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.”
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!
- Next Trip(s): October 2019, March 2020 (please enquire for exact dates)
- Duration: 12 nights Marrakech- Marrakech
- Principle medium: Watercolours
- Price: £1250
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.
TThe nature of this trips means there is inevitably a little more driving involved. Distances can be large and occasionally, the terrain challenging. However the incredible variety we pack into this holiday makes it a very worthwhile introduction to the country and we make time for our sketchbooks every day.
Snow-capped High Atlas panoramas; Serenely crumbling Kasbah Telouet; Rock formations of the Dades Valley; Unforgettable journey across desert plains to remote retreat of M’Harech; Palm-lined Draa Valley and the stunningly situated Ait Benhaddou.
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).
- Day 1: Drive over the Atlas Mountains via the Tizi-n-Tichka pass to the Glaoui palace at Telouet.
- Day 2: On through the desert gateway of Ouarzazate to Skoura with its kasbah and palmery
- Day 3: To the Dades Valley with its weird rock formations and spectacular gorge
- Day 4: Full day exploring the Dades area, ‘Valley of 1000 Kasbahs’
- Day 5: Spectacular routes through little-visited, stony desert to M’Harech oasis
- Day 6: A whole day to immerse yourself in this wonderful, remote region through which the Paris-Dakar rally used to pass
- Day 7: Through dramatic sand and rockscapes to Zagora on the edge of the Sahara
- Day 8: Enjoy the beautiful, palm-lined Draa Valley with its imposing mountain backdrop
- Day 9: Explore and sketch historic ruins of Tamnougalt before the scenic journey to Ait Benhaddou
- Day 10: Full day sketching the wonderfully-preserved and picturesque hilltop kasbah
- Day 11: Sketching the High Atlas from the pass before descending to Marrakech, with a possibility to meet at the famous Djemma el Fnaa in the evening
Please ask for a detailed day by day itinerary for any of these trips.
The prices for all Morocco itineraries include:
All transport including airport transfers (where possible); accommodation and breakfast for all nights of the trip; dinner on all nights outside of Marrakech and Fez; packed lunches as stated in the itineraries; services of driver/guide and host/tutor; Art Pack containing all the materials you will need on the holiday and overnight camel trip (on ‘Painted Desert’ itinerary)
Flights; airport transfers if your flight is on a different day or an unusual time (this will be discussed at time of booking); dinners in Marrakech and Fez; some lunches along the route where we stop in local cafes; entrance fees to kasbahs (these are not high); any tips you may wish to leave (especially for optional/unofficial guides) and carpets, which are strictly optional, despite what the salesman tries to tell you!
- Next Trip(s): March 2020, October 2020 (please enquire for exact dates)
- Duration: 8 nights Fez-Fez
- Principle medium: Inks
- Price: £900
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!
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. Followed by an overnight camel trip
- Day 6: Full day in the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi
- 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.
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.
On 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
On 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 !
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 primarily for their location, and for their reliability in terms of cleanliness and friendliness. Most people love staying in them but they are not 5-star. You can expect hot water (most of the time), decent, (often excellent) traditional Moroccan food, clean sheets and a warm welcome. Almost always, you will have your own bathroom, but just occasionally it might need to be shared (for instance on the overnight camel trip).
Some of the places, especially in the desert, are quite simple and ‘rustic’, which in our opinion is part of their charm. Sometimes 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 and the wifi, where it exists, will almost certainly be slower than you’d like. Sit back, close your eyes and wiggle your toes in the sand. This is Africa!
On some days there will 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 moving much on any given day, healthy and reasonably fit people will get more out of these trips.
In many cases, 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.
I endeavour to find locations with shade. This is usually, but not always, possible. In March/April and October the heat is bearable (or indeed, enjoyable) for most people. But if you really dislike the sun, then perhaps Morocco is not the ideal destination for you.
Transport & travel
We travel in a comfy 4×4 with an experienced, safe and friendly local driver who speaks our language.
Some driving days 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 through are breathtaking. No day is comprised solely of travelling and there is always plenty of sketching time built into the itineraries. 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.
With one or two exceptions, the trips are designed to be ‘holidays’ rather than ‘courses’, and as such do not follow a structured learning syllabus. However, special ‘tasks’ will be given most days which are designed to stimulate and inspire. These are optional, but useful and fun, and can be tailored to the individual. We meet regularly for group appraisals and progress is closely monitored. Beginners and novices are given all the help and encouragement they need while the more experienced are at liberty to pursue their own directions.
I want everyone who comes on a Vistas Sketching Holiday to have a wonderful time which exceeds their expectations, which is why I aim to be as open and honest as possible about the reality of travel here, and about these trips in particular. On a Vistas ‘Sketchbook Journey’, the exploration of the country is as important as the activity of sketching itself, which sets them apart from other painting holidays. They might not be right for everyone. But if you are adventurous in spirit, like dramatic, wild and surprising landscapes as well as ancient and fascinating cultures, and if you appreciate a challenge, then you will not be disappointed.
- Next Trip(s): March 2020 (please enquire for exact dates)
- Duration:3 days, 4 nights from Erfoud, Merzouga or Rissani
- Medium: Sketching media and watercolours
- Price: £425 per person. (This course can be booked for individual 1 to 1 tuition)
This very intensive short course, held at a simple yet comfortable ‘auberge’ in a sea of sand close to the dunes 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 peaceful surroundings, warm sunny weather and relaxed atmosphere will encourage your creativity while the combination of expert, patient tutoring, regular demonstrations and small group size (or individual attention) will ensure that you learn a lot in a very short space of time.
This is the perfect excuse to spend a few days relaxing in the tranquility of the desert enjoying typical Berber hospitality, sleep under a blanket of stars and come away with a new skill. Perfect for those with time constraints, or as part of a longer trip.
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.
The price for this course includes:
Transport from Erfoud, Rissani or Merzouga to desert hotel; 4 nights accommodation (including the night before the start of your course); 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:
Onward transport to and from other parts of Morocco; extra nights in hotel if you decide to extend your stay; extra activities provided by the hotel (such as camel trips, day trips); optional drinks and snacks; bottled water.
Your time at this location can be extended or combined with a camel trip or multi-day sightseeing trips; just ask for details.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Phone: 00 44 (0)798 281 2842 (active only when I am in the UK).
Ask for my Skype name.