This spring I had an incredible opportunity to make one of my dreams come true: a solo journey to the coast for my first-ever artist retreat. I was lucky to participate in the Artist Residency program at The legendary Sou'wester Lodge, an eclectic "hodgepodge of private cabins, vintage travel trailers, suites and campsites". The Sou'wester is a magical place, just minutes from the beach in historic Seaview on the Long Beach Peninsula.
Mini collage art sketchbook from last year's trip to the coast, showing my route from Seattle to the coast.
I've visited this beautiful part of the Washington coast every spring for the past few years and was excited to return for an Artist Retreat at the Sou'wester. This area is one of my favorites because it's close to the Washington/Oregon border, with cozy Astoria and the beautiful Oregon coast just a short drive away. There's lots of opportunities for biking, hiking, beach combing and of course, a break from busy city life.
A few shots from exploring the Discovery Trail, just steps from the Sou'wester. My rental beach cruiser bike was perfectly named "Good Vibrations".
Travel Trailer living at the Sou'wester Lodge
Here's a glimpse into my home & studio for the week, a cozy vintage travel trailer named "The Earl". I loved the simplicity of living with just the essentials and was surprised how easy and comfortable it was. The cool retro decor, creative atmosphere and awesome staff at the Sou'wester made the experience even better!
My creative project: Handmade Mail Art Kits
This is one of the initial sketches I submitted in my Artist Residency proposal to the Sou'wester:
"My goal in creating the letter sets is to share inspiration from the Washington coast; celebrating nature, travel, friendship & self-discovery. I hope to inspire others to create and share tangible memories from their adventures, in the form of hand-written cards and letters.
The letter sets will include a mix & match variety of post cards, writing sheets, envelopes and ephemera, embellished with hand carved stamps, drawings, and imagery that celebrates the Northwest experience"
The final Mail Art Kits contained everything needed to mail 3 letters, including postage. A limited edition of 20 were created specifically for visitors of the Sou'wester, available only in the adorable Lodge shop.
I'm not including photos of the opened mail kits to preserve the sweet surprise for anyone who might purchase them at the Sou'wester Lodge. ;)
Exploring the Oregon Coast
I got to spend an afternoon exploring Oregon — including my second visit to the infamous "Goonies" spot, Cannon Beach. Since I made most of my own food during the trip, I treated myself to an incredible picnic lunch from the Cannon Beach Cafe, which had amazingly fresh, flavorful & creative vegan options.
Unfortunately I didn't have much time to explore Astoria this trip — but that's just another reason to go back! I did get to drive over the epic Astoria-Megler Bridge a few times; it connects the Oregon and Washington borders along the Pacific coast. I love the costal/industrial vibes and old grungey bridges common in the PNW.
I stopped in Olympia on my way home — just long enough to browse in a few antique malls, experience an interesting interactive art event at K Records and eat delicious vegan pizza at Vic's.
While there were some unforeseen challenges (like trying to find a printer in a tiny beach town), it was an awesome, rewarding & worthwhile experience pursuing a creative project on the road. I hope to make the Artist Residency + Retreat experience at the Sou'wester a new tradition, and plan to return again soon for more inspiration & adventure! If you have an opportunity to visit this magical place, I highly recommend you do!