Painting from the Wild Heart


You are longing to paint. To spend some long, uninterrupted time expressing yourself freely, brush in hand, painting your heart out. Getting lost in the timelessness your own inner creative world and the deliciousness of simply putting color, shapes and images on paper. It would also be pretty wonderful to have everything already set up for you. So you don’t have to think or plan or prepare. You just want to show up in a gorgeous, light filled studio and have all the supplies you need for no holds barred creativity just sitting out there invitingly, waiting for you to begin.


Sun Painting

And you’d like to do it with other people. And maybe feel like you’re part of something bigger…. like a really cool creative community where you get to hang out with other cool creative, openhearted and accepting folks.

You’d like to enter into the new year with a bang and a commitment to be more creative and more fully alive. And you’d like to do it in a really beautiful and peaceful place out in nature that is homey, and interesting and funky with good vibes and great food.

And you want some support. And guidance to help you get out of your own way enough so that you can create with joy and freedom.

If this sounds like a little bit of heaven on earth to you, if you are looking for something this wonderful, this fabulous, this nurturing to feed your creative soul, I have got just the thing for you.

It gives me great joy to announce that I am facilitating:

A Wild Heart Expressive Arts Intuitive Painting Weeklong Extravaganza Creativity Retreat

and I would love to have you there!!!

What This Painting Retreat is NOT….

This painting retreat is not even remotely like your typical art class.

There are no rules and no expectations in this intuitive painting workshop. All of the usual assumptions about art and creativity just don’t apply. Like you have to know what you are doing in order to paint and create. Or that you have to be talented. Or be good at making a painting actually look like something. Or that you have to do it RIGHT… whatever that means!

Or the idea that creativity is just another chance to judge yourself mercilessly. And that other people will be encouraged to join in.

One thing you need to know. Nothing like that will EVER happen at my Wild Heart Painting retreats!

When you come to this retreat I guarantee that you and your creativity will feel very cherished and valued. And safe. And encouraged. Which of course will allow your creativity to bloom and blossom and grow like some lovely wild bougainvillea  on Miracle Gro!


Who This Workshop Is For:

This week long Expressive Arts self nurturing extravaganza is for you if you have put your creativity on the back burner for too long and you need a jumpstart to get it up and running again.

You’ve always wanted to paint and were told that you just weren’t any good at art and you want to challenge that old belief system.

Or you’re a working artist but the excitement and energy has gone out of your work because you’ve lost touch with the experience of doing what pleases you!

You’re going through some sort of transition in your life and you need the time, the space and the support to be with all the changes that transition brings and the opportunity to process those changes creatively in a safe and supportive environment.

You’re bogged down with duties and responsibilities and you want a place to play, a place where your inner child can come out again and have some fun.



Painting from the Wild Heart
retreats will return
in 2022






What Gets In The Way

I know. It’s scary to sign up for an experience like this one. As soon as you even CONSIDER it all those voices come raging to the surface telling you that you have NO BUSINESS attending a WEEKLONG workshop on creativity.

And spirituality. And self love. And self acceptance.

They say things like “I mean, who do you think you ARE for crying out loud. You don’t have the time. Other people need you at home. You shouldn’t be spending the money on yourself. And you don’t even have any talent.”

The fact that you listen to those voices is exactly why you really need to come to this retreat! I have many wonderful and sneaky and powerful ways of working with those messages to help you get free of the crippling influence they have over your creativity, your sense of who you are and how you live your  life.

What You Can Expect To Get Out Of This Week

You will get to hang out in an honest to goodness painting studio filled to the rafters with more gorgeous eyepopping paint colors and reams of paper and buckets of brushes than you will know what to do with. I am a firm believer in abundance of art supplies!


You will have TONS of uninterrupted time to just paint. And Play. And Create.

You will get recharged and rejuvenated by diving into the bottomless well of your own creative source. And supported to reclaim your personal courage to take risks, get bigger and be yourself. All the while being inspired by the courageous energy of your fellow creative travelers.

You will develop greater trust in your intuition, your inner guidance and your authenticity.

You will get back in touch with your wildly creative spontaneously expressive self. That place inside of you where you get to feel free. And joyful. And alive.

You will get the opportunity to pay attention to yourself again. To really listen and to hear what your heart needs and wants. DSC_0151

You will get a chance to slow down and step out of the madness of your daily life for a week.

You will find that place of deep quiet, delicious inner relaxation and the opportunity to rest, truly rest, your tired bones, your aching heart and your busy mind.

You will get to be part of a fabulous circle of creative folks who are all there for the same purpose, which is to become more conscious and self loving and compassionate through engaging with their creative process.

Most people come away from this retreat feeling like they have found their tribe, their people, a long lost community of wild hearted supporters and encouragers of their most cherished dreams and their most amazing true selves.

You are likely to laugh more than you have in years. 

And you will be completely looked after. You will be fed fabulous, healthy gourmet meals that you don’t have to cook and you won’t have to clean up or even make your bed if you don’t want to. And you certainly won’t have to take care of anyone else.

This week is all about YOU focusing on YOU.



What Happens At A Wild Heart Expressive Arts Painting Retreat?

We spend time every morning getting out of our heads and into our bodies using music and movement, dancing and breath, presence and meditation.

We meet once a day in a circle of support where we get to be witnessed with compassion, share our wisdom, tell our stories, laugh, cry, whine and celebrate with a fabulous creative community.

We paint. A lot.There are 5 hours each day of facilitated painting time in the studio. And if that’s still not enough for you, the studio is open 24 hours a day so you can paint your wild heart artists heart out whenever your muse calls.

The opportunity to be in smaller group process sessions during the week where you can experience deeper sharing and greater support.

Daily inspirational talks where you will learn about the wisdom of no mistakes, how to discover the secret language of painting, following the energy, painting as a spiritual practice, the myth of inspiration, finding your juicy creative essence, and ways of effectively dealing with the pesky inner critic.

Break times during the day where you can hike or nap or read or swim in the heated swimming pool.

Two free afternoons during the week where you can explore the charming northern California wine country towns. Or do more napping, reading, etc.


About Bodega Sky Ranch...

We will be gathering at the beautiful and private Bodega Sky Ranch situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Northern California coast. It’s a HUGE rambling GORGEOUS house with 10 bedrooms and a two dedicated light filled art studios on 160 acres of dazzling California coastland. The beach and several parks are within a 10 minute drive so you can hike and wander around outside in a spectacular natural environment to your heart's content. There’s a swimming pool and a hot tub, gardens, and the house itself is spacious, cozy, and stunningly beautiful. And best of all we will be wonderfully secluded and have the whole retreat center to ourselves. It’s incredibly peaceful and quiet there and one of the most beautifully healing environments I have ever experienced. Bodega Sky Ranch is a true spiritual and creative sanctuary.

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Due to the global pandemic our in-person retreats and workshops have been placed on hold. Please check out our online offerings and sign up for our newsletter to be notified of all upcoming events! We look forward to seeing you at our next creativity adventure!

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Policies, Disclaimers, and Agreements

Cancellation Policy

All deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you have chosen to register with a deposit, an electronic invoice will be sent to you to be paid 60 days prior to the event. If you cancel before 60 days of the start of the event we will refund any amount you have paid in excess of the deposit minus a $25 processing fee. If you cancel within 60 days of an event, full payment of any and all remaining costs for the workshop, lodging, meals, taxes, and other fees will be due immediately. All payments are non-transferrable to other services, events, or workshops. Note that some of the retreat centers we work with may have additional cancellation policies that you will need to abide by.


Lodging is offered for some but not all of our events depending on the type of event and venue so please check the event details for lodging options and specifics. For those events where lodging is offered there are limited lodging options so we strongly encourage you to choose something that you feel meets your needs for comfort as well as expense for the entire event as you will not be able to change your lodging during the event.

We try to make sure that all amounts for lodging, taxes, and fees are accurate when you register. However, a venue may change their prices without notice and you will be required to pay the full amount to the venue for lodging, taxes, or fees that may change after you register.


Vegetarian, dairy free, and gluten free meal options are generally available at our events upon request with at least 30 day advanced notice. Other dietary concerns or issues may be accommodated for an extra fee and at least 30 day advanced notice. We cannot not guarantee that every food issue can be accommodated so please contact us regarding your specific concerns. 

We try to make sure that all amounts for meals, taxes, and fees are accurate when you register. However, meal prices are subject to change without notice and you will be required to pay the full amount for meals, taxes, or fees that may change after you register.

Art Supplies

Unless otherwise noted, all necessary art supplies will be provided at our live in-person events. We provide non-toxic water soluble paints and paper. The materials that we supply are chosen to enhance the intuitive process and your direct experience of creativity instead of emphasizing the outcome or product. You may bring your own additional water soluble non-toxic personal supplies such as brushes, colored pencils, or chalk pastels if you choose. However, please note that we do not allow oil paints, acrylic paints, spray paint, solvents or any toxic or permanent materials at any of our events. In addition, we do not allow loose glitter at any of our events due to the work and expense involved in clean up. If you plan on bringing additional art supplies not listed above please contact us before registering.

Alcohol & Drug Policy

All of our events, trainings, and workshops are intended to be healing experiences. Your successful participation in any of our events requires that you show up fully to yourself, your feelings, your creative process, your inner life and other members of the circle in a respectful and meaningful way. As a result we do not tolerate the use of alcohol or recreational drugs during the event. Our expectation is that you will not drink alcohol or use any other kind of recreational drug during the time that we are together so that we can all be focused on healing, learning and growing. If it comes to our attention that you are abusing alcohol or drugs during one of our events you will be asked to leave immediately without a refund or credit. 

Non-participants and Pets

We do not allow pets, friends, relatives, or other people to stay with you during our time together as they can be a distraction for you and other attendees that will keep you from focusing and participating fully in the event.

Health and Wellness Issues

We support and will accommodate those with special needs to the degree that we are able. However, you must fully disclose any health or mental health related issues that might interfere with your attendance or participation at any of our events. We expect that you will be able to take full responsibility for yourself and will follow any and all doctor's recommendations regarding medications, treatment plans, or other health guidance. Failure to do so in a way that puts yourself or others at risk will result in you being asked to leave the event immediately without a refund or credit. We do not provide nursing or psychiatric care services at our events. Please communicate all of your relevant health needs with us before registering.

Fragrances and Scents

Our events are not strictly fragrance free. However, for the comfort and health of ourselves and of all of our attendees, we request that you don’t wear perfumes or use other heavily scented products. If you have any concerns about scents or fragrances please contact us before registering.


By registering and attending one of our events you agree to abide by all of these policies.

Rave Reviews From Happy Painters

My experience at this retreat was life altering. It was a gift to myself at a time when I was reconnecting to my creative life which had long been neglected and was fighting for space. The voice inside just kept getting louder and louder. So I answered it by dedicating time to paint — paint my emotions, be present for my yearnings and desires and respond to them, and be quiet and reflective through the painting process. I planned to do this on my own yet the magic of life brought me to the Painting from the Wild Heart retreat at Mountain Home Ranch and the supportive environment was a perfect [new] beginning. DSC_0113 The experience was nothing short of divine. I felt taken care of emotionally, physically and spiritually and I adored every minute of it. I felt and continue to feel alive and am showing up in my life with a renewed energy and motivation — I have already spent time painting every day since the retreat. I am inspired … I cannot thank you enough for providing me the space to breath new life into my body and soul.

Ellen Morrison

Social Worker

Wow-weeeeeeeeeeeee … YES!!!!!!DSC_0143 Having the dedicated time, space, and guidance away from the daily routine really supported opening my creative channel in a BIG way. In the wake of the workshop, I continue to express myself creatively on and off the canvas. Painting in community for the first time since high school, was a wonderful and revelatory experience. Highly recommended!

Marc Takaha

Men's Group Facilitator

The workshop was marvelous beyond words!  I too was blown away by the level of immediate trust and safety we all felt with each other. All of you will be in my heart forever! Actually, the intuitive process for painting was easier to follow than I expected.  Of course, that doesn’t mean it was easy to keep open to what came up.  Sometimes the things that wanted to show up on my paper really ticked me off! But as I went with it I found such freedom and release that now I think I am addicted to this process. Thank you for leading us in it, Chris.  Your responses were affirming, challenging and always right on! And I am so glad my daughter and I could do it together.  We keep the work in our relationship up to date so we didn’t have any big dark issues to wrestle through but I think we both learned something new, fresh and beautiful in each other. She is a wonderful painter as well as song writer!  I am SO proud!  And it was a special gift to see all of you respond to her with the same level of respect and joyful delight that I feel for her!

Lorelei Verlee

International Aid

Amidst the natural setting of oak and redwood trees, I felt free to discover my inner self. Through painting with Chris, I also felt safe enough to discover and express my deepest and truest creativity. The natural and bucolic yet almost rustic setting is reminiscent of an earlier time, with a slower pace and wonderfully tasty and nutritious home cooked, organic meals provided in a family atmosphere that welcomes and nurtures the soul!

-- Anne Sadler

Nursing Administrator

What a treat to spend a weekend surrounded by the beauty of nature and a community of fellow artists … to be nourished by wholesome cooking as well as Chris’s supportive guidance … and to have the opportunity to immerse myself in my creative process. I feel that I’ve returned from the retreat with fresh eyes for the forms and colors in the world around me … as well as a deeper insight into my own inner landscapes. I’ve experienced the joy and peace that comes from trusting my own intuition … and learned a few tricks for recognizing and banishing the critic, at least temporarily! I am amazed and humbled by what shows up on the paper when I am willing to trust the process. What a great metaphor for living, too! Just trust … be bold … go with the flow. Thank you, Chris!

Lisa Pemberton

Administrative Assistant

Like Chris mentions, people are drawn to her retreats at specific times of their lives for inexplicable reasons. That’s exactly how it happened for me.

I was guided at just the right time, a time of transition for me, with just the right people and I’m beyond grateful that I followed through and trusted my intuitive shout to go to learn from her! Chris shares beautiful wisdom and gives clear guidance and loving support toward allowing what needs to come forth, to come forth and what needs to shed, to shed at your own pace.

Plus, having a set up studio space brimming with hundreds of brushes, paint colors (yes, Glitter!) and unlimitted paper to ‘go bigger’ makes it like a playground to be free in and to safely explore!

I’m in awe really of what happened there and how life shifting it’s been for me. Connecting to our inner wisdom and painting from there is magically healing, inspiring and promotes loving and caring at deeper levels. Chris (and Tim) are changing the world for the better with their work. Thank you both for being the wise, laughter-filled, loving creatives you are!

Patty Ripley

For me the Calistoga retreat was like summer camp for grown ups, but in the middle of winter. The ranch had a kind of old style charm. Big fireplace in the main room, friendly owners and beautiful country all around. Of course the food was anything but summer camp style! I ate so much! I find that when I am intensively creative, as was the case during the retreat, I am famished by the time each meal rolls around and having wonderfully prepared food certainly encourages my eyes to believe that I need huge servings of everything! Being surrounded by such a lovely place was an added extra plus to the excitement and loving energy that everyone brought. It wasn’t planned or expected, it just happened. We all got together the first night and relaxed, got to know each other a bit and shared our hopes for the next few days. Something about having the intention to create consistently with little or no distractions produces so much energy! I wanted to get painting right away. Even though fear mixed in with the excitement, I couldn’t wait. Kat with Pink bunny Often when I paint with Chris I work through difficult emotions, and of course that’s okay. It’s all part of it. During this retreat however, I was able to stay in a place of humor and lightness. I don’t know if the group energy, the beautiful country side, or Chris’s way of encouraging and listening to what I needed and wanted, helped me reach this playful place. Perhaps it was all three and then some. Whatever it was, I felt so much joy and freeness. At one point while painting I looked around and saw that everyone was completely present with their own process. It was inspiring and encouraging. I felt so much love for everyone along with a kind of collective pride. I thought, yeah, look at us! Look at what we’re creating! This is amazing! We’re creating so much healing energy! I feel transformed! One day during a painting break I went for a walk down the French Toast Gulch. It was very cold that weekend but the sun was out and the colors of nature were crisp and clean. Ice had formed along the path and tiny crystals attached themselves to the thin blades of grass. It was quite something. I felt alone and not alone all at once. Yes, I loved this retreat. The collective energy, the conversation, the quiet, the beauty, the painting into the unknown, Chris’s unending support, the food, the rustic cabins. All of it.

Kat Davis

Child Therapist

I was a woman in need of a local retreat. My Google search offered me Wildheart Painting with Chris Zydel or a Buddhist Monastery. I grew up terrified of painting and drawing, yet what I was experiencing that required retreat, made painting seem less terrifying; besides the Buddhist Monastery would always be there if painting didn’t work out. The retreat was only 2 weeks away, and I wondered if there would still be room for me. Thank Goddess there was. The time came and I packed a bag of causal comfy clothing and drove off to Calistoga. I was met by a longtime student of Chris’, who asked me if I’d ever done process painting before. Process painting, yikes! I didn’t see those words on the website. For the next 6 days I processed and painted, and processed and painted with as much paint and paper as I needed; it would be 30 2’x3′ sheets by the end of that week. I learned a lot about myself and about paint, and what kinds of shapes and lines and strokes the brushes and I could make together. It was work and fun, and love and hate, and hot and cold, and blue and green. I learned to love red and orange, made a mess, and then cleaned it up. I worked myself into a frenzy and into tears, into trance and out of terror. It was an inside job, expressed onto the outside world through paint. Thank the Goddess again! The environment is safe, and very quiet. It flows with the energy of others painting and processing, and it flows beautifully. Chris Zydel is a genius. She claims the studio a temple where there is no talking or visiting, and no studying or discussing our paintings. This creates a container free of judgement, and what can be created in the freedom from judgement, especially self-judgement, is amazing, and healing, and freeing, and expansive. Chris’ attention to our individual moments of being stuck or confused in our painting process were deftly supported in side-by-side witness and brief discussion. She offers humor and hugs, and gentle reminders that we are all artists, no matter what. I stepped into the retreat 6 days earlier, a bit shattered and certainly in an emotional spin over the change in life events that had recently occurred. I left that retreat with my self-confidence restored, emotions processed and clear headed. One week in the Wildheart Painting retreat changed me and freed me. A week in a Buddhist monastery might have achieved the same, but I wouldn’t have traded my experience with paint and paper, and my inner artist. There is power in putting paint to paper, and in experiencing and expressing that inner power, I am changed, and freer than before. Thank you Chris and thank the Goddess, again.

Gail M. Johns

Shamanic Healer

Chris Zydel and her Mountain Home Wild Heart workshop was the most amazing transformational week of my life. Chris pulled me deep into myself and created a space for my intuitive self and my deepest feelings to emerge and gain a larger voice that will continue to grow long after the retreat. Being together with Chris, other soul sisters, and the redwood trees, pulled me right through a threshold that I have been standing at for quite a while.

Mary Kerns

Great food, great hikes and the support of amazing people allowed me to release and rocket into the next phase of my personal development. Was it intense! Yes! Was it fun! Absolutely! Was it worth it! It was a priceless experience filled with support and love that gave me the courage to feel and explore and transform myself.
Thank you Chris and Tim.

Diane Prescott, attorney and lightworker

Diane Prescott

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