In my studio this week I’ll be planning a home retreat.

A lot has been written on retreats and the importance of getting away to develop ideas and themes and accomplish work.  Mostly these ideas are based on spending thousands of dollars to ‘get away from it all’, or on artist’s residencies which have their own requirements (and understandably so).  But that doesn’t have to be so.

When Hubby was working I often took one day At Home retreats.  Now he’s retired it’s a bit more problematic.  It can be distracting just having him walk around the house on our creaky hardwood floors.  So the plan will be to have him in on the plan from the beginning.  A discussion is in order.  I may wait till better bike riding weather for the retreat.  He loves to ride his bicycle for hours at a time.  That would give me ample time to accomplish something.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

How do I structure my retreats?

First, I set a goal.  I currently have two goals in mind, but know I have to just focus in on one main goal per retreat.  Otherwise it does not go well.

Second, I figure out the schedule.  Without a schedule it’s just another day at home.  I try to structure my day so I have a centering or calming time to start the day.  I follow that with a review of where I’m at and an exploration of a theme or idea.  Then I have an activity related to the theme.  I follow that with a light lunch that I’ve prepared beforehand.  I often take the noon hour break to go for a walk to clear my head.  Then more exploration of the theme and a major activity in the afternoon.  I follow that with journaling about how things went and what I could do to follow up on the retreat.  I finish off the day with another centering exercise.

This isn’t the only way to structure a retreat, but it this is a common way I structure my retreats.

Third, I figure out the cost.  With my At Home retreats this is often negligible, as I have everything right in my home studio at my fingertips.  If it’s a serious retreat off to someplace else it can become quite expensive.  It pays to try and predict every expense you can think of, including travel costs, accommodation, and food.

Ultimately the secret to a successful retreat is to plan ahead and let the significant people in your life know what you’re up to.  Turn off the phone, the radio, the TV…anything that gets in the way of your staying focused and on task.  Make sure you are prepared by having all your supplies and work space ready.  Working in a messy, disorganized space distracts me, so I spend some time beforehand tidying up.  Be sure the lunch meal is simple and, if possible, prepare it ahead.  I like to eat raw finger foods.  Maybe some hummus with crackers and vegetable sticks, nuts, and yogurt.

There are some good general resources out for planning a retreat.  One of the first books I used was a sale book at Chapters called “Vacations for the Spirit” by Alan Walker.  Short and aimed mostly at spiritual retreats, it still gives a good foundation of what a retreat can be.  Chapter four on “Retreats for Every Purpose” is a good place to start your exploration of artistic retreats.  Online sources include  A Google search turns up more.  Some are aimed at writers, some at art journaling, and some at painters, etc.  Those of us who do fiber related art have to extrapolate from other artist’s experiences to create our own tailored retreat.  That’s the way it is.  Every artist is different and different types of retreats will work for you at different times.  Feel free to create a retreat that suits your purposes!

Now it’s time for me to get back to planning!




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