Following the Muse with Katie Kendrick

Ever since we cleaned out her studio and moved most of her supplies out into a nifty new building built by her husband, Walter, Katie Kendrick has been madly painting. Not just small paintings, but very large ones and many at the same time. It’s as if her creativity was unleashed by the openness and light in her studio. She’s even made the time to create a new online course Grit & Grace, something she has wanted to do for a long time.;

Every artist has his or her own language, and Katie is no exception. In her online course, she paints a very large painting and we witnessed her process and I have to admit, there were many times I gasped as she whipped out the gesso, white or black, and covered areas of the painting I thought were fabulous. The same thing happened in her recent Layers of Movement workshop I recently attended in Seattle. Katie strongly believes in following your muse which she does very successfully as seen below in this fabulous painting now owned by a friend of ours in Mexico City.


This following your muse exercise helped the Seattle workshop attendees from the very young and inexperienced, to the very practiced painters. Katie demonstrated how nothing is precious when you create, that your painting will change many times over the course of its creation. And with Katie, her spirit guides move her in different directions each time she paints and she never knows what she is going to end up with. It’s a valuable lesson and one she will share with other artists on our trips in Amsterdam (May 21-29) and Spain (Sept. 17-27).

Here is a quick progression of the demo piece Katie drew in the Layers of Movement workshop.

Starting with a blank canvas


I enjoyed Katie’s process and it definitely influenced how many of us painted that weekend. My three paintings turned out to be very different from my usual paintings. They were all large (30″x30″) which enabled me to use my whole body as I painted which I find very freeing. This one started out with two heads back to back and a shared spine on Saturday and then morphed into this the next day. There is a lot of marking making and some collage. I used acrylics, graphite, charcoal, pastels, and stabilos.

Echoes of Words by Kathie Vezzani

There are two opportunities to create with Katie this year with Bellissima Art Escapes. The first is Free Spirits in Amsterdam May 21-29 where we will be creating in this awesome studio. There are two openings for this trip. The wonderful, fabulous Judy Wise will also be teaching. Details are;

The second trip with 2 openings is in Spain – Journaling with a Circle of Friends September 17-27. We will stay in our own villa in the Catalonia region for 5 days and then spend time in Barcelona visiting Gaudi sites, museums and eating our way through the city. Judy will also teach in this workshop.

Katie, Journal Page

Painting and journaling with Katie and Judy. It’s an awesome combination. Won’t you join us?

Use the contact form below if you have any questions or would like to join us.

Posted in art retreat, Artists, Bellissima Art Escapes, Drawing, Mixed Media, Original painting, Painting, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside Geoffrey Gorman’s studio

Two of my friends, Betti and Stephanie, recently attended a workshop at Bennington College and Betti very excitedly shared about an artist, Geoffrey Gorman who makes sculptures with rust and found materials. Little did she know that he is one of my favorite artists and that I had already written about him earlier. Here is some of his work and a little video of him in his studio. Love and adore his rabbits.;;


You can see more of his work on his Facebook page or on his website (more cool videos).

What do you think? Future workshop? Yes, please.

While, there, Betti also took a class with another favorite artist, Lisa Pressman. There is still room in Lisa’s workshop in Oaxaca October 14-22. More details are here.

Photo by Betti Zucker


Posted in Artists, Assemblages, Bellissima Art Escapes, Mixed Media, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Encaustic Minimalist with Daniella Woolf

Daniella Woolf is in Chiapas, Mexico on a tour but our trip to Oaxaca for Day of the Dead is percolating in her mind as she experiences the many colors and textures of Mexico.

While there, she visited a favorite shop of mine, Taller Lenateros (where we will visit in 2017 for a workshop).  It is a publishing collective operated by contemporary Mayan artists in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Founded in 1975 by poet Ámbar Past, the Workshop has created the first books to be written, illustrated, printed, bound (in paper of their own making) by Mayan people in over 400 years.

The collective makes their own paper often from scraps left over after the many festivals in the community and while Daniella was there she purchased a bag of their handmade paper scraps. I’m sure we will see these show up in Oaxaca in some shape or form. As the Mayans honor their past with their poetry, paintings and books, we will also honor our friends and ancestors as Daniella leads us through what will be a very thought provoking process.

We’d love to have you join us October 25-November 3.

In other Daniella news, she released  a new video through Galli Publishing. The Encaustic Minimalist is a steal at $65 but you can also use a code MINI2016 for a 15% discount good until March 1.

There also is Encaustic & Paper, as well as Encaustic with a Textile Sensibility.

Posted in art retreat, Artists, Bellissima Art Escapes, Mixed Media, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A new year of traveling with Bellissima Art Escapes

She gave me her soul
by Kathie Vezzani

Last year was beyond wonderful with trips to Savannah, Mexico City, Scotland, London, and San Miguel de Allende. All the workshop leaders worked very hard to create wonderful experiences for our participants. Thank you Jeanne Oliver, Judy Wise, Katie Kendrick, Jane Davenport and Pam Nichols. New art tribes formed, friendships were renewed and lots of art was beautifully created.

This new year of offerings by Bellissima Art Escapes gives opportunities for you to gather with like-minded artists for workshops that will feed your creative soul. There will be good food, lots of laughter and friends who will stay in your life long after the trip is over.

Here is a recap if you are scheduling your trips for the year. We’d love to have you join us on any of the trips that still have openings.

Carla Sonheim and Lynn Whipple will be leading the Year of the Spark Continues in Oaxaca (trip is full).

Rust guru Pam Nichols will share her favorite scrapyard in Bend, OR where we will be picking treasures to use in encaustic painting. (full)

The uber talented team of Judy Wise and Katie Kendrick will guide Free Spirits in Amsterdam as we explore Rembrandt, Van Gogh, the canals and foods of Amsterdam. (two spots open).

Pam Nichols will be teaching another Dyeing To Rust class in Gig Harbor. (4 spots available)

Integrative Portraits with Katie Kendrick and Orly Avineri is planned for Bainbridge Island. (full)

We will be Painting Big with Judy Wise and Katie Kendrickin Spain. (full)

The fun continues with Katie and Judy as we Journal with a Circle of Friends in Catalonia, Spain (1 spot available)

Textures of Oaxaca will inspire Lisa Pressman and students as they engage in mark making and painting with pigment sticks, cold wax and paper.  (There’s room!)

We will end the year with what will be an epic trip–Day of the Dead with Daniella Woolf as we honor relatives and friends in what will be very special projects. (There’s room!)

Another Indigo Dyeing workshop with Judy is planned but it will have to wait for warmer weather. (update, planned for August 12-14 in Gig Harbor, please message me if you are interested)

If you are interested in any of the trips or would like more information, please use the contact form below. Happy New Year!

Posted in art retreat, Artists, Bellissima Art Escapes, cold wax, Encaustic, Encaustic Mixed Media, Mixed Media, Painting, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet Pilar Cabrera, Our Chef in Oaxaca

One of the frequent comments people make in evaluating Bellissima Art Escapes is that we marry two passions together, food and art. It’s true, I don’t travel anywhere I can’t eat and there had better be chocolate somewhere on the menu. Food is an important part of one of our trips.

Ane Elena Martinez and I have for the past 18 years worked with Culinary Adventures, Inc. working with chefs from all over Mexico and the U.S. leading culinary tours to Mexico. Rick Bayless, Diana Kennedy, Roberto Santibanez, the late Elaine Gonzalez and Susana Trilling (of Oaxaca) have all contributed to educating not only foodies but also chefs who want to learn more about authentic Mexican cuisine.

One of our friends in Oaxaca is Chef Pilar Cabrera. This delightful video of Chef Cabrera shows how easy it is to make tamales, and certainly how to enjoy them. Pilar, is the eldest daughter of Emilia Cabrera, our host at Las Bugambilias in Oaxaca. Pilar runs their restaurant, La Olla as well as their cooking school, Casa de los Sabores. We are very fortunate that Pilar will prepare our opening fiesta and our lunches while at Las Bugambilia’s.

Picture by Judy Wise

Picture by Judy Wise


Wait until you have their squash soup, the presentation is wonderful and the taste is out of this world. Here is the picture of how the soup is presented with the squash blossom, the fabulous Oaxacan string cheese, chapulines and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The waiter pours hot squash broth over the entire bowl. It’s heaven!

Picture by Judy Wise

We have three trips planned for Oaxaca in 2016.

Our first trip is Spark Oaxaca wiith Lynn Whipple and Carla Sonheim Feb. 28-March 6.

The second trip is Textures of Oaxaca with Lisa Pressman October 14-22. Details can be found here.

Our last trip is for Day of the Dead with Daniella Woolf scheduled for Oct. 25-November 3.

If you have any questions or would like to sign up for one of these fabulous trips to Oaxaca, please use the contact form below.

Posted in art retreat, Artists, Bellissima Art Escapes, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integrative Portraits with Katie Kendrick and Orly Avineri

Two very special women who create magic together are teaming up for an integrative portraits art-journaling workshop on Bainbridge Island, July 21-24, 2016. I spent a week with Orly Avineri and Katie Kendrick in Bandon, OR earlier this year and witnessed how these two creatives love one another and create the most beautiful journal pages. Quietly, deliberately and effortlessly, the magic happens.

They will share their process in a 3-day workshop organized by Bellissima Art Escapes in the most beautiful setting, the 20-acre Wacky Nut Farm surrounded by a community garden, trails, riding arenas and the most beautiful horse barns filled with gentle beasts that call out to my soul.  THIS TRIP IS FULL, a waitlist has been started. 


The art studio is bright, filled with art created by other artists who have taught there and by Stella, who manages the farm.

Here’s what Katie and Orly wrote about their workshop:  Two artists. Two approaches. One intention: To look deeply within as we work and play in our journals, to practice being open, curious, and receptive to our images, our thoughts, and our feelings as they arise, and to work for integration in these expressions as we construct/de-construct, reveal and conceal portraits of our discoveries.

We’ll be approaching our journals from a place rooted in the present moment: real life circumstances and our perceptions of them, a living current of feelings that can change moment to moment, and a physical body bursting with sensations, one that literally grounds us here to our Earth Mother, allowing our imaginations safety to roam freely between conscious and subconscious realms.

With the unified intent to create from a place of curiosity, openness, and willingness to explore anything and everything that arises in us, we will work/play integrating the various aspects that show up through paint, collage, and other mixed media.

The workshop is limited to 15 and costs $615 and includes:

  • Three days of workshop with Katie and Orly (one full day with each and one shared day)
  • Reception Thursday evening
  • Three lunches
  • Two dinners
  • Limited accommodation is available at the Farm for an extra fee (full)

There are four beautiful adult bunk beds with a shared bath, two queen beds with private bathrooms and a shared common area located above the studio.

The owner of the Wacky Nut Farm has a great eye and her rooms show it.


As does the barn. Wait until you see the barn. Yes, I went a little crazy over the barn. Reservations for accommodations will be taken in order as they are made. For the bunk beds it will be $225 for three nights and for each of the two queen rooms with private baths, $255. A very limited breakfast will be provided.

Supply list:

      • A blank journal (8×10) Gessoed white ahead of time if pages are too thin or smooth. Preferably not spiraled.
      • A smaller used children book to be used as a second work journal (Sidekick)
      • Acrylic paints, container for water, rag
      • Paint brushes, very wide to very thin
      • Scissors
      • Matte or soft gel
      • White gesso
      • Black gesso
      • Small bottle of Liquitex clear gesso
      • Lyra Graphitkreide crayon (needs to be this brand)
      • Fine point permanent black pens (sharpies, microns, etc.)
      • White gell pen: Uni-ball Signo or Gelly Roll by Sakura
      • 1 stick of medium vine charcoal
      • 5 water soluble crayons in a palette you want to work in – such as Caran d-Ache Neocolor II brand
      • Ephemera: personal images and scraps of paper, could be related to the theme as you understand it (fills a 1 gallon zip lock bag–not a rolling suitcase!)
      • Heat gun (optional)


Bainbridge Island can be reached either by a 35 minute ferry from Seattle or by driving around on the peninsula over Agate Pass. There are a lot of B&Bs on the island if you prefer to make your own accommodations. Directions to the farm can be found here.

A nonrefundable payment (but transferable) is due upon registration.  If needed, you can make a deposit of half the fee now with the rest due March 1. You can mail a check (preferred) or I can invoice you through PayPal.

This workshop is FULL, if you would like to add your name to the waitlist, please use the contact form below.

Posted in art retreat, Artists, Bellissima Art Escapes, Mixed Media, Painting, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The magic of Mojigangas with Hermes Arroyo

While in San Miguel de Allende for our Paint San Miguel workshop with Katie Kendrick and Judy Wise, we were fortunate enough to visit Hermes Arroyo at his family’s home and workshop where they create these magical mojigangas. Hermes is very charming and despite the language barrier, we could tell that he has a great sense of humor. It is important to him that he maintains the tradition of creating and selling his work where he lives. He feels that too many artisans have lost this in San Miguel.

Puppet master!


Here he explains and shows how he creates the puppets using paper and glue and how the structure of the puppet is created so that it can be carried. These puppets are very tall.

This small red puppet is very old and is one of my favorites. The saint is also made from paper.

Laura and Judy are getting a little frisky with this puppet.

These masks are very old. Can you tell which one Katie is wearing?!

Another favorite.

The artists were given two choices, make a mask or a bird that rattles.

Their final projects.

Hermes surprised us by letting two of his mojigangas escort us to our dinner that evening. We had our own little parade through the jardin. I have to admit, it was very fun.

Me with Katie, Judy and Ane Elena flanked by our two wonderful escorts.

You never know what will happen on a Bellissima Art Escape!

You can see more of Hermes’s puppets here. If in San Miguel, I highly recommend that you stop by and have a class with Hermes and his family. It’s a delight. You can contact him or his contact in the US, Cindi Olsman at Be sure to visit and like their Facebook page.

Posted in art retreat, Artists, Bellissima Art Escapes, Mixed Media, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Celebrating Day of the Dead with Daniella Woolf in Oaxaca, Mexico

For many in Mexico, the celebration Dia de los Muertos is a time to honor those who have passed on. Ofrendas or altars are created with special foods, drinks, and items that held special meaning for the departed. Special marigolds are strewn in a path leading to the altar to guide the spirit of the departed. These collections of objects are built in the home and others are created in the cemetery on top of graves.

Daniella Woolf is going to expand upon this tradition in her Day of the Dead workshop in Oaxaca , Mexico, a city already known for its rich art and culinary traditions next October.

You will honor your relatives in very meaningful ways in projects that will capture their unique personalities. To read more about the workshop scheduled for October 25-November 3, 2016, go here.

We will also experience some of the traditions of this celebration, visiting a cemetery, building our own ofrendas and eating some of the special foods, including pan de Muertos.

Pan de Muerto

Won’t you join us for this magical experience?

This trip starts October 25 and ends November 3, 2016 in the city of Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. The cost of the trip is $3200 and is based on double occupancy (two beds/room) and limited to 12. Our home while in Oaxaca will be at Las Bugambilias. More information is here.

Posted in Bellissima Art Escapes, Collage, Mixed Media, Painting, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Textures of Oaxaca Workshop with Lisa Pressman

4d0356f928fba51931e498869bfa988dLisa Pressman has planned a workshop in Oaxaca that will draw upon the textures, colors and patterns of the city that will be combined in visual interpretations using R&F pigment sticks, cold wax, and drawing materials on paper. Prior experience with cold wax or pigment sticks is desired but not a requirement for this workshop.

Lisa is one of the instructors at R&F so she knows the product well. She will guide artists daily through  exercises using these and other materials, drawing upon our visual information collected from our outings in Oaxaca.

Textures of Oaxaca

Textures of Oaxaca

Oaxaca is filled with color, from its textured buildings, to the domes of its churches, to the markets lined with artful displays. But what I admire most are the women who arrive from outlying villages wearing their colorful huichols and long braids twisted around their heads like crowns, lined with beautiful ribbons. And there seems to be a never ending parade of some kind going on whenever we visit.  It is a visual feast wherever you look

Woman with braids

Woman with braids





Lisa will guide us using these different visual elements to connect with our art using layers, mono printing, and mark making which will lead artists to discover their own personal symbols.

Lisa’s own work is rooted in a sense of play and discovery, an intuitive dialogue between the random and the deliberate that allows a relationship between intent and accident to develop. She says that if we listen our work will tell us a story.

The Journey by Lisa Pressman


Lisa believes that  images and experiences signify evidence of time and change. The colors of a wall, marks on the street, the colors of fallen leaves are just a few of the connections that will enter into our practice. Our process will be to make a mark, add a color or a word, a journal page, or a gesture.

DEPARTURES 5 (2015) by Lisa Pressman / 12″x12″ / Oil on panel

Then we will allow the relationship between intent and accident to unfold. Playing translucent and opaque layers of pigmented beeswax against each other, drawing, layering, covering up, sanding, and scraping will lead to the discovery of the image. At least 22 6’x6′ works on paper will be generated along with larger studies. This kind of experience will be the catalyst for more in-depth series in your home studios.


Though this video is from 2011, it is a great interview with Lisa and shows her work.

While in Oaxaca, we will stay at the family owned B&B, Las Bugambilias, led by matriarch, Emilia Arroyo Cabrera. Her son, Rene is our guide when we visit outside the city, his wife, Adriana greets us as we check in, daughter, Pilar runs the restaurant and makes our wonderful lunches. Together with their wonderful staff, they ensure that their home is our home while we are there. I guarantee, after they feed and take care of us, you will want to stay a little while longer.; Paint Oaxaca

Emilia Arroyo Cabrera

Staff at Las Bugambilias

The workshop starts October 14 and ends October 22, 2016 in the city of Oaxaca in the state of Oaxaca Mexico. The trip costs $3200 and includes:

  • 8 nights accommodations
  • five days of class with Lisa
  • welcome reception
  • 7 breakfasts and 6 lunches
  • 4 dinners
  • two cooking classes, one at Susana Trilling’s Seasons of My Heart Cooking School on moles
  • outings to black pottery makers, colorful alebrijes village, the carved wooden animals from Oaxaca, a cochineal farm where you will be able to purchase some of this exquisite powder, and to a handmade paper factory
  • Final dinner at the celebrated Orijen restaurant with a menu prepared just for our group
  • a new art tribe and inspiration to take home for your art practice

The price does not include airfare to/from Oaxaca or transportation from the airport which is approximately $30.  A nonrefundable $1,000 deposit reserves your participation with the balance due June 1, 2016. Installments can be made for the remaining balance. There are no refunds or exchanges at any time for any reason. We wish we could compensate people for unforeseen circumstances (injury, family emergency, etc.) but we have costs already incurred to reserve the retreat venue. We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance. To reserve your spot, click on the image below which will take you to PayPal.

PayPal Deposit

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me using the form below. Lisa and I hope that you will join us in Oaxaca for what will certainly be a thought provoking week of art.

Posted in art retreat, Artists, cold wax, Mixed Media, Original painting, Painting, travel vacations, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Art a Practice with Cat Bennett

My friend, Cat Bennett, author of The Drawing Club, Marking Art A Practice and the Confident Creative is teaching an online class through Carla Sonheim Presents network. Carla and her uber talented husband, Steve, a phenomenal photographer, traveled to Cat’s studio to tape Making Art a Practice which starts Oct. 6 and will be live for six weeks. To sign up go here.

Cat describes this class as a way to bring our whole selves into our art through our art practice and to bring art into the whole of our lives.


Cat, Steve and Carla Sonheim in Cat’s Studio

Here’s a beautiful quote from Kurt Vonnegut that says it all:

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or how badly, not to get money or fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

See you in class!

Posted in Artists, Mixed Media, Painting, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment