One thing I’m doing this summer is retaking the Find Your Joy course with Louise Fletcher, and already, it’s fascinating (to me at least!) to see the difference in what I’m creating now compared to last year. If the course is repeated next year, I do recommend it. It is mostly for painters (and I wouldn’t call myself one of those, at least not yet) but it’s a fantastic course to explore your own preferences for creating art, and dealing with all those limiting beliefs we have about our art. You can see some of what I’m doing on my “painty” instagram account, and across the bottom of my home page.

Even though I’m taking a big course, I am still working. I’m supporting the people on my courses, and continuing with the podcast, newsletter, blog, social media…so I can’t drop everything. However, I need to be really careful that I don’t end up squeezing my creative work into the gaps between the “work work”.

Maybe the only way to guarantee time for me is to take a “mini retreat”? To go with this week’s podcast, I’ve been pondering what that might look like for me, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • no multitasking
  • no chores – no housework or cooking (even though I enjoy it) and definitely no shopping. I always plan my meals, so I can easily plan to have leftovers or something from the freezer for dinner. I could go out for dinner, but I’m still not comfortable with crowded indoor spaces, and we don’t have particularly inspiring takeaway options here.
  • sensory deprivation – I love using my bluetooth noise-reducing headphones to block out background noises. I have a feeling I’m going to be wearing them a lot this summer, as a family with three boys under 6 years old live next door to us now. Sometimes I listen to my favourite music, sometimes to a podcast, sometimes I just wear them – and they’re designed to cut the noise even without being connected.
  • space – I have a large 6ft painting table, and a couple of large desks for my sewing machine, and “cleaner” work than painting, whether that’s drawing or collage or stitching. Before taking a mini retreat, I need to make sure the space is clear and tidy.
  • materials – having everything I need ready to go and easy to get at, so I can make the most of my time without having to rummage in the back of the cupboard, or spend an hour painting gesso. This includes having a journal, notebook or scrap paper to hand so that I can jot down notes and thoughts as I go along.
  • no interruptions – I nearly always have my phone on silent (so it doesn’t ring when I’m recording videos!) and turn off notifications. I use my phone to take photos, so I will have it with me.
  • go somewhere new – this may be where other people would start, but being in the south east of England it’s a crowded old world out there, and even our fabulous open spaces can be busy. But being outside always inspires me, so even if I don’t go somewhere completely new, getting outside into the countryside would definitely be a part of my day.

If I’m out and about, I have a few things that may come with me. Sometimes just a few, sometimes all of these:

  • holiday kit – if I’m going away for longer than a day, I have a large washbag with zipped compartments for brushes, pencils, crayons, small sketchbooks. I have a few things that live in here permanently, but otherwise I throw in whatever I want to take at the time. See above for pics!
  • day kit – I have a small tin and I change up what’s inside depending on my mood and where I’m going. It will always include a black biro, a black fineliner, a couple of pencils, a wax crayon or two, and a couple of coloured pencils, an eraser and a sharpener.
  • comfy bag – I found a gorgeous canvas rucksack at Seasalt. It’s square, so my viewfinder/drawing board from Tansy Hargan fits in perfectly. You can see the bag and my tin at the top of this post.
  • foam mat – I have a small foam mat that’s really lightweight, and makes sitting on cold, damp ground slightly more comfortable!
  • stool – I also have a tiny folding stool that sometimes comes with me, but only if I don’t have far to walk as it’s a bit awkward to carry, even in the bag.

These are just my suggestions, for me. If you don’t have a designated space, maybe you could clear a temporary space somewhere at home – even if that’s just putting together a small tray of materials, that can be moved to somewhere quiet, where you won’t be interrupted. Using a tray or a box keeps it portable, so you can find the perfect spot. If you don’t have a door that you can close, I recommend headphones! It’s all about getting creative with what we have.

How could you create a mini creative holiday or retreat at home?

3 Thoughts to “Ideas for a mini creative retreat”

  1. Rachel says:

    I’ve been trying to join in World Watercolour Month. It gives me an impetus to get my paints out – even just for a sketch – every day, or nearly every day…

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