Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Summerhill Sketching Retreat Recap - Part 2

The first inaugural Summerhill Sketching Retreat continued with a day-long field trip to Frank Lloyd Wright's famous architectural masterpiece, Fallingwater, which was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(Click here to catch up and read Part 1 of this two-part post.)

Fallingwater is located in the Laurel Highlands, about an hour east of us, and it would have been a shame for my guests to miss this unique and innovative home that people travel from all over the world to see. They ended up having a wonderful tour guide who made the story of Fallingwater come alive for them.

We didn't have a chance to sketch while we were there, but after three solid days of painting, everyone enjoyed the break. On the way home, we made a quick stop at Ohiopyle State Park to see the waterfalls...

and had lunch at the historic Summit Inn in Farmington, PA. The view from the breezy veranda where we ate lunch is spectacular. You can see for sixty miles on a clear day.

It had been a long day, but my intrepid sketchers weren't ready to quit. When we got back to the house, they felt like doing some painting, so we got started on a lesson that was completely different from anything we had done previously. We painted cheeseburgers!

Pat J. works on her cheeseburger painting

Sketch by Terry Belanger

It was a nice change of pace, and my step-by-step lesson made it easy and fun.

We sat on the front porch that evening and watched the sun go down, chatting about this and that, laughing and telling stories, friends now after living and playing together for five days. Beverlee and I walked out across the lawn toward the hay field, so she could get a closer look at the fireflies. Growing up in LA, she had never seen lightning bugs before. Her joy and excitement over something I take for granted and hardly notice was the high point of my evening. Seeing things through new eyes is always a good thing.

The next morning, everyone added the final touches to their sketches, then we had brunch. These peach streusel muffins were a big hit! Click here for the recipe.

Then it was time for everyone to gather all their paraphernalia and wrap things up. After their bags were packed and all the suitcases brought downstairs, we gathered in the living room for sharing time. It was so much fun to see all that they had accomplished in just a few short days. Here are a few of their sketches:
View of Jan's garden by Terry Belanger

Lilies by Pat Buist

Summerhill flowers by Pat Buist

Stones from my heart rock collection, by Kay Gasser

Elements from Jan's garden, by Kay Gasser

Museum sketches

Sketch from Jan's garden by Pat Spencer

Heart rocks by Beverlee Moreno-Ring

Beverlee was in love with Buddy and painted this portrait of him

More Summerhill sketches

Scene from Jan's garden by Beverlee Moreno-Ring

And here's one I did of the vintage hat collection at the museum:

Then it was time to say goodbye. On the way to the airport, I had to smile as I listened to the animated conversation and laughter all around me. These women who had arrived as strangers were now the best of friends. They promised to meet again (maybe at a Summerhill reunion next year?) and told me over and over again how much they had loved the retreat.

At Summerhill they had a chance to unwind and relax, paint to their heart's content, linger over a delicious meal they didn't have to cook themselves, sit on the porch, and watch a sunset. All the commitments of everyday life would still be waiting for them when they returned home, but this peaceful interlude gave them a chance to slow down, settle in, and take time for themselves for just a little while.

It warms my heart to know that sharing this home that I love with others can make a difference in their lives. Making people happy is no small thing - it's the greatest reward I receive for all the hard work that goes into these retreats.

I plan to offer more Summerhill Sketching Retreats in 2020. If you would like to be placed on a list for early notification of new dates, please send me an email. I hope to see you here at Summerhill in 2020!


  1. I'll be sending you an email, Leslie! It looks absolutely delightful -- every minute, every sketch!

    1. It was even more fun than it looks like in the post. We had such a good time together!

  2. What an amazing area, you had a good time and it shows in your work and your lovely smile, thank you for sharing,


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