Art Retreat Checklist

Aug 25, 2023 | 0 comments

Over the course of the next six weeks I’ll be hosting my own art retreat, attending another, and emceeing at a third! It’s safe to say that I LOVE spending time with other creatives and I’ve got enough experience to make the most out of any retreat setting. When I host a retreat (visit my Workshops & Retreats page to see upcoming events), I always include a packing list for my attendees. But I realized that it might be nice to know what you should bring before you buy a ticket! So here is my Ultimate Art Retreat checklist for any creative thinking about attending an event for the first (or fortieth!) time. 

The Ultimate Art Retreat Checklist

image of dionne painting on canvas while a group of retreat attendees watch with the text "art retreat checklist" below in turquoise font, followed by "theturquoiseiris.com"

Whether you’re attending a retreat in your hometown or traveling across the world for a dream artistic vacation, there are a few things you’ll definitely want to consider before you pack your bags. 

Art Retreat Checklist: Before You Go

When choosing which art retreat to attend, there are two important factors to consider: location and supply list. If the location requires a plane trip, then you’ll probably want to make sure that they are providing the majority of the supplies you will need. Art supplies are heavy and those baggage fees add up quickly! Local (or semi-local) retreats make it easier to pack supplies if the event is not providing them.

Art Retreat Checklist: What to Pack

What To Wear

Comfortable clothing and supportive shoes are a MUST!!! I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to be creative if my feet are aching or I can’t move freely. When I host retreats, we often find ourselves taking a walk or meditating, so I’ve even asked attendees to pack gym clothes and a towel or yoga mat! You’ll also want to make sure that the clothes you pack are art-friendly because they might end up with a little paint on them! If you plan on spending time outside then consider adding a hat or a light jacket to your art retreat checklist.

Other Supplies

In addition to obvious necessities like medication and toiletries, I always try to pack some comfort items to make the most out of my art retreat experience! I tend to struggle with falling asleep in unfamiliar places so I usually bring some herbal tea, a good book, and my favorite pajamas. This is part of my nightly routine at home so it helps me get a good night’s sleep before another busy day. 

As for practical items you might need throughout each day of the retreat, here are some items to consider:

  • Power bank for your phone
  • A journal for taking notes and recording ideas
  • Water bottle

Art Supplies

image features a flat lay of old paintbrushes, a box of vintage oil pastels, and a small green and blue patterned bowl with three oil pastel crayons inside. Text underneath the image reads "art retreat checklist"

Any art retreat checklist is going to depend heavily on the style and focus of the event, but here is a packing list that I recommend for my retreat attendees:

Your retreat host might also ask you to bring a canvas, easel, scissors, adhesive, and other materials necessary to complete projects. 

Art Retreat Checklist: At The Retreat

Whenever I host an event, whether it’s a workshop, my Courage on Canvas retreats, or my Empowering Creativity retreats, my goal is always to help other artists connect with their creativity and their community. These in-person meetings can be sooo transformative if we approach them with a healthy, growth-oriented mindset. No matter what retreat you attend, YOU get to decide how you show up and participate. Whether you sign up for every activity or choose to take alone time to reflect on the day’s experiences, your choices are the right ones for you! That said, there are some ways to ensure that you soak up every bit of the magic that comes from spending time laughing, learning, and creating with a community of artists who are just like you.

Connecting With Your Creative Community

So many of my first-time retreat attendees tell me that they have a lot of fear, apprehension, and discomfort at the idea of meeting a whole bunch of new people all at once. I get it! It can be intimidating to walk into a room full of people you don’t know and that discomfort can make it hard to interact, let alone actually make something.

But the power of these events lies in the creative community that we build together. Most creatives I know have felt deeply alone at one point or another in their creative journey. Art retreats remind us that we are not alone and, in fact, there are many other people out there with a passion for experiencing the world through the power of art!

Connecting with just one other person during a workshop or retreat makes the whole experience worthwhile, but try to allow yourself to feel what it’s like to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Everyone at that retreat already has something in common: we all love to create! Together, we can experience the power of a loving, supportive community… even if it’s something we’ve never had before. 

(Communities can change lives! Join my Creative Connection online community for tutorials, support, feedback, expert trainings, book club, and more!)

Self Care and Reflection

It can be tempting to say YES to every possible experience during an art retreat. FOMO (that is, the fear of missing out) is a very real phenomenon and can sometimes lead to folks taking on more than they can handle. During the retreat, make sure to check in with yourself and meet your needs first. Sometimes that means skipping a group excursion in exchange for quiet reflection in your art journal, and that’s okay! You can’t get much out of a retreat if you wear yourself out too fast. If you do find yourself participating in every activity, make sure you take some quiet time at the end of the day to think about the day’s experiences and record your thoughts to come back to later. 

Learn more about what happens at an art retreat!

Watch my art retreat recap on YouTube.

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