Art Retreat Review

Last week, I had the chance to spend the day at Create New Jersey which was an all day class hosted by the magazine Cloth Paper Scissors. Many of the artists who contribute to the magazine were teaching as well as some other popular artists. The “retreat” is hosted in a hotel, this one in Somerset New Jersey.


Disneyland for crafty adults

I had tried one of these retreats in the past and from experience know that one day is enough for me…more than that I feel like Pinocchio on Treasure Island and am afraid of sprouting donkey ears and never returning home. Truly, these retreats are like Disneyland for crafty adults.

The lovely Julie explaining a new technique

The Art Teacher

Since I was only going to do one class, I decided it had to be with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer whose blog I follow daily. Let me tell you, if you ever have a chance to take a class with this woman, do it! She is every bit as funny, generous and charming in person as she is on her blog. You should know that she is even prettier in person, curses like a sailor but most importantly creates a calm environment perfect for learning.

Structure of the day

I got a bad start on the day. The other retreat I attended was from 10 to 5 and since my Planner Pad has been changed into an art journal I have no organization… Anyway, this retreat was from 9 to 4. No matter, as soon as I arrived (over an hour late, I would have been late even if it started at 10) Julie made me feel comfortable. I found a group of women willing to let me squeeze into their table and before I knew it I was happily stamping and playing with paint.

Artist Crushes

The woman I chose to sit next to is also a Julie groupie and shared with me that not everyone stalks her the way we do. We both were surprised that not everyone was as star stuck as we were. My new friend compared her “artist crush” on Julie to her obsession with Barry Manilow. Julie was a good sport about us. We asked her plenty of personal questions which in retrospect I am a little embarrassed about! I also learned that her Tiger mother reads and sends her grammar corrections of her blog posts. Apparently, her mom also likes the comments “from that SchulmanArt.”

One of the gad-zillion techniques we learned was how 
to quickly and easily make our own stamps out of craft 
foam. This is mine in progress… this was really relaxing 
and I didn’t want to move on to the next demo (though 
glad I did)

Everything you ever wanted to know (and I am not afraid to ask)

On the other hand, Julie had answers to all my other technical art questions. For example, I wanted to know why the pages in my dried art journal stick together. ( answer: I use materials with gloss in them and you should only use matte products or put a clear gesso on top)


Who are the Other Art Students

At age 45, I am probably at the youngish end of the age spectrum at these retreats. Most of the women who attend are either early retirees or older women who are still working but have taken a few days off to attend. Although many of the women are traveling from nearby, at both retreats I attended there were folks arriving from further. For example, at my table the women I talked to were from New Jersey, Long Island, Virginia and Connecticut.

I am sitting on the bottom left… To find out more about 
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, click HERE or on this image which 
was taken from her blog post about the retreat. { Do you 
like my apron? Whenever I do these retreats at least one 
person buys one from me! By the way, my mother also 
critiques my blog, although not for grammar. She said she 
doesn’t like when I interrupt my blog to insert a plug for 
something that I am offering for sale. She compared it to 
when you are getting a facial and then the facialist starts 
pushing a wrinkle cream on you that is for sale. Anyway, 
I feel like I am doing you a service by letting you know 
where you can get (in my opinion) fantastic aprons. 
I sell them on esty HERE}

Art Friends

Both times I have attended retreats I have gone solo, meaning I didn’t go with a friend. This doesn’t seem to matter as everyone there shares a common passion and part of the joy of these retreats is connecting with people and having conversations (in real life, not online) with people who geek out about the same things you do. At the end of the day I actually felt sad that I would be leaving. I likened it to how my daughter feels when returning home from music camp…our friends at home just don’t understand.


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0 thoughts on “Art Retreat Review”

  1. Dear Denise, I always look forward to seeing what you and your daughter come up with. You're both so creative. I'm glad you get my jokes. Of course, now I have the pressure to be funny all the time. XO Miriam.

  2. I also am a "Julie fan" and thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I have to give Julie most of the credit for helping me to free up my creativity and have so much fun with art journaling. I love your style – both verbally and your art, so have subscribed and look forward to more!

  3. Being a fellow Julie fan, I loved reading this … felt like I was there, wow … what an experience, if she ever makes it to the Lone Star State — color me there! Thanks for sharing, this was a fun post to read!

  4. I have been following your blog for a very short time and have to say you have a great sense of humor! Also thanks for the lists challenge, look forward to reading more!


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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