Painting Retreat, September 8-13 2019, Hacienda Dona Andrea

Please join me this September for a painting retreat in Los Cerrillos, New Mexico! We will be staying in a stunning Hacienda, perched in the mountains just south of Santa Fe and setting up studio in their light-filled courtyard. The home boasts views that see all the way to Colorado. We will paint from life in the studio and on the grounds, creating nature-based work from our surroundings. Acclaimed pastry chef and author Lisa Donovan (formerly of Husk, Buttermilk Road and City House) will be joining us to provide meals and even a baking class! We’ll have time, space, delicious food and glorious light in abundance, all to further and influence our creative process. We will incorporate stillness, introspection, new techiques and field trips in the area into our practice. All skill levels welcome.


The expanse of the desert reflects back the perfect combination of silence and possibility. To be granted a stay here, held in the palm of this grace, is to restore belief in the self and the value of one’s artistic yearning. – Melanie Bishop.
Northern New Mexico has a rich history of being a thriving home for art-making, thanks to many prominent artists of all kinds who made it their home in the early part of the 20th Century, drawn there by the peace of the land, the incredible light and the massive sky. The location of the retreat is in a rural area, south of Santa Fe, but we will also plan to visit Santa Fe for dinner one night and go on a tour of Georgia O’Keefe’s home and studio in Abiquiu, north of town.


For me, the best days in the studio are when the subject takes second seat to our own place in time. The best paintings are simply a collected recording of our many present moments: a beautiful blueprint of our story. In that spirit, we will use the traditional subject matter of the natural world as a vehicle with which to explore inner movements, gestures and dialogues. We’ll spend time outside each morning looking for plant life to study. I will also provide flowers and plants to work from. We will practice letting our natural instincts and tendencies work for our painting rather than against, literally using who and where you are to further your process of art-making. There will be a spirit of openness and grace towards ourselves, so that we can listen carefully to our surroundings. My hope is that after this week, you will better understand many techniques of painting, but mostly you will better understand yourself.

I will focus on teaching my layering process with acrylics and oils, but you are welcome to bring any media that you prefer. I will lead group instructional time in them morning, allowing plenty of on one-on-one time in the afternoon. Our studio will be outdoors, with large covered areas. The average temperature in New Mexico in September is ideal (highs in the 70’s, lows in the 50’s).


The Hacienda is a 13,000 square foot Southwestern home with 9 bedrooms, a large chef’s kitchen and many cozy communal spaces. The impressive courtyard (our studio!) opens up to stunning views of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. The bedrooms each have a kiva fireplace and an en suite bath. There are 2 solo rooms available and 10 shared rooms.

Fee: $1,900 for shared room, $2,500 for a single room

  • Non-refundable deposit of $400 required to register for a shared room, $1,000 for a solo room. Remaining balance of $1,500 due by June 1.
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Fee includes:

  • Lodging for 5 nights
  • Instructional and open studio time for 4 days
  • Three meals a day, except for one evening that we will spend in Santa Fe.
  • Baking class with Lisa Donovan
  • Fresh local plant life for subject matter
  • Field trip to Abiquiu to tour Georgia O’Keefe’s home

Fee does not include:

  • Airfare or transportation to the venue. It is situated between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, so you could fly into either airport and take an uber/lyft from there (about 25 miles from Santa Fe Airport).
  • Art supplies. I will provide table space, chairs, and mineral spirits for us to share (so you don’t have to travel with that). You will bring a portable easel, paint and brushes – all to be outlined in a later email.
  • Cost of dinner out in Santa Fe (optional)

Register Now (Deposit on shared room)

Register Now (Deposit on solo room)

Thoughts from past retreat-goers:

Absolutely life-giving. Emily created an experience that provided comfort to be yourself, yet left room to grow. The castle, area we stayed in, and personal chef was amazing inspiration. I loved watching Emily do her thing and trying to incorporate her interesting tactics into my own work. The trip is something I will never forget.

Life-changing! To be in a space with other artists who loved their craft and appreciated the beauty in life all around them made me start to think, “Yes! I can do this!”

I walked away feeling alive.

If there were ways for the meals to improve, I would be shocked. Lisa was absolutely incredible with her intentional creations. The artistry was lovely. I think the food inspired me the most on the trip actually!

Emily amazes by creating ethereal-like art and then being so approachable. Left me speechless.