My name is Laurie Mika and I am thrilled and honored to be a part of the Art Is You family. I am a full time artist, instructor and author. I have been creating art most of my life in one form or another but it was my introduction to polymer clay that really changed the direction of my artistic journey. I came to clay twenty five years ago as a painter and to this day I still bring that same painterly aesthetic to my clay work. Polymer clay is such an incredibly versatile medium and there is so much that can be done with it from jewelry making, doll making, sculpture, mosaics and assemblage that I have never been bored playing with this “new” medium. To the contrary, I can’t wait to get in my studio each day to see how I can push it, to see how polymer clay works with resin or encaustic wax….I have tried pretty much everything and am convinced that there is no end to the possibilities of this medium.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the years I have taught for Art Is You. This mixed media art retreat in particular has such a “homey” feel…like one big family where everyone is supportive of one another and where creativity is encouraged without limits. Sal and Ellen go out of their way to make folks feel welcome and this warm approach helps participants feel less guarded and more open to the art retreat experience. People are fully vested both financially and emotionally when attending an art retreat and organizers need to be just that, organized! Art is You runs smoothly because of the time spent in preparation for the event. Every detail has been thought of and this preparation makes people feel connected, wanted and secure. These details enrich the experience by providing an atmosphere of collaborative community where we all benefit mutually and are uplifted by a common purpose.

I know that as an attendee when I leave an art retreat that I am filled. The experience of being around like-minded people for a week of creativity is soul filling. Those parts of life that tend to bring us down are softened for a few magical days when one is immersed in pure creativity learning something new. I find that the variety of classes offered at Art is You provides for a rich learning environment where all of the classes build on one another. Skills learned in one class can be applied in another. This overlapping and diversity of course offerings has a long lasting impact on the creative journey we are all on.

Teaching at an art retreat is such a gift. I love the personal interaction that takes place with students, something that can’t be attained in a virtual classroom. There isn’t a time that I haven’t learned something from a participant in one of my classes. It is this give and take that makes attending an art retreat so special. While I know that it is an undertaking of monumental proportions to put on an event like Art Is You, I also know that it is such an important facet of people’s lives. Women who are in transition from careers or empty-nesters, people searching for something to enrich their lives find the experience of attending an art retreat to be the prescription for living a full and meaningful life. There is nothing else quite like it.

Laurie is joining us in Minneapolis: