luxurious studio in the redwoods, there are certainly ways to be creative about transforming your own space such that it creates a welcoming environment. Or swap spaces with a relative or friend, or rent a space, perhaps with AirBnB. A friend and fellow artist Toby Klayman has a charming, creative guest house where you can stay if you'd like to come to San Francisco!
#4 : Sustenance
It is of the utmost importance to feed yourself well while working so hard! We certainly did, especially at Leslie’s birthday party - oysters, barbequed chicken, lots to drink and lots of company - 11 people and 7 dogs!
#5 : Time
Whatever time you set aside for work is great - an hour, an afternoon, a weekend, a week or longer. Since I have a day job, I loved the luxuriousness of working all day every day for a full week.
I usually wake up early, so I was always the first one up, getting into the studio by about 7:15 am and then working all day. A number of nights we went back and worked after dinner, although some nights we needed to just relax and watch some television :)
Now... just do it!
I had a fantastic week painting and working. I highly recommend you try it too!