Working (PLAYING) Retreat: Artistic Play and Exploration

In-Person | Picture Books, Early Readers and Chapter Books, Novels, Graphic Novels, Novels in Verse, Nonfiction, Poetry, Illustration, Working Retreats
Join the creative duo of Denise Fleming and Ashley Wolff for time to create and connect. (They asked us to include "PLAYING" in the title for this special program, because their sessions will center play and exploration, and celebrate your artistic creativity!)

April 14 - April 17

Highlights Foundation Campus

$1199

Overview

In-person 4-Day/3-Night Working Retreat

Join the creative duo of Denise Fleming and Ashley Wolff for time to create and connect. Denise and Ashley will be joined by special guests Merrill Rainey and Rofa Shuhratzoda.  A “Working Retreat” is lightly structured with one lecture each day, generative activities, optional consultations with faculty, and plenty of time to create in the comfort and care of the Highlights Foundation retreat center. Denise and Ashley have asked us to include “PLAYING” in the title for this special program, because their sessions will center play and exploration, and celebrate your artistic creativity!

  • This is an in-person retreat for creatives who are looking for ways to play with art, and enjoy ample time to work on individual projects.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins at 5:30pm Eastern on Sunday, April 14
  • Ends after lunch on Wednesday, April 17

Why This Working (PLAYING) Retreat?

All writers and illustrators need time and space to accomplish their goals, and to explore art for the pure fun of creativity! We invite illustrators and writers to gather for an engaging retreat with hands-on activities to play and re-connect with their inner artists.

Each day of the retreat you will have one hands-on art session. (See tentative schedule below.)  A sample of past techniques explored at this type of retreat include: Collage meets Portraiture meets Calligraphy; Accordion Books; Wood Etching; Gilded Quotes, and more!

Ample time will be reserved for your individual projects. You choose what that means for you. Maybe you’ll draft new words on the porch of your cabin, sketch in the Art Coop, finally get to the revisions that your work-in-progress needs, or rest.

Finally, you can join fellow creatives for informal gatherings by the fire in the evening, at meals, or throughout the retreat as you wish to discuss creativity, share your work, and more!

This working (PLAYING) retreat includes:

  • Demonstrations and Hands-on Activities
  • Shared studio and writing time
  • Independent time to write, illustrate, draft, revise, and discuss your work

Your retreat will be well appointed with space to create, as every accommodation option includes a personal workspace. You’ll also find various spaces around the campus to get work done, or explore the grounds if you need a change of pace or some inspiration.

“Attending a retreat at the Highlights campus felt like a portal fantasy, in the best way possible. Everyone was so friendly, and I felt so taken care of while I was there. The campus itself had wonderful spots to get creative work done (shout out to the Art Coop…I nerded out big time in there!), and I loved the routines we had where we got to do individual creative work and then come together during meals and after hours to bond and connect. It was just such a beautifully crafted atmosphere…The faculty was [also] amazing all around. They provided great insight in their presentations, and they were warm and welcome to discuss anything about the craft. I deeply enjoyed their company and their brilliance.”

What's It Like on a Working Retreat at the Highlights Foundation?

See a virtual tour of the campus, testimonials, and more information about the experience.

Feedback Expected

  • There is no formal feedback at this session, yet there is ample time for informal opportunities to share work, ask questions, and connect with faculty and fellow attendees.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You could use some creative inspiration. There will be daily exercises designed to spark new ideas.
  • You are a writer who has always wanted to try your hand at illustration techniques.
  • You are an illustrator/artist looking for a retreat to play; not anchored to a work in progress.
  • You enjoy discussing stories and your journey with fellow storytellers. You’ll gather in the evenings to talk about your story and self in a supportive environment.
  • You’d like a retreat where you can get to work. This retreat is not based on lecture. It’s time to work on your own projects, with the added joy of hands-on art activities guided by award-winning illustrators.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.  Click on the headings below to explore the agenda in more detail.

Pre-Workshop
  • You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow creatives and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).
  • Art materials will be provided for you, though you are encouraged to bring materials with you that you would like to use for your own creative discoveries.
  • We encourage you to bring projects with you to the retreat at various stages in-progress, as you will have time to draft, revise, and polish your work during independent time.
Day One: Sunday, April 14, 2024
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner
  • Following dinner: Welcome Activity & Introductions
Day Two: Monday, April 15, 2024
Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Hands-on Demonstration #1
  • Play & Create

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Retreat time: read, write, illustrate, connect
  • Optional studio/writing hour (materials will be provided)

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day Three: Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Hands-on Demonstration #2
  • Play & Create

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Retreat time: read, write, illustrate, connect
  • Optional studio/writing hour (materials will be provided)

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day Four: Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Optional Showcase of Art & Sharing
  • Retreat time: read, write, illustrate, connect

Afternoon

  • Lunch & farewells
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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

As an in-person event at our Retreat Center, you’ll have a chance to step away from everyday life to experience the retreat. It is important to recognize that this is not a “jam-packed” workshop; rather it is a Working Retreat that combines opportunities for learning with ample time to retreat and work on your own projects.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

How It Impacts Kids

This retreat impacts your inner “kid” with plenty of time for play and creativity! Let this feed your future stories for all kids as you hold onto the inspiration. You’ll have time and space to work on your own projects, in a supportive environment.

Testimonials from Our Community

“The cottage was perfect, the surroundings peaceful and relaxing. I was able to find a balance of work and play. So much thought and consideration has gone into providing an inspiring, rejuvenating environment.”

“This retreat was wonderful. There was so much positive energy, and it really gave me the momentum to keep working toward my goals.”

“Ashley and Denise are a wonderful team and I would love to attend another workshop with both of them. The balance between studio work/explanation during the day and the talks at night was just right.”

“I came for the simple joy of creating.”

Meet the Faculty

Special Guests

DETAILS

April 14 - April 17

$1199

Highlights Foundation Campus

362 Boyds Mills Road
Milanville, PA 18443

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

LOCATION

All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops and retreats (including this one) are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation.

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Shuttle service is included from the local airport and bus stations, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
Scholarships
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.