Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

Why Should You Go on an Art Retreat in the UK?

Taking time out of our everyday lives to focus on art is an absolute luxury. 

Its true: not everyone has the opportunity or the means to leave behind their responsibilities and spend their extra funds on a holiday designed for introspection, creation, and self-exploration. 

So, for those in a position to partake in the indulgence of a break from life and to focus on themselves, I must stress: 

Art retreats are not just for artists. 

Well, actually, allow me to clarify: Art retreats arent just for professional artists. 

Because, you see, everyone is an artist. 

We are all creators and dreamers and souls who crave expression. 

And an art retreat is just the ticket for anyone ready to… 

…focus on themselves.

…indulge in self-expression.

…grow and bloom and flourish.

…take a break from the pressures of our hectic world. 

Art retreats are magical containers. And, as well explore, the UK is a magical place. 

So, should you go on an art retreat in the UK? Lets get into it. 

Spoiler alert: my answer will always be yes.

What is an art retreat?

Most art retreats have structure, yes.  

But an art retreat is really whatever you want it to be. 

At its most basic iteration, an art retreat is a dedicated place and time for focused artistic expression. 

Some art retreats have a community component wherein retreaters bounce ideas off of one another, engage in deep conversation, and participate in group exercises or sessions. 

Then there are the art retreats that are meant to be solo journeys. These tend to provide retreaters with a private space, like a cottage or a glamping tent, where they can work in solitude on a specific project. Meals can be taken with other retreaters or alone in workspaces.  

Solo retreats tend to be for those artists who make their livings (or part of their livings) from their art. Their art tends to be their work. 

Community retreats tend to be more expansive. Theyre for the artists who must disguise themselves as non-artists in their everyday lives.  

You know the type (and maybe you are the type): they have real-world responsibilities like children and bills and a 9-5 job that helps them with the stability needed to care for their responsibilities. 

For those artists, art retreats are evermore important because art retreats feed their artistic souls without pulling them too far away from the routines and structures they need to survive in the real world. 

(I have much more to say about which world is actually real and which world masquerades as real, but thats a post for another time…suffice to say that your artistic soul is real and true and needed.)

What happens at an art retreat? 

There are all sorts of art retreats. 

There are art retreats with structured sessions throughout the day. These are meant to guide budding artists and show them routines and practices they can take back to their everyday lives.

There are art retreats with heavy somatic components. These types of retreats offer daily walks or hikes or yoga sessions. They mix physicality with inner work to get the creative juices flowing. 

There are art retreats that allow for complete solitude. Solo art retreats help retreaters completely disconnect so they focus with rigour on their inner workings and creations. 

And, of course, there are retreats that cater to specific types of art: writer retreats, painter retreats, potter retreats, dance and acting and beat poetry. 

No matter the type or structure of the art retreat, you can rest assured that youll be provided plenty of time for personal reflection and relaxation.  

Youll most likely be provided with meals and snacks as well.  

In fact, youll have very little to think about or decide outside of your reflection, expansion and creation.  

So, what happens at an art retreat?  

The simple answer is big internal shifts.  

Youll leave refreshed and inspired. 

You’ll leave with a new perspective on your life.

Why is the UK best for an art retreat? 

Okay, before I make an argument for why the UK is the best place to go on an art retreat, I need to preface that any location for an art retreat is perfect. 

An art retreat in your own bedroom for an afternoon is perfect. 

An art retreat in the jungles of South America is perfect. 

An art retreat at the top of a snowy mountain is chilly…and perfect. 

But theres something about the wildness of the UK… 

…the green and wet.

…the scent of decaying leaves on the forest floor.

…the wholly unpredictable weather.

…the millennia of history and people and energy and magic. 

Theres a rawness to the UK despite its modernity and industry. 

Every corner of the UK still has some wild.  

And every corner still has some ancient energy to tap into. 

The UK is the land of fairies, sprites, brownies, and dragons. 

Its the land of shimmering knights, cackling witches, coastal mermaids, and legends of swords in stone. 

It has overgrown forests, clear streams and rivers, rugged coastlines, and crumbled ruins of castles. 

The wild and rugged United Kingdom is art. 

That makes it the perfect place to make art. 

If youre not convinced after that, then here are 7 reasons that you should go on an art retreat.

Reason 1: A fresh space means fresh ideas 

We all get stuck in routines.  

We drop our keys in the same place every time we walk in the door. 

We reach for the toothbrush every morning without even needing to look for where it is. 

We take the same route to work every day, and sometimes we get there and dont even remember the journey. 

Its hard to create anything new from a place of sameness.  

Sometimes we need a quick jolt to the system.  

A little bit of ruckus. 

An art retreat is designed to put you in a state of relaxation and newness.  

Even if the retreat has a structure, it wouldnt be your same, boring structure.  

Youll notice new things, and youll take in the beauty of your surroundings. 

And youll probably feel a little uncomfortable simply because it’s different. 

The discomfort will shake things loose.  

And you’ll have the space to examine those bits of yourself and your experience that had been held together by your daily routine and repeated days.

Reason 2: Disconnect and focus on your art 

Without your usual responsibilities, your head will clear.  

During your art retreat, you wont need to check your phone, catch up on emails or chase down someone at work to get a task done. 

Nope. This is your time.  

You wont need to worry about the washing or getting dinner on the table. You wont have to be on constant alert for little squeals of ‘mum!’ Or ‘dad!’ Or owwwwwwiiieeeee 

It will be quiet. 

It will be peaceful and carefree. 

You’ll have the space to focus on your retreat goal, which might be working on a specific piece of art, or it might be examining your future goals or getting into a flow state to let creativity move through you.

Reason 3: Learn from other artists 

Most art retreats are run by experienced artists, or they have professional artists on staff to run sessions. 

This gives retreaters the rare opportunity to learn about the practices of and seek advice from wise mentors. 

Youll get a condensed course in art and artistic lifestyles. Youll be immersed in a way that weekly evening art classes cant provide.

Reason 4: Make new art friends 

Heres the hidden yet most powerful benefit of art retreats: youll build lifelong bonds and friendships with like-minded and interesting people. 

It is not unusual to leave an art retreat feeling closer to someone you only met several days before than someone youve known for a decade. 

And its also not unusual for retreaters to meet up on weekends or in different towns for their own mini-retreats, catch-ups, and holidays. 

Youll meet other people who have the same longings and desires as you do. 

Theyre also people who can just feel that theres more to life than working and paying bills.  

Theyll understand you on levels you didnt know you could be understood.  

And youll admire each other and grow together and share your hopes and dreams. 

This may seem like a fantasy, but I can’t stress enough how common it is as a result of an art retreat.

Reason 5: Accelerate your artistic skills 

We all know that immersion is the best way to learn a new language. 

When youre surrounded by a thing you want to learn, you pick it up mighty quickly. 

So to be immersed in your art for the duration of an art retreat can grow your skills more quickly than almost any other type of artistic experience. 

Your attention wont be divided at an art retreat. Youll be a full-time artist for the length of that retreat. 

Go on…indulge in the fantasy of it. And own the growth in skill.

Reason 6: Learn how to fall in love with art again 

Absence from your art may have made your heart grow fonder…but it may also have made you forget just how much you love it. 

An art retreat is like a little romantic getaway. Just you and your art with a glass of wine, a warm bubble bath, some sweet-nothings whispered in the dark. 

When you leave the world behind to focus on your art at a retreat, you will inevitably fall in love with it again, and youll take that resurrected vigour back into your real life.

Reason 7: Reawaken your inner artist

When we get caught up in surviving in the real world, we forget that we are creative beings at heart.  

We’re not meant to live our lives working for others, sitting in an office for 8 hours a day, making enough money to pay our bills, and then using our weekends to recover from the busyness of the week. 

We’re meant to be enjoying the beauty of the world around us and to be creating art.  

An art retreat will help you to remember that, and I’m willing to bet that you’ll come home ready to infuse more of that attitude into your everyday life.

So, Should You Go on an Art Retreat? 

Of course you should! 

If you have the means to take a break from your everyday life and indulge your inner artist, an art retreat will change your life. 

And I just so happen to run them! To learn more about my retreats, which are a combo of structured and relaxed solitude, CLICK HERE.

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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