Oklahoma Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain

Every year I have the chance to go to Quartz Mountain and take a workshop for professional development. Some years I don’t get to go because others got the slots first, but I try every year since I first went in 2018 as a regular ed. teacher. The last two years there were no workshops because of Covid. This year I was ecstatic to get in. I didn’t think I would, but I did! Thanks to many lovely donors I was able to go for free! The workshop I got in to take was “Pigments to Paint and Working in the Landscape” with Blake Morgan. It would be 4 days and we would have 3 nights in the hotel with all meals included. I owe my donors and sponsors a huge thank you and will be sending out thank you packages to them later this month. Without their help I could never afford to attend something like this.


I was so nervous the first day. I made the very long drive and got there quite early. I didn’t want to be stressed out, so I left early. I popped in a podcast, set my Google maps, and drove for over two hours to one of my favorite places on earth, the Western end of the Wichita mountain range and Quartz Mountain State park.

Hmm, never could figure out which one is actually Quartz Mountain. Guess I should have asked. There are LOTS of mountains here!I checked in and got all my paperwork for my workshop as well as my name tag which was also my ticket for eating my meals. I then had a couple of hours before my first class so I took my luggage to my room. This hotel just went through a huge makeover and my room was lovely! Before they were looking very careworn, and definitely dated, now they are sophisticated and lovely.

I was so excited this year to have my own room. I am doing this from now on! I get too nervous and overwrought sharing a room with a stranger. It’s just too hard for me, a serious introvert. I decided to make this workshop into a retreat and mini vacation! So I brought my tea things and made my room feel hygge and cozy.

My first class was great. Our instructor was Blake Morgan from my alma mater, USAO. He went through how paint is made for us, talking about pigments, the history of colors, synthetic pigments, natural, expensive, and cheap. He had brought all kinds of raw pigments from Kremer and he showed us how to make watercolors, then we made our own! I had my own palette of watercolor I made myself and it was great color!

Our classroom before it all started!
The paint samples from the watercolors we made in class.

After that we had dinner, and the food was good! They had a new caterer and these people actually cooked for us! It wasn’t frozen stuff that was microwaved and served, it was real food! Yummy! The best part? You could get it to go and eat in your hotel room! This was great for me because I often spend too much time eating and I don’t enjoy visiting when I am at these workshops. I love the people, I just don’t love talking. It was really good for me to have downtime in my room so I could spend more of my energy creating! As soon as I was done eating I was off to a mini workshop on needle felting!

Dani Ives taught the workshop. I had the best time doing this. We made succulent plants and I spent part of my evening time doing more needle-felting!

In the evenings I relaxed with tea, watched old spooky movies on the TV and read!

I brought my Hub’s Kindle and got some reading done. I finished my book club’s selection for October: The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Rachelle and Ted Decker, and I read some of Bigfoot Sasquatch Files, Vol. 11 Halloween which is a great book of fun spooky stories. The day before I had left I had finished The Ghosts by Antonia Barber. I love that book! I found it because I happened to see The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Amazon a few weeks prior.


The next morning was breakfast and off to class again! Our classes are held in pavilions right by the mountains, There is literally a trailhead right outside our door!

This day was Friday and it was very cold and windy. Our instructor showed us how to make our own oil paints, showed us his palette, talked to us about landscape painting then took us outside for a demo. Most of us took pictures and came back inside to paint (including me!). After lunch it was much warmer and I was able to go outside. I hiked the sunset trail and painted. I used a lot of pastels Friday as well. I think I had 5 finished pieces at the end of this day! I was on fire with creativity!

I think the real reason I created so much work during this workshop is that I didn’t have any distractions or worries. I didn’t have to stop and cook any meals, I didn’t have to take anyone anywhere, i didn’t have to take care of any animals, or clean anything, or go to work. I do not mind these things normally. I believe work is love made visible. However, everyone needs a break from the day-to-day. A break that includes me being able to use all my brain for art is truly special!

There was CAKE.


The next day we experimented with pigments and binders and hiked and painted again. The weather was excellent. I went on the cave trail and found… a cave! It was so cool! This trail was super easy too. I went back to the sunset trail at sunset and painted and took pictures again. All I know about how much my Lord loves me is here, in nature. I feel healed by His creation all around me. I oil painted today, something I haven’t done in probably 10 years.

Also fun surprise- Hubby and his motorcycle friends drove in and I got to have lunch with him!

The evenings were beautiful and I kept my balcony door open as I had my special tea time.


Sigh. Last day. How could this magical time be over so quickly? All I can say is I am planning on coming back to stay even when there is not a workshop. Here are pictures of my completed works. We had a walk-though showing of the works we completed. It was so fun to see everyone’s art.

Afterward we all checked out, loaded our cars and drove home. It was so great I don’t even have words for how much I enjoyed it this year, and I feel like that every time I get to go!

When I got home I was so glad to see my family, but I brought a little of the mountains with me. I continued to do art and have a special evening tea time in the studio as I worked and watched spooky movies, just like I had at the workshop.

Friends, I really hope you can take advantage of any opportunities open to you for growth and creative time. If you are interested in this workshop opportunity it is open to anyone. Public school teachers get scholarships and private school teachers get a 50% discount. It is held in the fall every year. You must sign up right when the time slots open. There is also a 2 week camp for high schoolers in the summer time. Their website is OAI Quartz Mountain.

With creative journeys and travels to you from Kansas Street,


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