Hazel Mitchell: Highlights – a great (re)treat

From: Hazel Mitchell children’s Illustrator and writer
September 25, 2012 at 08:35AM

I promised a little run down on my recent visit to Highlight’s Foundation in Boyd’s Mill, PA. It puts the TREAT in RETREAT. Here’s one reason …

 and here’s another …

Just in case we were feeling faint they fed us 3-4 times a
day. And in between we were welcome to raid the pantry … yee gads!
Thankfully, all the top-notch food is locally sourced, cooked with care and healthfully. Which is good, because you wouldn’t want
to miss any of it! Especially ‘Angel Poop’ .. my fav dessert.

But there’s more to Highlights than just good grub. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a link to their website.
They run fabby writing and illustrating workshops for the kidlit
world at a wonderful facility in Pennsylvania. Highlights is allied to
Boyd’s Mill Publishers in Honesdale and the first day includes a
tour if you get there a little early. Which I did. A day early because of flights (which they don’t charge you for). I was
collected from Scranton airport by a very nice chap called Bob. All the staff are very welcoming and helpful. It’s a bit like being at a
private country club for children’s writers and artists, but with no
boring golf or rubbish conversation at the bar.)

at Boyd’s Mill … some place to have your office …

The Barn, where all workshops and meals take place. It’s a beautiful building and very welcoming, with informal rooms to lounge around in and a big space for work and eating. Some nights we ate on the patio.

Attendees get to stay in cute little private cabins … but I got to stay in the farmhouse, which I loved! 

The workshop I attended (Advanced Children’s Illustrators) had a great faculty – Eric Rohmann – Ruth Sanderson – Kelly Murphy – Floyd Cooper … plus guests including Neal Porter (Roaring Brook Press), David Wiesner, Donna-Jo Napoli. During the week, staff and editors from Boyd’s Mill popped in and shared mealtimes with us, which was very nice and friendly.

Days start early with coffee at 7.30am, followed by breakfast (and 2nd
breakfast if you want it!) then workshops at 9am until …. you want to
stop in the evening. It was great to have several days to experiment, the wonderful atmosphere and secluded surroundings of the
foundation make it a pleasure. After a day your fellow attendees feel
like family. The everyday world is a memory.

I wanted for nothing
while I was there. Wifi is available most everywhere (phone service is a
little squiffy, but there are house phones you can use a calling card on,
or get folks to call you back). If there is anything you need – then you
just have to ask. Did I say I worshiped the kitchen staff …?

is nothing, however, to top sitting down with seasoned
professionals and listen to their experiences, chat around the dinner
table or next to the outdoor fireplace and hear about experiences on a
personal level. With only 24 or so attendees it was great to really get
to know each other in intimate surroundings.

If you are looking
for a different experience from the usual hurly-burly of the conference
circuit, I suggest you give Highlights a try. The cost of the workshops
are truly reasonable given the level of attention and accommodation.
They also offer scholarships to those who qualify.

I leave you with some photos as they speak more eloquently than I …

 David Wiesner
 Neal Porter
 Eric Rohmann
Eric was my mentor for the workshop! Lucky me!

 Kelly Murphy
 Faculty Panel
 Portfolio Showcase


Posted on September 25, 2012, in Hazel Mitchell and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Hazel Mitchell: Highlights – a great (re)treat.

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