in collaboration with
San Francisco Zen Center

October 8-10, 2021


Led by Art Monastery Abbess Suiko Betsy McCall & Artist-Activist Qayyum Johnson

The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water…  Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop,
and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.

— Genjokoan

Beginners welcome. No experience necessary.

Register online or call (415) 354-0360

Have you experienced self-doubt in your creative practice? 

How does your creative practice relate to your spiritual practice?

What would happen if these two paths were united in your life?


Explore the mountains and rivers of creativity as illuminated by the clear and bright heartmind
with Artist / Founder / Abbess of the Art Monastery Suiko Betsy McCall & Artist / Poet / Activist / Zen Teacher Qayyum Johnson.

In this workshop you will learn to

  • meditate with inks as they move on the paper,
  • to play in the spontaneous freedom of gestural abstraction,
  • to focus with repetitive mark making,
  • to befriend your Inner Critic and
  • to source creative inspiration in the Genjokoan (Dogen’s premier expression of Zen practice). 

On Saturday, learn Suiko’s approach to painting using alcohol-based inks on Japanese “treeless paper” called Yupo. On Sunday, learn to apply that approach to your own creative practice, whatever unique-to-you form that may take.

Explore the poetry of the Genjokoan with Qayyum, turning the mysterious examples of Zen awakening as inspiration for weaving our own sacred brocade of engaged right livelihood and compassionate self-expression.

Together we will cultivate an appreciation for art that is inextricably twined with the Dharma and our unfolding human journey. In gathering during this retreat we’ll cultivate a strong sense of our inter-being, bringing forth the bonds of connection as a community of creative contemplatives. Courageously we will share our artworks! We will share our challenges in dharma dialogue among spiritual friends! Together we will cultivate an uplifted spirit of inquiry into practice as a powerful antidote to isolation, self-doubt and discouragement!

Whether you already have an art practice or are looking to reconnect with your creativity, this workshop opens the door to unifying meditation with artmaking and as a result, deepening both practices.


This online weekend includes

  • Zazen (meditation) instruction
  • guided creative practices with Suiko
  • Dharma talks with Qayyum
  • small group conversations in “compassion chambers” to explore provocative themes
  • spacious time to work on your own creative projects offline and away from the computer



  • Yupo paper (any size is fine. I recommend the 11×14” pad with 10 sheets of 74lb, opaque white)
  • 3 or more Alcohol inks in colors you like (available individually or in 3-packs)
  • 90% Isopropyl Alcohol (70% doesn’t work. It needs to be 90% or higher.)
  • A dropper (I prefer glass ones but plastic also works fine. You can also use a drinking straw.)
  • Optional: 2 Posca X-fine tip paint pens that coordinate with your Alcohol inks
    • one in white or a very light color 
    • one in black or a dark color
  • Optional: Sumi ink, watercolors, and acrylic inks are all beautiful on Yupo. 

A NOTE ON MATERIALS: If you’d prefer to minimize your purchases, you could get Yupo and use any kind of wet media (watercolor, ink, gouache, etc.). If you’d prefer to abstain from all purchases, you can use whatever paper & wet media supplies you have (including coffee or tea as ink). If you’d like further ideas on substitutions, please send an email to Suiko at suiko@artmonastery.org.

While the first of the two guided creative practices is painting, all art forms are welcome and encouraged!


SCHEDULEall times are Pacific Time Zone


4 – 6 pm PT

OPENING: Introductions, and Opening Ceremony


10 am – 1 pm PT

PRACTICE & TEACHING: Zazen, Dharma Talk, Discussion, 15-minute break, Group Sharing, Guided Creative Practice

1 – 4:30 pm PT

MAKING & RESTING: 3.5 hours offline for meals, rest, solo creative time

4:30 – 6 pm PT

SHARING: Artshare


Join us for a time of deep replenishment
and expansion of the heartmind.

Register at sfzc.org


Retreat Leaders

Your retreat will be led by husband-and-wife team:
painter, Art Monastery Founder & Abbess Suiko Betsy McCall and
artist, Zen activist, poet Qayyum Johnson.

Retreat leader bios...

Suiko Betsy McCall brings her experience as a competitive synchronized swimmer, professional knitter, and founder of the Art Monastery Project to inform her visual art and her retreat hosting. Garnering degrees from Yale University and San Francisco Art Institute, Suiko’s paintings have been exhibited from San Francisco and New York to Amsterdam and Rome.
In 2013, she co-authored and illustrated the book, “Hosting Transformation: Stories from the Edge of Changemaking”. In 2017, she authored and illustrated the workbook, “Live Your Dream. Start Here. Start Now.” Her paintings have been published in International Interiors Magazine, Leaping Clear Literary Magazine, and on the cover of Cream City Review.
She is the Founder and Abbess of the Art Monastery, an arts organization dedicated to cultivating personal awakening and cultural transformation through artmaking, spiritual practice, and reciprocal relationship with the earth. An American non-profit, the Art Monastery is one of the founding organizations in the International Partnership for Transformative Learning / Transformation Hosts International (hostingtransformation.eu). Suiko lived at the Art Monastery in its various locations throughout Italy for seven years and Art Monastery Vermont for five years. She lived at Green Gulch Farm / Green Dragon Zen Temple in California for four years. Suiko now lives on the ancestral land of the Kanaka Maoli, on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

Qayyum Johnson was raised in an American Sufi family. After wandering pilgrimage he received a degree in Religious Studies and, after a short trip to Japan, moved to Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Muir Beach, CA, in 2006. Qayyum served as Shuso (Head Student) in 2015 with Abbess Fu Schroeder, as well as being Farm Manager of Green Gulch for many years. Most recently he has been co-director of the Art Monastery in Vermont, where he also performed volunteer hospice work, began a sitting group in prison, renovated old homes and worked for the post office as a letter carrier. He is keenly interested in how zazen (seated meditation) allows us to embrace the vast relational inter-being that defines our lives and discover grace amidst the uneasiness of creative self-expression.

Music by Bensound.com