Finally, it’s time to share the new venture I have been secretly working on all these months, and I am so excited I might just burst.
But first the story of how it came about…Nearly a year ago, I jumped on a plane and travelled over 5000 miles to California, on my own, to join an art retreat. I remember sitting in my seat as the air stewardess did her demonstration, thinking “What are you doing flying half way round the world… to paint? ARE YOU CRAZY WOMAN?”
It had all started a short while before, when I stumbled across Kelly Rae Roberts’ book Taking Flight, and something in it spoke to me. The bit about listening to the whispers in your heart. You know, the ones that keep nudging you towards a more creative life. I felt like she was talking to me, and I thought “I wish I could meet this woman in person.” I found myself sat at my computer looking at her website and saw that she was teaching at an art retreat in San Jose, and I knew I had to go (although I didn’t even know where exactly San Jose was).
At the time, this was actually quite ridiculous. I was busy, it was going to cost me time and money, and I didn’t know a soul (not to mention having not painted more than three times in the previous year).
I was scared it would be full of people who knew what they were doing, and knew each other, and that I’d be the faker at the back wondering what on earth I was doing. But I booked it anyway, and went.
And it was perhaps the single most important thing I have done for myself in years.
I found a whole new community of incredible women who have since become friends, confidantes and supporters of my creative dreams. I found a deeply hidden love of creating that had been trying to get out for years.
It literally changed everything.
I went home with one message to myself. Do what you love.
And ever since I have been plotting and planning, listening and learning, exploring and dreaming, with this as my mantra.
Piece by piece I turned my business idea into a business plan and then into a real company. I put everything I have learned out in the corporate world into something for the creative world. I had some incredible support along the way, from my mentor and from some amazing members of this creative community (you know who you are). I can never thank them enough. Something about the retreat experience had captivated me. I had seen so many women come alive to their own creativity and talent, and the choices they wanted to make in their lives. And I recognised two things.
Firstly, there was nothing like it in Europe, where ‘art holidays’ tend to be all about learning traditional techniques, rather than the rich and deep creative and emotional experience of the US-style retreat (with all those wonderful American women!)
Secondly, I noticed that the space created by 'retreating' somehow cracked open old trunks of buried dreams about making money from creativity. But there was no way to capture this, build on the ideas, get practical advice from people who had made a success of creative business, and put the wheels in motion to realise those dreams. And so my business was born.
Drum roll please…
The first Do What You Love art and creative enterprise retreat will take place in a stunning luxury venue hidden deep in the English countryside from May 11-15 2011.
As the world’s first retreat to mix indulgent art workshops and business sessions with successful creative entrepreneurs in a luxury venue in an area of outstanding natural beauty, it will be unlike anything else anywhere.
If you join us I can promise it will be a magical experience, and it might just be the most important investment you ever make in yourself and your creative business.
Class update: the retreat's teachers have now been announced! The line up is: American painter Flora Bowley, British book artist Rachel Hazell and British mixed media artist Priscilla Jones. Which one will you choose?
This retreat will be cosy and intimate – small enough for everyone to get to know everyone - so places are strictly limited. Registration will formally launch in early January (as part of a new website – so excited!), but if you want to be the first to know about it (and get in on the early bird discount), sign up for the new Do What You Love newsletter (on the right hand side).
I hope you will share this journey with me.