Monday, December 29, 2014

Crafty Holidays & An Artful New Year!

So... it's that time of year again where we get swept up in what the media wants Christmas to be and when I instead turn to home, friends, family and faith to remind me of the reason for the season. Once my Christmas tree is up, the holiday spirit takes me over. My festive faux fir is adorned with touches of red and white, speckled with icicles, flora & fauna, and a few of my favorite mementos tucked between the branches. Decorating the tree may seem like a simple tradition, but perfectly placing each ornament — as I thoughtfully reflect upon where each and every one came from (don't we all?) — reminds me how precious family and loved ones are. How precious life is. And how lucky we are to have extended families... like our Art & Soul family!

Like a winter fire, my extended retreat family truly warms my soul. I think back to my first event — more than a dozen years ago — and some of you are still with me... still by my side. And many of you have become the closest of friends. Some of the Art & Soul attendees I've just met, but it's like we've known each other for years. That's what happens when like-minded people, linked by the most precious of gifts — the ability to let go and be creatively free — meet for the first time. And all of my dear, dear retreat goers and teachers from all the years in between... I just cannot believe how lucky I am to have you all in my life. It reminds me how precious life really is and makes my holiday heart swell with gratitude.

I really consider the holidays a time to remind us that those in-between moments are the ones that count. And to be able to fill them with creativity is such a blessing. We are fortunate to have our art that connects us and make us stronger. A bond that is created in one moment, yet lasts a lifetime. We are a tribe of artists... leaning on each other for support, encouragement and inspiration! It reminds me the importance of friendships, not just around the holidays, but every day.

So this holiday season I'd like to thank you all for daring to experience something greater for yourself in the form of our mixed-media excursions. The bravery it took to come along on this creative adventure with me. And the heartfelt connections we have made over art. I am truly blessed to have all of you in my life and I hope that your holiday season is filled with the love of family, friends, and perhaps a few random moments of creativity.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Holidays and Helping Hands...

The holidays are a great time to help those in need. We may all get swept up in amazing retail sales, sappy or silly Christmas movies, decorating to the nines, and planning out holiday meals. But there are so many people in our own communities who go without. Without food. Without money to buy their kids' presents. How can you keep the fun of Santa Claus going with your children when your bellies and wallets are empty?

Enter... us! Every year I volunteer at my local Salvation Army doing food drives and presents for the kids. I also lend my time to our local Portland Food Bank, aptly named... Sno Cap. It does my heart good to be able to help others in need. And you know what? Their gratitude is contagious! If you ever  got the holiday blues, a healthy dose of Volunteerism will cure you in a minute!

Whether you donate your time or donate your dollars, every little bit makes a difference. Uplifting souls is a pretty great gift to give this holiday season. And the best part? Your soul will be uplifted in the process. How great is that!

Happy Holidays! Ho, Ho, Hope!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Instructor Added to Portland! Introducing Rebekah Meier...

We are so very excited to announce the addition of one very talented instructor to our Portland Art & Soul roster... Rebekah Meier!

Rebekah is an established author, designer, and teacher in the mixed-media and fabric collage community. Her books, magazine features, and product development exemplify her signature style of combining fabrics and fibers into beautiful collage assemblages. Rebekah is the author of the best selling books, Fabric Art Collage, 40+ Mixed Media Techniques and More Fabric Art Collage

Here's what she's offering this Spring at our 2015 Portland event. Check out these lovely layered cloth and paper creations!

Collage Fabric Painting - Friday, March 6th 
Students will learn techniques to create their own custom designed fabric. Layering the applications of color, texture, design will be covered. Instruction will also be given on how to create foam stamps and using found objects for printing. The one of a kind designed fabric will then be used to create a no-sew wallet.

Students will create a canvas wall art collage. Techniques will be step by step, allowing students to build up textures and interesting designs. If you like ripping, peeling back layers, and random application of paint, then this class is for you.

Fiber Art Tapestry - Sunday, March 8th
Students will learn a layering technique that incorporates both fabric and paper. Each student will go home with a small sampler incorporating embroidery and lots of texture.

Pretty awesome stuff, huh!

Registration is now open for Portland Art & Soul 2015, as well as all of our 2015 events! For information and registration, visit our website at

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Give (or Get) the Gift of Creativity!

What could be better than to receive a Gift Certificate for any of our Art & Soul Retreats?!!

Whether you're interested in our Portland, Kansas City, or Virginia Beach mixed media events... we will  happily design a special magical retreat — just for you!! Have your loved ones email me directly at

P.S. We have something special happening for our next year's events! We are so very pleased to team up with Bernina as our preferred sponsor... and our 2015 retreats will have a special focus on fabric classes and sewing.  Check the website to see all the new and exciting classes!

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Would Walk 500 Miles (Well, Maybe Not)...

Next, we arrived in Nuremberg. A city built 1,000 years B.C. and almost completely destroyed by WWII.  There are a few original buildings remaining, but most were rebuilt after the war.  We took a tour of the Imperial Palace. As with all the castles, it was erected at the highest point of the city in order to watch for any intruders/enemies that may be approaching. As such, the roads inside are very steep; almost vertical. With all the walking, hiking and dancing that I have been doing, I found this journey the most difficult.

The cobblestones and steep angles really took a toll on my knee. I was having major difficulty walking down one very steep street and before long, I realized that the tour had ventured ahead of me and I was alone. I knew that many of our fellow travelers had train reservations and the bus would have to leave in order to accommodate their schedules. Fortunately, Addie had stayed on the bus during the tour and was able to text me immediately when the group arrived sans me. I found a coffee café and stayed put until they were able to come for me approx. one hour later.  It was an adventure, but not one I would like to repeat.  Next time, I will stay on the bus!  Castles are difficult to navigate in the best of conditions, let alone with a bad knee. Obviously, I will be visiting the orthopedic surgeon when I arrive home.

I love Bavaria.  My ancestors came from Switzerland and there is just something special about the overall look and feel of the architecture here.  Tuscany still has my heart, but I love the polka and an oompa band. Oh, and the beautiful gardens... It's amazing what grows here in November!

Thanks all, for coming along on this journey with me. It was fun having your company!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Czech, Please!

We left Austria in tour buses and drove to Cesky Krumlov, in the Czech Republic.  The scenery was spectacular and once again, we enjoyed the history of an ancient village.

They are still quite economically depressed, and prices were the most affordable of any of our stops. I had two glasses of Jameson, a plate of cheeses and a bottle of water for $14. I’d be lucky just to get the Jameson for that price at home. 

And speaking of lucky... you can't get any better than sharing this wonderful adventure with a good friend. Lucky indeed!

The cobblestones and hillside town reminded me so much of Italy. I cannot begin to imagine the difficulty in constructing these villages centuries ago. 

We left Czechoslovakia and drove to Passau, Bavaria to meet our ship.  Just as you would expect in Germany, it is a completely different style of housing and buildings. So, three countries in one day!

More soon...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Durnstein... Along the Danube

From Vienna we cruised to Durnstein, Austria which is the starting point of the Wachau region. Glorious in scenery and history.

It was in the Kuenringer Castle, whose ruins still overlook Dürnstein, that the English King Richard Lionheart was held prisoner.

The area is surrounded with steep hills that are vineyards.  How they get the grapes picked is a mystery to me. It looks as though it could only be traversed by goats.

They are also famous for apricots—which become schnapps and liquor.  Almost every store offered a sample and by the time we reached the end of the street, we were warm and toasty.

I am always warm and rarely wear a coat, so I didn’t bring one. Big mistake as it was freezing in Vienna and I was miserable.  In Durnstein, I found a small shop where the owner made felted coats and other items. With considerable help from fellow passengers, the PERFECT coat for me was selected. It is a unique cut/pattern and will be a great souvenir from this darling town.

As much land as this quaint little town took up.... the population is only around 600 people.

From every angle Durnstein really captured my heart.

I've never seen so many beautiful doors in my life. Such detailed craftsmanship.

From the big cities to this rural countryside, the history left behind never ceases to amaze me.

So many quaint shops that just blend right into the landscape.

Saw this on the promenade in Durnstein. Hilarious... The sign directs you to the Kondeteri. Looks like some kind of sculpture we'd teach at a workshop for Art & Soul!

From Durnstein, we cruised to Melk, Austria.  Another charming medieval village…but it did not capture my heart as did Durnstein.

See you soon... on to Cesky Krumlov!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Not Just Horsing Around... in Vienna!

I thoroughly (or should I say thoroughbred-ly!) enjoyed our visit to Vienna and the renowned Spanish Riding School and home of the Lipizzaner horses. Once again we were treated as royalty, as everything with this cruise line has been. We sat in a section of the arena that was originally the viewing area for the royal family; cordoned off from all the commoners!!  The horses were magnificent.  We were taken to the stables and had the opportunity to meet them in person.  Such marvelous, gentle giants and we could purchase one for only $4000. Getting him home would be the expensive part.  Get the stall ready, Vonnie... I fell in love with Favory.

We had lunch at the famous Demel Restaurant.  The food was amazing and the pastries are indescribable.  It was difficult not to purchase tons of candy, pastries and all types of goodies from them!

After that we went to the largest outdoor Christmas market in the country.  It opened today and the highlight is some kind of a Jaggerwine.  Basically a hot spiced wine that knocks you on your fanny.  They serve it in Christmas mugs that you get to keep.  I believe Addie now has a set of 4.  Lots of spontaneous singing as the wine warmed chilly bodies.

We were so very lucky to attend a private concert at the Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna. The castle is privately owned and contains one of the most extensive private art collections in the world. The music of Strauss and Beethoven took my breath away.

And I must admit that I have fallen in love with the art and antiques of Europe. When I go to museums in the US, I see pieces of history that can be hundreds of years old. But here on the other side of the Atlantic, the vintage objects are thousands of years old! It's pretty amazing and inspiring. Don't you think we need to bring this coach back for our shows?
Until next time!

Monday, November 17, 2014

A European Excursion!

I am so excited and thrilled to have this fabulous opportunity to experience the most amazing vacation with a very good friend of mine. It starts in Budapest and cruises up the river to Nuremberg going thru 5 nations!! I'm going to take you with me...

We spent our first day in Budapest and learned that the medieval city is actually two cities.  Buda is on one side of the Danube and Pest (pronounced pescht) is on the other.  The ancient stone city walls have bullet holes from WWll and there also remains a Nazi lookout tower. But regardless of what we were looking at — from the Parliament Building to the local stone churches and monuments, the architecture was simply stunning.

Hungarians as not as fluent English as other European cities, and we found communication a bit of a challenge when we attempted to call for a taxi.  Missing our ship would not have been a good thing.

As much as I loved viewing the old buildings and architecture, the highlight of the day for me was spending time with an Eurasian sparrowhawk, Aniko. Looking forward to seeing more on this magnificent journey!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Virginia Registration is Now Open!!

Doris Arndt - Beaded & Bound Booklace

Well, we have another wonderful line-up classes that will thrill you for Art & Soul Virginia 2015... and registration is now open! 

Helen Shafer Garcia - Color Pencil Journaling

So you know what that means... Grab a glass of your favorite beverage... get yourself a little something to nosh on... grab those reading glasses if you need them... and start perusing our spectacular workshops we have for you at this beachside retreat!

Doreen Kassel - Jiggly Jointed Dolls

There's a little bit of something for everyone... collage, assemblage, sculpture, dolls, painting, journaling and bookmaking, jewelry, sewing, and so much more!

Leslie Brier - Time Traveler's Kaleidoscope

Like to work with paper... cloth... fabric... fiber... metal... glass... clay... resin... watercolors... pastels... acrylics... pencils... vintage items? Well... we've got something for you! And then some.

Cindy Lohbeck - Snow & Ice Dyes

There are lots of new and interesting classes to check out at this retreat... new instructors.... and very exciting projects. So come and take a look!

Nancy Prichard - Temples, Tea Pots & Toys

You can search our Art & Soul Virgina 2015 event by instructors, or by project photos, or by days of the week. Sign up for as many classes as you like, we've got days and evenings chock full of creative mixed media fun for you!

September 28 - October 3, 2015
Virginia Beach Resort Hotel

SPECIAL LIMITED TIME OFFER! As an incentive, if you register for $250 in classes before Dec 31, 2015, you will receive a $20 Gift Certificate to Artistic Artifacts, our official on-site mixed media store.

We're all looking forward to seeing you!