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up on a mountain in breckenridge

The last four days with Kristin and Nathanael in Denver have been really fun. For family, we really don’t see them enough so it was especially nice to have them show me around their stomping grounds.

breckenridge and hanging with Ali DeJohn

Friday Kristin and I went to Breckenridge to meet up with Ali DeJohn and see the area there. We had coffee with the creator of The Makerie along the river that runs through the town. Ali and I quickly realized that we had actually met before at Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire in 2009. It was really nice to catch up and talk about the respective ventures we have launched since we last saw each other: her retreat, The Makerie and my website, Seek Your Course. I always find it inspirational and refreshing to swap notes and thoughts about the arts world with fellow entrepreneurs in this small but growing industry.

After seeing Ali we decided to check out the town, including the gondola that goes up to a bunch of fun attractions. Unfortunately we just went and went without our sunscreen, water, or food. So of course we are both pretty sunburned and spent more money on mediocre resort food than I care to admit. But we had the best time.

kristin!

Once up there we bought lift tickets to go up to around 1200′ and then decided to hike a little higher even. The view was stunning. I felt like I should have been singing Sound of Music or something…and my altitude sickness had gone away thankfully. It was just the best.

escapades on the mountain

the amazing part: we hiked the super steep dirt road in skirts and these! we're tough like that.

Once back in Denver we met up with Amy Blum of Live It To The Full for a drink. Thankfully I realized while in Colorado that she lived in Denver. So nice to actually meet her after talking over email about Seek Your Course. Live It To The Full has been listing their ecourses on Seek Your Course and I am thrilled to have them enthusiastically involved.

Colorado is drier and flater than I expected. This raises the debate in my head about which would make me happier: lush green with lots of rain or dry dust with lots of sun? I really loved the variation and combination of Oregon…the intense green of the coastal area and the dry high desert, so close together. When I traveled to Oregon I didn’t realize it was an exporter for nursery and landscaping plants. I did know it was a big fruit-growing area and driving through fields of fruit trees and wineries was blissful. I guess the secret is kind of out: I am in love with Oregon. And frozen yogurt, btw.

frozen yogurt...mine with fruit and kristin's with candy. good times.

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Today was a day I learned more about how truly blessed I am. This morning I finally launched my Kickstarter project and announced that I am going to Spain for an artist residency program. You can read all about my residency on my project page. My goal is to raise $2000 and today I got to 40% of that goal. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and simply in awe of the strong community I have surrounding me, even though many of us are physically far apart.

First Glimpses

So besides all the good news and love that will enable my dreams to come true, today was also awesome because Kristin and I finally got up to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, and Boulder. We had a lovely time hiking and eating ice cream. Yesterday was devoted to hanging out in Denver and relaxing.

Driving in CO

Hiking

Me Doing My Thing

More Hiking

Kristin on a rock island...then I climbed out too.

Estes Park and Boulder...ate at Mountain Sun Brew Pub


Judy's Studio

Besides visiting gardens my last three days in Portland, I also visited some of the nicest artists I know. I had a lovely time seeing their studios and going out to lunch. Monday I visited Judy Wise‘s house and studio.

Walking into an artist’s studio is like walking into a room-sized embodiment of their creativity, energy and personality. It is where they pour out their soul and collect their treasures. It is a space that is truly their own. Walking into Judy’s studio I could feel her creative energy in the space. It was wonderful and made me so happy.

Judy's Studio

Lunch with Judy...really good Thai.

I also got a tour of Judy’s husband’s gardens. They were wonderful as well. So many things that grow in Oregon and do not grow (well) in the Northeast. John was working away and it was nice to finally meet him after seeing his gardens for so long on Judy’s blog.

Judy and John's Gardens

Tuesday I visited Bill and Linda Womack and their two dogs Sadie and Jack. Linda’s studio is in a converted garage behind their house. It was perfect. Linda has it set up with room for students so she can teach right in her studio. She has her work displayed along with work-in-progress and sample boards. She showed me how to crack shellac on wax, which I think is one of the last techniques in encaustics I’ve been wanting to try. Now I need to buy some shellac when I get home.

Linda's Studio

I had lunch that day with Bill, Linda, Kimberly Kent, and Judy Wise. We had a nice time catching up since our time together at the International Encaustic Conference in Massachusetts in June. We went to American Dream Pizza, which was fantastic and very cool inside. Kimberly’s grandson, Hugh, went with us.

Lunch at American Dream Pizza

So in 10 days I went roughly 600 miles, took over 1000 photographs, and doubled the weight of my baggage. I really loved my time in Oregon.

The baggage is a funny story. I spent all morning squishing all my stuff into my one suitcase and somehow I was successful. But when I got to Linda’s house I was telling her about my bags and she suggested I weigh it just to be on the safe side. Deep down I already knew I was in trouble, but how much trouble? I could barely pick up my bag to hold it on the scale. It was over 80 pounds! Oops! So Linda, being the wonderfully nice person she is, lent me a bag from their attic and I spent the next 20 minutes putting over 30 pounds into that bag. It was ridiculous, but it worked. The big bag was 50.0 pounds when I checked it! I had to laugh. Thanks, Linda!

 

For all you garden people out there (Mom!) I wanted to do quick post on the Rose Garden and Japanese Garden in Portland. I had a lovely time walking around there. I especially loved how everything in the Japanese Garden was covered in moss. You just don’t get that back east.

Rose Garden

Japanese Garden

My Wonderful Hosts: Erik & Katie, Tim & Tomo

The hummingbird I rescued...a truly magical moment.

EncaustiCamp has ended and I am now back in Portland staying with friends. It was a fantastic art retreat. I learned so much and have so many new ideas. A big part of me just wants to go straight home and paint…but I have more exploring to do before then! I am in Portland for a couple more days and then onto Colorado. Excited to see the studios of two artist friends in the next two days. More on that later.

I posted about EncaustiCamp over on the SYC Blog, but I wanted to share a little more here about what I did there and what I did today.

making paper in Michelle Belto's class

hanging (encaustic on handmade paper)

I am leaving EncaustiCamp with ideas and confidence. I received a warm welcome from Trish and was invited to share with the attendees a summary of Seek Your Course on the first night. She also let me put SYC postcards in everyone’s welcome bags. It was great to start the retreat like this because it sparked a lot of conversations throughout the week and gave me plenty of opportunities to talk about Seek Your Course. I also got lots of great feedback on my work. It feels so good and right to sense things moving forward and to see opportunities emerging before my eyes.

It was really encouraging to be noticed and known. I usually feel like I know everyone but I’m not sure they know me. This time it was the other way around. Everyone knew my name and I kept forgetting some of theirs. It was different. It felt good to be known and a part of me embraces this as success. And then a part of me is very wary of playing the attention game and wanting so badly still to be “cool.” Do these feelings ever go away? The need to be accepted seems eternally strong.

So I am cherishing these encouraging experiences and sealing them inside for times of doubt. While doing this I am also trying to meditate on being strengthened and firm in my convictions, but not tainted by thoughts of superiority or popularity. I am trying to just be true to myself and the path I have before me. I am uplifted and it makes me smile.

Me and Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Instructor Extraordinaire

On my way to Portland today I stopped in Aurora, Oregon. I found some scrumptious shops including a salvage place! I walked around wide-eyed and giddy like a child.

Shopping in Aurora: Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage and Tarte!

Here at Erik and Katie’s house they have chickens and bees in their beautiful in-the-city backyard homestead. I am inspired once again!

Life with Erik and Katie: bees, chickens, dogs and a potluck

a painting I did today in Judy's class

I arrived at EncaustiCamp last night after my lovely tour of the state. I posted a lot more about the retreat itself on the Seek Your Course blog.

Inspiration in Portland

EncaustiCamp is in wine country...so pretty

On a personal note, I am really enjoying myself and feeling so uplifted by the presence of so many positive people. Encouragement can be hard to find, but retreats are catalysts for taking work to the next level.

These two sure make me smile! Mary Beth Shaw and Judy Wise

 

shops and food of bend, or

I have had a lovely last few days traveling all over Oregon. I really like it here. The diverse landscape perpetually astounds me.

view of bend from pilot butte...sisters in the background

smith rock

mountains across the open plains of eastern oregon

I arrived at EncaustiCamp this evening to a lovely group of people. Very excited to learn from the best.

where the ground dropped away

mt hood from trillium lake where I camped

trillium lake and mt hood

The wifi at the campus was giving me trouble, so I am out at a Safeway and quite tired, so more pictures and less writing this time. The pictures are what’s worth it anyway!

sweet potato burrito at everybody's brewing in while salmon, wa...on my way to diving the gorge

 

columbia river gorge