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Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist

A 12-Week Companion Retreat to The Artist's Rule

Registration Fee: $180 USD

Program Description

Would you be nourished by a twelve-week commitment to exploring the place where contemplative practice and creative expression support and nourish each other?

Are you an artist or writer seeking more grounding for your creativity in ancient spiritual traditions?

Do you find yourself drawn to contemplative ways of being including silence, solitude, wonder, and presence?

Do you have a hunger to discover what emerges from being a contemplative artist and a creative monk?

We each contain within us a multiplicity of energies or “selves” which are archetypal in nature, meaning they are found across cultures and time periods. Two of these powerful archetypes are the monk and artist. Our “inner monk” is the part of ourselves that seeks the ground of all being and a mystical connection to the divine source, longing for what is most essential in life and cultivates this through a commitment to spiritual practice. The “inner artist” is the part of ourselves that engages the world through our senses, and is passionate about beauty, seeking to give it outward form and expression through a variety of media (including visual art, poetry, movement, song, gardening, cooking, relationships, etc.). Both the monk and artist are edge-dwellers, ones who commit to living in fertile border-spaces and who call the wider community beyond the status quo to alternative ways of being. Our class will explore where these two paths meet. Drawing on monastic spirituality from the wisdom of desert, Celtic, and Benedictine traditions, we will explore together contemplative practices that support and encourage the flowering of our creative visions.

This online program is for anyone seeking to make more explicit connections between their spiritual practice and their creative expression. You might consider yourself an artist, a poet, or simply someone who experiences joy in the process of creating. You might consider yourself a contemplative or have experienced a longing for more presence to each moment.

Our primary text for this program is Christine’s book The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. You will need to purchase a copy of the book in addition to your registration. It is not included in the program fee.

Be. Here. This Moment Now is all there is, don’t go seeking another. Discover the sacred in your artist’s tools, they are the vessels of the altar of your own unfolding. Look at this cup of holy water, washing clean the brushes. See the blank page, awaiting your blessing. Gaze on the colors before you, each one a name of God: Saffron, Cobalt, Azure, Ruby. Say each one slowly and taste its juice in your mouth. Let this be your prayer. Brush them across the page. First the small strokes, then the larger sweeps. Lose track of all time. This too is prayer. Listen for the words that rise up: Awaken. Envision. Sing. Alleluia. Place marks on the page saying I am here. Watch as word and image dance together. Luminous. Illuminated. This is your sacred text. This is where God’s words are spoken, sometimes in whispers, sometimes in shouts. Be there to catch them as they pass over those sacred lips, tumbling so generously into your open arms.

What's Included

Day 1: Audio recording of an hour-long webinar session with Christine Valters Paintner (recorded during a previous community offering of the program). During this session Christine invites you to center, then teaches on the week’s theme, and then leads you in the guided meditation for that week. There is some sharing and questions from the group attending. These sessions also include 5 additional meditations that weren’t included in the book.

Day 2: A written scripture reflection from John Valters Paintner connected to the week’s theme. (Bonus reflections that weren’t included in the book).

Day 3: Audio recording of Christine leading you in a guided lectio divina practice with the suggested text for that week.

Day 4: Audio recording of Christine giving guidance for the creative exploration.

Day 5: Audio guidance of Christine giving guidance for the creative exploration. (Includes two bonus creative practices not in the book).

Day 6: A quote or poem to inspire with reflection questions.

Day 7: Sabbath (time to rest and integrate).

  • Retreat materials hosted on our course platform with lifetime access. 
  • Posts each day (except for Sabbath) for 12 weeks to help guide you slowly through the book.
  • Audio recordings and written materials each week to offer guidance for creative practices and meditations.


PLEASE NOTE: A copy of The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom – this book is not included in the program fee so please order a copy in advance of the class (also available for Kindle).

Weekly Themes

Each week for 12 weeks you will be invited to read and explore one of the chapters from The Artist's Rule:

Week One: Establishing a Creative, Contemplative Practice
Week Two: Exploring Your Inner Monk and Inner Artist
Week Three: Sacred Tools and Sacred Space
Week Four: Sacred Rhythms for Creative Renewal
Week Five: Obedience, Stability, Conversion: Commitment to the Creative Life
Week Six: Humility: Embracing Your Imperfections and Limitations
Week Seven: Inner Hospitality and Welcoming the Stranger
Week Eight: Creative Community
Week Nine: Nature as Source of Revelation and Inspiration
Week Ten: Simplicity: Creative Asceticism and Learning When to Let Go
Week Eleven: Creative Work as Vocation and Holy Service
Week Twelve: Creating an Artist’s Rule of Life

Your Guides for the Journey

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Christine is the director of, a virtual monastery exploring contemplative practice, creative expression, and ways to nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness. She is a spiritual director, teacher, pilgrimage guide, and author of nine books on spirituality and the arts. Her deepest belief is that the earth is the original monastery–a wisdom guide and mentor in living a soulful and vibrant life. Visit the “About Christine” page for more information.

John headshot 2

John Valters Paintner, MTS

John Valters Paintner, MTS is the online prior for Abbey of the Arts, where he assists his wife Christine in ministering to global community both online and through in-person programs. John was a youth minister and pastoral associate for four years before becoming a high school religion teacher for twelve years. He has a Masters of Theological Studies from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. His love for the Bible, particularly the Hebrew Scriptures, emerged when he taught the “Old Testament” at an all-boys high school. John is also a lover of the art of story-telling and has written dozens of short stories, one-act plays, and short films in a variety of genres.


Christine, how grateful I am for this! Thank you! The word that keeps coming to my mind is crossing the threshold. I have entered a new place.
Holly L.
I am so grateful this retreat journey found me and that I said yes. It has been deep and profound and beautiful. . . . I hope the whole experience will enable me to live more courageously and authentically in this world as the person I now am: an artist with a monk's heart and a monk with an artist's soul.
Belinda Greenaway
I read through your rules of life and made them into the building stones. My trellis plantings have just begun. Thank you for watering them so tenderly these weeks.
Kate Young Wilder

Praise for the Course

It's Easter Monday and I am sad to see the end of this Creative Flourishing retreat, but oh so grateful for the multi-layered experience. I made the decision to take this journey at the last minute, but with great conviction it would deepen my Christian life. I had no idea what it would be like. It was like nothing I have experienced before. Thank you to Christine for originating the idea and doing such a thoughtful and tender job of guiding us through this journey. My deepest joy was to reconnect with the artist within me. The art literally flowed from me. Like living water. A well-spring fed by Christ himself.
Laurie Wagner
I'll be stepping into the season of Easter and spring with more ease, joy and awake from having prayed with, reflected on, moved with and daily witnessing of the mandalas during the past five and one half weeks. Thank you Christine for your vision, knowledge, design and guidance throughout this Lenten season; Hildegard of Bingen is now a living Saint for me. Betsey, i've become more embodied, through participating in your interpretations of Hildegard in dance and chant. This spiritual community has filled my heart with divine blessings. I will pass these blessings on.
Beatrice Randall
I'm so grateful for this retreat. It has been the most amazing experience of learning and growth, spiritually, artistically, and emotionally. Most of which I was not expecting when I signed up. Christine, I want to thank you again for this amazing Lent retreat. It was a joy, honor and privilege to attend. This has been an experience I won't soon forget. I've learned so much about myself and this process of healing through artistic expression. I look forward to doing more with you
Tamara Mapp
Thank you, Christine, for the best retreat I've ever experienced. I'm hooked on Hildegard! She will ever be part of my spirituality as she has added both depth and richness to my faith.
Evelyn Jackson
Sincere and grateful thanks for this marvelous retreat. Your guidance and song will live in my heart. Hildegard's presence has been a source of light and love. Your ministry is much appreciated. We are greener!
Mary Mason
This has been a very rich retreat. I have loved creating, singing, breathing, moving, reading and praying with you. Thank you.
Judith Bryan
My heart is so full. This has been the best retreat in my life.
Louise Thigpen


Your registration constitutes an agreement with our online program Terms and Conditions below.

All prices displayed in USD.


Registration Fee

If you need a different payment plan or a scholarship to make this program accessible, please get in touch with us.

Purchase the Companion Book

The book is not included in the registration fee. You may purchase the book at the links below or at your local book seller. Thank you for your support!

Terms and Conditions

Please consider your purchase carefully and review the many free materials we have on our website to make sure the program will be a good fit or get in touch with any questions.

We ask that you honor our work by not sharing the program materials with others who are not enrolled.

Please contact us for permission to quote in settings beyond the program

Some self-study retreats include video or audio recordings of sessions that were recorded in a live community offering of the retreat and may make reference to forums or other modes of sharing. Please disregard these as self-study retreats do not have these available.

If you choose a payment plan and stop payment before fulfilling the commitment without contacting us to make other arrangements, your access to the program will be removed.