Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Art Retreat – Part 1

Relaxation, creativity and new friends! What a great combination. I just returned from a fantastic weekend art retreat at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute (PCCI) in Hastings, MI (near Battle Creek.) It is a 661 acre public environmental education center whose mission is to promote environmental education, research, preservation, and appreciation.
 View of the back of the Visitor Center, heading over from the Education Building

I met up with nine other natural science artists and illustrators to spend some time recharging our creative batteries. It was a friendly and good-humored group, and I very much enjoyed spending time with like-minded artists in such a relaxing setting. 
There are seven miles of trails to explore at PCCI, many of which are easy to walk and perfect for frequent sketching and painting stops. Everything from fungus covered logs and spring wildflowers to deer, birds, and wetland critters were visible and great subjects for sketches. I was able to squeeze in a few drawings while walking around and will post some this week. I also took a lot of photographs and have a nice stash of reference photos for future project use.

 Part of the Blue Trail

 Part of the Green Trail heading that circles the back of the Visitor Center

Spring Beauties that peppered the sides of many trails

Our accommodations were in Hyla House, a remodeled farmhouse with ten single rooms and one double room, four full baths and a kitchen. It was a charming and very comfortable place to stay with a short and pleasant trail walk to the Visitor Center and Education Building. We didn’t need the kitchen at the house, though, as we had wonderful meals in the Visitor Center dining room created by the Institute’s chef, Richard Centala.

Hyla House

The weather held out for us rather nicely. The sun was shining brightly on Friday with clear, blue skies. Saturday was a bit windy and cool, but not too bad. And today started out warmer and cloudy, but by the time I left at lunch the sun was back out. We were fortunate to avoid any rain, which allowed for lots of exploring and outdoor time for those who chose to do that. The Education Center and it’s classrooms allowed folks to enjoy a beautiful view of the grounds while working on projects indoors or taking a break from exploring the trails.

Sketchbook, pencils, wildflower


Sitting on the trail, on a garbage bag which was handy for getting close to those low-growing wildflowers, I worked on drawing a Trout Lily that you can see off to the left of my sketchbook. A close-up is below. What interesting, mottled leaves it has with a graceful, dangling yellow blossom.

Trout Lily

Even though it was a quick couple of days, I feel entirely different and appreciated having such a great opportunity to change the routine and focus on observing nature for a bit. The creative juices are flowing!

Check back for Art Retreat – Part 2 where I’ll post more photos as well as sketches that I worked on this weekend.  Have a great week!

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