Get Messy Art Retreat: Charleston

In February, 8 women gathered together in Folly Beach, South Carolina for the Get Messy Art Retreat. This week was full of art, good food, friendship and walks along the beach.

For me, Lauren, this was a dream come true experience: to spend a week in a beautiful place with amazing artists. It’s hard to describe all the feelings of a week like this, but I’ll do my best to show you.

These 8 amazing ladies came and brought the full force of their creative, kind and loving spirits. They came ready to learn and make and share. I personally learned so very much from each of them and their art.

The House

Sometimes I’ll be sitting in my house and become so sad that I’m not in this beautiful space with the sunlight pouring in and the ocean in my view. We all stayed together in this gorgeous, beachfront home in Folly Beach. We created, ate, explored and had so much fun together in this house – it will always hold a really special place in my heart!

The Teachers

We had the most amazing team of amazing ladies to help serve during the week. I could not have done any of it without my right-hand gal pal Erin who was our photographer, our tablescape artist, DJ and all around problem solver.

Holly Herrick was our personal chef for the week. She created all of our meals for us and served us southern specialties while teaching us of the heritage of these foods and sharing her secrets with us.

One of our master artists who taught was Karin Olah. This lady rocked all of our worlds! Her seascape collage process deeply changed our art practices. We were beyond honored to learn from her.

And last – me! I taught about my personal favorite topic: traveling like an artist! I shared my process for finding and translating inspiration and we created beautiful pages together based on the beach and the city of Charleston – which is endlessly charming.

Here’s a little taste of what our days looked like

Day one

Everyone arrived and it was such a surreal and perfectly comfortable feeling to finally hug friends I had known online for so long. We shared a meal, had champagne on the deck in the sun, explored the house, giggled at how giddy we all were and finally settled in for our first art session. We got messy right away, finger painting and setting our intentions for the week. Dinner and dessert and a whole lot more creating happened. Oh! And we received signed copies of Holly’s newest cookbook after she taught us how to make the perfect pastry, which we devoured after dinner.

Day Two

After an amazing night with the ocean lulling all of our jetlag and nervous excitement to sleep, we started our first workshop with Karin. As I said before, this workshop was one of my dreams! Karin only teaches 2 workshops a year, so we were SO SO grateful to be able to be one of them. She laid out a feast of fabrics for us to use and taught us, so generously, her process of how she creates her seascape collages. We basked in her kindness and creativity all day! Everyone created the most stunning works based on her teaching and mine makes me so happy every time I see it. We then went about translating what she taught us into our art journals. Her idea of using fabric scraps in our art journal pages and her processes really boosted so many of our creative juices as we all had so many ideas we wanted to try afterward.

Day Three

The next day I had given everyone a homework assignment to go for a walk on the beach and collect seashells and things that interested them (terrible I know!). We used their collections to pull out what tickled our artist brains and create a page based on the process I shared. Then we went around and everyone shared their process as it was so eye opening to understand how different artist’s minds work. Each piece of artwork was essentially created from the seashells but everyone made something so unique. I loved learning from each of these ladies and seeing the world through their artist eyes.

Then we took our skills on the road and spent the afternoon and evening in downtown Charleston. There is so much beauty in every nook, cranny, corner, and crack of this city! We went with artist’s eyes and soaked in the city and then created on location in a coffee shop where we translated the things we had seen that were bringing our inner artists joy into our art journals. We explored and we feasted. It was a beautiful day!

Day Four

For our last full day together we left our time open to the creative whims of all the inspiration we had been stoking this week. We spent the day creating so so many art journal pages in response to all the techniques and ideas we learned. I taught a mini “art + tech” workshop this day to help everyone learn how to better photograph their art and share it online.  We spent this day creating, napping, taking walks on the beach and sharing about our lives. We created one last page collaboratively. We passed around our art journals so each person added a little bit of themselves to the page as the perfect representation of our week together. For our last meal, we held a gathering night where each person brought something that was special and meaningful to them to share with the group. Each artist was awarded a special award in her honor celebrating her artistic gift she had shared with the group that week. Halfway through our feast, the power went out and we ended up spending the evening sharing about our art heroes and lives over dreamy candlelight. What a happy accident. 

Day Five

For our last morning, we spent our last meal time together saying goodbye. taking photos and making plans for traveling journals and dreaming up future art retreats. Saying goodbye was like letting a little piece of paint covered heart go. After I had cleaned up the house once all the ladies left, I sat on the beach and cried and thought of the perfection of this week. The art, the grace, the kindness, the friendship, the food, the sunlight and the ocean. It was all too beautiful and too perfect and I wanted to soak it all in because I knew that this week would become an important part of who I am now.

What We Learned

We learned specific art techniques, we learned how to look differently at the world, we learned about art supplies and one another. I learned about each lady, their art and their lives. Here are a few words they shared about what they learned at the retreat: 

“I tend to be a loner, but I learned that I do enjoy working with a group and the feedback and ideas generated were valuable. Karin’s workshop was life-changing for me. My brain is still spinning on how I’m going to move forward with my art in the future.

I made a fairly last minute decision to do the retreat and I’m so glad I did. The opportunity to spend uninterrupted time on art and be with other artists was extremely inspirational. I have so many ideas — and just wish I had more hours in the day to do them all. Taking the time to slow down and explore our surroundings for artist inspiration, learning new techniques, eating amazing food, and being in a beautiful place was all well worth the time. Lauren’s attention to detail in organizing the retreat was spectacular — a lot of time, planning, and thought went into making the retreat the amazing experience that it was.”

“I learned how much fun the process of art journaling is. 

If you attend a retreat you will learn new techniques, watch others, learn from others and the workshops.”
“I learned I need to go on more art retreats. I also loved learning Karin’s fabric collaging technique. I also enjoyed the class from, Lauren, on seeing the details… both at the beach and Charleston. It was good to refresh that lesson in me… learning to SEE what I take for granted.
Going on this Get Messy Art Retreat was amazing! Magical even. It was an opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals who came for similar reasons. We all came vulnerable and open. I left the retreat feeling that I’ve made lifelong art friends.”
“It was so wonderful to connect with these lovely ladies. I’m still thinking about them. I was a bit anxious leading up to the retreat about how I would mesh with the other retreatees but they were all wonderful. I enjoyed the time we spent at the art table getting to know one another a little more personally.
I seriously have been telling my other creative friends that it was a really special time and I’m sooooo glad that I went. I loved how the workshops were timed, I loved how we had free time to create, wander the beach or take naps. It was so well suited for me, especially because I tend to be a big-time introvert.
“I learned how to translate the things around me into my art as inspiration – I have always wondered how to do that in a way that wasn’t “literal” and found Lauren’s session to be exactly what I needed to understand. Now to practice!!
The retreat was so worth it – don’t hesitate to sign up if you can. The workshops and art time were great, but the best part was learning from the other ladies and making new art friends. I loved this event and would sign up again in a heartbeat even if all the content was the same!!!”

What supplies were on our art table

We had the most amazing sponsors for our art table. We cannot thank these generous master art tool makers enough! Here’s what we used to create with:

Tombow Brush Pens
Tombo Colored pencils
Tombow Twin tip pens
Tombow Highlighters
Tombow pencils + erasers
Tombow tape
Tombow glue pen
Tombow Extreme Ahedisvies 

Stencil sets

Finnabair Mixed Media: 
Metallic paint set
Impasto Primary Paint Set
Mixed Media Essentials Pack 

Mixed Media Art Journals 
Mixed Media Postcards
Mixed Media Cards

Fineberg Art Studio:
marbled paper

Black Micron PN 
Black Pigma Professional Brush pen 
White Gelly Roll
The most adorable art supply pouches + stickers
Koi CAC (metallics/neons) palette
Koi Watercolor palette
Gelly Roll Moonlight (bright and opaque)
Gelly Roll Metallic
Gelly Roll Stardust (glitter)

Create Magazine 

Uppercase Magazine

Lettering by Letters From Carolina 

Thank you so much to these amazing companies for making the art supplies of our dreams and helping make this event even more paint-tastic! 

This week was so full of joy, rest and art. I am so grateful to have spent it among so many talented and generous artists who were willing to come and share their stories, skills and passion.