Create. Explore. Discover. 2012

Imagine a place. A place where you can:

  • tap back into your creativity
  • uncover your secret self
  • honor life's special moments
  • dig deep into your heart
  • get messy and play

When was the last time you put your to do list aside, let go of all expectation and just let yourself explore?

Will you dedicate a weekend to tapping back into your creativity?

What if you knew your every need is taken care of, if only for a weekend?

I have just the place for you.

This fall, join an intimate group of women at the Create.Explore.Discover Art Retreat.

I know firsthand how important it is to take time to explore your inner creativity – and what a challenge it is to make the space.

I’m Sarah, your host for the weekend. Lately, I’m often hidden behind my camera or otherwise indulging my muse.

This hasn’t always been the case.

In a former life, I led interior design projects for some of the top design and architecture firms in Chicago. Like many artists just starting out, I craved a challenging and collaborative environment, where my creativity would blossom. Just like so many of you, I found the reality to be a bit more complicated.

If I could go back, I’d take better care of my creative muse; I’d carve more space for exploration and fun.

C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to live a new dream.”

I can’t go back, of course, but I founded the Create.Explore.Discover Art Retreat as the realization of this dream.

It’s exactly the place I needed as a young artist. It’s a place for women of all ages to find their inner muse.

CREATE in a warm, supportive environment

Create.Explore.Discover brings together a diverse group of women, from working artists to weekend explorers, to moms, looking to uncover their creative spark.

Retreat leaders Lisa Congdon, Mati McDonough, Alessandra Cave and Anne Weil will lead fun, creative sessions where you will paint, knit, design and explore with your camera.

EXPLORE and go deeper than you thought possible

No matter your skill – or comfort – level, Create.Explore.Discover is a safe space for experimenting and trying out new projects.

If you don’t currently identify as a creative individual, you will surprise yourself by the end of the retreat.  If creativity is a part of your daily life, you will leave Create.Explore.Discover energized and brimming with ideas for your next project.

DISCOVER new friendships and connections in an intimate environment

Create.Explore.Discover is limited to 40 participants, so you’ll have the opportunity to form lasting bonds with both your retreat leaders and your fellow explorers.

Each evening, participants and instructors gather to make new friends that will inspire and encourage your artistic journey.

What We’ll Be Doing

Choose from 8 different guided art and creativity workshops with hands-on projects and personal interaction with instructors.

Join us for a special artists reception and discussion in the round to truly understand what living a creative life is all about.

Indulge in culinary excellence with fresh, local food made on site by Stella, Cedar House Sport Hotel’s restaurant and cooking school.

Take in an afternoon stroll and evening meal in the historic Lake Tahoe town of Truckee, California.

Sleep and relax at the Cedar House Sport Hotel, our award winning location for the 2nd year.




creative sessions

(2) morning and (1) afternoon session allow for 9 hours of creative learning time in an intimate 10 student per class setting.

Courses are listed in order to assist you in planning your weekend.

There are six instructors to choose from and numerous options to develop a special program that works specifically for your needs.

Do you have an interest in photography and want to learn more skills to make your photos tell a story? Tak a look at the amazing courses by Alessandra Cave.

Are you looking to try your hand at painting, collage, or a hand crafted accordion book? Then Lisa Congdon or Mati McDonough will guide you on your journey.

How about a weekend of knitting and learning how to make a special cowl to keep you warm this winter? Then Anne Weil is the instructor for you.

Saturday, Oct 13 (9am - 12pm)

Lisa Congdon: Art Filled Accordion Books – Part One

Mati McDonough: Daring Adventures in Paint – Creating a Lush Background

Alessandra Cave: Supernatural Portraits – Capturing Natural Light and Beauty in Portraits

Anne Weil: Four Techniques and a Cowl – Part One

Saturday, Oct 13 (1pm - 4pm)

Lisa Congdon: Art Filled Accordion Books – Part Two

Mati McDonough: Daring Adventures in Paint – Making a Patchwork Collage

Alessandra Cave: Your camera is your friend – How to get the most of your camera

Anne Weil: Four Techniques and a Cowl – Part Two

Sunday, Oct 14 (9am - 12pm)

Lisa Congdon: Art Filled Accordion Books – Part Three

Mati McDonough: Daring Adventures in Paint – Adding Imagery to a Painting

Alessandra Cave: Your Life in Pictures – Telling your story one picture at a time.

Anne Weil: Four Techniques and a Cowl – Part Three

workshop leaders


Handmade books can be beautiful works of art, telling stories with visual impact instead of words. San Francisco illustrator and fine artist Lisa Congdon will lead a series of two classes on how to make colorful, personalized, art-filled accordion books from scratch. Lisa regularly makes and exhibits accordion books as part of her practice.

Lisa’s fans may be surprised to learn she didn’t dedicate herself to art until 2007. She comes from a family of creative people and has been making things with her hands since she was very small, but she did not begin painting or drawing until she was in her early 30’s. Once she started, she hasn’t stopped, and, for the past 12 years, she has been drawing, painting and cutting paper nearly every day. Lisa’s vast catalog of work is typically themed around her passion for nature, geometrics and folk pattern. In 2011, she had her first major solo show at Gallery Hijinks in San Francisco, and her work was recently shown in the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Lisa’s illustration clients include Random House, Chronicle Books, Target, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, Land of Nod, American Greetings, Urban Outfitters, Running Press, and Trader Joe’s. Lisa is also a prolific collector of old and unusual things. In 2010, she chronicled all of her collections in her Collection A Day 2010 Project, now a book. She lives in the Mission District of San Francisco with her partner, her 11-pound Chihuahua and two cats, and works at her studio several blocks from her home. She’s an avid cyclist, swimmer and vegan.

photo credit: Leslie Sophia Lindell

mati mcdonough - CED 2012

Daring Adventures In Paint, taught by Mati McDonough, will be a fun exploration, suitable to painters of all levels. We’ll explore easy ways to layer paint, play with lush color, make daring choices and learn to trust your own voice in the process.

Just shy of her 30th birthday, Mati went back to art school to study painting and illustration at the California College of the Arts. She made art from the time she was very little growing up in Maine but never considered herself an artist until recently. Now at 36, Mati has had over a dozen art shows, taught painting classes in Italy, Santa Cruz, Utah and Oregon and online. She has had her art and illustrations used for Patagonia, University Games, Flip Cameras, Calypso Cards and is represented by Lilla Rogers Studio in Illustration and Licensing. This past year she had several big dreams come true of illustrating 2 children’s books, publishing her own painting book: Daring Adventures In Paint, and opening up a magic art studio called Teahouse in Berkeley where she spends most of her days.

(photo credit: Leslie Sophia Lindell)

alessandra cave - CED 2012

Is your creative muse lurking within the camera? Join Alessandra Cave in one (or all three!) of her classes on becoming one with your camera.

Alessandra is a photographer with a gypsy heart. Currently, she splits time between commercial photography, teaching assignments, penning and shooting books and caring for her baby daughter, her “biggest creative achievement to date!” Alessandra is also the creator of Gypsy Girls Guide, a resource for women interested in travel and a bohemian lifestyle, and she served as a contributor to Shutter Sisters, an inspiring community of women photographers.
Alessandra holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design and she worked for over 10 years as a visual effects producer for feature films and commercials. In 2009 Alessandra kissed the cubicle goodbye to pursue her dream of working as a professional photographer. She is completely self-taught, and she is passionate about inspiring and empowering women to pick up the camera and follow their creative passion.

anne weil head shot

Anne Weil fell in love with knitting at the age of 7, when she completed her first sweater – a fuzzy blue cardigan, cozy and warm, albeit a little short in the sleeves.  She hasn’t stopped knitting since.  Anne delights in creating new knitting patterns, especially for children in a simple and classic style.  She adores sharing her love of knitting with others. Though teaching knitting in her hometown of Boulder makes her happy, Anne relishes the idea of a long weekend full of knitting and learning, and hopes you will too.  As a busy mother of three, Anne loves finding creative moments in her studio to sew, knit, crochet, craft and photograph her handmade lovelies.

the location

We will be staying the award winning Cedar House Sport Hotel, nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The hotel is LEED certified in 5 categories and boasts innovative modern architecture and design.

The hotel is located in Truckee, California which is just a short drive from Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley (home of the 1960 Winter Olympics), Northstar and a 45 minute drive from Reno, Nevada.

An ideal fall getaway, the location is a 90 minute drive from Sacramento, California and 3 hours northeast of San Francisco.

Traveling by Air?

A 45 minute drive from Reno/Tahoe International Airport and approximately 40 miles from Truckee makes this an easy airport to fly from locations all around the country. The airport is serviced by most major airlines with Southwest having many flights in and out each day.

Transportation can be provided to/from the airport please let us know in the special accommodations section after registering; car rental is also available at the airport from all major car rental companies.

Explore Your Natural Surroundings?

We have set aside time for a series of adventure activities around the Lake Tahoe area.

A guide will take each group and lead the activity from the The Cedar House Sport Hotel on Friday and Saturday from 1:30-4:30pm. These optional activities are coordinated in conjunction with Cedar House Sport Hotel and require a minimum of 6 participants.

Create Explore Discover is the perfect retreat for someone wanting to tap back into their creativity, uncover their secret self and get messy and play.

A weekend away to explore this side of your world and uncover something deep in your heart will only occur if you allow creativity to enter your life.

Take a moment for yourself and see how beneficial exploring your creativity can be for your health and well being.

Once your sign-up is complete you will receive a personalized handwritten note from me, so don’t forget to include your address.

One week prior to the event, you will also receive a full retreat welcome packet with all the information you will need to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

I look forward to you joining me this fall and hope your creative journey will bring you to Lake Tahoe.