One of my favorite things about announcing the new name for our Moment Sketchers community two weeks ago was sharing the backstory for how I got the idea for our sketching challenges in the first place. I’m a huge believer in the power of beginnings, and I always love hearing and sharing about the genesis of ideas.
As I shared with you, the idea for Moment Sketchers came to me last December, and our first sketching challenge launched in January of this year. Then, only a few weeks later, another idea came to me — in addition to online sketching challenges, what if I also organized on-location travel sketching tours? The more I thought about such a workshop, the more it felt like a perfect opportunity to bring together my passion for connection with my passion for teaching.
Suddenly, my mind was dancing with a dozen possibilities — with dates and details, workshop logistics and locations.
Without a doubt, I knew these workshops would be a big part of my vision for 2017.
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My original vision was to spend the month of March planning the workshop, before announcing it in April. As you can see in the above photo, I thought I would host the workshop in Guatemala, where I’ve found lots of inspiration as an artist before. I’ve always had a kind of nerdy love for travel logistics, so I was even excited to take on the organization of the workshop myself.
Finally, March arrived — it was time to get planning! I attended webinars about hosting creative retreats and workshops around the world. I took copious notes, started to learn about things like group liability waivers and cancellation policies, and began to feel just a teeny bit more overwhelmed about taking on the entire logistical side of the workshop.
And then, on a quiet Monday evening during the first week of March, I got an unexpected email.
The email was from a woman named Sharon, who was writing to tell me about her company, Arts & Cultural Travel. She told me that they organize and host tours with artists around the world, and that they especially love working with travel sketchers.
Her email was so serendipitously timed, I could hardly believe the coincidence.
The first thing I did was visit the company’s website — and I immediately loved what I saw. It was colorful, well-designed, and, most important to me, it evoked the same spirit of creativity and adventure I always aim to share here:
“Arts & Cultural Travel is about the state of mind known as flow – the creative place where time stands still. [Our] focus is on experiential travel through cultural explorations, the arts, and culinary samplings…with generous time thrown in for personal growth and creative pursuits.”
When Sharon and I spoke on the phone one week later, I again felt an immediate sense of kinship with her and the company’s ethos. But I was even more impressed by her know-how and expertise in tour planning. I spent a few days thinking about it before I finally decided to begin working with Arts & Cultural Travel — but the decision was one that gave me an instant sense of peace.
It felt great to let an expert take over the logistics, so I could return my own focus to the very things that had inspired me to launch a sketching tour in the first place: Teaching and connection.
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For the past six months, Sharon and I have been slowly bringing my first on-location sketching workshop to life. The very first thing we did was talk about the destination — and we ended up choosing a country in Europe, to make it more accessible to artists from around the world. Again, our minds danced with dates and details and ideas — and today, I can finally share it all with you:
My friends, I’m thrilled to invite you to join me next September…in Portugal!
As I’ve shared with you many times before (especially in my post, “Six Years in 60 Sketches”), Portugal was the first country I ever pulled out my sketchbook in, on a weekend trip to Porto in 2011. Sharon and I both loved the idea of hosting my first sketching tour in the very place I began my own journey as a sketch artist.
The exact dates for the tour are September 10-16th, 2018, and here’s a brief look at the itinerary:
– Arrival in Porto
– Walking tour of Porto
– Regional cooking class and welcome dinner
– Morning sketching workshop #1: Moment Sketchers: The Art and Soul of Travel Sketching (also covering drawing, composition, and perspective)
– On-location sketching in Porto
– Wine cellar visit and tasting
– On-location sketching in Porto
– Coimbra University tour and sketching
– Transfer to Lisbon
– Morning Workshop #2: The Wonder of Watercolors: Honing your medium
– On-location sketching in Lisbon, including visits to Jeronimo’s Monastery and St. George’s Castle
– Daytrip sketching adventure to the villages of Cascais, Sintra, and Pena Palace
– Morning Workshop #3: Project Post-Production: Editing your sketches digitally
– On-location sketching in Lisbon, or solo wandering, shopping, etc.
– Fado music dinner show
– Depart for home
2 Nights’ Accommodation Porto
4 Nights’ Accommodations Lisbon
6 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Full-Time Tour Escort
Private Transfers Porto | Coimbra | Lisbon
Porto Tour with Wine Tastings
Regional Cooking Class
Tour Entrance Fees
$3,425.00 – per person shared accommodations
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There are many more details about the tour on the Arts & Cultural Travel website, so if you’re interested, please visit the workshop’s listing here (or click here to register). For now, there’s just one last thing I want to share with you all today.
There are three things I believe this workshop brings together in a fun and beautiful way:
#1 – Creativity
Whether you’re looking to hone and develop your sketching skills, or discover them for the first time, creativity will be at the heart of this tour. I’m especially excited about the series of in-depth workshops we’ll have on three mornings of the trip, which will cover everything from drawing and composition to watercolors and post-production (i.e. scanning your sketches and creating high-resolution digital versions of your artwork).
#2 – Culture
One of the biggest reasons I love travel sketching is for the way it helps us create rich, vibrant memories of the places we’re exploring — and so, too, will sketching help us absorb and record the culture and traditions of Portugal. From the northern city of Porto to the historic neighborhoods of Lisbon and lastly to the villages of Sintra and Cascais, we will slowly work our way down the coast of Portugal, keeping our senses on high alert as we capture this beautiful country in our sketchbooks.
#3 – Connection
As excited as I am about how this workshop will combine creativity and culture, I must admit that what I’m most looking forward to is helping everyone on this trip grow their courage and comfortability with sketching on-location. From my own journey as an artist, I know that sketching in public can be an intimidating endeavor — but I’ve also come to realize that it’s a powerful, meaningful way to unlock deeper connections when we’re traveling:
Connections with each place, with others, and ultimately, with ourselves.
On this trip, when we’re not taking a deep dive in our morning workshops, we’ll be out sketching together, sitting side-by-side as we capture Porto and Lisbon in our sketchbooks. My hope is that you will not only leave Portugal with greater confidence as an artist, but that the connections and memories you make will leave you enriched as a human being, too.
I can’t wait to share more about this immersive workshop in the coming months, but for now, I’m simply thrilled to launch my first sketching tour — and I hope you’ll consider joining me!
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Have any questions? Please feel free to email me at [email protected],
or contact Sharon directly at Arts & Cultural Travel at [email protected].
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