Squam Art Workshops Fall 2011 Recap

I spent last weekend in the woods at Squam Art Workshops where I played with paint, dipped my feet in the cool lake, connected with creative souls, and re-energized my spirit.

I attended last year and enjoyed the creativity and connections. It was nice to be back and to enjoy some warm, sunny days for at least part of the retreat – perfect weather for chillaxing on a dock. But don’t get me wrong, I made good use of my waterproof shoes and down parka as well!

I got my hands dirty in Mary Beth Shaw’s Stratilicious, Baby! class where we learned how to create interesting textures and layers using materials such as wood icing, tar (yes, tar!), and beeswax. I’ve played with encaustics before, but this time I got to etch the wax and color it in with oil paints, which created a very cool effect.

On the second day, I did yoga with the wonderfully grounded Michelle Madden Smith in front of a toasty fire. I don’t think I’ve ever practiced yoga wearing as many layers as I did (think Stay Puff Marshmallow Man!), but it was a chilly morning. Once I got my ujjayi breath going, though, I was in the zone. I wish the class had been a full-day. It was so blissful.

I also took a hand-lettering class with Penelope Dullaghan who is a fellow contributor to Christine Mason Miller’s forthcoming book Desire to Inspire.  I really loved the effect in my first piece using the tip of a liquid acrylic ink pipette on top of a wet wash of color. I wasn’t able to recreate the look again, so I was grateful I had my happy accident.

The last class I took was Care and Keeping with “the other Jen Lee.” It was funny how people kept getting us confused.  I spell Jenn with two n’s and live on the west coast – she spells it with one n and lives on the east coast – we joked that we needed to have signs or T-shirts so that people knew which Jen(n) was which!

I appreciated the spaciousness that Jen invited in during the session. We got to spend part of it on our own and I lounged on a dock and refilled my well. It was just what I needed before leading a short talk on the Right-Brain Business Plan after lunch. During my presentation I connected with all sorts of wonderful women who are running creative businesses or who dream of doing so one day. The great thing about being at Squam is it certainly inspires people to live their creative dreams!

One of the highlights was getting to have many belly laughs with my lovely friend Kimberly Wilson. She recently launched a new e-Course about creative and conscious business and I’m on of the featured guests. I can’t wait to see her again when she’s in town next month!

You can see more pics from my trip here on flickr.

And before I headed out to Squam, I had the chance to hang out with my dear friend Leah. This was the third fall I’ve stayed with her – I like this pattern! In 2009  we led a workshop together. In 2010, we went to Squam together, and then this year I got to visit and meet her super sweet little girl Annabelle. Isn’t she a cutie?!

Going on this trip made me realize how much I’m really craving a nice private retreat with my Nurture Huddle. Oh, that just sounds heavenly! I can’t wait for us to start dreaming up some locations for us to gather at next year!

I get to be a Squammie again!

Yay! I got my Squam Art Workshops confirmation today. I had such a great time last fall and I’m really looking forward to returning in September (it seems so far away!). Thrilled that my friend, the lovely Kimberly Wilson, will be there, too.

I’m a sucker for boxes, so I signed up for Art & Spirit Boxes. It looks like fun! I also adore hand-lettering, so I signed-up for that, as well. In addition to art and creativity, I appreciate that there are some self-care focused workshops, too.  I’m stoked that I will also be doing a yoga class with Michelle Madden Smith. I enjoyed her free class during the last retreat and am looking forward to a yummy, spirit-filled practice. And I’ll be taking Jen Lee’s course Care & Keeping which sounds like another juicy opportunity to tend to my creative spirit.

I’d love to hear if you’re going, too. One of the fun things was getting to meet fellow creative bloggers in person. And if you’ve been thinking about going… do it! 🙂

A Fun and Full Week

I spent most of last week visiting Vancouver BC masterminding with Andrea J. Lee and my fabulous fellow participants of her Wealthy Thought Leader mentorship program. We spent all day Thursday and Friday brainstorming about our businesses, sharing ideas and resources, and challenging each other to stretch and be leaders in our field. It was fun getting to know everyone and all the amazing things they are up to.

On Friday, New World Library FedExed me a print out of my finalized book cover! Very exciting to see. Friday was also the day my book went to the printer. It was a treat to get to celebrate this milestone with my fellow Diamonds and a little bit of bubbly, thanks to the lovely Pamela!

On Tuesday I attended the TEDxYVR event and enjoyed watching past talks around the theme “Playing with Possibilities.” You can see a couple of my favorite videos from the night here.

I loved hanging out on Granville Island. It’s a funky, artsy area with lots of cool shops, an art and design school, and an amazing public market. I was obsessed by all of the cute stationary and notebooks at the store Paper-Ya.

And while we were holed up in the Executive Board Room of the hotel, Andrea and her team invited in play with these colorful pipecleaners. They’re such a fun and easy way to inspire creativity! You should’ve seen all of the great accessories people made.

I’m still digesting all that we covered during our intensive time together and I’m super excited about what’s in the works for next year. I’m very grateful to have the support and guidance of this mentoring group as I head into the exciting adventures that await in 2011!

Art Every Day Month – Day 4

I’m off to Cornwall, Ontario Canada at the crack of dawn tomorrow to lead a Right-Brain Business Plan talk at the ARTpreneur conference. Looking forward to meeting some great creative folks! Not looking forward to the cold weather (I was spoiled today with a sunny, warm California day). I’m definitely bringing my parka and can’t forget my AEDM little sketch book!

And here’s a colorful Hipstamatic shot from my trip to the art store.

Reflections on Squam Art Workshops Part 2

Yesterday I posted about my experience taking classes at Squam. While the courses are absolutely fantastic, what makes Squam so special are all of the Squammies – the delightful creative souls who make the pilgrimage to nourish their souls.

While I always find it unnerving to be in new groups (a bit of “first-day of school” syndrome), the Squam atmosphere is totally warm and inviting. The generosity, heart, and vision of founder Elizabeth MacCrellish infuses the whole experience with love and the retreat naturally draws kindred spirits. Being in an inspiring community and making new connections was definitely a highlight of the retreat.

And of course I had a blast getting to hang out with my pal Leah! That’s us in the Layered Lines class (perhaps a little high from the turpenoid fumes! Ha!).

And here we are being silly as we sat in the Playhouse listening to music and stories.

Here I am with the lovely Susannah Conway. Last year, I was honored to be interviewed by Susannah about my creative life on her blog. Her Open Your Eyes class rocked and I’m inspired to take more pics. “Shoot the red” is engrained in my head!

I loved connecting the dots between people’s web presence and who they are in real life. I’d been hanging out with Louise for a couple of days, but once I saw Louise’s cute business card and recognized her artwork, the lightbulb finally went on above my head, “Oh that’s you!” So funny! And I enjoyed meeting other folks that I knew from blogs and social media. It’s fun to put faces to names and to make a real-life connection.

Here are some of my roomies from the Sommers cabin. Oh boy did we share some laughs! On the last night, Lorrie suggested a wonderful ritual to help us remember our time together. We each decorated a rock with a message and then we randomly picked one out of a bag. The rock I made said, “beauty” and the rock I received said “You are beautiful.” And to top it off, Kristen got my rock and I got Kristen’s. Gotta love the synchronicity.

If Squam is calling to you, make a commitment to your creative spirit and say, “Yes!” Make it happen. You will be inspired. You will be nourished. You will be with your tribe. Sure it costs a pretty penny, you don’t have the time, it can be intimidating to meet new people, it’s a long trek to get there, and when you finally arrive you’ll probably be cold (okay, freezing). But those are just the logistics, details, and flimsy excuses from your inner critic (I know because I’ve heard them, too).

When you say, “Yes!” to an experience like Squam, you’ll be reminded that you’re not alone on your personal journey. That even rock stars like Jonatha Brooke feel vulnerable when they’re singing a new song for the first time. That no matter where you’re from or what your circumstances are, we all yearn for creative expression and connection. That when you honor that yearning you make room for even more creative goodness to blossom.

If you need a little nudge, get the Squam Art Workshops Journal. I had no idea how gorgeous it was until I saw it in person. Seriously, it is like a heavenly slice of Squam that you can hold in your hands. Until the next time I go on retreat, I’m gonna crack this journal open whenever I need a fix of heart-warming, soul-nourishing creative inspiration. Yum.

Reflections on Squam Art Workshops Part 1

I’m finally getting my Squam post up! I can’t believe more than a week has past since my trip to Boston and New Hampshire. I’ve been exhausted (travel always does that to me), but I have so many fond memories of the retreat. I connected with inspiring women, I dabbled in some new artistic techniques, I savored a yummy yoga class,  I enjoyed the fresh outdoor air, and I loved having delicious food cooked for me everyday (and don’t even get me started on those marvelous macaroons!).

Last year Leah, Mindy, Melba and I attended just the Squam art fair on Saturday night after Leah and I led a workshop together in Boston. We had such fun meeting some of our online buddies in-person and getting a taste of the Squam spirit that Leah and I decided to participate in the whole shebang this year. I’m so glad we did. I’m super inspired by the creative community that convenes there and the whole experience definitely fed my soul.

The experience also gave me some new insights into my creative process. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken an “art” class that focuses on learning techniques. Instead, for almost the past two years I’ve immersed myself in expressive arts and intuitive painting which is all about the process not the product, about the experience not technical skill. As a student and a teacher of intuitive painting, I’ve trained myself to be okay with making “ugly” art. So, it was a bit of a head trip for me at the retreat as I paid more attention to my inner critic wanting things to “look good” and to have “presentable” finished pieces. I know it was all self-imposed pressure and that the atmosphere there is totally supportive. It was just interesting to notice what happens for me when I’m creating for just the sake of being in the creative process versus when I am attached to the outcome. And I suppose both have their places. While I thoroughly enjoy diving into the depths of my crazy intuitive paintings, there is also something quite satisfying about making a beautiful, delicate piece of art to display like I got to do this past weekend.

The first class I took was Layered Lines with Diana Fayt.  I really dug her drawing/painting technique which uses oil pastels, turpenoid, and graphite pencils. It’s quite simple yet creates a super cool effect that almost looks like an etching. My favorite pieces from the weekend were from this course. I’m definitely gonna play with this method a bit more. I even went and got more supplies today so I can continue to dabble.

The next day I took the Open Your Eyes photography class with the lovely Susannah Conway. Photography is a medium I’m not as comfortable with but want to get better at it. Fortunately my hubby is a photographer so I have access to great gear. Now I just gotta learn how to use it more effectively!

In the morning Susannah walked us through lots of great images to inspire us and to teach us composition basics. I could listen to her speak all day – I just love her voice and wisdom!

In the afternoon we went on a photo safari through the woods. Of course we had to stop at the lake to get some shots of the beautiful views.

I had fun getting to know my fellow classmates as we explored and experimented. And it was fascinating to notice how we each saw the world so differently through the lens.

This is one of my favorite shots. Thanks to the lovely Jayne who patiently modeled for us as we all snapped away! I posted more of my pics on Flickr.

On the final day, I took Flora Bowley’s Bloom True painting class. Above is a peek at one of her amazing paintings. It was fascinating to watch her demos and see her magical art come to life before our eyes.

Here’s a shot of my two paintings in progress, but since we only had a half-day class, that’s as far as they got. I had fun being playful AND I noticed in this class especially how much I struggled with process versus product. We started off being very intuitive and free-form but as we started to hone in on where we wanted to take the painting, my inner critic kicked in big time. It was a good reminder to let go and pay attention to where the aliveness is rather than what I think looks good or is the “right” thing. I certainly had fun with blue!

There’s so much more goodness from the weekend. I’ll share a bit more tomorrow. Until then, check out the links to more Squammies’ posts here – you’re sure to be inspired!

Catching up: A Vacation from Vacation

It’s been several weeks since returning from my family trip to the Bahamas and my tan faded long ago. But apparently I needed a vacation from my vacation because I caught a cold right after returning from my trip. I’m finally feeling much better and am getting caught up.

My parents took me and my husband, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my twin 12-year-old nephews on a Disney cruise. While I could’ve done without all the Disney characters and crazy crowds/kids (I’m not a cruise lover and yes, I suppose I rubbed elbows a bit with Grumpy dwarf), there were some nice highlights from the vacation. Some of my favorite memories included:

  • Spending time with my whole family. Growing up, we hardly ever went on vacations with my parents, my brother, and me altogether (since I’m 9 1/2 years younger than my brother). So, it was nice to have a big trip with all of us.
  • Hanging out with my twin nephews. They’re a hoot. They loved playing games on our iPad and iPhones and they were always cracking me up.
  • Lounging around on floaties with my hubby in the beautiful Blue Lagoon. I could’ve stayed there all day!
  • Escaping to Serenity Bay, the adult’s only area on Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. The rest of the island was an absolute madhouse, but this secluded section was pretty deserted and oh, so gorgeous with its clear turquoise waters.
  • Seeing a screening of Toy Story 3 in 3D on-board the ship. The movie was so cute!
  • Taking a “how to draw Goofy” class (that’s me above with one of my nephews and my sister-in-law sketching away)
  • Dining at the Palo adults only restaurant on the last night. The food was absolutely amazing!! And there are my parents below enjoying a delicious dessert.

Mom and Dad on the Disney Cruise

The trip came and went so quickly and I can’t believe it’s already July. It’d be fun to do another big family trip again. Maybe next time we’ll do it old school and rent a house in Mammoth during the summer.

Thanks mom and dad, for a great and memorable family vacation!

The Bellas in Seattle

At the end of April, I took a short, spontaneous trip up to Seattle to visit with some dear friends from the leadership program I went through in 2004. Fiona was visiting from London for a weekend retreat, so I flew in to stay with her and Lisa for some much needed “beauty” time. These fabulous ladies inspire me to no end.

Fiona, Lisa and Jenn in Seattle

The last time we were together was at the end of April 2008 in London.  I really love how we continue to keep in touch and support each other. Next on our list is a reunion with all four bellas in Brussels where Tina lives.

I was happy that I also got to squeeze in a lunch with my former Ladies Who Launch leader friends, the uber talented Melody Biringer (who is on the cover of the latest issue of Seattle Woman) and the super savvy Hazel Grace Dircksen of Socialbees. More inspiring women!

Jenn and Fiona's new jeans

Thanks to the support of my girlfriends, I was finally initiated into the world of premium denim! Woohoo! I even had buying a pair of designer jeans listed as a goal/reward, so I can now happily (and fashionably) check that off the list. And I had my first reflexology treatment, too! Very relaxing.

While the trip was much too short, I enjoyed every rejuvenating moment of pampering and connecting and can’t wait to visit with them again!

Playing in Playa del Carmen


Photo by Brian Ng

Last week, Brian and I traveled to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Brian shot a wedding and I was lucky enough to tag along for the ride! While it was cloudy and rainy for most of the time we were there, I still enjoyed a nice getaway and some much needed rest and relaxation.

The morning of the wedding, the bride had arranged for a group yoga class at Yoga by the Way with the fabulous owner Ellen de Jonge. Ellen had a great sense of humor and led a wonderful Vinyasa class. I loved it so much that I made sure to get one more class in before we left! Definitely check out her studio if you’re ever in the area.

The wedding was fun and the couple topped off the night by jumping into the pool along with their entire wedding party! How’s that for taking the plunge?!

Speaking of taking a plunge, I got soaked in a torrential downpour walking back from yoga sans an umbrella. Brian shot some video of the crazy rain storm.

While Brian worked off and on, I used the rainy day time to catch up on some writing and sketch in my Art Every Day Month mini-journal. I’ll post some of those photos soon. Hasta luego!

D.C. Creativity in Business Conference

Photo by Shiny Heart Ventures via Flickr

Last Sunday, I presented the Right-Brain Business Plan in a breakout session at the Creativity in Business Conference in D.C.  I had so much fun getting to learn and play with so many creative, innovative people.  Michelle James, the conference founder, did a magnificent job bringing together a community of entrepreneurs and professionals who are bringing positive change to the world of business.  There were experts in creativity, storytelling, business improv, right-brain/left-brain thinking, social media, conscious capitalism and so much more.

You can read my recap of the conference here, including some notes from the sessions I attended.

Photo by Shiny Heart Ventures via Flickr

I had a blast with my breakout session.  The participants were great sports, jumping right into the experiential activities and sharing with each other.  I love seeing how energized people get when they really resonate with their business vision and are inspired to move into action.

I am so glad that I said “Yes!” to Michelle’s invitation (via Twitter!) to fly out to D.C. and present.  This was one of the most engaging and authentic conferences that I’ve been to and I connected with loads of awesome people who also want to make a difference in business.

To get a feel for the energy and positive vibe of the event, check out this awesome slideshow.