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.

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 renew your commitment to yourself 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 comfortable 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 Painting From The Wild Heart Retreat in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

and I would love, love, LOVE to have you there!!!


Painting from the Wild Heart in the High Sierras 2021

Dates: Starts Saturday, June 19th at 6pm 2021
Ends Saturday, June 26th at 9am, 2021

Location: The Tioga Lodge, Lee Vining, CA

Workshop Fee: includes workshop instruction, facilitation, meals for 7 days and tons of art supplies. Lodging is not included in the workshop fee.

Lodging: There are plentiful lodging options onsite at the Tioga Lodge. You can share a room with another painter or have the privacy of your own room. Lodging fees are not included in the price of the workshop as lodging is booked directly with Tioga Lodge and you will receive instructions on how to book your room when you register.

Important Lodging Info: When you go to the Tioga Lodge website the reservation system will show the rooms as occupied as they are all reserved for our retreat. Upon registration you will be sent information on how to book your room directly with Tioga Lodge at Mono Lake.

Please Note: We strongly encourage that you purchase travel insurance for this retreat as conditions in the mountains can be unpredictable and lodging refunds will not be given for cancellations due to weather or other circumstances. Please be sure to read the cancellation policy for Tioga Lodge carefully when booking your room.

Experience: You absolutely don’t need to have ANY art experience at all to participate in and to benefit GREATLY from this retreat.



Wild Hearts at Mono Lake

Emerald blue expanses and snow caped mountains.
Humming birds, evergreens, owls, sage, wildflowers sing their outrages songs.
Green smoothies almond cookies  Gloria’s smile.
Laughter- tears- solitude- deep listening – acceptance.
Being held in Love. Being seen for who I am.
Just Being.
Glittery smiles reflect HEARTS OPENING WIDE.
Would I do it again?
YES!!!  (and again and again and again).
~ Damini Celebre



Saturday, June 19, 2021
Saturday, June 26, 2021


Tioga Lodge at Mono Lake
Lee Vining, CA


Includes workshop and meals.
Does not include lodging.

Lodging fees are not included in the price of the workshop as lodging is booked directly with Tioga Lodge and you will receive instructions on how to book your room when you register.



Please check out our other retreats:

Bodega Sky Ranch

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. All of the usual assumptions about art and creativity just don’t apply.

You are never expected to feel 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! cja_div_sunblue_001

Who This Workshop Is For…

This week long expressive arts self nurturing extravaganza is for you if you have put your creativity on the backburner 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.   cja_div_sunyellow_001

What Gets In The Way …

Every time someone signs up for one of my workshops I hear the same thing.  ” I saw this retreat on your website and I knew I just HAD to be there. Something was calling me. I don’t fully understand it but it spoke to me on some deep level.”

As far as I can tell, each workshop has its own spirit and soul and the folks who are supposed to show up get the message pretty loud and clear. Which is a really great system since all my groups bond like crazy and have a fabulous time together.

But then the doubts and fears can start to kick in. And these hesitations come in one of three categories.

Sometimes the anxiety revolves around getting needs met on a basic comfort level with questions like: “I have special dietary restrictions. Will there be food I can eat?” “Will I be comfortable in my room or my bed?” “If I choose to share a room with another participant will we be able to get along?”

Sometimes the concerns are related to the workshop itself:  “Will everyone else have more talent and experience than me?” “Will I be able to actually paint for a WHOLE week?” “What if I stand in front of the easel for the entire time and I can’t paint a thing?” “Am I going to be the wierdo in the group?”

And finally, the concerns that are related to other folks in your life: ” Can I really take this much time away from my work, my parents, my husband, my kids?” “Is it really OK for me to do something so luscious and extravagant that’s JUST FOR ME?”

What I can say is this. We will do a darn good job of taking care of you and making sure that you are as comfortable as humanly possible. I encourage my folks to be “Needy, greedy and proud of it.” Which means that it’s really OK to ask for what you want… and to get it.

One the things that people always comment on is how amazing and unique and quirky and open-hearted and just plain cool the people are who come to my workshops. Which means that you will fit right in.

No one has EVER had any problem painting for an entire week. And no one has ever stood in front of the easel for more than five minutes and not known what to paint.

And your friends, family and job always seem to manage to get along without you just fine.

What I have seen over and over again is that when people heed the call and simply show up all of the other concerns magically fall away because the retreat itself is so freaking amazing!! cja_div_snakesorange_001

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 eye-popping 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! DSC_0064_2

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.

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 folkswho 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! cja_div_sunstraightblue_001

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 a smaller group once during the week where you can experience deeper sharing and greater support.

Daily mini-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.

Two free afternoons during the week where you can go on various adventures and explore the gorgeousness of the mountains.  Or do more napping, reading, etc. cja_div_lotusgreen_001

Location, Location, Location…

The magic of the intuitive painting process is incredibly powerful no matter where I teach. But I also know that painting in a wildly beautiful natural environment creates its own special kind of enchantment.

For the past 20 years I have spent a great deal of time nurturing my creative heart in the untamed wilderness of the High Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is a part of the world that is truly one of the most spiritually nourishing and stunningly inspiring landscapes on the planet.

And after many years of looking I am thrilled to announce that I have found a fabulous venue for a Painting From The Wild Heart retreat right in the heart of the mountains I so love.

Where we will be staying, eating and painting is a delightful little place called the Tioga Lodge that is located in the tiny mountain town of Lee Vining, California.

Lee Vining is right on the shore of the otherworldly splendor that is Mono Lake and about ten miles outside of the high country eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Which means you will have easy access to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, including the weirdly amazing tufa towers surrounding Mono Lake, the breathtaking drive up Tioga Pass road that leads to Yosemite and of course opportunities to explore the grandeur of the park itself.

Tioga Lodge itself is made up of rustic but charming individual cabins that are each decorated in a different western theme. And you can either share a cabin with another wild heart painter if you are wanting company or have a cabin all to yourself if you are hungry for more time alone. To view the different lodging options check out North Side Cabins and South Side Cabins.

Gloria, who owns and runs the place, will be our hostess during our stay at the lodge and she will also be cooking for us. And one of the things I love about her approach to food is that she uses as much organic meats, fruits and vegetables as possible, makes everything gluten free and is committed to our meals being not only healthy but incredibly delicious. And she is also extremely responsive to any special dietary needs. cja_div_sunpurple_001

Other Fun Things To Do While You’re Here

In addition to the painting workshop itself there will be time to explore the surrounding area as well as opportunities to participate in a number of really cool activities. Here’s a potential list of things to choose from such as: Take a guided canoe tour out onto the spookily gorgeous Mono Lake. Visit Bodie, the most famous and best preserved gold mining ghost town in California. Go on an adventure to Saddlebag Lake located inside of Yosemite Park. Horseback riding in the June Lake Loop. Gondola Ride at Mammoth Lakes. Spend time hiking in Tufa State Reserve or the high country area of Yosemite National Park. cja_div_sunstraightorange_001

Getting To The Workshop

If you are coming from the San Francisco Bay Area the fastest and least expensive way to get here is to drive. It’s about a 6 hour trip depending on where you are starting out from.

For those folks traveling from outside of the Bay Area there are two options:

  1. Fly into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and either rent a car and drive to Tioga Lodge or take a shuttle from the airport to the town of Lee Vining where you will be picked up by the staff and driven back to the lodge for no fee.
  2. Fly into Mammoth Lakes Airport and rent a car and drive to the lodge.


Further Questions? Niggling Concerns?

Signing up for something like this is a big commitment and of course you want to make sure that the retreat itself and working with me is going to be a good fit for you. We are always available to try and help you figure that out if we  can. So please feel free to us with any and all questions, requests, fears and concerns.

I’m happy to talk about whatever you need to be sure this is the right retreat for you. And I am confident that if you do decide to come you, and your muse, will be so happy that you did!

cja_div_details_001Painting from the Wild Heart in the High Sierras

Dates: Saturday, June 19, 2021 at 6pm to Saturday, June 26, 2021 at 9am

Location: The Tioga Lodge, Lee Vining, CA on the shore of Mono Lake.

Workshop Fee: includes workshop instruction, facilitation, meals for 7 days and tons of art supplies. Lodging is not included in the workshop fee.

Lodging: There are plentiful lodging options onsite at the Tioga Lodge. You can share a room with another painter or have the privacy of your own room. Lodging fees are not included in the price of the workshop as lodging is booked directly with Tioga Lodge and you will receive instructions on how to book your room when you register.

Important Lodging Info: When you go to the Tioga Lodge website the reservation system will show the rooms as occupied as they are all reserved for our retreat. Upon registration you will be sent information on how to book your room directly with Tioga Lodge at Mono Lake.

Note: We strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance for this retreat as conditions in the mountains can be unpredictable and lodging refunds will not be given for cancellations due to weather or other circumstances. Please be sure to read the cancellation policy for Tioga Lodge carefully when booking your room.

If you are interested in attending Painting from the Wild Heart in the High Sierras in June of 2021 please add your name to our waiting list and we will notify you when registration is opened.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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.

 Love notes from the folks who participated in last years High Sierras Workshop:

Wild Heart Painting.  Or what I call 6 days of EAT. PAINT. EAT. PAINT. EAT. PAINT. SLEEP.  No responsibilities.  Just paint.  And food that magically appears before me 3 times a day. I loved the painting space at Tioga Lodge: an intimate, light filled space.  Walking into the dining room to be fed something new and delicious day after day and meal after meal.  Dancing down by the lake. Adventuring up into the high country of Yosemite, which is possibly the most beautiful land I have ever seen.  Mountains and rivers and lakes and meadows and deer and snow and granite.  Inspiring is a too small a word.  Breathtaking.  Unforgettable.  I loved my cozy cabin with the porch and the bathtub and the view of the lake and the grass and the trees and the garden of wildflowers.  My home away from home for a week.  It was the perfect environment for me to fill up my well, get some healing and shore up for the coming year. One of my favorite things Chris said to me this week:  “Your job is not to worry about what happens when you get home.  You job is to get as deeply connected as you can to the core of who you are right here right now, and to take THAT home with you.” When I paint with Chris I remember who I am without all the outside noise and the chatter of my monkey brain.  I come back to the process and the paint again and again because it brings me back to the core of myself.  No matter what emotional state I am in, I always find the answers (or at least clarity and relief) in the painting process and in Chris’s deeply accepting, warm, infinitely gentle and loving presence. I get to work out all my built up emotional crap in the safety of the studio and with a fiercely loving guide to hold my hand. The studio and the community we build is an incredibly safe space.  Wild Heart Painting is the safest space I know.  Women, all quietly working at their easels. Even in silence we generate an energy that holds all of us together.  I love this community of wild hearted women.  I love the feeling of being totally, utterly myself, and being embraced for exactly who I am.  I can take up as much space as I want.  I can cry my heart out.  I can laugh as loud and as long as I want and no one will shush me.  I can pile my palette high with my favorite colors.  I can use as many pieces of paper as I want.  As much love as a person can take in.  As many hugs as I need. Painting with Chris has taught me that I DO have an inner voice.  I now have deeper access to my intuition.  On top of that, I’ve discovered this fierce, fiery creative goddess inside of me and she is not one to be trifled with. Painting is now such an integral part of me that when I come back to it after any absence, the words just repeat in my head: this is who I am, this is what I do.  Wild Heart Painting has taught me to love what comes out of my brush, and with that, to love myself. You do not need to be an artist to do Wild Heart Painting.  You will discover the artist that already lives inside of you.  Trust me, she’s there.

Angie Fletchall

Wild Hearts at Mōnō Lake  
Emerald blue expanses and snow caped mountains.
Humming birds, evergreens, owls, sage, wildflowers sing their outrages songs.
Green smoothies almond cookies  Gloria’s smile.
Laughter- tears- solitude- deep listening – acceptance.
Being held in Love. Being seen for who I am.
Just Being.
Glittery smiles reflect HEARTS OPENING WIDE.
Would I do it again?
YES!!!  (and again and again and again).
Damini Celebre

I am painting whatever I damn well please. You teach freedom full on. mmmhmmmm.

Ian Jin Yap

My second Wild Heart Painting Retreat in less than a year!  I signed up for the High Sierras trip right after leaving Ghost Ranch. Don’t delay in making your reservation, these retreats fill up quickly and with great reason!  Simply put, painting in an intimate group like this opens doors to my inner world like few other experiences can. Make no mistake, though, this is not some painting retreat where you will learn new techniques or brush strokes, this is a deep dive into healing expression.  Often I am asked “What did you paint?” I realize the inquirer is wondering … landscapes? flowers? portraits?  Hmmhhh … what kind of answer is my response “I painted my inner clearing”. For me, that is as precise a response as I can make it.  Mysterious shapes, colors I thought I hated when I arrived, but which took on new meaning throughout the week, shapes and images I am still learning secrets from months later.  The truth is that these retreats help me clear spaces inside and open paths to new ways of experiencing myself and the world. In each retreat, I saw how my internal process was being revealed to me through my painting.  Knowing that I needed to be willing to take up space in this phase of my life, I chose to paint BIG this time.  Then I realized I wouldn’t complete the painting before the week was complete – ugh!  It helped me to see how I can learn from being able to live with things in my life unfolding in their own time, letting go of needing to rush or force an outcome and to explore what being “done” means in my current worldview.  Or the day I put “too much” pink paint on my pallette.  I didn’t need that much for what I thought I was going to paint. No squeezing it back into the bottle … an opportunity to look at my beliefs about “sufficiency, abundance & wastefulness” that might otherwise have made me paint something different just so I could “use it all up”. One of the most amazing parts about these retreats is an opportunity to experience what I call “exactly the same only different” as I listen to the other women share stories about their lives that help me to see myself and the people in my life in another light.  Again and again I heard “Oh, I thought I was the only one who … felt, thought that way, had that happen (you fill in the blank with what isolates you until you see how shared our humanity really is!)” If there is only one thing you can do for your heart this year, make it a Wild Heart Painting retreat!  I promise you will leave with a commitment to exquisite self care and maybe even a wild hair idea that has you dancing under the moonlight in your nightgown! (Denise Logan is an Inspiratrix, sparking the memories of waylaid passions in others’ lives.  Watch for her forthcoming book Working on Purpose or see her website

Denise Logan

Painting from the Wild Heart, High Sierras Edition On Mother’s Day, I bought a canvas. It was a nice idea, for my kids and I to sit down and create a painting together. And we did sit down, and we looked at the canvas, and I thought, “I can’t do this.” And my kids said, “Maybe we aren’t ready for this.” And we packed the canvas away and did other things instead. The next day, I got this invitation: “Come to art camp,” said Chris Zydel. “It’s a new retreat and I could use some more artists to round out the group.” Chris and I had been Facebook friends for a few months, and I deeply admired her work and her conversations with her students. Obviously, she didn’t know how artistically challenged I was…but hey, maybe I could fake it enough to fit in, if just to experience the magic of being Chris’ orbit. I had the tiniest inkling of what an art retreat might be like: paint, eat, sleep. Rinse, repeat. What I actually experienced was anything BUT that cycle. Yes, we painted, and ate and slept. But painting wasn’t just painting. “Don’t go into this with a plan, because you don’t know what will come out, you don’t know what you are painting until you paint it. Paint from your heart, paint from your gut. If it wants to come out, just let it come out.” Really? This made painting…..easier, somehow….I didn’t have to have a plan, I didn’t have to paint anything that was recognizable, I didn’t have to follow a prescribed idea of painting a particular thing. Whatever wanted to come out could come out. I could do this. I could paint this way. Along the way, Chris watched over us, a mother protective of her precious children. And when someone had trouble, when something came up….because here, in this completely safe and love-imbued room, something was bound to come up, and was encouraged to come up, because here, in the safe room of love, here it was OK to just be who you are, and to not stuff things down or be stoic or invincible, here it was OK just to….be. It was ok to be soft, it was ok to be vulnerable, it was ok to be sad or mad or genuine or happy. Whatever you felt, it was all OK. And as we painted, we would notice: what we were resisting, what felt easy, what we felt like censoring and didn’t, what it felt like to be in the flow or in the throes or in the staccato or in the peace. We felt all of that, and kept painting, until we were done. And then another blank piece of paper, another creation to birth, and the process would begin again. And along the way, we had free time. We hiked in the Sierras. We floated in the lake. We explored the water byways of the valleys. And as we explored the amazing vistas, we explored our new friendships. Women befriending women. Women following the untold and age-old traditions of connecting, witnessing, supporting, embracing with an open heart. Each woman had an equal place in the group, and each woman was gathered into the fold of the sacred circle of the feminine. And along the way, we ate the most amazing food. Gloria and her staff at the Tioga Lodge bent over backwards to provide whole, delicious and incredible meals, modifying for the vegan, for the gluten-free, for the protein-rich, for the allergies and likes and dislikes. And the lodge is on the outskirts of a tiny town, Lee Vining, that has a wonderful coffee shop (Latte Da) that became our meeting spot before heading up into the mountains for yet another adventure. And there is a Mono Lake community store, with small handmade local items with the friendliest and most helpful staff in the universe. And along the way, I became friends with Chris. She was everything I had hoped for: wise, accepting, loving…willing to listen with understanding and answer with empathy. And she has the unique ability to call you on your bullshit in a way that doesn’t feel like you are being challenged, but in a way that helps you look at your stories to see where they are no longer serving you. And gentle….always gentle. I have grown to love Chris, as mentor, a teacher, a woman, a human, and a deeply shining soul. I feel honored to call her my friend. So here, a week later, I am home from painting and I find my heart returns again and again to the high Sierras. I feel braver, allowing my family to share in my art experiences and allowing them to see into my tender heart. I shared with them my journey, and I cried for them and for myself, at the beauty of being truly me. And perhaps that is the greatest gift that comes from the Painting from Your Wild Heart Retreat….it brought me back to parts of myself that I had closed away, locked away, in the face of being brave and stoic and strong….because I am all those things…and I am tender and loving, I am insightful and intuitive. I am giving and loving and genuine and filled with shining light. I am all those things. And I am an artist. Go to a Painting from Your Wild Heart Retreat. It will surprise you. It will delight you. It will open you and maybe even scare you. Go anyway. Go and find those parts of yourself you left behind. Go and find new spaces and places to expand your life. Go and find new friends and old traditions. Go to dance and to sing and to paint and to laugh. Go to spoil yourself with a week alone, away from the life and family and responsibilities that make up your daily self. Go and give the gift of you back to you. Only….leave a space for me. Because I will be going back next year. See you there.

Lisa D'Alessio


Ahh, what an amazing week I had with Chris and these women who trusted the process of painting from the heart.
I loved painting in silence.
I felt safe to paint what was arising in me, knowing that no one would judge my painting as “good or bad”.
I loved Chris expertise holding me in my “I cannot do it, I do not know how to do it”.
Her warm unmoving acceptance of what I painted helped me to love me more.
I am coming back in a heart beat and if I win in the Lotto I invite all my friends to come with me.
In gratitude and love


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