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JUNE 18 - JUNE 23, 2019


Artist + Adventure

This guide will help you prepare for your retreat in Tom Miner Basin, Montana.

Mentorship will begin after breakfast each morning with a talk given by Irons and any additional guest speakers. We will then move onto the land together and gather for that day’s painting demonstration.  This time may also include some drawing and writing. After a break for lunch, we will begin our guided painting time on-site until optional afternoon activities and dinner. Afternoon activities range from guided hiking tours of the Anderson Ranch, equine-assisted therapy (ie “listening” sessions), and time for reflection and relaxation at the tipi campsite.

While holding time and respect for the technical nature of painting, this experience was created with the understanding that the making of art goes far beyond the mechanics of putting paint on a surface.  This will be an intensive, immersive experience about all aspects of being an artist and the stories we tell. In a landscape where everything is heightened, there will be no choice but to get to the heart of “What Is Most Important”. Over these five days, we will learn to be fully present, tap into the well of history and magic in this unique place, and make art with it.

On a fundamental level, we will be painting in oil and recommend that participants hold an intermediate familiarity with the medium. While the most important thing is a willingness to learn, we will be dancing around some advanced things. However, we will be able to scale most of our goals to meet the needs of individuals. Below you will find a more detailed daily itinerary and supply list.

DAY 1 Tuesday

Arrival, settling into camp, dinner + campfire stories.

(Please arrive to the ranch no later than 3:00 pm. For those flying into Bozeman, a scheduled transportation service will be offered.)

DAY 2 Wednesday

Artist Talk: Seeking Qualities: Finding Your North Star as an Artist
Knowing how to begin anything is the hardest part. In this talk, Irons will share her approach to developing as an artist, from the very beginning.

Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating. In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast.

-Rainer Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Demonstration: Painting the Landscape
Heading outdoors we will gather for a demonstration on landscape painting. Concentration will be on composition of large shapes, painterly quality and an honest interaction with the scene.

Guided Painting: Painting the Landscape
Individuals will work on their own guided landscape paintings.  From aspen groves to mountain vistas, there will be no shortage of inspiration around the ranch.

Day 3 Thursday

Artist Talk: Painting the Narrative, How to Effectively Tell Stories
At the heart of all great art is an essential truth. As artists we have a responsibility to the stories we are chosen to carry. Part of that responsibility is allowing for those stories to be told in the most authentic way. How do we do this in our paintings?

Demonstration: Painting the Narrative, Part I.
In part I of Painting the Narrative, Irons will demonstrate how she uses the figure in the landscape to tell story. On this first day we will work with a single model in a simplified setting, focusing on the technical aspects of painting the figure and the landscape cohesively.

Guided Painting: Painting the Narrative, Part I.

Day 4 Friday

Artist Talk: Making it Work: That Money Thing
A practical discussion about thriving in the elusive art world, at all levels and goals.

Demonstration: Painting the Narrative, Part II.
In part II of Painting the Narrative, we will continue with our exploration of the figure in the landscape, using multiple models with the landscape as theater.

Guided Painting: Painting the Narrative, Part II.
Building what we learned the day prior, we will begin our two-day painting. We will split into two groups centered around posed scenes with the opportunity for a variety of skill-levels and vantage points.

Day 5 Saturday

Artist Talk: A Life for Art’s Sake: an Honest Daily Practice
What does a life of art look like? Morgan gives an honest and candid description of the struggles in her personal artistic practice, fighting resistance, fear, and how we can all incorporate more art into our daily lives.

Demonstration: Painting the Narrative, Part II Cont.
The demonstration today will focus on finding a level of finish that is intentional on our final painting. Technical aspects such as paint quality and overall design will be discussed.

Guided Painting: Painting the Narrative, Part II Cont.
Participants will work towards completing their painting from the day prior with individual guidance.

Day 6 SUnday

Artist Talk & Group Discussion: Integrating our Experience
Our last day will be a casual and calm discussion, recapping what we’ve learned, sharing insights and the last remaining hours with new friends. This will be a time to consider what comes next, and how to delve deeper into our community and craft.

Artist’s Supply List - What to Bring

Note: These are recommendations, please bring whatever you are most comfortable using.

If you have questions about painting supplies, please contact Morgan at

Pochade Box: I recommend the Edge Pro Gear Sketch Book, the New Wave Model, or any pochade box that you can easily maneuver and hike with.
Brushes: I use Rosemary & Co Brushes. My outdoor landscape set is an assortment of small and medium long flats, specifically series 279 Master’s Choice Long Flats. One large bristle brush. A few synthetic round brushes are helpful as well.

Palette Knife
I use a variety of brands, Gamblin, Michael Harding, M. Graham
(from left to right on my palette)
Raw Umber
Burnt Umber
Ivory Black
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Blue
Burnt Sienna
Transparent Red Oxide
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Yellow
Lemon Yellow
Titanium White
Yellow Ochre
Olive Green (M. Graham)
King’s Blue (Michael Harding)
Medium: Oleogel (Gamblin)
Solvent: Odorless Mineral Spirits (I will provide this for airplane travelers)
Paper Towels
Trash Bag
Backpack (medium to light weight)
Canvas or Linen Panels: 
Ideally I use Raymar Double Primed Linen Panels, but they are pricey. An alternative is New Traditions Art Panels, or Centurion oil-primed linen panels on Jerry’s Art- Arama. Gesso-ed wood panels are also fine and I use them often for landscape painting. Sizes 6” x 8”,8”x 10”and 11”x 14”.
Air Tight Brush Washer for your solvent
Umbrella can be very helpful in direct sunlight. Ideally one that stakes in the ground for wind.Insect repellent/sunblock/hat/water bottle prepare for the elements!
Raincoat & Rain Boots in the likely case of an afternoon Montana summer thunderstorm we will likely retreat indoors for some portrait painting practice

Camping Supply List - What to Bring

Please note: this is a list of recommended items.

If you have specific needs and/or have questions, please contact our staff at

“Rain and Shine … Hot & Cold”

  • Backpack (preferably one with a daypack feature)

  • Long sleeve shirts and pants (extra of each, quick dry fabric is ideal)

  • Short sleeve shirts and “short” pants (extra of each, quick dry fabric is ideal)

  • Extra Socks

  • Beanie and light gloves (just in case!)

  • Sleepwear (whatever suits you)

  • Rain Jacket (light weight is preferred)

  • Baseball cap or hat (for sun protection) + Sunglasses

  • Buff or light scarf

  • Handkerchief

  • Sunscreen + bug repellant (we will have extra of each)

  • Hoodie and/or light jacket

  • Hiking shoes or boots

  • “Wet” shoes or rain boots

  • Toiletries (only the essentials)

  • Binoculars (recommended, not required)

  • Headlamp

  • Your favorite pillow (we also have pillows)

  • Water bottle (suitable for hiking)

  • Your favorite camping coffee mug (we have these too)

  • Towel + hand-towel (we will have extras)

  • Your favorite ghost story (we also have extra of these)

What We Have

  • Tipis (each sleep two)

  • Sleeping pads (bedrolls), sleeping bags, liners, pillows and extra blankets

  • Bathhouse (suited for “his” and “hers” bathrooms & showers)

  • Extra headlamps

  • Bear spray (for hiking)

  • Extra sunscreen and bug repellant

  • Basic toiletries (please bring your own, as needed)

  • Foldable camp chairs