An Artistic Retreat

Voices from Within

Cutting the ribbon to kick off the show! Photo credit: ReeHan Photographic Gallery

One of the most liberating things I have done in my quest to unleash my inner artist is to suck up my fears and attend the Gailani Art Retreat in Muscat. The idea of painting in front of other people was absolutely terrifying, and for the majority of my first retreat I was actually shaking a little. But I made it through the first one, eagerly went back for a second, and am happy to announce that one of my paintings was in the retreat’s Voices from Within exhibition last Saturday!

At my last retreat, I met a muse in a new 9-year old friend who had no fear about changing things up mid course. When I was stuck she wouldn't hesitate to throw something on the canvas to give me a new starting point. It was fantastic! There's nothing like a kid to help you paint without fear.

At my last retreat, I met a muse in a new 9-year old friend who had no fear about changing things up mid-course. When I was stuck, she wouldn’t hesitate to throw something on the canvas to give me a new starting point. It was fantastic! There’s nothing like a kid to help you paint without fear. Photo credit: ReeHan Photographic Gallery

These retreats are such a breath of fresh air. The purpose is not to create amazing pieces of art (though they create themselves anyway!), it is to spend an entire day dedicated to allowing your artistic expression to find its way to the canvas.

If at any point, you appear to be planning, plotting, outlining or in any other way deciding on the future of a piece, Gailani (the fantastic artist and founder of the retreats) will come by and mess everything up for you. He’ll turn the canvas upside down, streak red paint across your blue background or take your brush away and slap your hands on the canvas. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the process, which makes every moment interesting and exciting. Every stroke, every motion is about doing what you feel inspired to do.

Gailani Retreat Growth

These paintings came from the retreat theme of growth. I have come to see growth as a natural and inevitable fact of life – a guaranteed outcome from everything we do – but it is something I have often tried to control in my own life. I’ve attempted to force growth in a predetermined direction (despite its inclination otherwise) or inhibit it to maintain my own status quo out of fear. This retreat challenged me to let growth happen as it wants to without judging it, forcing it, censoring it or editing it. Photo credit: ReeHan Photographic Gallery.

Although I couldn’t be in Muscat for the exhibition, I am really pleased to know that it had a huge turnout (over 430 guests!) and inspired more people to look to art as a way of finding their voice. I certainly look forward to meeting some of them at the next retreat.

To read more about the exhibition, check out the Times of Oman write up here! It really captures the purpose of the retreats and the brave and engaging spirit of all the people who participate in it. I’m so glad I’ve found this group of artists in my new hometown.

See you next time!





We're Here!


We’re finally here!

Ok, we’ve been here for about two and a half weeks now, but we’re officially here in blog world. It’s been plenty of time to learn a few things about the place and to start exploring some of the hidden spots nearby.

Three Things I Have Learned About Living in Oman So Far

  • I will learn patience by being here. I hope.
    • Things happen slowly here. I know, I know, I am meant to be the one who touts the ideals of slowness, but sometimes slow is frustrating. It’s particularly frustrating when there is not a thing you can do to influence the speed in any way. You have to just accept that it will take twice the time you think it might, even if you have already prepared for double the amount of time you think it will take. That’s just the way it is. Have some tea and relax into the phrase insha’Allah. This is good practice for me, but man is it hard sometimes!
  • Winter is a relative term.
    • Someone yesterday asked me if I agreed that it was a little too cold. I did not agree (although I pretended to to be friendly). In the deepest darkest of night last night it was 65F/18C. We slept under light blankets with the window wide open. It is not cold.
  • I really like it here.
    • Despite frustrations about flat hunting, bureaucracy about visas and general disagreement about why some things must happen the way they do, I am really enjoying it so far. The aforementioned frigid temperatures are just right for me. I have met a lot of really lovely, very friendly, totally laid back and enjoyable people. We might have a flat to live in in the next couple of days; a little home of our own after years of temporary living. That might even happen today. Insha’Allah.

Our First Official Hike

One of the things I am most excited about doing in Oman is exploring the natural wonders it has to offer. There are wadis that need hiking, dive sites that need visiting, and sand dunes that need Jeeping. So much to do! My best Christmas present may have been this stack of books and maps about Oman. I am dying to start working through them!


We have been flat hunting on the weekends, so we haven’t had a lot of time to get out and about yet, but we did manage to sneak in a little hike in the city last week and it was beautiful. We saw incredibly dramatic scenery and stopped to watch lots of little creatures going about their days. Plus, we had the whole place to ourselves. Without anyone else around or any sounds from the city, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and yet we were still home in time for lunch. Continue reading