To Inspire, Transform & Heal

Linda Wiggen Kraft
Creativity for the Soul

Art & Soul Retreat, Blue Ridge Mountains, #Kanuga

Teaching at the annual 5 day Art & Soul Retreat in North Carolina at Kanuga feeds my soul for the entire year. Our classroom cabin in the woods holds a deep and sacred space.


It has been over month since returning home, yet I still feel the depth and opening of creativity, heart and soul that comes about each time I am there.

My “Heart & Prayer” Art Inspired by Kanuga 2 days after coming home


The new name for the former FACE Conference (Faith, Art & Creative Expression) is Art and Soul Retreat, Personal and Liturgical Creative Expression.   I love the new name.



My friend Kelly Larson and I lead a class titled “Learning to See Creator in Creation through Easy Drawing, Painting and Writing”.  We created “Spiritual Art Journals” that expressed the joy and depth of creative mark making of images and words. We played with different kinds of paints, pens and inks. We wrote poems and prayers and were inspired by writings of others.


The first hour was  very neat and tidy. It didn’t take long to spread out our paints, pencils, pens and papers to let our creativity fly.



Music played as we created. Often the music was dulcimer playing by Dick whose wife was taking a flower arranging class.


We created small and large drawings of things of beauty from nature.

Real Magnolia Leaf collected from outside our favorite bakery,
Village Bakery – in Flat Rock, North Carolina


One of my larger than life pen drawings of the leaf I used
for inspiration during the workshop

We painted small pieces of nature, like leaves, and also larger landscapes. These are Betty’s landscape paintings from when we went outside to paint Plein Air at Kanuga Lake. Some of the details are prayers and thoughts written in ink.

We wrote acrostic poems and prayers.. We made marks of flowing paints and flowing words.

Sarah’s Laugh Acrostic Poem

I am amazed at the beautiful unique creativity of all the class participants. The colors, forms and words delight me as I look at each of these photos.  Each of them is a blessing.  Thank you Betty, Lynn, Maybelle, Sarah and Shelley for sharing your creativity and souls.  Here is most of what was created by these artists during our workshop.  May these images and words inspire us all.


Works in progress. We started with large sheets of art paper and added open and free flows of colors and words.






We spent time drawing directly from nature.  Below are Shelley’s leaves inspired by the magnolia leaf.


Maybelle drew a pinecone a bit larger than life size.



And then she drew and painted inspired the twig shown in the upper left hand corner of the 24 x 18 inch paper. Her painting is much larger than life.


Words were written that became part of the books and smaller papers we ended up creating.

Maybelle’s Acrostic Kanuga Poems/Prayers and other writings.

Some of the large sheets of painted papers were folded into portfolios and books.

Betty’s lively large leaf painting.

Betty folded the paper into a portfolio holding her paintings & papers. Ribbons were inserted into slits and secured to be used as ties to keep portfolios closed.


Betty’s opened portfolio with 4 pockets

Shelley’s bright yellows, oranges and pinks portfolio holds her art and other treasures inside.

Shelley’s closed portfolio.


Shelley’s 4 pocket open portfolio.

Starfish larger than life became a portfolio for Lynn’s art.



Lynn’s open portfolio.

Some large painted papers were folded into 8 page books. These are Maybelle’s books.

Here are some of the inside pages of Maybelle’s books.







Sarah created books with wise words. The words dance along the lines of mark making painting done before becoming books.




Sarah also created her first ever mandala, a gift for her sister who was also at Kanuga.


Betty created an Advent Book with acrostic poems.





Betty also wrote her Psalm on vellum and added it to her painted paper.


Shelley’s poems and paintings reflect their depth and beauty.






Part of the deep sacredness of the Art & Soul Retreat is the land, community and rituals.  The workshop starts with a worship service in the wooden chapel next to the cabin we stay in, near the classroom.  During that service the hands of all the teachers and class participants are blessed before holy creativity flows through them.


During the last evening’s service held in the all wooden chapel, the artwork we created during our time at Kanuga is blessed to hold the energy, beauty and strength of our deep dive into creativity, soul and knowing Creator. Luckily we get to bring that energy, beauty and strength home with us to fill us throughout the year.


PS – Kelly and I will be returning to Kanuga for the 2019 Art & Soul Retreat. We are so excited to be coming ” home”. Stay tuned for details.

PPS – The next blog will be about the “Spirituality Journals” Kelly and I created during this retreat.




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