I had the sincere pleasure of spending this past weekend with an amazing group of creative women at the mixed-media art retreat called Seaside Soiree. The 3-day crafting event was hosted by my dear friend Elena Lai Etcheverry of Charity Wings, a non-profit crafting organization that raises money for charitable causes.
Elena and her incredible group of volunteers — Sarah, Glenna, Shiela, Ally (you know who you are!) put on a spectacular event where 26 people were immersed in a literal sea of creativity both outside their windows and inside their hearts. The event took place at the Oceanside Suites, a cool vintage-y resort right at Oceanside Harbor. The decor was pure old world, Southern California beach paradise. Gorgeous!
My fellow instructors are friends of mine, Liz Hicks and Cheryl Waters. Both of these crafty ladies complimented my projects and art style so well that our projects and our teaching styles went together like a peanut butter and chocolate combination. The best part of the event for me was being able to have the time to take both of their classes in such a relaxed and creative atmosphere. Usually, when I’m teaching, other classes are going on concurrently to mine so there is no way I would ever be able to sit in on a friend’s class.
There is a conundrum in the craft education circles as to if instructors should take classes from their peers or not. I believe this is because so many of us teach similar techniques. However, I believe we all have our own artistic styles so, as long as the artist always comes up with his or her own work (including titles and class descriptions) when making samples there should be no conflict from honing one’s skills from fellow instructors. This, however, is my personal viewpoint, and, as I said can be a controversial one within the industry.
I was so inspired by both Cheryl and Liz’s classes. I totally used their samples as inspiration to do my own thing, and my canvases ended up looking nothing like theirs and we were all super OK with that. In fact, the ICE Resin journal necklace and bracelets they, and all the other students, made in my classes were completely different and true to them. By sitting down for a few hours each day to make Art for ME! rather than for deadline was so freeing. It completely filled up my artistic well that was starting to hover on empty as I’m in the thick of my art projects for my book.
The other amazing thing about Seaside Soiree was the talent and generosity of the students. Many of the ladies’ work was at a professional level so I was impressed. They were so kind and generous in their compliments to me that, at times, I was literally overwhelmed by the love shared.
As many of you know, I enjoy a good meal. Elena knows that I adore sushi and don’t get it near as often as I would like because there is no sushi restaurant in my little town. She made sure that before and after the event, she took me to fantastic sushi restaurants to get my fill. It is, after all, Southern Cali. While there were no California rolls at the event, Shiela did the most amazing job cooking 3 daily gourmet meals for all of us attendees. I simply must get the recipe for her morning French toast casserole. I think she said it comes from Paula Dean, the queen of butter so maybe I better not.
It was such an incredible experience that I sincerely hope I get invited back next year. What a peaceful weekend of art joy leading into the busy holiday season. Just what I needed!