Sketching & Painting Holidays In Exotic Locations

 
Welcome to Vistas and your gateway to a new world, where hidden landscapes lie waiting to be admired and captured; a world of artistic exploration and immersion in the sights, sounds and smells of some of the most beautiful corners of the world. ‘Vistas’ offers you something completely different.

The unique ‘Sketchbook Journeys’ or Painting Holidays take you deep into the culture, history and landscape of lesser-visited regions, while relaxing Sketching/Painting Holidays and intensive Courses ensure there’s a perfect painting holiday experience to suit everyone.

Professional artist and teacher Mary King leads you to unforgettable destinations in small, friendly groups for learning, developing or simply enjoying the wonderful experience of sketching in an inspiring new environment.
 

 

Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

IntroductionHeads in the CloudsFields of GoldYour sketching dayAre these holidays for me?How to book
Italy-intro

Just a short flight from the UK can bring you into an unforgettable world, a million dream-miles away. In the north of Italy, rubbing shoulders with Austria and with characteristics of both, lies the glorious mountain region known as the Dolomites. Nestled in the midst of all this splendour is Alta Badia, a collection of valleys and soaring rocky peaks which maintains its own unique culture and language. The Ladin people proudly inhabit this much fought-over area and the peaceful serenity which now reigns does much to conceal its turbulent past; the region is scattered with world war 1 trenches, tunnels and memorials, drawing visitors interested in its history.

Deep-in-concentration - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

Most of the Dolomites area is a UNESCO world heritage site and with good reason. Apart from the native wildlife (which includes ibex, chamoix and moufflon – even brown bear – along with the endearing, iconic marmot) and profusion of flower meadows protecting many rare species, the landscape is like nowhere else on Earth. Geographically forming the southern end of the Alps, the mountains here are quite different both geologically and in appearance; although they are somewhat lower in height their shapes are at once more striking and unique.

This ‘other-worldly’ landscape lies somewhere between ‘The Sound of Music’ and a fantasy 70’s album cover and when you first feast your eyes on these incredible peaks you will pinch yourself to check you’re not dreaming. Yet it is very real, as thousands of visitors from all over the world can testify, and for all its mind-blowing grandeur and apparent remoteness, the area is actually quite accessible, with connections from major airports and an excellent tourist infrastructure within the valleys.

I offer two Painting Holidays to Alta Badia, which can be taken together as a satisfyingly extensive introduction to the area’s delights, or individually to suit your personal needs. The Dolomites are a virtually infinite source of creative stimulation for the lanscape artist, thus the two itineraries are distinctly different, yet equally inspiring. Suitable for total beginners or professional artists alike, non-painting partners with an interest in photography, walking or flowers will find plenty to amuse them .As the cost of these trips is based on the daytime painting activities only, a non-painting partner who is not accompanying you on days out incurs no charge.

If you have any questions about which of the two itineraries is best for you, on combining the itineraries together or extending your time here, then please ask. I can also advise on walking routes in the Alta Badia area.

Heads-in-the-Clouds - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
  • Months: Last Sunday in June
  • Duration: 7 nights, Alta Badia
  • Min/max number participants: 4/8
  • Price: £495 Special offer: Book this trip together with “Fields of Colour” and save £200 off combined price

'Jimmy's-Hut' - Sketching & Painting Holidays in ItalyOur heads will truly be in the clouds along with those of the highest mountains on this full itinerary. Aiming to maximise every opportunity for sketching, painting and becoming immersed in the incredible Dolomitic Alpine scenery and choosing a varied selection of scenes from an almost limitless range, we visit a perfect new spot each day, easily filling our sketchbooks with startling and evocative images. There will also be opportunities to produce some more finished’ paintings.

On this programme we incorporate a fair amount of walking, as I believe that if you are able, a visit to this region without a thorough exploration would be a shame, and thus it will appeal to those trying to decide between a painting holiday and something more active. Our walking brings us to otherwise inaccessible painting spots and despite the ‘seriousness’ of the high Alpine ridges, there is an extremely well-maintained network of paths of all difficulties which can be managed by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. On several days our walking will include fairly short but steep uphill or downhill sections, some of which can’t be avoided. While it is not a ‘walking holiday’, those uncomfortable with uneven terrain or steep inclines should consider the following programme, ‘Fields of Gold’, where there is less exertion involved.

Highlights:

Gondolas and ski lifts to some of the most breathtaking views in Europe; Incredible rock pinnacles and towers of the Sella massif; the tranquility of Longieru; hot chocolate and apple strudel in the refugios and a walk along the beautiful Eidelweiss terrace.

A detailed daily itinerary is available for this trip; please ask.

Setsas-on-the-Pralongia-plateau - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

  • Day1: Views of Corvara and Colfosco. Easy walks, great sketching, a short gondola ascent and the option of a steep decsent on foot at the end of the day.
  • Day 2: A leisurely day around the spectaclular Capana Alpina with about an hour’s walking
  • Day 3: A moderate 3-4 hour walk along the beautiful ‘Edelwiess terrace’ with plenty of stops for sketching in truly stunning surroundings
  • Day 4: An easy uphill walk of about 30 minutes from the sleepy Alpine village of Longiaru
  • Day 5: A fairly energetic walking day taking in Lago Boe and the ‘Pinnacles’. The walking can be shortened or lengthened to suit the group. Spectacular sketching!
  • Day 6: Amazing views from the Sella Pass and ‘City of Rocks’. Lots of non-strenuous wandering amongst the jumbled rocks and tree roots. Something really different!
  • Day 7: Ski lift to ‘La Crusc’ with optional long walk back down. Stunning views and haunting silence near the top of the Fanes massif with a very sketchable little chapel.

On the final evening we will have a farewell drink and pizza in Corvara, where we will look back over everything we’ve achieved during our busy week and celebrate this incredible place.

The price for this trip includes:

All tuition and guidance as indicated in the itinerary; Art Packs; a packed lunch each day; bus fares each day as per itinerary; 3 gondola/ski lifts; coffee and strudel on day 1; farewell dinner on final night (pizza and special cocktail)

The price does NOT include:

Transport to/from resort; accommodation; meals other than where stated; drinks and snacks other than as stated; bus fares to/from daily meeting point if staying in a different resort; optional gondola/chair lift rides other than those central to stated itinerary; any other optional excursions taken in place of organised sketching days.

Fields-of-Gold - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
  • Months: First Monday after July 1st
  • Duration: 7 nights, Alta Badia
  • Min/max number of participants: 4/8
  • Price: £550 Book this week together with ‘Heads in the Clouds’ and save £200 per person

Beneath the stark cliff faces, towers and spires, where wispy waterfalls plunge down through dark forests, lies a brilliant green blanket of rolling Alpine pasture which, in June and July, becomes a riotous profusion of wild flowers. These uncut meadows, bursting with colour, conjure memories of childhood; tall grasses brush legs as the clean, fresh air is filled with the buzz of summer. Rare species abound in a kaleidoscope of shades: campanulas and lillies sway in the gentle breeze while brilliant pink daphne smothers the rocks; gentians and edelweiss nestle in the grass while rare orchids hide in the woods. Bright blue endemic “Lord of the Alps” can still be found clinging to crevices high on lofty mountain tops, a joyous surprise for the adventurous climber.

This area is a botanist’s and photographer’s dream, and Heaven for painters.

Perfect-sketching-spot - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

While in the region it’s impossible to ignore this incredible display of nature and during both weeks we’ll be painting flowers along with the mountains and other features. This week, however, we’ll focus extensively on the meadows and plants as part of the landscape; we’ll produce some larger paintings and the sketchbook, while still useful, will stay further in the background.

Highlights:

Incomparable Alpine meadows in full bloom; exquisite tangle of roots and flowers amongst the rocks at the Sella Pass; rustic wooden barns; window boxes choked with geraniums and a mirror-calm, icy mountain lake.

Please ask for a detailed daily itinerary for this trip

  • Day 1: An easy 20 minute stroll to a lovely spot in the meadows beneath a wispy waterfall
  • Day 2: A day exploring La Villa and some enchanting old barns
  • Day 3: Gondola up onto the Pralongia plateau for stunning views and superb meadows with easy walking tracks and a lovely ‘refugio’
  • Day 4: A wonderful and unusual day at a boulderfield full of stunted trees, twisted roots and bright pink daphne
  • Day 5: A visit to a mirror-calm, icy mountain lake with a pretty 30 minute walk each way
  • Day 6: A short, steep walk to a truly stunning spot with incredible pinnacles all around
  • Day 7: An easy day painting window boxes, barns and meadows with free time in Corvara.

In the evening we’ll get together for a farewell drink and pizza and a review of all the work we’ve produced, a fitting finale to an enjoyable and informative week.

The price for this holiday includes:

Expert tuition/guidance each day; Art Pack; daily transport by bus and/or ski lift as stated in the itinerary; 4 packed lunches; refreshments on Days 1, 3 and 5; farewell drink and pizza on final night

The price does NOT include:

Transport to/from the Dolomites, and transport to/from Corvara on a daily basis if staying in a different village; taxis or extra ski lifts taken as an optional alternative to routes on itinerary; accommodation, breakfast and dinners except on final evening; extra drinks and snacks and any optional activities or excursions not mentioned on the itinerary.

Due to the overwhelming choice and differing qualities of accommodation in the Alta Badia area and the speed with which it sells out, I have not included any accommodation on the Italy trips. This gives you flexibility over location, type and price as well as allowing for extending your holiday and bringing along non-painting partners at no charge.

Your-day-Sketching - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
As we are not all staying in the same accommodation, and possibly not in the same village, we will meet each morning at a specific time in Corvara which is the main transport hub; buses from here go to all the places we plan to visit. Usually we’ll meet around 9.30am.

On many days we’ll be taking a packed lunch, for flexibility and to maximise time spent sketching. Each carrying our own materials and refrshments we’ll get onto one of the reliable and friendly local buses to our destination for the day, from where there’s usually a short, pretty walk (no more than 30 minutes on the Fields of Gold itinerary) to reach our chosen place.

Spring-flowers-and-Sass-di-Stria - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

When we get there I’ll go over the day’s ‘task’ and usually give a quick demonstration, after which you can choose your first view. During the week there will be a range of these painting ‘tasks’ specifically designed to develop and stimulate your sketching and painting. These are especially valuable for beginners and novices; experienced painters may choose not to participate in them, or they may find some of them interesting. The tasks will not take up more than half of your sketching time unless you wish them to! I will encourage you to produce around 2 to 4 watercolours a day, along with as many sketches as you feel like doing.

On some days where appropriate we’ll have lunch and a good break in one of the excellent ‘refugios’, which offer full meals as well as snacks, pastries and coffee and are often good places to go if the weather decides to play tricks on us.
Where possible, I will provide a wet weather alternatives if we’re unlucky enough to experience a washout day, and it will be optional. Additionally if you wake up one morning and don’t feel like painting, that’s fine, as long as you let me know. Nothing on these holidays is compulsory, except having an enjoyable time!

The day will usually finish between 4pm and 5pm, depending on the bus schedule. Before going our separate ways for the evening we’ll have an informal get-together to look over the day’s artwork, perhaps over a coffee or hot chocolate in one of the many wonderful cafes or outside soaking up the late afternoon sun.

Are-these-holidays-for-me - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
A holiday in the Dolomites will suit anyone who appreciates truly stunning mountain scenery. It will appeal to those who don’t like to travel too far from their comfort zone, but want to feel as if they’re somewhere truly different. Nature lovers, botanists, photographers, walkers, those who just like to sit in a cafe and eat strudel…. all will feel totally at home here.
On both of these painting itineraries we will need to walk a certain distance on well-made but stony tracks. We will be sketching and painting out in the open, mostly sitting on the ground. We will be spending time in the sun and although it’s not ‘hot’ in a Moroccan or Sri Lankan way, there is not always going to be shade in the exact place we want it. Occasionally we will need to pee behind a bush.

With the above considerations, a basic level of health and fitness and an enjoyment of the Great Outdoors is required for these trips.

Summer-colour - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

‘Fields of Gold’ has a gentler itinerary and will suit anyone who can walk up a slight hill for 30 minutes, although on many days there will be very little exertion needed.

While we will also use our sketchbooks, ‘Fields of Gold’ incorporates completed watercolours and is ideal for those wishing to develop in this medium, loosen up their style or simply have a wonderful, relaxing time getting close to nature in one of the most stunning places in the world.

‘Heads in the Clouds’ is perfect for people who enjoy walking as well as sketching as we incorporate some wonderful short walks into the itinerary. While the walks are neither difficult nor long, they sometimes involve steep inclines and rough tracks, so you should possess a reasonable level of fitness, or at least be familiar with walking in a mountain environment. ‘Heads in the Clouds’ is sketcbook-based but we will have time to produce finished watercolour paintings as well.

Both itineraries include at least one exhilarating ski lift ride, on which some people feel rather exposed. For many, the thrill of these lifts and the fact they can transport you quickly and effortlessly half way up a mountain is one of the highlights of the trip. They are perfectly safe and reliable; however, if you are terrified of heights this might be something to consider.

It is also possible to combine both trips to form a 2-week Painting Holiday as they run concurrently and except for one afternoon, the locations are all different. This would provide an extremely comprehensive and satisfying overview of both the region and watercolours as a sketching medium, and I am also able to offer a discount if both weeks are taken together.

As no accommodation is included on these Dolomite holidays and your evenings are free, they are ideal for bringing along non-painting partners who have other interests to pursue during the day, such as longer walks, via ferrata or cycling, or exploring the rich history and ecology of the area.

How-to-book - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
You may reserve a place on any trip with payment of a 10% deposit All the trips will run subject to the minimum number of participants being reached 6 weeks prior to departure. In the event of insufficient or excess bookings, you will be offered an alternative holiday or a later departure. If this is not suitable your deposit will be refunded. Anyone wishing to join a scheduled trip departing within 6 weeks may do so, subject to availability.
  1. Firstly, please use the contact form to send an e-mail to me, and let me know which trip you are interested in. If you are unsure which will suit you best, I will contact you so that we can go through the options.
  2. When you are ready to make your booking, send me an e-mail. I will confirm exact joining dates, advise on recommended flights (if relevant) and give you payment details so that you can pay your deposit.
  3. I will confirm your booking and your place on your chosen programme, on receipt of:
    The full name, address and phone number of all members of your party
    A 10% non-refundable deposit made by direct bank-to-bank transfer, or (cleared) cheque paid into my UK bank account (NOT posted as I may not be in the country)
    It would also be helpful to include a short summary of your painting experience to date.
  4. I will send you essential information about how to join the group if you are not being met at the airport; advice on choosing flights (if applicable) and what you need to bring with you on your holiday, as well as a more detailed daily itinerary and your Useful Information fact-sheet for the country you will be visiting, if you have not already requested these.
  5. The balance of your payment is due in British pounds, 2 weeks before the commencement of your Sketching Holiday. You may make a bank transfer (recommended), or if you prefer to pay by cheque (in pounds sterling), this must be presented and cleared in my account well before the commencement of the holiday.

Non-UK residents may choose to pay in cash on arrival at the destination but please speak to me about this first.
By making your booking you are agreeing to our ‘Terms and Conditions’, which can be found below.

Contact information:
Email: hello@sketchingholidays.co.uk
Phone: 00 44 (0)798 281 2842 (active only when I am in the UK).
Ask for my Skype name.

Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

IntroductionDiscover MoroccoKasbahs & MountainsPainted DesertYour sketching dayAre these holidays for me?Lines in the SandHow to book
morocco-intro - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

Join an entrancing journey through astonishing landscapes and experience the sights, sounds and smells of this unique land. Travel by comfortable 4×4 to places as yet little-known to tourists; experience the heat of the desert, the warmth of the welcome!

Stimulate your senses and develop your artistic skills in an atmospheric, authentic location. Morocco has been inspiring artists and writers for centuries, and it continues to do so. A timeless land of wide horizons where Africa meets Europe, it is now the destination of choice for those tired of Tuscany, bored of Provence.

Sir Winston Churchill was captivated by Marrakech and visited many times to paint the light, and relax from the stresses he encountered in Britain. He stated: “Morocco to me was a revelation…… reading the newspapers gives not the slightest impression of the charm and value of this splendid territory.”

Hassan - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

Once perceived as difficult to access, budget airlines are now serving Marrakech Fez and other cities and although it can seem like a different world, it’s only a 3 hour flight from the UK. Now within reach of everyone, there’s something for artists of every level and interest, as well as those looking for a different type of holiday. There has never been a better time to visit Morocco!

In this land of contrasts you will discover towering, snow-capped mountains (including the highest in North Africa); sandy desert pistes; deep river gorges bursting with almond blossom in the spring; lush palm groves hanging heavy with dates in the autumn, and quiet oases resonant with the sound of frogs. In the countryside you will see old men riding donkeys laden with firewood, shy nomad women dressed in traditional clothing and big-eyed children herding floppy-eared goats. The picturesque old Kasbahs, dark, mysterious souks and the bustling street scenes of the world-heritage cities are some of the images that will stay with you long after your holiday has ended. This combination of brilliant, hot colours, bright clear light and the complete sensual overload is sure to revive the most jaded palette and you can’t fail to return with a sketchpad full of colour, shoes full of sand, and a head full of wonderful memories!

Discover Morocco - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco
  • Months: Late March (please enquire for exact dates)
  • Duration: 11 nights Marrakech- Marrakech
  • Next Trip: March 25th 2017
  • Principle medium: Inks
  • Min/max number participants: 3/8
  • Price: £1040

This programme is designed for those who want as varied a taste of Morocco as possible; it incorporates mountains, kasbahs, gorges and desert. We will stay in several different locations and you will see some of the best sights that the country has to offer.Old man on donkey - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

The nature of this trip means there is slightly more driving involved than on the “single region” itineraries, which naturally means a little less time actually sketching. However the variety that we pack into this holiday makes it a very worthwhile introduction to the country and to painting/sketching its delights.

Highlights:

Serene, sophisticated Kasbah Telouet; Rock formations of the Dades valley; Sand dunes of Erg Chebbi; Unforgettable journey to remote desert retreat at M’harech; Beautiful Draa valley; Stunningly situated Kasbah Ait Benhaddou; Lovely riad accommodation in Marrakech and opportunity to take a camel trip, sleeping under the starry desert night.

Please ask for a detailed day by day itinerary for any of these trips

Day of arrival:

The recommended flights from the UK will be met, and we will go together to the hotel, a beautiful riad (restored traditional house). The rest of the day is free to explore Marrakech.

  • Day 1: Drive over the High Atlas mountains via the Tizi-n-Tichka pass to Telouet and its kasbah.
  • Day 2: Via Ouarzazate to the Dades Valley with its weird rock formations and spectacular gorge.
  • Day 3: Full day painting in Dades Valley area.
  • Day 4: Drive to our comfortable base on the edge of the desert near Erfoud.
  • Day 5: Drive to a peaceful and beautiful desert oasis.
  • Day 6: Drive the sand piste towards the high dunes of Erg Chebbi. Full day exploring the dunes. Optional (included) overnight camel trek deep into the dunes
  • Day 7: We take spectacular routes through little-visited desert to M’harech
  • Day 8: A whole day to explore this wonderful, remote region.
  • Day 9: Via Agdz and the beautiful, palm-lined Draa valley to Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou.
  • Day 10: Exploring the old Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou before returning to your riad in Marrakech in the early evening. Option to meet up for an evening meal at the Djemma el Fnaa

The prices for all 3 Sketchbook Journeys in Morocco include:

All transport Marrakech – Marrakech, or Fez – Fez (depending on itinerary); Accommodation and full board for all nights as stated in the itinerary, except for 2 lunches on programmes 1 and 3, 3 lunches on programme 2 and dinner in Marrakech on final night; (Lunches will either be taken in local cafes on travelling days, or be packed lunches to be eaten outside on full sketching days.) ; Services of host/tutor and guide/driver (as required); Art Pack – welcome package of the art materials that you will need on the holiday; Overnight camel trip on Programmes 1 and 3 (this is optional but included as it replaces a night in the hotel)

Tagines-cooking - Sketching & Painting Holidays in MoroccoThe prices do NOT include:

International flights; Transfers from/to airports in Morocco unless on recommended flights; Dinner on final night, in Marrakech; Coffee stops and optional snacks; Bottled drinking water; Some lunches as per itinerary; Any tips you may wish to leave in cafes, hotels, or for optional guides etc.; Entrance fees to kasbahs (these are not high); Carpets, which are strictly optional, despite what the salesman tries to tell you!

Kasbahs-and-Mountains - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco
  • Months: Early April (please enquire for exact dates)
  • Duration: 9 nights Marrakech-Marrakech
  • Next Trip: 6th April 2017
  • Principle medium: Watercolour
  • Min/max number participants: 3/8
  • Price: £980

Ait-Benhaddou - Sketching & Painting Holidays in MoroccoThis programme runs when the weather is warming up and the evenings are long; we focus on the many fine old kasbahs in the region (a kasbah is a fortified house or village, made of the traditional pinkish adobe) as well as some wonderful views of the High Atlas mountains. It will appeal to history buffs as well as mountain lovers and we can see a good variety of scenery without having to drive excessively far.

Highlights:

Mind-blowing, snow-capped High Atlas mountain vistas; Stunningly situated Kasbah Ait Benhaddou; Serene, crumbling sophistication of Kasbah Telouet; Unique rock formations and gorge in the Dades valley.

A detailed itinerary is available on request.

  • Day of arrival and Day 1: As for ‘Discover Morocco’
  • Day 2: Full day sketching in and around the kasbah at Telouet.
  • Day 3: Early departure to Ait Benhaddou, stopping to sketch a traditional Atlas village.
  • Day 4: Full day sketching the wonderful Ait Benhaddou hilltop kasbah
  • Day 5: To Dades Valley via Ouarzazate and kasbah Taourit
  • Day 6: A full day painting the ruins, rocks, oases and dwellings of the Dades Valley
  • Day 7: Dades Gorge and high mountain views; on to Ouarzazate.
  • Day 8: Return to Marrakech via the original route with sketching the High Atlas on the pass. Arrive early evening to Marrakech, transfer to hotel. As in ‘Discover Morocco’, we may choose to eat dinner together on the famous Djemma el Fnaa square, sharing tales of our adventures.
Painted-Desert - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco
  • Months: Late February; Early October (please enquire for exact dates)
  • Duration: 8 nights Fez-Fez
  • Next Trips: 18th Oct 2016; 13th Mar 2017; 17th Oct 2017
  • Principle medium: Inks
  • Min/max number participants: 4/10
  • Price: £840

This programme runs during the cooler months when the weather should be ideal for painting outdoors. If you are lucky, in the spring you will see the desert in bloom, an unforgettable sight when the seemingly desolate land becomes a carpet of wild flowers. October reveals a drier landscape but brings the date harvest, equally worthwhile for those who love the taste.

We stay in quiet, peaceful, comfortable desert auberges built in the traditional style using adobe (for warmth in the winter and cool in the summer), and set forth each day to a different nearby location for our sketching. This is the one to choose if you want the minimum time spent driving, the maximum time relaxing, and an unmissable camel trip is included in the price!

Mint tea - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

Highlights:

Beautiful riad accommodation in Unesco-listed Fez medina; Dunes of Erg Chebbi; Wonderful desert oasis; Rissani, the oldest Islamic town in Morocco; Overnight trip by camel: sleep under uncountable stars

Please ask for a detailed daily itinerary. This is just a taste of what you will discover!

  • Day of arrival: If on a recommended flight, you will be met at the airport and transfered to your beautiful riad accommodation in the medina (old walled part) of Fez.
  • Day 1: Drive to the Ziz valley palmery via Azrou and one of the 3 High Atlas passes
  • Day 2: Via Erfoud to our attractive guesthouse on the edge of the desert.
  • Day 3: Drive to a stunning, cool oasis in the middle of the desert.
  • Day 4: Sketching the distinctive, wind-eroded peaks near Alnif with a chance to walk
  • Day 5: Old kasbahs, wooden doors, curved arches and all manner of artistic decay in Rissani
  • Day 6: Full day in the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi culminating in an overnight camel trip
  • Day 7: Drive back to Fez via photogenic old kasbah at Maadid. Arrive in Fez in the early evening, and transfer once more to your hotel.
Your-Day-Sketching - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

The landscape in Morocco is probably unlike anything you have ever painted before. It might even be unlike anything you have ever seen before! Especially in late summer, when it is burnt a deep red-brown from the scorching sun, it can appear shockingly stark, vast and harsh. It can take a day or two to ‘get your eye in’ and feel ready to interpret it. The itineraries take this into account and after a few days the light, the grandeur and the romance will have worked their special magic on you and you will be sketching away furiously!

The ‘Lines in the Sand’ 3 day course is intensive and fully-structured; expect to spend all day drawing. The atmosphere of the desert is tremendously relaxing, however and we take plenty of breaks. Working hours will be approximately 10am to 5pm.

Friends - Sketching & Painting Holidays in MoroccoOn the Sketchbook Journeys we cover quite a bit of ground, both literally and in terms of things to see and draw, so we try not to waste a single moment! That does not mean, however, that sketching every day is compulsory. Those wishing to simply relax and soak up the atmosphere, or do a little walking, are always welcome to do so.

On days when we are not changing location, you will also have the opportunity to stay around the hotel, sketching or otherwise, perhaps working up earlier sketches into more finished pieces, if you wish. On days when we are moving from one place to another, we aim to arrive at our new destination by lunchtime, leaving the afternoon free for sketching and exploring. The holidays are structured to give at least one full day’s painting in every main location, although on busier itineraries this sometimes has to be sacrificed in order to get a good overview of different subjects and areas.

On days when we don’t have to change location, we’ll take breakfast together at around 8.30am then set off for the day, armed each with a packed lunch. You will be driven to, or shown, ideal sketching spots and given advice on alternatives. Beginners and those lacking in confidence can be given as much guidance as they need; experienced artists may go off and do their own thing.
Most days, everyone will be given a special “task“ to experiment with, which is designed to stimulate and challenge you as an artist. It might be trying a new medium for you, or looking at the landscape in a new way. You may spend as much or as little time on this as you like, but it may give you inspiration if you are a little overwhelmed by a truly different type of subject, and it can be your starting point for the day

Desert-auberge - Sketching & Painting Holidays in MoroccoOn travelling days the schedule will vary but with your sketchbook always close to hand and your eyes filled with amazing sights you will never feel deprived. For those who just can’t put down their pencil, there will often be opportunities to sketch the beautiful objects and textiles found in and around the hotels.

Most days will end with an informal ‘appraisal’ where we will gather to look over our artwork. This should be an exciting and pleasurable activity where we can gain inspiration from each other, relive the beautiful sights we’ve seen and ask or give advice about any difficulties we may have experienced. Like everything else on the holiday, it is not compulsory but most people will want to join in.

We’ll eat together at our hotel and then your evenings are yours to do as you choose, but please don’t expect much in terms of organised entertainment. Our locations are chosen for their peace, tranquility and beauty rather than their vibrant social life. In the desert, however, the inhabitants have music in their blood, and many a night they will begin an impromptu drumming session. The rhythm is infectious. Dancing is optional !

Are-these-holidays-for-me - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

These trips will appeal most to active people of any age who have an open mind, are willing to sacrifice a little luxury for extra authenticity, and who are interested in different cultures as well as unusual landscapes.

The hotels we use are chosen for their reliability in terms of cleanliness and friendliness and represent good value for money. Most people love staying in them but they are not 5 star. You can expect hot water (most of the time), decent Moroccan food, clean sheets and a warm welcome. Usually you will have your own bathroom, but occasionally it might be shared, for example in the Dades valley.

Some of the places, especially in the desert, are quite simple, which in our opinion is part of their charm. There may be a problem with the water, or the electricity. Very occasionally, it can not be sorted out. Often the food might take a little longer to arrive than expected.

Sit back, close your eyes and wiggle your toes in the sand. This is Africa!

Rose-de-sable - Sketching & Painting Holidays in MoroccoOn some days there might be a little walking involved to get to the ideal location. Please do not book a trip to Morocco if you have trouble walking. While there will always be an alternative for those who don’t feel like walking on any given day, healthy, fit people will probably get more out of these trips. In many cases, also, a rock or patch of rough sand will be your seat for the day. Please feel free to bring a cushion or stool with you if you don’t like sitting on the ground, as these are not provided.

Some driving days, too, are longer than others. Morocco is a huge country and we travel a good distance to see the best in a relatively short time. However, we stop regularly and the landscapes we pass are breathtaking. No day is comprised solely of travelling and there is always plenty of sketching time built into the itinerary. But please bear in mind that the airports are not situated in the most paintable locations, so longer driving times on the first and last days are unavoidable.

If you like wildness, drama and surprise in your landscapes as well as an ancient and fascinating culture, and if you appreciate a challenge, then you will not be disappointed.

Lines-in-the-Sand - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco
  • Months: Mid April; Late September (flexible starting days, please enquire)
  • Duration: 3 days, 4 nights
  • Min/max. Number of participants: 1/6
  • Medium: Sketching media and watercolours
  • Price: 1 person (1 to 1 tuition) £495. 2 people £345 per person. 3 or more people: £285 per person (This course may be paid for in Euros or Dirhams while in Morocco. You will be given the current exchange rate on booking the course.)

View-from-the-pool - Sketching & Painting Holidays in MoroccoThis very intensive course, held at a comfortable desert auberge at the foot of Erg Chebbi, is designed to provide the optimum conditions for learning how to sketch and paint in just a few days. The course is aimed at complete beginners who have never held a pencil to those who are not used to sketching the landscape outside and want to know where to start. The beautiful surroundings, warm sunny weather and relaxed atmosphere will encourage your creativity while the combination of expert, patient tutoring, regular demonstrations and small group size will ensure that you learn a lot in a very short space of time.

This is the perfect excuse to spend a few days amidst the incomparable desert scenery of the Merzouga dunes and come away with a new skill.

A detailed itinerary and description of what is covered on the course will be provided on request, so please ask!

  • Day 1: Learning to look; Shape & form, light& tone. Introduction to colour mixing
  • Day 2: Mastering colour and learning about composition. Practise sketching
  • Day 3: Bringing it all together. Wet in wet technique and producing a completed painting.

By the end of Day 3 you will be confident enough to take a sketchpad into the landscape and capture it quickly using pencil or paints.

This short course finishes with a spectacular camel ride deep into the dunes where you can watch the sunset and camp under a blanket of stars. Don’t forget your sketchbook!

(This is the highlight of many people’s visit to the desert and is included, although you may stay in the auberge if you prefer.)Come-aboard - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

The price for this course includes:

Transport from Merzouga to desert hotel; 3 nights accommodation (including the night before the start of your course); 1 night in nomad tent with camels; full board for the duration of your course (4 dinners, 4 breakfasts and 3 lunches); all tuition and the materials you will need to complete the course; sketchbook and sketching media to take away with you.

The price does NOT include:

Transport to and from Merzouga; extra nights in hotel if you decide to extend your stay; optional drinks and snacks; bottled water.

How-to-book - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco
You may reserve a place on any trip with payment of a 10% deposit All the trips will run subject to the minimum number of participants being reached 6 weeks prior to departure. In the event of insufficient or excess bookings, you will be offered an alternative holiday or a later departure. If this is not suitable your deposit will be refunded. Anyone wishing to join a scheduled trip departing within 6 weeks may do so, subject to availability.

Desert-in-bloom - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

  1. Firstly, please use the contact form to send an e-mail to me, and let me know which trip you are interested in. If you are unsure which will suit you best, I will contact you so that we can go through the options.
  2. When you are ready to make your booking, send me an e-mail. I will confirm exact joining dates, advise on recommended flights (if relevant) and give you payment details so that you can pay your deposit.
  3. I will confirm your booking and your place on your chosen programme, on receipt of:
    The full name, address and phone number of all members of your party
    A 10% non-refundable deposit made by direct bank-to-bank transfer, or (cleared) cheque paid into my UK bank account (NOT posted as I may not be in the country)
    It would also be helpful to include a short summary of your painting experience to date.
  4. I will send you essential information about how to join the group if you are not being met at the airport; advice on choosing flights (if applicable) and what you need to bring with you on your holiday, as well as a more detailed daily itinerary and your Useful Information fact-sheet for the country you will be visiting, if you have not already requested these.
  5. The balance of your payment is due in British pounds, 2 weeks before the commencement of your Sketching Holiday. You may make a bank transfer (recommended), or if you prefer to pay by cheque (in pounds sterling), this must be presented and cleared in my account well before the commencement of the holiday.

Marrakech-riad-interior - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Morocco

Non-UK residents may choose to pay in cash on arrival at the destination but please speak to me about this first.
By making your booking you are agreeing to our ‘Terms and Conditions’, which can be found below.

Contact information:
Email: hello@sketchingholidays.co.uk
Phone: 00 44 (0)798 281 2842 (active only when I am in the UK).
Ask for my Skype name.

Sketching & Painting Holidays in Sri Lanka

IntroductionLand of SmilesOcean BreezesYour sketching dayAre these holidays for me?How to book
srilanka-intro

Voted ‘world’s smiliest country’ in a recent poll, this sun-drenched, verdant land, steeped in natural beauty, culture and history yet with less of the ‘hassle’ often associated with parts of Asia, delivers to the discerning traveller on all levels. Consistently in the top 10 travellers’ favourite islands and recovering well, with boundless energy and optimism, from the recent civil war and less recent but equally devastating tsunami of 2004, the people will melt your heart with their resilience in the face of adversity and their matchless welcome on your painting/sketching holidays in Sri Lanka.

Young-elephant

Although visibly bustling and vibrant in an Asian way, many parts of the country remain extremely unspoilt and tranquil, breathtakingly beautiful and surprisingly accessible. While undisputedly a long flight from Europe, most who make the journey are enchanted from the minute they step off the plane. Exotic with a capital E, Sri Lanka, when known as Ceylon, was a former British colony and as such can feel strangely familiar to a visitor from the UK. The country is very well-used to welcoming tourists and delights in seeing the Brits returning, now as their guests. In general they also appreciate art and have a long history of painting in their culture, much of it intertwined with religion while modern landscape painters sometimes display their canvasses on the beach.

Closing your eyes and imagining this country will probably conjure up images of docile elephants, elaborately decorated with gold and brightly coloured fabrics; swaying palms, crashing surf and warm seas; pretty tea plantations and hot, fiery curries. Sri Lanka is all this, and so much more….. and much of it eminently sketchable. Within this small island lies much variety in terms of scenery and climate as well as cultural and religious diversity. Ancient and modern Buddhist, Hindu and even Christian monuments can be found, along with world-class national parks which are home to populations of wild elephant, leopards, crocodiles and various monkeys along with a striking number of birds. While we are unlikely to find an opportunity to sketch these desirable yet elusive subjects, the knowledge of their presence helps complete the vivid pictorial atmosphere and we will not be short of inspiration during our time here.

From the hot, sultry south where mile after mile of deserted, coconut-fringed, golden sands demand to be strolled upon to the cooler, misty green highlands complete with tumbling waterfalls; from colourful fishing boats to fascinating temples, the only dilemma is how to squeeze it all into one visit. Be warned… Sri Lanka’s charms are addictive and your first visit may well not be your last!

Passionflower

Land-of-Smiles
  • Months: January/February
  • Duration: 10 nights from Colombo
  • Next Trip: Jan 15th 2017
  • Principle Medium: Inks
  • Min/max number participants: 4/10
  • Price: £1395 (Discount if sharing a double room: £250 per person)

From picture-postcard beaches to impressive waterfalls, tea plantations to virgin jungle. Gardens filled with bright tropical flowers and abundant birdlife; mysterious temples, sweeping mountain vistas and a culture which will surprise and delight you. There is so much diversity in this fascinating country and size can be deceptive; it’s impossible to see it all in one short trip. As we are primarily sketching the landscape and don’t wish to spend all our time inside a vehicle, we’ll take roads less travelled as we explore one small corner of this spectacular island, simply bursting at the seams with living history, warmth and exotic beauty.

Travelling by comfortable, air-conditioned minivan with an expert local driver we will cover a variety of scenery taking in some little-known areas as well as some must-sees. You will truly feel as if you’ve seen parts of rural Sri Lanka that most tourists don’t …and the sketching possibilities are superb.

Highlights:

Sun-drenched beaches of the South and a rocky island temple; cool highland landscapes; Sinharaja rainforest; whale watching in Mirissa and Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall.

Please ask for a more detailed itinerary for this journey.

Day of arrival:

Airport transfer Colombo to Bentota f you are taking the recommended flight from the UK or a flight landing at a similar time (or if already in the country)

  • Day 2: In Bentota sketching on the beach and a short boat ride to pretty Temple Island
  • Day 3: Day 3: Drive away from the coast towards the hill country and Ratnapura along small rural roads. Sketching at lovely Bopath Ella waterfall
  • Day 4: Drive into heart of the tea country with wonderful views
  • Day 5: An all-day visit to Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall, reached through cool pine forest, with a possibility to swim. A relaxing day in beautiful surroundings with picnic lunch
  • Day 6: Sunrise at ‘Lipton’s Seat’, visit a tea factory then drive towards Sinharaja rainforest reserve
  • Day 7: Optional half day escorted walk into the jungle , and exploring the peace, calm and greenery of the area around our comfortable lodge
  • Day 8: A relaxing day in Mirissa with its beautiful beach; good swimming as well as sketching!
  • Day 9: An early start for optional whale watching. Drive to picturesque fort town of Galle for lunch and afternoon sketching
  • Day 10: Head back to Bentota, visit a turtle conservation project. Arrive in the afternoon, where we’ll look over all the work we’ve done and how our sketchbooks have progressed. End the trip with a well-earned beachside drink.

Our-transport

The price for this trip includes:

Airport transfer for those on recommended flights; Colombo pickup for those already in the country. All transport while on tour; all accommodation; all breakfasts and dinners (except days 8 & 10); 3 lunches; Art Pack and expert tuition/guidance with sketching each day.

The price for this trip does NOT include:

International flights; Transport to Bentota if on alternative flights; 2 dinners; 6 lunches; additional snacks; soft and alcoholic drinks; bottled water; entrance fees to tea factory, gem mine, turtle project etc and any tips you might like to leave. (Budget around £5 – £10 per day per person to cover all the above.)

Optional excursions such as whale watching (approx £20) and Sinharaja forest trek/park fee (approx £50) are not compulsory but highly recommended for the more adventurous.

 

 

Ocean-Breezes
  • Months: Late November (Please enquire for exact dates)
    Please note that due to the size of the hotel we use this trip must be booked before the end of July and numbers are strictly limited.
  • Next Trips: Nov 20th 2016, Nov 19th 2017
  • Duration: 7 nights from Colombo
  • Principle medium: Watercolours
  • Min/max number participants: 4/6 (10 if sharing rooms)
  • Price: £1120 (Discount if travelling together and sharing a room: £240; or £340 if a non-painting partner)

Feel all your cares melt away as the warmth of the tropical sun and the timeless calm of rural Sri Lanka wash over you on this supremely relaxing Sketching Break.

Staying in a fabulous small, boutique hotel on a quiet, green lane surrounded by trees, fields, flowers, birds and butterflies you will feel so cosseted and comfortable you won’t want to go anywhere. There’s even a pool! Yet this tiny corner of Paradise hides many scenic gems. On this holiday we don’t have to travel far to find a multitude of sketching possibilities, some virtually on our doorstep. Each day will bring something different, surprising and beautiful, yet with so little effort on your part you can concentrate entirely on your sketching as we become intimately acquainted with our immediate surroundings.

Ideal for those who want to get settled in one place, yet still see – and paint – the best of the area, with as much or as little instruction and guidance as you need. As usual I will set special ‘tasks’ to challenge your sketching and on this holiday there will be plenty of opportunity to produce some more ‘finished’ paintings as well.

Highlights:

Relaxing in comfort under the tropical sun; coastal train ride to UNESCO-listed Galle; picture-perfect beaches; Beruwela lighthouse and the slow pace of rural Sri Lanka

A more detailed day by day itinerary is available, just ask.

  • Day 1: Transfer from airport to your hotel near Bentota, approximately 3 hours away.
  • Day 2: Breaking ourselves in gently, we’ll start our sketchbooks off on the nearby beach and enjoy a delicious fish lunch.
  • Day 3: Quiet rural lanes, boats on the riverbank and a temple lake filled with waterlillies.
  • Day 4: Stunning, deserted Kosgoda beaches and a turtle conservation project
  • Day 5: (Optional) entertaining train ride to Galle for sketching and sightseeing. Alternatively a chance to explore the Bentota river
  • Day 6: Short boat ride to Beruwela lighthouse for spectacular views
  • Day 7: Pretty ‘Temple Island’ and time to prefect our beach-painting skills. Final evening appraisal and farewell drink.
  • Day 8: Transfer back to Colombo for your flight or onward travel arrangements.

The price for this holiday includes:

Transport from airport/Colombo to Bentota hotel and back; transport (by car, train and boat)for included excursions as per itinerary; all accommodation and meals except 3 lunches and 1 dinner as per itinerary; Art Pack and expert tuition/guidance with organised sketching and painting each day.

The price does NOT include:

International flights and transport from/to other areas of Sri Lanka; 3 lunches and 1 dinner as per itinerary; extra snacks, soft and alcoholic drinks and bottled water; optional excursions (eg Bentota river trip), tuktuk transport to beach or town as and when required outside of itinerary; tips and souvenirs. Budget around £10-£15 per day per person to cover these expenses while in resort (excluding souvenirs ), or a little more if you plan to drink a lot of expensive cocktails and splurge on fancy restaurants.

Your Sketching Day

With the huge amount of subject matter and relatively short space of time, we will want to fill those pages with bright, mouthwatering images. That does not mean that sketching every day is compulsory. Those wishing to simply relax and soak up the atmosphere, hang out on the beach, visit a temple or do a little swimming are always welcome to do so, where location allows.
On days when we are not changing location, you will also have the opportunity to stay around the hotel, sketching or otherwise, perhaps working up earlier drawings into more finished pieces. When we are moving from one place to another, we either aim to arrive at our new destination by lunchtime, leaving the afternoon for sketching and exploring, or we will stop at a good spot en route so that there will be no day without some opportunity to sketch.

The Journeys are structured to give at least a half day’s painting in every main location, On stay-put days and on Breaks, we will take breakfast at around 8.30am, then set off for the day, perhaps armed with a packed lunch, to a nearby sketching spot. You may well feel like resting during the hottest part of the day. Everywhere we sketch in the hot parts of Sri Lanka will have available shade, so it will be possible to simply close your eyes and have a snooze if you feel one coming on!

Most days, you will be given a special “task“ to experiment with, which is designed to stimulate and challenge you as an artist. It might be trying a new medium for you, or looking at the landscape in a new way. You may spend as much or as little time on this as you like, but it may give you inspiration if you are a little overwhelmed by being faced with a truly different type of subject, and it can be your starting point for the day.

We can look at the results together during the evening’s appraisal; you may be surprised!

Usually we will paint until late afternoon, especially if we have had a long siesta, when we return to our hotel to relax, eat and get together for our nightly appraisal. The rest of the evening is yours to do as you choose, but mostly expect this to be wiggling your toes in the sand, listening to the sound of the waves, perhaps clutching a Lion beer. We pick our hotels for their location, peace and tranquility so nightlife is not a feature of the holidays. In coastal Sri Lanka, however, partying does take place and you will probably have the chance to participate, should you wish to.

Tea-country

Are-these-holidays-for-me

Without beating around the bush, Sri Lanka is a HOT destination, in every sense of the word. The holidays here are for those who can tolerate a hot and humid climate. The rewards are immeasurable; in fact the sunny weather is reward itself for those who enjoy it. But the honest truth is, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of Sri Lanka.

Quiet-backwater

Landing for the first time in an Asian country can be a full-blown assault on the senses and somewhat bewildering after a long, tiring flight. But for those eager for new experiences and adventures who are culturally open, tolerant and patient, it will without a doubt be intoxicating and life-enriching. Both Sri Lankan trips try to limit the impact of this culture-shock and we seek out safe, tranquil havens for our sketching. In addition, the painting itself need not be overly challenging.

The hotels are generally of a pretty good standard and they take customer service seriously. While we don’t go 5 star, our hotels have been chosen for comfort, cleanliness, location and friendliness as well as authenticity. While it may not be the Ritz, you will not be roughing it.

The ‘hassle’ you may expect to receive in such a destination will be largely absent. Curiosity and friendly approaches will probably not be. Sri Lankan culture is gentle and polite, but as a tourist you represent an irresistible opportunity, and despite the colonial history (or perhaps because of it), modern Westerners are sometimes misinterpreted. Clear, respectful firmness usually nips any misunderstandings in the bud and most locals would be mortified if they thought they had caused offence. Likewise, we should be ready to respect their cultural traditions.

These trips are not suitable for those who can’t walk very far. Most of the sketching spots do not entail much walking but they do involve some, which is unavoidable.

The hotel we use on the Sketching Break is idyllically located on a quiet rural lane a good 10 minutes walk to the main road and beach. Sometimes we may have transport, often not. The way to the beach is glorious, flat and full of birdlife, and hot.

In short, most people adore Sri Lanka and feel extremely comfortable here. If you are of a timid disposition or have never been outside Europe before, you might like to contact me for further advice (as well as the ‘Useful Information’ factsheet). If you are healthy, adaptable and easy-going I will certainly encourage you to come!

How-to-book

You may reserve a place on any trip with payment of a 10% deposit All the trips will run subject to the minimum number of participants being reached 6 weeks prior to departure. In the event of insufficient or excess bookings, you will be offered an alternative holiday or a later departure. If this is not suitable your deposit will be refunded. Anyone wishing to join a scheduled trip departing within 6 weeks may do so, subject to availability.

Sinharaja-landscape

  1. Firstly, please use the contact form to send an e-mail to me, and let me know which trip you are interested in. If you are unsure which will suit you best, I will contact you so that we can go through the options.
  2. When you are ready to make your booking, send me an e-mail. I will confirm exact joining dates, advise on recommended flights (if relevant) and give you payment details so that you can pay your deposit.
  3. I will confirm your booking and your place on your chosen programme, on receipt of:
    The full name, address and phone number of all members of your party
    A 10% non-refundable deposit made by direct bank-to-bank transfer, or (cleared) cheque paid into my UK bank account (NOT posted as I may not be in the country)
    It would also be helpful to include a short summary of your painting experience to date.
  4. I will send you essential information about how to join the group if you are not being met at the airport; advice on choosing flights (if applicable) and what you need to bring with you on your holiday, as well as a more detailed daily itinerary and your Useful Information fact-sheet for the country you will be visiting, if you have not already requested these.
  5. The balance of your payment is due in British pounds, 2 weeks before the commencement of your Sketching Holiday. You may make a bank transfer (recommended), or if you prefer to pay by cheque (in pounds sterling), this must be presented and cleared in my account well before the commencement of the holiday.

Non-UK residents may choose to pay in cash on arrival at the destination but please speak to me about this first.
By making your booking you are agreeing to our ‘Terms and Conditions’, which can be found below.

Contact information:
Email: hello@sketchingholidays.co.uk
Phone: 00 44 (0)798 281 2842 (active only when I am in the UK).
Ask for my Skype name.

Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland

IntroductionWindswept WildernessRocks & HeatherWeek of WorkshopsYour sketching dayAre these holidays for me?How to book
scotland-intro
The far Northwest – further than most people have ever heard of, let alone visited – is one of the last true wilderness regions in Europe. Now with global ‘Geopark’ status, these rocks are believed to be the oldest in the world and looking at the landscape, it is easy to imagine the scene unchanged since the dawn of time. Yet this ancient, primeval land, where golden eagles soar above heather-clad mountains, has seen human habitation since Man first colonised these isles. The remains of their cottages, byres and much earlier “brochs” can be seen in the remotest corners, firing the imagination with images of a simple, yet harsh life living off the land which at first glance appears so empty, although it has a rich and diverse ecology.

In pockets of original Caledonian forest, rare mammals such as the Scottish wildcat and pine marten maintain their final stronghold, while the shoreline is home to families of seals, often seen clumsily hoisting themselves onto rocks for a spot of sunbathing or fixing their big, brown eyes on the fishing boats in Lochinver harbour. The elusive otter, now on the increase, is notoriously difficult to spot although the locals will tell you you’re almost sure of a sighting on a summer evening as they frolic playfully amongst the rocks of the river Inver.

Culkein

While the area is steeped in history and the proud locals guard their culture and traditions, a painting holiday to this region is mostly about the incredible landscape: seeing it, smelling it, feeling it.

All my painting programmes run from Lochinver, a small fishing village 36 miles north of Ullapool in Britain’s least populous county, Sutherland. To attend any of these holidays or courses you should base yourself there or in the immediate vicinity; I do not include accommodation so you may decide to tie in a sketching week with time exploring further afield, or to bring along a non-painting partner. The area is a magnet to those keen on hill walking, climbing and fishing as well as simply relaxing in a peaceful environment with a few good books!

Many people have told me that they had never really ‘seen’ the landscape so completely as when they started to paint it, and that it has changed their whole way of looking. See the Northwest Highlands in a new light, in all its windswept, majestic, breathtaking glory, where the city seems a million miles away and Nature always has the final say.

scotland-windswept_wilderness
  • Months: First Sunday in June
  • Duration: 7 days from Lochinver
  • Medium: Watercolour and drawing materials
  • Min/max number of participants: 3/7
  • Price: £400

This small corner of Scotland is home to an almost endless array of stunning natural sights and is the perfect destination for anyone who loves raw nature in all its moods, and enjoys remore isolation.

capturing-the-scene

Although we are not moving from place to place for where we sleep, I have classed this as a ‘Journey’ rather than a ‘Break’ due to the full and active nature of the itinerary. Thus it will suit people with an adventurous spirit keen to see and experience everything that is unique, surprising and beautiful in this incredible area, and capture it in a sketchbook.

With an impossibly beautiful sight around every corner, choosing becomes very difficult. I have tried to give as comprehensive an overview as possible for the short time we have, taking in the best of the iconic views as well as some hidden gems well off the beaten track. In this vast landscape with its ever-changing light, the same mountain will look different each day. Understanding this, the itinerary is busy, visiting specially selected viewpoints each day as well as including some classic short walks , with the option of further exploration.

Immersion in this landscape no matter what the weather, with nothing but the sound of birds overhead and the smell of bog myrtle under your feet, is simply soul-cleansing

Highlights:

Up close and personal with the most indescribable landscapes you’ve ever seen; exhilarating wilderness walks; learn to sketch quickly in fast-changing light; wide white sands and impressive sea stacks at Balnakeil; unsurpassed island scenery of the Coigach Peninsular, and the mighty Suilven from all angles.

(The following itinerary is subject to ‘shuffle’, and is weather-dependent. Wet weather contingencies will be made) Please ask for a more detailed itinerary!

  • Day 1: Walking and sketching at ‘Boat Bay’ within the Inverpolly Nature Reserve; beach combing at the pretty hamlet of Inverkirkaig and the exciting ‘Wee Mad Road’
  • Day 2: Three perfect beaches; one waterfall; the incredible’Split Rock and the matchless lineup of the Assynt and Coigach peaks. Sketching and strolling along the beaches.
  • Day 3: Sweeping sands and sea stacks at Balnakeil as we venture north towards Cape Wrath
  • Day 4: River and woodland scenes closer to home; a pretty circular walk and the definitive view of Lochinver village.
  • Day 5: Walk to the Kirkaig Falls and beyond with a superb view of Suilven.
  • Day 6: The romantic Summer Isles and pink sands of Achnahaird. With so many views and walking opportunities, this will be a long day!
  • Day 7: Pine-studded Loch Assynt, Ardvreck castle and a prefect hidden picnic spot. Early evening drink at a lovely local hotel with imagnificent view over Lochinver, for a fitting end to a fun week.

The price for this trip includes:

Cul-MorEscorted travel to exceptionally scenic, sometimes hidden sketching spots and short walks; expert guidance with your sketching as and when required and regular progress reviews; 6 packed lunches and a visit to the renowned Pie Shop for lunch on Day 4; a chocolate blow-out at Cocoa Mountain on Day 3; Coffee and cakes on day 5; final review with complimentary drink on final evening; Art Pack containing the sketching materials you will need for the trip and beyond.

The price does NOT include:

Accommodation; transport to Lochinver, or while on trip except by your own vehicles as arranged; food except lunches as stated in itinerary; optional/extra drinks or snacks.

Important note:

As this is a remote area with little or no public transport to the less accessible locations we’ll be visiting, cars are ESSENTIAL. We will be using one or two cars every day, and the trip can not run without this. In wet weather we might also be painting from the car. You will need to bring yours (or hire one, if flying to Inverness) and be happy to take passengers! We’ll operate a car-sharing rotation scheme and all chip in for petrol so hopefully no-one will be lumbered with all the driving, however pleasurable it is on these quiet, scenic roads!

If a non-driver would like to join the trip this is fine… as long as there are enough cars to take us all to our sketching destinations (based on 4 people in each car).This will be advised on booking.

Please budget for £5 per person each day for the driver of the car/s to cover petrol costs. (We will be on foot on day 4)

Rocks-Heather
  • Months: Late August (Please enquire for exact dates. The course will run Monday to friday)
  • Duration: 5 days, 10am – 4.30pm. Lochinver
  • Mediums: Sketching materials and watercolours
  • Min/max number of participants: 4/8
  • Price: £300

Heather time on the hills:
Dark, brooding mountains and indigo blue water. Golden grasses and dramatic, intense light. Late summer on the West Coast, the perfect time and place to discover the pleasures of sketching and painting from life.

If you’re inspired by the landscape but don’t know where to start; if you’ve done some drawing long ago but never painted outside before; even if you’ve never so much as lifted a pencil, this intensive course will start you at the beginning and finish with a completed watercolour painting you can be proud of.

Spending some time in the idylically-situated studio and time outside amidst this incomparable scenery you’ll learn everything you need to get you out and about sketching the landscape.

Please contact me for a detailed, day by day itinerary for this course and with any questions.

  • Day 1: In the studio. How to really ‘see’. Concentrating on shape and form, light and tone
  • Day 2: Learning about composition, outside in the landscape. Practise colour mixing.
  • Day 3: Watercolour painting outside after a demonstration. Analysis and advice in the studio
  • Day 4: Practice sketching quickly outside, considering shape and form, composition, light, tone and colour.
  • Day 5: In the studio: Developing a sketch into a finished painting , bringing together all you’ve learned. Possibly time for more paintings outside.

The price for the course includes:

All the art materials you will need during the course; expert tuition with small numbers to ensure maximum attention at all times; tea/coffee and biscuits while in the studio

The price does NOT include:

Any accommodation or food (packed lunches can be provided at a small extra cost); any transport to/from or during the course.
Views-around-every-corner
Trips to scenic locations on outside days will be in your own vehicle/s. Although we don’t need to go too far, you should also note that the studio is situated a good 30 minutes’ walk from the centre of the village, so your own transport is advised.

Week-of-Workshops
  • Months: Course begins on the last Sunday of May
  • Duration: 6 days (or daily), 10am – 4.30pm. Lochinver
  • Medium: Various (see itinerary)
  • Min/max number participants: 3/8 per day
  • Price: For the full 6 day course: £400

Individual days are priced separately according to the cost of materials. (See itinerary)

This course is held in the idyllically-situated, peaceful art studio at Glencanisp Lodge, an old restored hunting lodge on the edge of an island-studded loch, within a garden bursting with rhodedendrons. Watched over by the mighty Suilven and Canisp we are in the perfect location for inspiration and learning.

Designed to get you started on your creative journey, this course will provide a thorough grounding in a variety of media and techniques, while small class sizes allow you to progress quickly in a relaxed and fun environment.

Loch-AssyntTaken as a whole, the course is specially designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to sketching and painting from the very first, basic steps right through to producing a finished artwork in your chosen medium.

The course is suitable for those who have never before held a pencil, but the days can also be taken individually by those who would like to learn about a specific medium. Each workshop will start you at the very beginning for the particular medium or subject, and by the end of each day you will have a piece of artwork to be proud of.

Most of all we’ll have fun getting creative within a likeminded group and enjoy the tranquility of this special location.

Sunday LEARN TO DRAW £60

Starting from the beginning this day course is suitable for anyone who has never held a pencil or who has never been formally taught the basic principles of drawing from observation. Working in the studio we’ll cover looking & seeing; proportion & scale; creating shape & form using tones; light direction & shadows and the use of negative space. Demonstrations and small group size ensure you’ll gain the confidence for putting pencil to paper.

Monday STARTING WITH PASTELS £85

Always been fascinated by pastels but not known where to start? It can be a tricky medium, but it’s easy to have a go with and a fun introduction to working with colour. This course will include an overview of different pastels and supports and a demonstration before tackling composition and colour.

The price of this workshop includes a box of pastels for you to take home.

Tuesday FIRST STEPS IN WATERCOLOUR £65

Watercolour often foxes beginners and it can terrify those who have never tried it. It’s an intriguing and versatile medium as well as being very beautiful; it’s not possible to discover all its secrets in one day so in this workshop we’ll be learning about colour mixing, colour graduations and sketching quickly outside using a wet-in-wet technique. Demonstrations will be given and you will complete a loose painting, guaranteeing you will never be nervous about watercolours again!

Stac-PollaidhWednesday INTRODUCTION TO SCRAPERBOARD £70

Today’s workshop introduces something different. Focusing primarily on light and tone we will have to learn to work in ‘negative’ as our marks on the black board reveal the white underneath. Scraperboard is lots of fun (you might remember it from school!) and with care you can produce some very effective images. You’ll be using a special sharp, pointed tool for scraping the black ink off the board….very addictive!

Bring lots of patience for this one. All abilities welcome.

Thursday THE ART OF ZEN £70

The concept of ‘Zen drawing’ – looking and creating a drawing using the right (less ‘logical’) side of the brain, is great for freeing up a style that has become too tight and is a wonderful tool for relaxation, creating surprising and usually very pleasing results.

Get in touch with your subconcious and really ‘feel’ your subject! This day will be lots of fun and suitable for all abilities. Starting in the studio and possibly moving outside if the weather is good.

Friday FROM SKETCH TO PAINTING £70

The final day will show you how to create a ‘finished’ watercolour painting in the studio from a sketch executed outside, with the use of colour notes. We’ll spend the morning working on your sketches (using the gorgeous scenery near to the studio for inspiration) then come back inside and produce our final work, having carefully selected the most suitable composition, size and medium.

Watercolour will be suggested for this exercise but if you prefer to use an alternative medium that’s fine too (All the materials taught so far on the course will be available for you to use today)

Calm-watersrFor those who have taken the full course, today will bring together everything we’ve learned so far: proportion and scale; light and tone; composition, mark-making and colour. You are sure to produce an image that exceeds your expectations.

Price for the course includes:

Use of all the art materials you will need during the day (or week); All the paper you will use during the course; drawing materials to keep on days 1, 2 and 4; Expert tuition with plenty of individual attention including demonstrations where needed. Morning coffee, afternoon tea and biscuits

Price for the course does NOT include:

Transport to and from Glencanisp Lodge. Lunch (which you should bring with you, or I can provide a packed lunch by arrangement). Art materials to take home (except on days 1, 2, 4).

your-sketching-day
On the ‘Windswept Wilderness ‘journey’, we’ll try to set off quite early most days as there is much to see. We’ll take a packed lunch to maximise our time in the location and sometimes we’ll be far from a settlement. Each day there will be at least two exceptional viewpoints and we’ll be sketching quite quickly, aiming to capture and experience as much of the region as possible. In addition there will be a short but spectacular walk, sometimes with the option of a longer one in place of some sketching, especially if we have a wet or windy day.

We don’t need to drive too far in this area to see spectacular sights. Yet we do need transport. Each morning we’ll decide on the driver/s for the day; if it’s cold or damp we might do some sketching from the car and the itinerary is built around this possibility. There are no special ‘tasks’ on this trip as there are on the other ‘Journeys’ as we have less time in each place. However I’ll be on hand at all times to give personal advice when needed.

We’ll aim to arrive back in Lochinver by late afternoon, with a couple of longer days. Timings and stops will be ultimately determined by the interests and needs of the group. Leaving your evenings free to do as you please and perhaps spend time with a non-painting partner, we’ll aim to have a group appraisal every couple of afternoons where we can see how we’re getting on.

The ‘Rocks and Heather’ course is based partly in the studio, with some sketching outside. The hours are from 10am to 4.30pm, thus giving you some time each day to walk or relax at the beach after a fairly intensive day’s learning. On this course we’ll have a short 30 minute break for lunch, which you’ll bring with you (or which I can provide, by arrangement)
Lone-bothyEach itinerary bears in mind the possibility of bad weather and alternatives will be offered. Never forgetting that this is YOUR holiday, no day’s attendance is compulsory. The trips have been designed to maximise your enjoyment of the area within the short timespan but if you feel like a day ‘off’, or if the group as a whole would like a change to the itinerary, it is flexible enough to allow for this.

Are-these-holidays-for-me

The Scottish Highlands, and the West Coast in particular, is for anyone who loves wild, dramatic, spectacular scenery and the feeling of being miles from anywhere in a remote and isolated community. It is not for those who need to be near fancy shops, cinemas and clubs, although we do have bars and restaurants! You also need a somewhat flexible approach to the weather and an understanding of the saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”.

If you don’t mind the odd wet day and can see beauty in a howling gale; if you are comfortable with miles of twisting single-track roads where there are likely to be more sheep than cars, and if you are eager to leave the stresses and pretentions of a city lifestyle behind, then it is certainly the place for you! It might even be life-changing.

Suilven-from-Glen-Canisp‘Windswept Wilderness’ Sketching ‘Journey’ will suit:

Experienced sketchers who want to discover the best views and spend time with a like-minded group; those new to sketching quickly outside who like the idea of practising the skill by visiting lots of stunning locations; those who would like a fairly active holiday in this area and to see as much as possible, yet fancy a bit of sketching as well, rather than climbing the mountains; those new to rough walking and to sketching who would like to try both in one of the most beautiful yet little-known parts of Britain.

It is possibly less suitable for complete beginners requiring a lot of intensive tuition due to the short amount of time we’ll be spending in some of the locations. It is also unsuitable for those with an aversion to walking; the walks are not strenuous but are on uneven terrain and up to 4 hours in length.

‘Rocks & Heather’ introduction to sketching course will suit:

Complete beginners with no experience of painting or drawing who like the idea of sketching the landscape outside; those who have painted before but who are rusty, needing a refresher course; those unused to landscape subjects or beginners with watercolour.

Those who sketch or paint regularly in any medium will probably not need to take this course.

The ‘Week of Workshops’ is ideal for anyone who:

Is a beginner or novice and would like a comprehensive, week-long course covering a variety of different media; those who would like to pick and choose individual workshops while they are on holiday in the area rather than committing to a full week; those who are experienced in other media but would like to try something which is new to them, within a beautiful setting.

If you have any doubts at all about which programme suits your needs, or any questions about travel to the Highlands in general, do not hesitate to ask, and don’t forget to request your Useful Information fact-sheet along with a detailed daily itinerary for your chosen holiday or course.

How-to-book
You may reserve a place on any trip with payment of a 10% deposit All the trips will run subject to the minimum number of participants being reached 6 weeks prior to departure. In the event of insufficient or excess bookings, you will be offered an alternative holiday or a later departure. If this is not suitable your deposit will be refunded. Anyone wishing to join a scheduled trip departing within 6 weeks may do so, subject to availability.

  1. Firstly, please use the contact form to send an e-mail to me, and let me know which trip you are interested in. If you are unsure which will suit you best, I will contact you so that we can go through the options.
  2. When you are ready to make your booking, send me an e-mail. I will confirm exact joining dates, advise on recommended flights (if relevant) and give you payment details so that you can pay your deposit.
  3. I will confirm your booking and your place on your chosen programme, on receipt of:
    The full name, address and phone number of all members of your party
    A 10% non-refundable deposit made by direct bank-to-bank transfer, or (cleared) cheque paid into my UK bank account (NOT posted as I may not be in the country)
    It would also be helpful to include a short summary of your painting experience to date.
  4. I will send you essential information about how to join the group if you are not being met at the airport; advice on choosing flights (if applicable) and what you need to bring with you on your holiday, as well as a more detailed daily itinerary and your Useful Information fact-sheet for the country you will be visiting, if you have not already requested these.
  5. The balance of your payment is due in British pounds, 2 weeks before the commencement of your Sketching Holiday. You may make a bank transfer (recommended), or if you prefer to pay by cheque (in pounds sterling), this must be presented and cleared in my account well before the commencement of the holiday.

Non-UK residents may choose to pay in cash on arrival at the destination but please speak to me about this first.
By making your booking you are agreeing to our ‘Terms and Conditions’, which can be found below.

Contact information:
Email: hello@sketchingholidays.co.uk
Phone: 00 44 (0)798 281 2842 (active only when I am in the UK).
Ask for my Skype name.

Sketching & Painting Holidays in Other Places

Langkawi & Tailor-madeExploratory Trips
other-places
Langkawi

During the months of December and January I run sketching day-trips on the beautiful tropical island of Langkawi, off the NW coast of the Malaysian peninsular.

Close to the Thai border (which is reachable by a short boat ride) it offers stunning limestone scenery: High mountains coated in jungle; hidden waterfalls, glorious white sand beaches and hundreds of uninhabited islands floating in a turquoise sea. Langkawi is very accessible with both sea and air connections and is ideal for sketching or painting holidays in Malaysia.

Sea-breezes

If you are going to be on the island during these months you can pre-book your sketching day-trip and pay on the day.
Visiting two different and equally inspiring locations and suitable for all abilities the cost will be:

  • 1 person 225 MYR (approx. £45)
  • 2 people 125 MYR (approx. £25) each
  • 3 or 4 people 100 MYR (approx. £20) each

Price includes transport, tuition/guidance as needed and all your materials to use for the day.

Tailor-made trips

I believe that the Sketchbook Journeys encompass some of the best scenery that these places have to offer. But with some of the countries so vast, a short trip can only scratch the surface and leave many treasures waiting to be discovered.

If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for here or would like to tweak one of the trips slightly, perhaps in terms of departure point or length, then get in touch and I will do my best to accommodate your wishes. Similarly if you are a group of 4 or more people I can tailor a holiday to suit you.

In the first instance, get in touch by e-mail and share your thoughts… who knows what we can devise!

Exploratory-trips
Would you like to help in the development of a new programme? Do you like the idea of travelling and sketching in a new place without knowing exactly what to expect?
Go into the unknown with a spirit of adventure! Come with me as I research new destinations.

What are the advantages?

I do a lot of the initial research: I will choose location, identify the most suitable accommodation and ideal painting spots, and the logistics of how to get there.

I will provide guidance, encouragement and tuition as required as on a regular sketching holiday but FREE OF CHARGE: I require only that my expenses be covered.

You may bring your own art materials, or I will provide them at cost

You get a say in what and where we paint, helping me to identify the best places for a new Sketching Journey or Break… enjoy seeing our ideas come to fruition!

Have fun exploring with a like-minded small group.

Bring non-painting friends and partners; you organise your own accommodation and travel.

Exploratory trips are planned to the following destinations:

  • Greek Island Hopping, Symi and Santorini (3 trips)
  • Georgia
  • The Azores
  • Sicily
  • La Gomera
  • Corsica

If you think you might like to join me to any of the above destinations please get in touch to register your interest and I will give you an estimated cost.

Let’s go!!

Time-to-relax