This month is a little different. Usually, I write about a topic… Well, this month I want to share my recent experience of attending a creativity retreat – “The Gathering of the Creatives” – with a good friend of mine, Dr. Norma Hafenstein.

Norma is a professor of gifted education at the University of Denver, and we both have a deep interest in creativity – personally and professionally. We write about creativity, we research creativity, and we teach courses on creativity. We also regularly give presentations on creativity at gifted education conferences, and we are at the beginning of a collaborative writing project that will involve looking at the role of creativity in the lives of gifted women. So, it was easy to decide that we would attend this retreat together. A keyword in that last sentence was “attend.” Something unique, and even a little bit odd, in this experience is that neither of us would be presenting, giving a talk, or giving a workshop.

We went to Santa Fe, New Mexico – the “Land of Enchantment” – to enhance our own personal, or everyday, creativity. When I am leading a workshop on creativity, I strongly advise that participants regularly spend some time in creative activities that are personally meaningful. These may be everyday acts of creativity – like keeping an art journal, designing a garden, working with wood crafts, changing up recipes, devising a useful invention, etc., or the creative activities may involve travel or heading to a different location. I also encourage workshop participants – who want to keep creativity as a conscious practice in their lives – to plan what Julia Cameron calls “Artist Dates.” You don’t need to consider yourself an artist to partake in – and benefit from – an artist date. Artist dates are creative “field trips.” You choose a time and a space or place to nurture your creative self. Julia suggests that you take yourself somewhere each week to broaden your horizons, shift your perspective, and stimulate your senses. Examples of artist dates include taking a trip to a museum or going on a nature outing to a spot that you don’t typically frequent.

Usually, artist dates are taken solo, but Norma and I participated in this artistic field trip both alone and together. We went to the event together. Then we each experienced a sort of differentiated educational plan – each attending workshops that most appealed to us. We went into this retreat as participants looking for creative enrichment and experiences of insight, and we were able to meet for dinner and share our individual experiences with each other.

So, I don’t want to evaluate or provide a review of the “Gathering of the Creatives” conference here, although I will include some information about the gathering below. I just want to describe our experience and discuss the benefits that we gleaned. 

We arrived on a Thursday evening, and on Friday we both attended a pre-conference session. I attended a full day painting workshop with Flora Bowley, a prolific and intuitive, artist and author. Her books include Brave Intuitive Painting and Creative Revolution. In this one pre-conference day, each participant completed two canvases. (Mine are included here.) These were process pieces intended to keep us in the process of painting with a variety of prompts rather than working toward a final product. Prompts included choosing three colors to work with along with white. Focus on shape; focus on color. That led to the bright blue, turquoise, magenta, and white canvas that I painted. For the second canvas, we focused on darker colors and the use of metallic paints for elements of sheen and light. Norma spent the day with Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, engaged in group process activities and journal writing.  

Neither of us consider ourselves artists, but we value artistic processes and modes of thought as avenues to enhance personal creativity. We both hold a deep belief that one’s greatest creative potential may be found in designing and creating our own lives. And that engaging in creative activity enhances one’s well being. Attending a creativity retreat contributed to that process for both of us. After immersion in the one-day pre-conference workshop, we attended two days of 2-hour talks and workshops – offered by authors, artists, dancers and more. We found ourselves steeped in creative inspiration – the ripples of which are continuing for both of us with continued writing, painting, creative conversations, and today’s Insight Resources post. Thanks for being here. I fondly hope that you feel inspired to make some time and space for creativity in your days and that perhaps you might pick up a new book on creativity or perhaps you might even plan a lovely Artist Date for yourself!

The following is from the website for The Gathering of the Creatives.

CALLING ALL ARTISTS (and those who want to be)!
The place where your art, creativity, and personal transformation meet.

Join Us If You Want To…
Awaken your inner artist
Identify and dissolve your creative blocks
Gain new insight into yourself and your gifts
Learn how to overcome procrastination, stuckness, and that feeling of stagnation
Deepen your sense of purpose and mission
Regain clarity and focus
Experience creativity as a spiritual practice
Meet other creatives—you are not alone!

Who Should Come…
People who were told, “You’re not creative.”
Stuck creatives who want to get back in the flow
Artists in hiding who know it is time to step forward
Artists and creatives who want to re-energize and refocus creative passion—and get new power tools to use creative energy for personal transformation
You—if you want to learn why being creative is KEY to a happy and fulfilling life!

Recommended Reading:

Flora Bowley – Creative Revolution: Personal Transformation through Brave Intuitive Painting
Julia Cameron – It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond

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