It happened! For real. Five of us children’s book authors and illustrators gathered up at our homestead for our “first annual kid’s book retreat”. I originally got the idea for this last winter when hearing about a women’s creative workshop at a remote and inspiring lake-cabin location. Considering time, finances, Tulsi, and the idea that IF I could have a few days for a creative retreat, wouldn’t I rather spend it with friends and fellow illustrators/authors trekkin’ the same path as me? Well, of course…!

We rented “the Barn” next door for a long weekend. It is a funky+fun analog recording studio/creative space owned by our good friend. It was the perfect space. I can’t say I did much art or writing at all, nothing complete anyhow. More like energy fragments. (Tulsi wanted to be with her mama and new girlfriends!) But as soon as I let go, I mean really let go of any expectations I had of myself and this time — I moved thru a lot. Ideas I’ve been stewing over grew and expanded and my energy/inspiration cup got refilled. We spread out on the floor like artists do :), made a mess, played with words and rhyme and images, listened to great music, told stories, wrote 5-sentence stories, drew maps of memories, shared our current/recent book projects and brainstormed on each other’s new book ideas (SO helpful). We shared our art and writing process, our strengths and struggles, gave little demos, swapped inspiration and ate yummy garden meals. We talked about the business and marketing side of books, too: promotion and festivals and school visits. I also had a really great talk with my friend Jenny who is a mama of 2 girls (and who also stayed at home with them before they reached school age).

And throughout, we simply related to each other, which was incredibly supportive. Thanks gals!!

Here is a map of my backyard by Laura Huliska-Beith!

And below: L to R: Tulsi, me, Laura Huliska-BeithJenny Whitehead, Betsy Snyder, and Beth Haidle,. Wander thru their sites — they are all so inspiring! The garden was also a sweet source of food and colorful inspiration! I was so happy the ‘big’ frost hadn’t come yet!

Another inspiration highlight: our visit to the amazing Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe!

And below: a few doodles I made that weekend for a project I’m working on. As suggested by the crew, I’ve been creating a whole digital library of patterns for a design project I’m working on. (A GREAT suggestion, too!)

The retreat was JUST what I needed. I feel so lucky. We are already planning the next one. I highly recommend this to others…take the time, round up some friends and go on a creative retreat!

Photos complimentary of Betsy Snyder and Jenny Whitehead.