Make & Marvel: Exclusive Artist Retreats and Residencies in the West
Artist retreats and residencies offer a haven for creative individuals to immerse themselves in nature and artistic inspiration. Nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of California, Washington State, New Mexico, and Colorado, these retreats offer artists a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in nature. Whether it’s the serene surroundings of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program or the tranquility of Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, the West’s natural beauty fosters a profound connection between artists and their craft. Join us as we explore how these exclusive retreats harmonize with the artistic spirit by providing uninterrupted time and boundless inspiration.
Eight Exclusive Artist Retreats and Residencies from New Mexico to Washington State
Djerassi Resident Artists Program
Address: 2325 Bear Gulch Road, Woodside, CA 94062
The Djerassi Resident Artists Program is located on a 583 acre ranch in the picturesque Santa Cruz Mountains of California—approximately seventy miles south of San Francisco. The Djerassi Resident Artists Program offers artists a serene retreat lasting four to five weeks.
With a rich history dating back to its founding in 1979 by the multi-talented Carl Djerassi, this program is a unique blend of science and art. A family-run institution, Dale Djerassi now serves on its board. Its core ethos is to provide artists with a haven for creative exploration, collaboration, and innovation. The great natural beauty of this spectacular rural setting certainly doesn’t hurt!
Applications to this residency program are welcomed from a broad spectrum of artists—spanning the realms of visual arts, literature, and performing arts—irrespective of their career stage. Retreats occur throughout the year—with varying dates for each season. The application process is competitive—requiring applicants to submit samples of their work, a written statement, and letters of recommendation.
While application deadlines can vary, they are regularly updated on the program’s website. The Djerassi program’s renowned alumni include esteemed artists like Michael Chabon and Ai Weiwei. This retreat’s primary goal is supporting artists so they can freely experiment, evolve, and engage in meaningful dialogues between their work and the natural world.
What sets the Djerassi program apart is its distinctive fusion of art and science—freeing visual artists from creative boundaries in the tranquil landscapes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. With views of the Pacific Ocean to the West and verdant landscapes all around, it’s a place where inspiration knows no bounds.
Learn more here.
Anderson Ranch Arts Center
Address: 5263 Owl Creek Rd, Snowmass Village, CO 81615
Anderson Ranch Arts Center—situated in the stunning Colorado Rocky Mountains—provides artists with a retreat that typically spans one to two weeks. Founded in 1966, the center has a rich history of nurturing creativity. Their ethos revolves around the belief that art has the power to change lives and create connections—emphasizing inclusivity and accessibility.
The application process at Anderson Ranch requires submitting samples of your work and an application form. As for who can apply, artists at all stages of their careers are encouraged to do so. Retreats are held throughout the year, with varying dates depending on the specific program.
Anderson Ranch has welcomed notable artists and faculty over the years—contributing to the program’s vibrant artistic community. The primary objective of this retreat is to provide artists with a space for technical and artistic development, connecting with the natural beauty of the Colorado landscape. What sets this center apart is its commitment to fostering creativity, accessibility, and collaboration—making it an ideal place for artists to flourish in the heart of the Rockies.
Learn more here.
Address: 2197 Millman Rd, Langley, WA 98260
Hedgebrook—a unique retreat for women writers—is located on Whidbey Island, Washington. Its history is steeped in a commitment to amplifying women’s voices in literature. Retreats at Hedgebrook typically last for two to six weeks. Hedgebrook also offers Radical Craft Retreats.
The ethos of Hedgebrook is deeply rooted in gender equity and the belief that women’s stories are vital. The institution’s mission is to provide a safe and inspiring space for women writers to create, connect, and share their stories.
To apply, you must submit writing samples and an application form. This retreat is exclusively for women writers at various stages of their careers. Retreats are held at different times throughout the year, and the application deadline may vary.
While the focus of this residency programme is nurturing emerging voices, Hedgebrook has welcomed acclaimed writers like Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler. The primary objective of this retreat is to support women writers in their creative journeys—allowing them to connect with the natural beauty of Whidbey Island. What makes Hedgebrook special is its dedication to women’s voices and their unique stories—making it a cherished sanctuary for women in the world of literature.
Learn more here.
Sitka Center for Art and Ecology
Address: 56605 Sitka Dr, Otis, OR 97368
The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology—nestled along the Oregon coast—offers retreats that typically range from three weeks to three and a half months. Founded in 1970, Sitka has a rich history of bridging art and ecology. Its ethos and mission revolve around the intersection of art, nature, and environmental awareness—fostering a sense of stewardship.
To apply, artists need to provide samples of their work, a written statement, and references. The program is open to artists of various disciplines and career stages. Retreats occur during specific seasons throughout the year, with dates that can vary.
While Sitka has welcomed numerous accomplished artists, the primary objective of this retreat is to connect artists with the pristine coastal environment—inspiring them to explore ecological themes and develop their creative practices. What makes Sitka special is its commitment to the harmony between artistic expression and environmental consciousness—making it a sanctuary for those who seek to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty while creating meaningful art.
Learn more here.
Willapa Bay AiR
Address: 32101 Douglas Dr, Ocean Park, WA 98640
Situated on the stunning Washington coast, Willapa Bay AiR offers a residency program that lasts for a month and is largely independent. Founded in 2012, this program is relatively new but rapidly gaining prominence for its unique blend of art and nature.
The ethos and mission of Willapa Bay AiR revolve around nurturing creativity through immersion in the natural world. They aim to provide a nurturing space for artists to explore the intersection of art and environment.
To apply, artists are typically required to submit samples of their work, a written statement, and references. The program is open to artists of various disciplines and career stages. Retreats are held throughout the year, with specific dates varying.
The primary objective of this retreat is to connect artists with the breathtaking landscape of Willapa Bay—inspiring them to explore nature’s role in art and creativity. What sets it apart is its relatively young, fresh approach to blending art and ecology—offering artists the opportunity to explore their craft in a unique coastal setting that’s rapidly gaining recognition in the artistic community.
Learn more here.
Playa in Summer Lake, Oregon
Address: 47531 OR-31, Summer Lake, OR 97640
Playa in Summer Lake, Oregon offers retreats of varying lengths—from two weeks to eight weeks, providing artists with a deep immersion experience. Established in 2011, Playa has quickly become a haven for creative minds seeking the union of art and environment.
The institution’s ethos centers around fostering a connection between artists and the high desert landscape of Oregon. Playa’s mission is to provide a sanctuary for creative individuals—encouraging them to explore the relationship between art and nature.
To apply, artists typically need to submit samples of their work and a written statement. The program welcomes artists from various disciplines and at all stages of their careers. Retreats are held throughout the year, with specific dates that can vary.
Playa’s primary objective is to connect artists in residence with the stunning surrounding landscape, inspiring them to create and reflect upon the natural beauty of the high desert. What makes this retreat special is its dedication to the synergy between art and nature—offering a unique opportunity for artists to delve into their creative processes in an awe-inspiring environment.
Learn more here.
The Dorland Mountain Arts Colony
Address: 36701 Hwy 79 S Temecula Pkwy, Temecula, CA 92592
The Dorland Mountain Arts Colony—situated in Temecula, California—provides artists with retreats typically lasting from one week to six weeks. Established in 1979, it boasts a rich history of supporting artistic endeavors. Creatives of all disciplines—including visual artists, musicians, and writers—are encouraged to apply.
The institution’s ethos centers on nurturing artistic expression in a tranquil, natural setting. Dorland’s mission is to offer artists a place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and concentrate on their creative pursuits.
To apply, artists are usually required to submit samples of their work, a written statement, and references. The program is open to artists from various disciplines and career stages. Retreats are held at different times throughout the year, with varying dates.
While famous artists may not be the focal point, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony’s primary objective is to provide a space for artists to develop their craft—offering the opportunity to connect with the surrounding landscape and immerse themselves in their creative process. What sets this retreat apart is its legacy of providing a serene, inspiring environment for artists to create—making it a cherished destination for artistic exploration.
Learn more here.
The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation
Address: 218 Los Pandos Rd, Taos, NM 87571
Though not technically on the West Coast, we had to include the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation is located in Taos, New Mexico—offering artists retreats or residencies that vary in duration. They typically last from three to twelve months. Founded in 1954, it has a rich history of supporting the arts in the unique desert landscape of New Mexico.
The foundation’s ethos is deeply rooted in providing artists with time and space to create—focusing on the solitude and inspiration the Taos region offers. Their mission is to offer artists an environment conducive to concentrated creative work.
To apply, artists typically need to submit samples of their work, a written statement, and references. The program is open to artists from a variety of disciplines and at different stages of their careers. Retreats or residencies are available at different times throughout the year, with varying dates depending on the specific program.
The primary objective of their retreats is to provide artists with months of uninterrupted time to immerse themselves in their work—utilizing the unique desert landscape to enhance their creative process. What makes this retreat special is its extensive history and commitment to providing artists with the time, space, and inspiration to explore their craft in the enchanting surroundings of Taos, New Mexico.
Learn more here.
The Value in Attending an Artists Retreat
Attending an artist retreat offers a wealth of benefits, including dedicated creative time, a wellspring of inspiration, skill development, networking with fellow artists, valuable feedback, mental and physical rejuvenation, and opportunities for professional growth.
It provides the studio space in which to work uninterrupted, the discipline to hone your craft, the affirmation of your artistic journey, and the chance to exchange ideas with a diverse group of creators. Moreover, it’s a catalyst for personal growth—allowing you to tap into your full artistic potential. Whether you seek collegial interaction as a writer, inspiration from the natural world as a painter, separation from the hustle and bustle of your city to prioritize your mental health, or time away to focus on your music composition, these residencies and retreats offer so much.
Don’t miss the opportunity to nourish your creativity. Consider embarking on an artist retreat that supports your evolution as a creative.
By Armela E.