Friday, July 17, 2015

Artist's Retreat - July 2015

First meal of Artist's Retreat - on the shore at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Photograph altered with Brushstroke app. 
Artist’s Retreat. Doesn’t that sound romantic? Maybe expensive? Certainly illusive.

Well, at least that’s how I felt about it. Every year I’d talk to Cindi Huss, a dear friend who has moved far enough away that we don't see each other often. We’d say how we should run away for a weekend sometime and leave all our responsibilities behind us. Well, this year I called her up and said “Let’s have an artist’s retreat!” She was enthusiastic and so we started planning. Last week was the fruit of all those conversations.

Revel in these paint colors!

We had three full days together. Cindi had seen my art journaling work and was game to give it a go. Our plan was to do gelli printing, art journaling and gelli printing on silk scarves. Cindi also brought matching white moleskins in which we would record our retreat. I found some necklace findings which allow for a picture to be inserted. We would also have these as momentos of our time together.  Our other goals included food and laughter.

Gelli Printing

We took turns. Each of us printed a few and then handed the gelli plate to the other. We never washed the plate until we were done. This method allowed us to rif on each other’s work, gave us the challenge of using what was left on the plate to create a new print and resulted in some pretty amazing pulls in which we could see traces of each other in our prints. When finished we laid out Cindi’s prints to photograph them. Then we did the same with mine. It was amazing to see how even though we had the same materials with which to work, we made very different collections of prints. It was also really fun to see Cindi’s touch in the middle of my creations.

Cindi's gelli prints. 

My Prints. Notice how different the color scheme is. 
Art Journaling

Cindi made her journal by taking large paper, applying gesso, ripping it to size and sewing together. We actually applied gesso the first day so that we could use our pages as a place to blot excess paint from brayers, paintbrushes and fingers.

I suggested the added challenge of each of us using a gelli print the other made as the inspiration for the journal page. Even as I suggested it, I quaked in my boots. Cindi took up the challenge and off we sped. We each offered up prints that we could part with which added another level of structure vs. choice. 

(Left) Cindi's print. Red was going to be a challenge for me, but those shapes! Could be leaves. Could be paisley. (Right) My print. She was already seeing things in this print.

Working with these colors was definitely out of my comfort zone. We added background color, stamping, stencils, spray ink, collage and pen. I regret neglecting to introduce Cindi to the joys of bubble wrap printing.

You can see our pages. 

What do you know? I can use red.

The shapes were taken organically from the print. I stared at it until I could see the lines in the print.

The whole page felt organic to me. It didn't take much thinking. 

Working with Cindi was great. The message came easily in her presence. She is such a fountain of joy and compassion. 

Cindi's journal page. It was fun to see her expand her vision as she added layers. 

Gelli Printing on Silk Scarves

We had seen the tutorial on the Gelli Arts blog that shows using the round gelli plates to print of silk scarves. We both reacted very positively to that idea, so we forged ahead. One of Cindi’s many talents includes dyeing fabric. Go to her website or blog to read more about her work. She had some silk scarves and offered to bring them. 

After brushing on the paint I pressed a piece of lace into the paint. Here is the result. 

This piece of lace is brightly colored now from the number of times I used it as a pattern maker. 

Cindi and I took very different approaches to this project. I started out too rigid and lifeless in my thinking. I used the blocks as the rectangles they are, marking them by pressing a piece of lace into them. 

No limitations for Cindi! She did not conform to the shape of the plate. 

Cindi printed with wild abandon. Eventually I loosened up and added the circles – big and little. The circles were made with stamps I had made from styrofoam trays my vegetables came in. Cindi’s scarf was a wild garden full of vibrant flowers and leaves.

Taking the scarves off the freezer paper was awe-inspiring. We gasped when we saw how different the scarf look as it draped around my neck or on the table.

My scarf unveiled.

Cindi wearing the scarf on the way home. 

Cindi's scarf off the freezer paper. 

Moleskine Notebooks

A silly picture we took with the APP Snap Dash. The caption reads "You're a pig being carried to a luau."

We wrote in our notebooks. What we did. How we did things. Things we wanted to remember. Food we ate. Pieces of the work we did. Photographs of us being silly. Working in these books helped us to think about what we had created and to take it to the next level. They are wonderful reminders of these days spent together and of our friendship. I will cherish mine.


The pieces we gave to each other. (Left) from me (Right) from Cindi.

We each chose a gelli print to cut a piece out to put in our necklaces. We each wrote a message to the other on the piece of paper we gave. Then we put them together with a piece of our own and closed the latch. Lovely charms for us to wear and shine.

It was hard to let Cindi go when the time came. Yet instead of that old feeling that things were coming to a close, I had a strange feeling that something was beginning. Guess we’ll just have to do it again. Can’t wait.

Want to see more about Cindi? You can see some of her work at or her blog Dancing Threads. 


  1. I'm so glad you visited for T Tuesday. It led me here and I like your art a LOT. I saw the Mad Tea Party and a book you made and more art. I even know you LOVE pink! I look forward to seeing more of your art, too, whether it's apps or traditional art.

    1. I am glad I visited your T Tuesday as well! I have a journal I was planning to do tea themed spreads in, so I'm already halfway there. Your comment makes me feel warm inside, like I'm drinking a warm cup of chai. You are so kind to comment on the different things I do.

  2. I am sooooo jealous! I need an artists' retreat!!!! I want to learn new skills. BTW do you have any art journaling books you'd recommend?

    1. Hi Ricki,
      I sure hope you get your artist's retreat. This retreat was years in the making, but I'll bet you can pull it together in less time.

      I do have some art journaling books to recommend. I will pull them off my shelf later and make a list. I will tell you that my main entryway to art journaling was Pinterest. I watched art journaling videos and learned new skills….and found new things for my wish list. You have inspired me to do a post about these resources and how I got started. Would that be helpful?

  3. Such a treat to finally thoroughly read your blog post (I have all three of mine written, just putting in photos now, and your post was my carrot). Like living it all over again, a visual conversation between our posts! I had such a renewing, open, uplifting time with you. Thank you so much for your generosity and compassion and for embracing my blunt and passionate ways ("DON'T DO IT!!!!!!") :-)

    1. Right back at you, Cindi! What an uplifting time it was. It was a treat for me to see your first today! (Yes, I lied. I said I was going to make it into 3 blogposts, but when I started I just couldn't stop. That's me - longwinded.) It was fun to see us reflected in each other's work as we went along, but then in our posts. One thing that made me smile, when we posted the photos of our gelli prints, I posted your work first and you did the same with mine. What good manners we have!

      Your passion is the bomb! I love it. Love it so much that I can't wait to see what we cook up next. Not feeling like it will be the end of our play dates.

  4. How clever of you two to have a workshop together! And a wonderful collaboration. So nice of you to let me know that you came by my place. I appreciate the lovely comment!

    1. It was lovely fun to make our own workshop and fun all over again as we share our thoughts and images. If you haven't visited Cindi's blog give a go.

      I enjoyed visiting your blog and am sure I will return soon.

  5. Lovely online journal of your art journey and some great ideas too. thank you

    1. Thanks, Kacy. We had a lot of fun! Hope you are able to use some of the ideas.


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