Autumn Retreat 2022

Western Highlands with Johanna Flanagan, The Pale Rook       October 1-8 2022


The long blue twilights of summer give way to the golden rich hues of Scottish autumn, with the cherry trees beginning to glow with scarlet, orange, and gold jewel-like leaves.  Edinburgh shines in an ethereal light as autumn evenings glow.  We're exploring the stunning capital city of Scotland in its most beautiful season, sketching, making, and interpreting the spirit of place.


Then - we're off on an adventure to the Western Highlands and Islands in the ancient land of Argyll!  We'll explore Neolithic chambered tombs, and standing stones in ancient fields. Visit the Inner Hebrides islands and marvel at the abundant wildlife - seals, stags, (and so many sheep...). Coastline and crag abound, and a richness of unexpected spirit awaits you. We'll have plenty of time for tea, and scones laden with jam and cream, that taste even better when eaten beside a loch! 


We start our journey with two days in Edinburgh - a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll have a VIP greeting at the airport with a kilted Scotsman, who will whisk you away to the city! Curate your day, your way - relaxing or wandering the jumbled cobblestones in this quirky, ancient city that has inspired artists and writers for generations.

Later, you’ll sip with a glass of wine with us, and experience our grand opening dinner, celebrating your arrival with tales from Scotland’s bard, and the skirl of the pipes. 


Once you're settled in to our boutique property, you'll learn new textile design techniques with Summer Kiser over a glass of wine. Stitched Talismans is her new exclusive class, interweaving memories of times past with new directions and inspiration.  Summer's gentle process combines the time-honored craft of embroidery with a new way of telling your story, in a creative, colorful and unexpected way. You'll not want to miss this warm and cozy experience! 

Summer is a fiber and fabric artist, quilter, clothing designer, and shepherdess. She also dabbles in watercolor and mixed media, but mostly considers herself that best of all things - a maker.

IMG_3686 (1).jpg

We’ll go Sketch Strolling with Jane Bumar in one of Edinburgh's villages. As we wander, we'll learn artful techniques for creating a time machine in your mind, incorporating gentle mindfulness and an eye for detail.  An Edinburgh resident, Jane will share her love for the city's rich history with a nautical flair. During class, we learn to not only 'see' as artists, but fully engage all our senses, and document our explorations. 

Jane is an urban sketcher with a background in mixed media and collage, and a former professional writer and instructional designer. Her drawings have recently been published in a collaborative book Edinburgh One Drawing at a Time. She prefers drawing in pen, on location, and is always working on perfecting her gothic arches!



We wander via our private char-a-bánc (the British call it a ‘sharrabang’!) which will transport us to the wild western Highlands.  Our tour partner, Brian from Personal Tours of Scotland will regale us with tales of history in a narrated journey, providing perspective and wonder as thousands of years of history roll by.

Brian has lived in six counties, and visited over 100, but his favorite country is his home - Scotland.  He has worked in the travel and tourism industries for 35 years as a Flight Attendant in Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic Airways and the Emir of Qatar's private jets, and owned a hotel. For the last decade, he has found his true calling guiding families and friends in bespoke tours of Scotland!



Dusk draws in, and the Scottish sense of ‘coorie’ (to snuggle, or nestle) becomes our world for the following days. We’re staying in our own private accommodations, with views of pastoral beauty surrounding us, the ever-present ocean always near, and with beckoning mountains in the distance.

As artists ourselves, we also know that less is more, so you are always welcome to relax and craft at our lodgings, taking your day at your own pace. We encourage you to curate your own experience of our days together, with quiet respect for nurturing your needs.

Johanna Autumn 2022 artist photo.jpeg


Johanna Flanagan - The Pale Rook - is a doll artist from Scotland whose work is closely connected to Argyll, a place that has been a central part of her creative work since she was a child.  Johanna has been making dolls her whole life, and is now one of Scotland's foremost doll artists with work in collections around the world

Themes of transformation and transmutation are always present in her work.  She creates figures that are frozen in the moment between one state and the next. Rather than aiming to recreate a flawless, idealized view of the human figure in a doll, she finds beauty in the incomplete, the broken, the decayed, lost, unexpected and vulnerable.

She works with herbal and plant infusions gathered in Scotland and prepared by hand in her studio.  Each piece is a response not only to creative inclination at the time of making, but to the season,  weather, vegetation and environment at a particular time and place. 


Taking our inspiration from the ancient stone carvings, woodlands, and lochs, a blend of classroom time and exploration time with Johanna's guidance enables our creation of art dolls to capture the spirit of Argyll. The magical synthesis of the practical and the fantastic reflects our feelings and experiences of these liminal spaces.  



Day trips bring inspiration at its most abundant as we show you our favorite hidden spots:  islands filled with slate and stones for skimming, ancient abbeys, botanical garden paths strewn with wildflowers, lonely and unspoiled beaches, with no other humans for miles around.


Red squirrels, seals, deer, and starry skies revealing the Milky Way in its glory. Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments spans 5,000 years with a multitude of cairns, standing stones, carved rock, stone circles, forts and castles.


Sheltered sea lochs leading out to the fierce North Atlantic, chains of islands stretching to the horizon, linked like a necklace of jewels by ferries – such a hidden gem, this area of Scotland!  



We’ll say farewell to our magical week by taking the scenic route home - a final wander past the heathery hills, fading from their summer cloak of deepest purple to faded lavender that echoes the evening sky.  

Our tour ends with Guests alighting at your choice of Edinburgh's airport hotels, or the city center if your journeys continue in the beautiful country of Scotland.  Memories made, hearts full, and imagination re-kindled - on to journeys new!


  • Seven night’s accommodations in carefully chosen, historic and beautiful dwellings.

  • A variety of meals including all breakfasts, daily happy hours with wine and Scottish nibbles, and most dinners.
  • VIP pickup and transfer from Edinburgh Airport. Our tour begins and ends in Edinburgh

  • Touring with a thoughtful mix of experiences all conducted by our professional Tour Guide from Personal Tours of Scotland, LLC.  Touring services include our own luxury private vehicle, narration of what we are seeing to understand the sights of this ancient land in context, all route planning and navigation, vehicle insurance, fuel, and of course, water and snacks along the way. So freeing!

    • Some days are full of sightseeing, whilst taking into account our unique needs as artists.  Even on these days, we stop and smell the roses.

    • Other days are a blend of classes, individual crafting and exploration time, or tour excursions – balance is key!  We guarantee you will feel and experience the sights of this wonderful country, but also have time for your creative practices.

Note: Our planned program may be subject to change depending on weather and wandering inclinations.​

  • All classes and workshops.

  • A special gift bag to commemorate your adventure.

  • Most supplies needed for your classes. You are welcome to bring additional materials!

Shared Room $3,750.

  • To enhance your experience, we keep our groups small.  We welcome a maximum of 12 attendees.

We have had 1 spot suddenly open up for this sold out retreat.
Will you join us? 

Ready to come wandering with us? 

Click here to request registration information.