Powerful Portrait Retreat ~ Storytelling in Colored Pencils

Want to know a secret? 

You do not need talent to become an accomplished artist. 

I promise you that all you need is direction, techniques, a willing attitude, and...a story to tell.

Your story will give the viewer something to reflect upon. It will give your artwork a distinct voice; conveying emotion without words. 

Any teacher can show you how to draw with colored pencils, I will demonstrate and instruct you on how to draw from the heart, create a soul, and tell a story with your pencils.

I know, I know, you're sitting there thinking, "yeah, that's great, but I can't even figure out how to use my pencils! Let alone tell a story with them!"

I get it. The struggle is REAL. 

- You are always fighting your paper
- You don't know what color combinations to use
- Every time you layer your pencils it turns into a muddy mess 
- You ask yourself, "what the heck is this tool and when am I supposed to use that?"
- How on earth do I create texture and realism??
-What are the best pencils and which paper should I use?

During Powerful Portraits, we will explore all of these questions and more! I will guide and instruct you so that you can move past the technical struggles and work easier and faster!

You will learn practical techniques and tips on how to:
*Use Clairefontaine Pastelmat Paper
* Create realistic, soulful eyes
* Add bold and unexpected color
* Draw realistic fur
* Achieve depth and interest
* Add texture 
* Use certain tools at certain times
* Banish those pesky white spots
* Paint compelling portraits that will impress your friends and family!


Hi! I'm nikki.

Powerful Portraits Retreat is an invitation to disconnect from your daily routine and reconnect with the artist inside of you, nature, and animals. Nestled on the historical, 600 acre Alasa Farm, Cracker Box Palace, serves as a haven and rescue for abused, sick, or neglected animals.

Your retreat experience includes:

Over 20 Hours of Instruction.
Your Retreat includes more than 20 hours of in-depth group and one-on-one instruction at the Cracker Box Palace's Bunk Farm House.

Meet and greet with Our Story, Bessie.

Work in Progress, colored pencils on Pastelmat.

This is Bessie. She will be our subject and she has a story. You will hear about her life, from tragedy to triumph. You will touch her, smell her, see her, and most likely, create a bond with her. By being immersed in her world and using ALL of your senses to create, you will have everything you need to illustrate her story.

Guided Tour.

A walking tour of the farm, the horses and cow barns, and the opportunity to visit with and pet the resident animals of Cracker Box Palace.

A Scenic Hayride.
Relax and enjoy the scenic fall season with a glass of wine and friends. The hayride will take us to the outside of the farmstead, giving us access to views we wouldn't normally see.

Locally Prepared Meals.
Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Coffee, Tea, and water will be provided. Vegan and Vegetarian options are available. Please let me know if you have specific dietary needs.

Reference Materials.
Materials that you can refer to after the retreat to practice the skills you learned.

Moments to walk the historic farm, pet the animals, visit the apple stand, stretch, meditate, walk a nature trail, whatever you need to nurture your heart, mind, and soul. Your evenings can be spent relaxing in your private room or touring Sodus Point.

There are ONLY six available seats for the workshop!

All of this for only $540!

Your supply list will be emailed to you after registration.
Need accommodations? email me at nicole@nikkimdesign.com for suggestions.

"I am at a loss for words trying to describe how informative, patient, and friendly Nikki is. I took Nikki’s colored pencil class a few months back, from the comfort of my own home. I was stuck in a rut, and needed guidance from someone who not only is a successful artist, but a successful artist willing to help other artists and non-artists with their skill, best tools, etc. The assignment was a gorgeous dog with lots of browns and longish hair. During the workshop, Nikki was with us every step of the way, answered any and every question we had, showed us her favorite tools, overall so welcoming and appreciative. Nikki asked to see how far we all got, since our class was split into two days. She was honest and gave constructive criticism that truly helped me see where I could improve with my strokes to fill the tooth of the paper better. Nikki also took time out of her day to do a private session because she knew that I was struggling with curly fur. She showed me step by step, how to create realistic fur, and I could not be anymore thankful to this day. If Nikki hosts another class/retreat, I highly recommend you trust her and sign up for it ASAP!"
-Rebecca McGovern

"I remember the very first time I met Nikki Milley….she did a demonstration for us at the society meeting. However, before she started her demo she handed out paper, drawing pencils, stumps and tortillions to all in attendance. We looked around at each other and wondered “who was doing this demo, her or us?”

By the time her 60 minute demo was finished, we all had drawn (under her direction) the most beautiful, realistic, believable eye, complete with lashes.

Throughout the demo Nikki held my attention with her lightheartedness and love of drawing. Afterwards I think I was the first one to approach her to ask if she did classes. Shortly thereafter, I attended my first class with Nikki in her quaint little studio in Wilson. I already felt comfortable knowing she would be my mentor, and as I looked around her studio and saw more of her work, my curiosities were peaked! She made drawing fun, instead of nerve racking. Her knowledge of the drawing techniques she used was so precise, yet very easy to understand and follow. If any of her students ran into a problem, she would sit down next to us and do a quick one on one till things became clear again. I did both pencil drawing and colored pencil classes. I am so proud of the female portrait and the cat that I completed under her supervision. She shared her passion with her students from day one. I can still remember my excitement after that first demonstration, and the energy that I feel when I pull out my pencils and think to myself, “ what would Nikki do?”…because that energy, passion and confidence is what I took with me at the end of class."
-Cathy Eckman

"I saw a post on Facebook that Nikki put about lessons on drawing. I have never been able to draw and I'm color blind. I sent Nikki a message and told her I'd like to try it but I can't draw. She encouraged me and I signed up.  

I loved it!

Whenever I got down on myself, she brought me back up. She never used negatives, just positives.  After the drawing classes, I took water color classes with her. After awhile, because Nikki was so encouraging, I was starting to get confidence. She is just an amazing and kind teacher and person. I took lessons for about a year and a half...then covid hit. No more lessons. I felt, without Nikki, I was through arting. Then after several weeks I was really missing painting. I messaged Nikki and she told me what to buy and I was off. I love animals and painted almost every animal imaginable. I took pictures and put them on my Facebook page. I was astounded with the response. One painter friend bought two and had them professionally framed. Boy did that boost my confidence!  Then I started making copies and sending them free of charge to friends who admired them. During the heart of the pandemic, I just wanted to make my friends and relatives happy and it made me happy to do it.

I have Nikki to thank for that happiness.  I hope that she will start water color classes again soon.  I will be the first in line.  She is just amazing.  Believe me, I never would have picked up a pencil or paint brush without her wonderful encouragement. I can't ever thank her enough. She isn't just my teacher, she's my friend."
- Colleen Harvey

Finished drawing, "Only the Best for Bessie"

To practice art is to experience life. 

Are you ready to become the accomplished artist that you deserve to be?

Only select one option below.