The last six months have been, simply put, amazing!
When I received a scholarship to attend Lodged Out’s winter session this past February, in Leavenworth WA, I had no idea what I was really getting myself into. I knew that it would allow me a chance to branch out past what I thought I was allowed to do and put me in a brand new environment that I hoped to draw lots of inspiration from. Lodged Out did that and more! I did not expect to fall in love with the wintry scenes of Washington, or to be cross country skiing with a bunch of strangers(now friends), all things that were firsts for me. I fell in love with nature in a different way during that trip. I tried my hand at painting en plein air for the first time and fell in love with the process. That painting technique has now fully embodied what I do as an artist, and how I tell my story. I gained real focus in my craft and started to understand where I can "fit in" in my industry buy talking to the others attendees and also giving myself the alone-time to plan.
I was the most inspired by Kate Boue´s talk on Outdoor Stewardship. She challenged us to use our personal industries to give back to the outdoors and to spread education and compassion at the same time. This came at a time when I was really struggling with my artistic direction. I have since then dedicated my social media to that and have found a calling in trying to educate and inspire more POC to get outside and explore. Once I returned home I had a fire lit under me and I was determined to continue to get outside as much as possible but to also share those experiences with everyone via my social media. The more I gained the courage to share the more I was received by the outdoor community! I have grown my social media by almost 1,000 followers since February, which is so crazy to me.
I met this connection before Lodged Out but because of my new voice online I was invited to a women’s leadership retreat centered around Outdoor conservation, called Project16X. I was able to be involved in some serious conversation with other amazing women from a variety of fields. I have collaborated with two people I met through Lodge Out so far. I will be participating in an art show supporting women in politics to be held in Oklahoma City this coming fall. I also recently was hired to do four chalk murals for Craghoppers booth at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Two things that I can truly thank my experience at Lodged Out for.
I opened an online store on my website, which Lodged Out attendees encouraged me to do after seeing the small collection of paintings I made while attending. They forced me to think about my art with a more business mindset and that store is still running today. I made a new collection of paintings and I just hung them in my first solo show ever here in Denver. I will be donating some the proceeds to CityKidsWilderness in DC to give back to the POC community that is encouraging nature exploration among city kids.
Overall Lodge Out was a huge step in the right direction for me. I feel very grateful that I was given the opportunity and I was brave enough to except it, even though it was an adventure into new territory. It has been nothing but up from then on. Lodged Out is super fun but the workshops, community, and vibes are the most valuable part of the experience because there is so much to be gained from those connections. I recommend it to anyone looking for a way to reboot your creative sparks in a beautiful environment with really cool people! The next retreat is in September in New York!