Fall 2018 Retreat Info - coming soon!

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Over the Top  -  2018 Spring Retreat

Are you ready to take your coloring Over the top and slightly beyond?

Online lessons and once-a-month sessions are fun but they can not replicate the value and joy of working side by side with an artist.

Join Amy for a relaxing yet challenging artist's retreat in beautiful Northwestern Michigan. This time of concentration is designed to help you grow in confidence, artistry, and technique; all while enjoying a secluded slice of tranquility on the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan.

The goal for our mini-week will be to get you coloring more like an artist- working on large scale images and with far greater realism and detail. This isn't coloring for cardmakers, this is coloring as art!


All spaces have filled.

Email Amy@VanillaArts.com to be added to the wait list

Interested in a Fall 2018 Retreat? Email me for info!


Sunday, June 3 to Thursday, June 7, 2018

Location: Harbor Springs, Michigan (30 minutes north of Petoskey)

Instructor: Amy Shulke; BFA Graphic Arts, Illustration


Attendees will receive an assortment of project packages including botanicals, landscape, still life, and food illustrations. Choose one project to work on during the retreat and take the rest home to complete on your own. All projects will include 11 x 14 inch printed line drawing on artist grade paper plus guides and instructions.

With three full days of instruction time, you will work with Amy to develop the skills and techniques necessary to complete your project. Plan on lots of of personal instruction and feedback in addition to group demonstrations. Instruction will be tailored to your skill level, your skills gap, and the needs of the entire group.

Skills & Prerequisites:

Projects will lean heavily towards colored pencil due to their size and scale. Intermediate to advanced pencil skills are required. You must be able to layer colored pencils for gradation and blends (without use of solvents) and you must understand basic color sculpting techniques.

Choose to work with alcohol markers or watercolor for the basecoat and background process. I strongly recommend watercolor because it is a more portable medium and travels better than heavy and bulky marker collections. Amy will cover watercolor technique for those unfamiliar with the process and those who are looking to improve.

Students who have taken the Colored Pencil Plus course will enjoy the expansion upon CP+ techniques and style.

Vanilla Arts marker students may struggle at first with our pencil-focused techniques but all of the color, underpaint, and sculpturing techniques will be immediately familiar to you. I do not want to discourage you from attending but know you will face a colored pencil hurdle in the very beginning.

For those who have not taken CP+ or any Vanilla Arts classes/courses, please make sure that you have taken colored pencil classes using artistic techniques rather than craft-level coloring or "make a card" type classes.

If you are unsure if your skills qualify, email Amy@VanillaArts.com for more info. Colored Pencil Plus is ABSOLUTELY NOT a requirement for Over the Top and good technique taught by a good art instructor should be more than enough to prepare you for our retreat projects.

Required Supplies:

Because you will be traveling to Over the Top (and many may be flying), the majority of your supplies will be waiting for you at the cottage inside your retreat kit. The price of the kit has been figured into your total retreat cost, no extra purchase necessary. Your kit will include multiple projects and the art paper to work upon.

Plan on bringing your own colored pencils, watercolors + brushes (or Copics if you intend to substitute them for watercolor). A portable battery powered sharpener is required as it is hard to find extension cords long enough to stretch down to the beach. Your preferred small tools such as erasers, dusting brushes, and other misc. items will also make you more comfortable.

NOTE: You will leave the retreat with more supplies and materials than you arrive with. For those flying, we may need to ship your projects home.

About the Cottage: 

Our cottage is located on 4 secluded acres in Harbor Springs, Michigan. It's about 45 minutes south of the Straits of Mackinac ("mack-ih-naw"), so you're definitely in the north woods! The cottage sits on a bluff overlooking gorgeous Lake Michigan and features 150 feet of private shoreline. As if that weren't enough, our driveway is a national treasure- the famous Tunnel of Trees, one of the top scenic drives in the United States (amazing video here).


All spaces have filled.

Email Amy@VanillaArts.com to be added to the wait list

Interested in a Fall 2018 Retreat? Email me for info!


Price: $850 for the retreat, includes:

  • 4 nights, double occupant rooms
  • Welcome dinner (buffet style)
  • Goodbye brunch
  • 9 meals plus snacks and assorted beverages
  • gigantic package of course materials including line drawings, miscellaneous art supplies, workbook with guides & learning aids


Reserve your space with a $150 registration fee (includes $100 non-refundable deposit).

Second payment of $350 due March 1, 2018.

Third and final payment of $350 due May 1, 2018. 

Cancellations may be made up to 60 days prior to the event (by Tuesday, April 3, 2018) for a refund minus the $100 non-refundable deposit. If you cancel AFTER Tuesday, April 3, 2018, no refund will be offered unless your spot can be filled. 

Failure to pay in full by the above deadlines will result in loss of $150 deposit and you will not be allowed to attend the retreat.


All meals are provided including a simple dinner on arrival day and a hearty brunch on departure day.

Breakfasts will be continental style with a griddle available for those who want to prepare eggs or other protein.

Lunches will be a self-service kitchen counter buffet. Eat at your convenience.

Evening dinners will be together in the dining room and include a main dish, side dishes, green salad, and dessert.

Snacks and beverages will be available for self-service in the kitchen.

Please let Amy know about vegetarian wishes. Sorry, vegan and gluten free meals not available.

Transportation: Transportation is NOT included in retreat price.

By Car: address provided upon registration. Cottage is located off M-119 north of the village of Harbor Springs and south of Good Hart.

By Airplane: Daily flights to Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) in Traverse City, Michigan are available from Chicago O'Hare and Detroit Metropolitan Airport via American, Delta, and United. Rental cars are available for the 2 hour drive north (don't worry, it's a gorgeous scenic route!) Join the private Facebook discussion board so that we can arrange carpools to minimize cost and parking space at the cottage.


All spaces have filled.

Email Amy@VanillaArts.com to be added to the wait list

Interested in a Fall 2018 Retreat? Email me for info!



This is meant to be a relaxing time of self-exploration and improvement. Break your clocks and work on lake time. We will let the needs of the day set our schedule. Our casual time frame includes:

Arrive anytime after 12pm on Sunday June 3rd and make yourself at home. The welcome dinner buffet starts at 5:30pm but we'll keep things warm for those arriving later.

Three full days of instruction on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Work inside the cottage, on the deck, or down at the beach. Definitely take time to enjoy the lake and the scenery on your breaks. Evening campfires if the weather allows.

Pack and depart on Thursday, June 7th by 3pm with a hearty brunch before you go.


This is a family style cottage; we do not have the luxury of private bedrooms. Our living space is 2,400 square feet including 2 1/2 bathrooms, a great room, rec room, kitchen & dining area, plus outdoor decks.

Our beach area is rather secluded, far from public beaches and vacation communities. The privacy of this area makes it ideal for quiet contemplation, pleasant walks, and even coloring on the beach.

Smoking is strictly prohibited indoors by the landlord and Amy has asthma. The landlord absolutely will charge damage penalties and cleanup fees should you break the rules. If you smoke outside, please be courteous to remain away from open windows and to dispose of butts properly.


This is Northern Michigan where even in mid-summer, temperatures do not often rise above 80 degrees. Expect highs of 70 and lows of 54 during our June visit.

All of the Great Lakes are extremely large and deep bodies of water and although our stretch of water looks almost Mediterranean or Caribbean, the water temperatures can be downright chilly. Water temps do not peak until late August and this is an area that holds snow as late as April. You may want to rethink the bikini.

Internet & Communications:

Our cottage is in a sparsely populated area. There is no cable internet or DSL available. 

Cell service is spotty. Verizon and AT&T coverage seem to work best at the cottage.

For internet, a personal hotspot is your only option at the cottage. You can travel to Harbor Springs or Petoskey where there are coffee shops with excellent high speed internet available. Best option: use this retreat as an excuse to unplug and unwind.

Cancellation Policy: Your registration fee includes a $100 non-refundable deposit. Cancellations may be made up to 60 days prior to the event (Tuesday, April 3, 2018) for a refund minus the $100 non-refundable deposit. If you cancel AFTER Tuesday, April 3, 2018, no refund will be offered unless your spot can be filled.


Questions? Email Amy@VanillaArts.com for more info.


All spaces have filled.

Email Amy@VanillaArts.com to be added to the wait list

Interested in a Fall 2018 Retreat? Email me for info!

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