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Well, what can I say? The Hampton Art & Soul Retreat turned out just fabulously. Everyone got to kick up their heels, had a Spring in their step, and let their creativity soar! The Garden Hat Competition was out of this world! So many entries and such an amazing level of thoughtfulness for these fun and funky creations. Leslie Brier’s entry (above) — entitled Tripping Over Daisies — won for Most Original and had everybody smiling!

We had a wonderful selection of classes and the teachers really outdid themselves. It’s becoming evident in this day and age that the people teaching are doing so because they want to share the excitement that creativity can bring to someone’s life. For example, the lovely Susan Lenart Kazmer — who now has several books, dvds, gallery exhibits, and a product line with a major craft retailer — still wants to teach people on an individual basis, and makes them all feel like mixed media superstars while she’s doing it!

And then we have those like Dan Carrel — having taught at 5 universities and colleges throughout his tenure — who feels compelled to teach people that they do have the innate abilities it takes to create a Transformational Painting! In the process — transforming their lives into ones filled with courage and creativity. I am truly honored and humbled to have instructors like these in the Art & Soul family and I thank them all profusely!

The attendees not only come to play and be free, but they come for the camaraderie of like-minded souls. They are excited to learn and it is truly evident in their finished pieces of art. It gives me great pride to see all of you walking around after class — beaming with pride over what you have accomplished! It is heartwarming to see my dream come true in each of you.

The techniques that are taught go above and beyond the limits of the imagination. For instance, take a look at this beautiful collage made in Cathy Taylor’s class — Finding Your Creative Spirits. Using pages from National Geographics Magazines and orange cleaner, she took students to new heights of creativity. Who knew?

And Vendor Night — well, Vendor Night is fun in so many ways. Ways that you wouldn’t necessarily think. For example — since no one is getting dirty, or painty, or using a belt sander, our shoppers are always dressed to the nines! Sporting their most favorite, funky fashionable wardrobes along with accessories that were just made in class or have been thoughtfully hand crafted by one of thier favorite teachers or artists. The excitement is palpable as everyone rummages for the perfect found objects, ephemera, jewelry bits and bobs, as well as original art and supplies.

At this Hampton, VA Art & Soul event, everyone was so gracious, loving and enthusiastic and the positive energy was absolutely contagious. The East Coast attendees rock! I am grateful for your continued support. The laughter, comraderie and talent that you exude is the reason that I founded this event. And I’d like to give one more huge Thank You to all of our workshop instructors as well as my trusty right-hand-chick Marie Kennedy, to Judy Gula for bringing an entire store to the Convention Center in the 11th hour, and everyone else that helped make this such a successful event.

See you next time!


If you’ve ever attended one of the Art & Soul Retreats — or have talked to someone who has — you know what a life-changing event it can be. Now, we’re not trying to be conceited here — LOL! — it’s just the response we get year after year! People who have the courage to go outside their comfort zone. Those who love to be creative, but maybe have never tried it in a mixed media atmosphere. There are the ones who have dabbled and want to dabble more. And then there are those who love the camaraderie of others who are just as enthusiastic (a.k.a. a little nutty) about being creative as they are.

Art & Soul is a place where you are welcomed by all and it’s a safe haven to let go, be yourself, and explore something new. We’d love to hear about your favorite Art & Soul experience! So leave us a comment… and thanks for sharing!

I always seem to “fly by the seat of my pants,” making decisions “on the run” and then I wonder why my life seems to be so hectic and chaotic?  But I wouldn’t know how to live any other way. Life would be boring for me if all were planned and organized too far in advance.  So, with that philosophy, I made a snap decision to attend the Houston Quilt Festival, which took place a week after Portland Art & Soul. I had been toying with the idea of going for months, but was uncertain about making a commitment so close on the heels of A&S, knowing that I most likely would have the post event body deterioration. However, everything fell into place, the Universe wanted me to go, so I boarded Continental at the crack of doom in the morning and headed east.


I was told that the Convention Center in Houston is the size of 3 football fields, and of that I have no doubt. It was HUGE. It reminded me of how I feel when I walk into Fabric Depot, complete fabric overload. Where do you go first?  What do you select? What can you make? I want it ALL and it’s so confusing that I usually end up leaving with nothing. When I was young (ahem, a couple of years ago) I sewed everything.  As the years progressed and my interests changed/developed, I left sewing behind. Lately, however,  being surrounded by fabric artists like Lesley Riley and Ruth Krening, I’ve found myself yearning for a new sewing machine….and projects. Not quilting, I have no patience for the time involved creating those amazing works of art,  but more in the mixed media realm.  So here I was, in the middle of this gigantic seamstress’ playground, having a fabric clastrophobic experience. It was Art & Soul vendor night on steroids.

I ran into many A&S attendees,  instructors and business associates. It never ceases to amaze me how fast the word travels at a gathering, even with 55,000 attendees present. It’s almost like we have an invisible antenna network. I would be puttering along in my scooter, and bam! There was Mary Fisher.  “I heard you were here”, she said.  It was fabulous to reconnect with her. We would finish our conversation, head our separate directions, and then bam!  There was Alma de la Melena Cox!   “I heard you were here”, she said, and the reunion would commence.  This connection continued each day as I met and was introduced to more and more delightful people.

The most fun occurred on Wednesday evening. I had just left Lesley’s booth and was heading to Make It University, when bam!  There was Cindy O’Leary and DJ Pettitt.  What a reunion we had!! 


As the saying goes, “What happens in Houston, stays in Houston!!”  Heh heh heh.


There were traditional quilts.

goat quilt

And fun quilts (my personal favorites). 


There were hundreds of quilts and unbelievable expertise. I took a class in ribbon embroidery; something that I have been wanting to learn for quite a while. Very relaxing and rewarding (for me), so naturally I had to purchase a ton of hand died silk ribbons.


I looked at all the sewing machine booths and managed not to cave to the show hype.  I have no clue as to what type of machine I eventually want to own.  Those fancy ones scare the heck out of me.  They appear to be possessed.

I was there for 5 days and did not complete the entire circuit.  I thought our mixed media people were dedicated, but we cannot begin to hold a candle to the quilters.  It is fun, though, to see that there is  a definite cross over between the two mediums.  The $10,000 award winning quilt was embellished with paints and fibers.  It was a free hand eclectic design of a flying woman.  Quite original and ornate.  Not a traditional quilt at all.

The Make it University booth, sponsored by Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors was swamped the entire time. I enjoyed watching the people eagerly await each drawing to see if they were selected for a free class.  Pokey Bolton and her crew did an amazing job that week.  I was tired just watching the enthusiasm at the booth.  But to me this is a further indication that mixed media is truly a medium for all endeavors.

Friday morning arrived and I knew it was time to return home. I hadn’t given myself enough time to recover from Portland and this whirlwind was quite the experience. My body was telling me that I had probably overdone it a bit and sure enough….I managed to fall at the airport. I am fine, but am looking at the possibility of surgery next year. Not something that I want to contemplate in any manner, but I suppose that I have been putting it off for too long.  However, right now I have much to do , so it’s off to the next adventure!!