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“The creative process puts us in touch with our soul, our spirit, our inner wisdom. Self-expression through the creative arts is a sacred and often mystical experience.” – Natalie Rogers

Are you looking for a space amidst your busy life to connect more deeply with yourself and your community in a supportive and inspiring environment?


Illumination, Photograph by Lisa Kagan

Touchstone Retreats offers you the chance to immerse yourself in the creative process of sharing your stories through art and writing. We facilitate art and writing retreats throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Upon request, we also provide specialized programing for organizations and community groups with a focus on serving caregivers, health care providers, educators, counselors, artists, writers, and social justice activists.

We invite you to:

  • Take a break from your responsibilities and enjoy the opportunity for self-reflection and creativity.
  • Allow yourself to be nurtured and nourished, supporting the process of regeneration and renewal.
  • Embark on your own journey of transformation, stepping more fully into your personal power and expressing your authentic voice and vision.
  • Share insight, inspiration, and wisdom through deepening community connection.

We honor writing and art as a creative process that belongs to all people. Each person’s voice is unique and of value. All writing, art and creativity is welcome here. No previous experience is necessary, just an openness to exploration.


Mapping our Inner Constellations
A weekly creative (writing & art-making) retreat series to renew and restore
with Lisa Kagan and Margaret Hartsook

“Sometimes everything has to be inscribed across the heavens, so you can find the one line already written inside you.
Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that first, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.”
– David Whyte (excerpt from “The Journey”)

We invite you to join us in creative community as we enter into the autumn season. This weekly “mini retreat” series offers you the chance to step away from the demands of daily life and to connect more deeply with your own inner points of light as we move towards the winter solstice and the darker time of the year. Each weekly session is an invitation, through writing and art, to cultivate a personal cartography of hope and resilience through engaging in the creative process. Like the stars in the night sky, we will illuminate our internal landscapes through a variety of mixed media techniques and materials including painting, drawing, collage, mask making, image transfer, and sculpture. This weekly retreat series offers you a chance to kindle your creative spark and cultivate new ways of enriching your imagination while nourishing yourself in the supportive, uplifting company of other women.

This program offers space for creative expression for women and those who identify as female of all ages and backgrounds. No writing or art experience is necessary. All art materials, as well as snacks and tea, will be provided.

Wild Refuge, Mixed Media by Margaret Hartsook

Dates & Times: Mondays 6:30pm-9pm on October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and November 6, 13, 27 (Skipping November 20th)

Location: Studio of the Imagination located at Margaret’s home in SE Portland (the Creston neighborhood)

Program Fee: $390
Art Materials Fee: $35
Total fee: $425

Registration: For more information or you would like to register for this program, please contact Lisa at: or at 503.347.1391. Due to the limited number of participants we can accommodate, early registration is recommended. Visit our event page for more information.



Finding Center through Writing & Altar Making

A full day retreat with Lisa Kagan and Dawn Thompson

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman

As humans, it can be easy to forget that we too are part of the natural world, in constant kinship with the trees, streams, stones and birds. At times when we feel distanced from our true nature, we can return to our center by connecting with our elemental self, which dwells at the intersection of the natural environment and the lush living world of our own inner landscape. How does the fiery energy within us wish to express itself? What happens when we practice flowing like water? What are the stories the rocks and mountains of our inner history wish to tell and how can these stories guide us? Through writing and altar making, utilizing painting, drawing, collage, and natural materials from the magnificent Oregon forest, you’ll have the chance to connect with your elemental self this fall. This soulful and inspiring day in the beauty of the natural world also offers you a chance to deeply nourish yourself with a delicious lunch, a beautiful retreat setting and the supportive, uplifting company of other women.

This retreat offers space for creative expression for women and those who identify as female of all ages and backgrounds. No writing or art experience is necessary. All art materials will be provided.

Sitka #2, Mixed Media by Lisa Kagan

Sitka #2, Mixed Media by Lisa Kagan

Dates & Times:
Sunday, October 15, 2023, 10am-5:30pm (This is a full day retreat)

Alton L. Collins Conference & Retreat Center
“Surrounded by giant fir and cedar, lush fern and abundant moss covered vine maple, the Alton L. Collins Conference & Retreat Center near Eagle Creek, Oregon provides an environment and facilities conducive to study and reflection, relaxation and recreation…Trails take you through the woods and along the streams that meander around the grounds.”

A professional chef specializes in using fresh, local produce to create meals that are truly culinary works of art. This retreat includes lunch.

Retreat Program Fee  & Lunch: $210
Art Materials:
Total Cost: $230

Payment is due at the time of sign up. Registration and payment is made through Alton L. Collins Retreat & Conference Center. Click here to register. Visit our event page for more information or if you have questions about the retreat, please contact Dawn at: or 503.568.6145.




November 2023-June 2024
with Dawn Thompson

“The magic of writing practice is you start where you are – observing, remembering, listening – and this simple act of being where you are leads, inevitably, to a place you didn’t know you needed to go to, but in following the thread you go a little deeper into understanding.”

– Erin Lee Gafill (“Drinking from a Cold Spring: A Little Book of Hope”)

These days, we all long for connection. Connection with our deeper self and connection with one another. Devoting yourself to a writing practice is a powerful way to foster connection with the larger human story, with your personal stories and with your capacity for creation, vision and inner peace. The page is a room of your own where you can listen for parts of yourself that are calling, where you have space to contemplate your lived experience and where you can access the compass of your poetic heart. In this monthly retreat series, inspiring prompts are provided as doorways into the writing. These prompts invite your critical mind to step aside in order to allow the great wisdom of your authentic voice and your imagination to rise to the surface. When you write in community and have the opportunity to listen to other women’s stories, you enter the encouraging realm of our shared humanity. You gather essential tools as a writer and receive the medicine of being deeply heard. In community, your writing becomes stronger, more honest, full of vision and heart. This program offers space for creative expression for women and those who identify as female of all ages and backgrounds. No previous writing experience is necessary.

Dates: 11/13, 12/11 (2023), 1/8, 2/12, 3/11, 4/8, 5/13, 6/10 (8 weeks)
Time: 10:00am-12:15pm
Location: Kitty’s home, NE Portland
Cost: $220

Registration: To register or for more information, please contact Dawn Thompson at: or 503.568.6145. You can learn more about this program here.


Join us for our annual EMERGENCE RETREAT (a full weekend retreat)
Alton Collins Retreat Center

March 15th-17th, 2024
More details coming soon…

Touchstone Retreat Photos

Here is what participants have to say about Touchstone Retreats…

I have now been to two art and writing retreats with Dawn Thompson and Lisa Kagan and both provided so much healing for my soul. There is nothing like gathering with others to create. Much like meditating with a group of people, the experience is very powerful in a way that cannot be replicated on your own. Dawn and Lisa are both very thoughtful, kind and supportive and just an inspiration to work with. I feel very nurtured with them, even (especially) at my most vulnerable moments sharing my work with the group. I am so grateful for them and can’t wait to retreat with them again!”

– Touchstone Retreats Participant

Extraordinary things happen when a group of women come together and commit to writing, creating, and exploring in nature. Dawn and Lisa of Touchstone Retreats provided a safe, nurturing space to simply be— without judgment or expectation. We were invited as individuals to experience our weekend as we needed. There’s such freedom in that. I wrote, hiked, put my feet up, and got my fingers sticky with paint. It was fantastic! Our group quickly became a unique type of family, forged in a creative space so often unattainable in the bustle of modern life. The delicious, locally-sourced meals prepared by an amazing chef made the weekend extra special. This was a writing and art retreat, but it was also a nature and foodie retreat! Dawn and Lisa are two of the most welcoming and talented humans I’ve ever met. I left feeling loved, nurtured, and inspired. I can’t wait for the next Touchstone retreat!

– Touchstone Retreats Participant

I recommend Touchstone Retreats to women who are looking for a safe place to connect with their inner voice and creativity, and also to connect with kindred spirits. Life is such a hectic race through our to-do lists that we hardly ever disconnect not only from electronics, but from our self-talk to do more and be more. Taking time for reflection is so important. Participating in a retreat like this is a way to be kind to yourself through taking time to write and create.

– Touchstone Retreats Participant

I registered for this retreat because I wanted time away in the forest with like-minded creatives. It was so much more ~ from the beautiful venue to the incredible meals and ‘forest bathing’ to the deep dive into writing and mask making, it was a pure joy. I hope to attend many more.

– Touchstone Retreats Participant

About Touchstone Retreats Facilitators:

Lisa Kagan is a writer, artist, educator, and personal historian. Her business, Family Heirloom Arts, is dedicated to helping individuals and families celebrate their life stories and significant life milestones through the creation of illustrated heirloom books and custom art. She offers art and writing retreats throughout the Pacific Northwest. Lisa believes in the transformative nature of the creative process to heal, empower, challenge, inform, and awaken the human spirit. Lisa received her BA from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a focus on writing and fine art. She has completed intensive studies in the arts at Skidmore College, the University of New Mexico, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Maine Photographic Workshops. Lisa has published two books of original art and poetry, Coming Home to Myself (2021) and Emergence (2009). Lisa is a co-founder of Touchstone Retreats.

Dawn Thompson believes writing our stories, whether they originate from our life experience or our imagination, is a sacred act that liberates, heals and transforms us. Dawn is passionate about how writing in community offers us the gift of becoming more intimate with ourself and more connected to one another. She currently offers writing workshops for women and  individuals healing from cancer through Words for Healing. Dawn oversaw and facilitated through Portland Women Writers from 2008-2023. She has also worked as a staff member for Write Around Portland. Dawn holds an M.A. in Creation Spirituality from Naropa University and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oregon. Dawn is a co-founder of Touchstone Retreats.

Margaret Hartsook sees art making and writing as spiritual practices that can open the gates of creativity and self-expression. She believes we each have a unique creative language that can promote well-being, healing, meaning making and growth in our lives. Through de-mystifying the tools of visual art making, she guides individuals to explore and find their own unique expression. Trained in drawing and painting at California College of Art, Margaret completed her BFA at the University of Oregon and received a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling & Psychology with an emphasis in Art Therapy from Naropa University. Margaret is currently working at Legacy Good Samaritan in the Cancer Institute as an Art Therapist. In addition to facilitating many art-based workshops she co-created the Art Therapy program for Pathways Hospice in Northern Colorado and established the Memories in the Making art program for the Alzheimer’s Association in Oregon.

Please contact us with questions, to register for our upcoming retreats, or to brainstorm on ideas for bringing a Touchstone Retreats program to your community.

Lisa Kagan

Dawn Thompson

Margaret Hartsook

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