Course Programme Diaries • Three Day Art Retreat

Guest blog, by Annabel Tempest

When I first heard that Liverpool-based ‘Make it in Design’ Rachael Taylor was going to be doing a three-day “Inspired by Nature: Drawing for Pattern Design” course in my neck of the woods, I was very excited to find out where. . .  It is always lovely to discover new places on your doorstep and Clayhill Arts is just that.

A gorgeous, newly-renovated art space in the sprawling countryside with rooms to stay overnight and delicious food laid on. With eight acres of glorious gardens to soak up and explore, it really is the perfect place for a creative retreat with like-minded souls. We were all made to feel very welcome by our lovely hosts Michael and Deborah.

It is obvious that Rachael loves teaching and there is something so special, after the pandemic years, to be able to meet and share time with other like-minded people.  The three-day course included talks and slide shows from Rachael covering everything from inspiration, manufacturing and licensing to her experience in the surface pattern industry and nature walks to collect flowers and foliage for inspiration.

Playing and experimenting with techniques and tools, which I have learned is an essential part of my creative process.  We worked mainly in black and white and with limited materials and even though it feels counterintuitive it makes you really concentrate on form and pattern.

We did quick and easy drawing exercises to loosen up and get everyone’s creative juices flowing.  Doing things this way totally takes away any pressure to create beautifully finished pieces and I think we were all excited and delighted with some of the unexpected results regardless of our technical ability or drawing skills.

We laughed a lot and chatted about our lives and experiences over delicious homemade lunches and the most heavenly cakes and biscuits made on-site by the wonderful Deborah.

Clayhill Arts is surrounded by the beautiful Somerset countryside, allowing the participants to explore with nature walks, collect flowers & foliage, chat, learn from presentations, mark-making, explore drawing techniques, have fun with the power of a doodle, and eat yummy food – all whilst networking & connecting, what could be better?

Rachael is an incredibly open and generous teacher, sharing her process and drawings. And it was lovely to meet such a brilliant group of creatives, there is something very magical about shared experiences like these. As well as making new friends I managed to accidentally bring back a snail from one of our nature forays who will definitely appear in my designs – carefully released back into the wild when he had been thoroughly photographed and drawn.  He makes a lovely addition to my flat lays.

Feeling so blessed to be staying at the stunning Clayhill Arts in beautiful Somerset. What an amazing experience it was to host my 3 day workshop.
Rachael Taylor

So to everyone who made it so, Thank you. I had the loveliest 3 days and left feeling refreshed and creatively inspired and looking forward to returning again soon for more creative nourishment.
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