Create Costa Rica with Cat Bennett and Katie Kendrick

Create Costa Rica Art Retreat with Cat Bennett and Katie Kendrick –Artwork by Cat Bennett

It may be sunny and warm right now, but it is going to be wet and cold in February. Think sun, dipping pool, expansive vistas, howler monkeys, delicious organic meals, a glass of wine at the end of the day as we talk about what we created that day. Oh, and then there is going to be that rip roaring zip line ride through the tree tops and a little kayaking in the estuary. And don’t forget more art and trips to the beach. What are you waiting for? Come play in the tree tops with us. More details about the trip here. Isn’t this on your bucket list?

February 6-13, 2014, Create Costa Rica with Cat Bennett and Katie Kendrick.

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See San Sebastián, Spain the Moore Way

San Sebastian, a jewel of a city by the shimmering Cantabrian sea, ringed by the Pyrennes, is shrouded in mystery. Donostia, as it is known in the Basque native language, offers visitors a rich tangle of history and intrigue and who better than Tracy and Teesha Moore to lead us through this beautiful Spanish coastal city that will bear the title of European City of Culture in 2016.



The Moores: When we were asked if we wanted to come teach in San Sebastian, we started doing a little research on the area and couldn’t ignore the giant creature disguised as an island in the middle of the bay. We also unearthed strange stories of the Basque people themselves, along with an art installation embedded in some large rocks (“Combs of The Winds”) which some say are tied in with aliens.

San Sebastian with the Moores
We immediately thought of creating a journal that told the “real” story of San Sebastian through altered photos, drawings (both real and imagined), papers and ephemera from the area, gouache paint and story. While learning new techniques, we will also show you how to dig deep into your own imaginations to create truly original art that has never been seen before. All of this while adding a rich creative layer to the travel/art/food experience.

This type of creative imagining is what drives us both in our artwork and lives. And trust us when we say that all future travel will forever be changed after our week together. Your imagination will be stretched, never to return to its normal size again, and your eyes will be opened wide.

Einstein stated; “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.”

You will go home with a journal full of your own mysteries from San Sebastian. It will become a precious memento of your time with our group, making art, seeing amazing places, eating Pintxo’s (pronounced peen-cho’s), learning new ways of seeing, doing, creating, and connecting back to your true self as a highly creative and original being.

Techniques included: working with found (Spanish) collage, drawing on-site as well as drawing from the imagination, lettering and condensed story writing, painting with gouache to add color to your pages, creative photography using your smartphones and incorporating it into your journal, penwork and more.

This type of retreat is perfect for showing you the way we create…not just in the studio, but also in the diverse world around us. We can’t wait to sit and journal right along with you as we go on our excursions out of the studio and eat fabulous food (rated top 5 places in the world for foodies!). You will see firsthand how we weave art into our lives.

Come join us as we explore and document the wonders, the art, the food, and the mysteries of San Sebastian together.

Tracy and Teesha have spent the last 30 years holding over 40 art retreats including the original Artfest and have 12 years of publishing art magazines under their belt. They have taught their journaling and journal making workshops all over the world. Their current project is a popular online club (The Artstronauts Club) where they post inspirational videos & articles on a daily basis.

The trip is scheduled for October 22-29, 2015. The price is $3,700 based on double occupancy. A $900 deposit is required now and payments can be made in installments for the remainder of the balance due. Final payment is due July 20, 2015. The price includes hotel, most meals, a walking tour of the city, a pinxtos tour, a cooking class, and a trip to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim museum. The price does not include airfare. Suggested entry into Spain is to fly into Barcelona and then take a connecting flight to San Sebastian.

Our accommodations will be at Hotel Niza owned by the family of the sculptor Eduardo Chillida who created Combs of the Winds. Narru, an award winning restaurant is located on the main floor of the hotel.


A 3-day extension to visit Barcelona on your return home or to other places in Spain will include:

  • a visit to the architectural masterpieces of Antonio Gaudí’s Familia Sagrada and Güell Park,
  • a Devour Barcelona food tour in the Bohemian neighborhood of Gràcia filled with fabulous food, art galleries and interesting shops–out of the tourist trappings of downtown Barcelona
  • tour of the Picasso and Miro museums
  • market excursions

The cost of this trip will be $1350 (price will go down if more than 6 participants sign up) and will be led by trip organizer Amy Persons. You can fly out of Barcelona on Sunday, November 1.

Please contact Kathie Vezzani using the contact form for more information or to sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime excursion with Tracy and Teesha Moore.

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Painting a portrait with Jon Houglum

Through the wonders of Pinterest, I found these videos by Jon Houglum that I wanted to share with my students from my Plaster and Wax class. The class is ongoing and up for a year (from May) so you can still join in the fun.

To my students, although he is working with oils, you can apply the same technique using acrylics. This is a fantastic lesson.

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Mexico City with Jane Davenport


Mexico City with Jane Davenport, scheduled for April 11-18, 2015 is filling up so if you have been on the fence, now is a good time to sign up. Viva Frida! There are more details here.

Don’t you just love this drawing of Frida that Jane drew?! Here are more pictures of Mexico City on my See.Mexico City Pinterest board.

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Puget Sound Book Artists Show at UPS

Isn’t it always funny when someone from out of town tells you what is going on in your own community that you had no idea was going on? During our workshop with Daniella Woolf, she told us that she was going to stop by at the University of Puget Sound to see the Puget Sound Book Artist Show in the Collins Memorial Library as she was heading south to visit her cousin in Olympia. The show is open until the end of the month in Tacoma and features 57 handmade books created by 39 artists from Puget Sound area. Laurie, Mary Ann and I met Daniella and Kim on campus to visit the show.

When you walk through the doors, make sure that you look to the right and to the left. To the left you will find Eco, the gray whale made from ocean debris.

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Picking and Waxing, a Dream Workshop

The very talented and funny Daniella Woolf’s Encaustic Improv workshop at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville, WA combined two of my favorite passions–picking at a garage sale and waxing. No, not my legs or eyebrows, waxing what we picked from the Lion’s Club garage sale. Daniella didn’t give us much direction, just be open to what we could find that might be “waxable.” Well, that was a pretty broad directive. As long as it wasn’t slick, shiny or plastic, we could give it a go back in the studio. Daniella is known for unusual encaustic installations of gigantic proportions and unusual materials, albeit now she is working on some very small projects that my friend, Irena and I were privileged to see in Daniella’s studio on Whidbey Island, and where Irene picked up Daniella’s very cool, yellow with zebra-striped-taped handlebars LeMond touring bike which Daniella had ridden in a few long-term bike rides, in a tutu, no less. Yep, saw the picture. But I digress……back to the garage sale.

I have to admit, I was a little unsettled with so little direction because I knew if I was picking that it would be for assemblages. Time and time again, I am drawn to combining my assemblage and encaustic work. I think I am just going to have to give in and concentrate on those two. Daniella says that I need to take a workshop with her friend Wendy Aiken. Road trip, anyone?

Daniella was up to teaching us anything that we asked, so the white board in the front of her work station was filled daily with new requests. I happened to see a wonderful piece of work on Pinterest and asked Daniella how the effect was achieved. She showed me and Remembering the Way is the result.

Daniella is a hoot, wears great glasses that we coveted that her wife, Kim, found on line. Zinni will be getting a few hits from workshop attendees. Daniella has committed to teaching the class again next year so if you are interested, be sure to sign up for the school’s newsletter because it will fill up quickly.

Kim and Daniella

Here are a few pictures of some of the other attendee’s pieces. My very talented friend, Irena, has the most wonderful sense of color and composition. And Shannon Cobb’s meticulous work was very inspiring.

A special shout out goes to my friend, Karen Raines for letting Irena and me crash at her house. Here’s what awaited us the morning that we left the island.

Sunrise on Whidbey Island

Thanks, Daniella, for a wonderful workshop. I’ll be seeing you soon and look forward to our next adventure.


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The lull of a water wall

Our water wall that we can turn on and off with a remote!

Last summer, we built a shed behind the house so that we could move the garden equipment into it which gave us more room in the garage for our “projects.” Assemblage materials and encaustics for me, and tiles and wood for Builder Bob. This summer’s project was to finish the wall that I had envisioned as a water wall. Bob did the engineering figuring out how to get the water, electricity and structural elements aligned with my vision. He is so good at that and I am quite spoiled that I know that he will always figure out how to make what I see in my head work in real-time. Bob left for Home Depot to make yet another run for that one more item that we needed and I took that air gun and went to town nailing the reclaimed wood that I had torn apart from existing tables and chairs. It was liberating and I had so much fun. By the time he came back, I was done and we don’t live that far from Home Depot. It just came together so quickly. Like my painting, I didn’t think it through, just grabbed pieces of wood and nailed them.

We finished just in time to share it with our friends from college who came to our house for a little mini-reunion. We all met at college with the guys sharing the Sig Ep fraternity at Washington State University. We had a beautiful evening with great drinks, food, and friends.

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Pastel Portrait

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Girl with the red cap

Signing up for Unearth-Gather and Create with Gillian Smith is one of the best gifts I have ever given myself. I have shared several online courses with Gillian and her pictures were always amazing so when she said that she was developing an online course, I couldn’t wait to hit the Paypal button, despite that it was starting when I was teaching my online course, which meant that I could not take part “live” each day. It’s okay. I am taking my time with this one, soaking it all in. The breadth of information Gillian is developing for this class is amazing and it is taking a while to go through the exercises each week. The class is on week five and I am on week two, along with some of my other regular online buddies. I would say that this course is not for a beginner but with someone with a little painting and drawing under their belt. This course will change the way you practice your art, I guarantee it and you know that I am not a neophyte when it comes to taking online courses.

The Girl with the red cap is my first all pastel portrait and I am finding that I love to work with the medium. Of course, I had to order more with the Dick Blick special this week. Can’t wait to receive them and separate them into the cool and warm colors the way Gillian taught us. Thanks, Gillian, I am having a ball.

Gillian is running a second session of this class starting June 23rd. I don’t know if it is full, but if you can, run to your PayPal account and sign up!

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Painting a story–Ex-Votos with Judy Wise

Retablos in the 18th century were gilded, painted and carved screens which adorned churches. They were often painted by anonymous artists and in the 19th Century, they became smaller and were usually of the Virgin Mary, Christ or saints. The smaller oil paintings on tin, wood or copper were used in home altars to venerate the almost infinite number of Catholic saints. The literal translation for ‘retablo’ is ‘behind the altar.’

This genre of folk art, deeply rooted in Spanish history, represents the heart and soul of traditional religious beliefs in 17th, 18th, and 19th century Mexican culture. Symbolic, historical, allegorical, folkloric and spiritual are just a few of the words that best describe this unique art form.

The ex-votos whose origin means “for solemn vow or promise” are devotional paintings on canvas or tin which offer thanks to a particular saint in the form of a short narrative. There are three basic elements to an ex-voto, a scene depicting a tragedy or someone with a grave illness or injury, a saint or martyr that intervened to save the day, and an inscription describing the tragic event and giving thanks for the divine intervention.

These art forms are a hybrid of centuries old Catholic iconography and indigenous artistry; reflecting the historical, cultural and religious links between “old” and “new” worlds.

We will make our own versions of these ex-votos in Judy Wise’s class in our workshops in Paint Oaxaca and Paint Mexico City. My head is already creating my story and I am itching to get my hands on the tin. An interesting side note, since I did speak about Mexico City, is that Frida and Diego had a collection of hundreds of ex-votos and retablos displayed in their homes. And I discovered that Frida was known to have plucked a few off the walls of churches for her own personal collection. You can also see the influence of these in her artwork. Can’t wait to see those, too, because we are visiting the Blue House and Diego’s house as well.

Here is a modern day version from one of my favorite artists, Cassandra Barney who did a whole series of what she called retablos.

Paint Oaxaca is full, but we still have room on Paint Mexico City. Contact me if you would like to join in the fun.

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