Mount Teide towers above Tenerife, one of a chain of volcanic islands adrift in the Atlantic, part of Spain but very much closer to Africa than Europe. Because of their location the Canary Islands have a unique assemblage of plants and this tour offers the chance to prepare botanical drawings and paintings of some of the loveliest, set among their rugged natural habitats, which vary from lava fields and laurel forests to rocky coasts and cliffs. Aimed at the practical use of skills in the field each day will be spent outside with wild flora in situ to provide opportunities for the different techniques needed to create or prepare beautiful botanical art in the outdoor environment. Expert tuition will be given throughout from our art team of Jacqui Pestell and Işık Guner, with additional botanical expertise on hand to identify the many plants. Our peaceful hotel has tastefully decorated rooms, a four hundred year-old dragon tree and an extensive patio decked with exotic plants. Morning excursions will start at 9am with drives to suitable locations with plenty of interesting and distinctive native flora and will continue until 5.30 pm. The local cuisine also has a distinctive flavour, not just Spanish but often with a local twist and enhanced with garlic-rich rojo-mojo or washed down with a glass of honey rum.
We will be exploring in the rugged beauty inland from our hotel, home to wonderful endemic plants such as Canarina canariensis, Euphorbia atropurpurea and Echium virescens, possible subjects for our first sketches. Jacqui Pestell and Işık Güner will demonstrate how to prepare these pencil sketches in the field. You will also get information about how good photography can support of your first hand experience of sketching in the field. Later in the afternoon we will begin to work with watercolours on the sketches.
The picturesque northeast coast of Tenerife has many dramatic vistas, partly clothed in laurel forest with banks peppered with charming rosettes of the native succulents, and bushy Echium leucophaeum. Today Jacqui will also demonstrate how to use tip pens and tint to enhance all of the amazing subtle botanical details.
The rocky coastal area of Punta de Teno has architectural Euphorbia canariensis, Limonium pectinata and Euphorbia aphylla amongst many other plants, which we can enjoy in situ. While learning about these specialist plants you will also learn how to capture them in their habitat in your sketchbook, including different techniques, including watercolour pens.
Today we will look closely at the details of the plants that we will discover in Tenerife’s excellent botanical garden. Demonstrations will take place on observing vital details in subject matter and how to represent this in our art.
For our last day we can spend it finishing our earlier work or take a journey high up onto Mount Teide, we will discover new plants like Argyranthemum fruticans and Lotus campylocladus as well as the incredible rosettes of Echim wildpretii. The latter is set amidst remarkable lava forms with the towering volcano behind. Once again we have an opportunity to develop our skills in the field and you will be free to select any technique you like to use to master it.
Taroudant in western Morocco is a centre for delightful gardens and exclusive riads that has also attracted world famous artists such as Claudio Bravo. The remarkable Dar al Housson has an unparalleled collection of cacti, succulents and other exotic plants, enclosed within adobe walls with elegant long pools and choice Moroccan decor - a haven of tranquility, perfectly suited to painting and enjoying the rich cuisine and warm weather. Our tours are led by Isik Guner, our award-winning botanical artist. The days here will be spent enjoying classes (for all abilities) or optional garden visits in the morning or exploring the local area in the afternoon. For those that would like to see more of this colourful country there is the excitement of Marrakesh. Only a few hours drive away, a swirl of colours, smells and sounds lies within a labyrinth of alleyways, a delight to explore. Tucked among all of this activity are peaceful riads, ideal places to recuperate from shopping.
This wonderful holiday combines a relaxed atmosphere with the opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge of botanical art. The art classes will be held in the garden of an exquisite riad with excellent hospitality, providing an opportunity to paint exotic plants, cacti and succulents collected from around the world. The classes will demonstrate the different techniques of watercolour in botanical illustrations, using subject matter collected from the garden.
Art classes will start at 10 am and will continue till 4 pm. Each morning Işık will demonstrate the different techniques and approaches that achieve life-like paintings. You will have the opportunity to choose your own sample on which to practice and complete with Işık’s guidance. The classes will help you to combine scientific accuracy with an aesthetic vision to create beautiful botanical paintings. Since the classes will be in a beautiful garden you are free to take a break whenever you want to explore further, sample more of the delicious food or to simply relax and enjoy the delightful ambiance.
There will be an end of tour party to review and enjoy your work.
19 March To Agadir – transfer to Dar al Housson
20-24 March Botanical art classes, painting and optional excursions*
25 March Flights home
25 March To Marrakesh
26-27 March Marrakesh
28 March Flights home
*To Claudio Bravo's estate and other local private gardens and the local souk.
Greece in autumn is a delight. The crowds of summer have departed, but there is still warmth, wonderful light and a suite a lovely autumn flowers emerges after the first rains. Crocuses, sternbergia and cyclamen all make perfect choices to paint as do the labyrinthine streets of Byzantine Monemvasia in the Peleponese, the Greek deep south.
We will be doing watercolour sketches in the field and also learning how to complete them from their photographs.
Led by Isik Guner our award-winning botanical artist.
Fly to Athens and then drive to Monemvasia is the far south.
The immaculately restored Byzantine town is nestled at the foot of sheer cliffs with fabulous views out across the Aegean to the rugged hills of the Mani Peninsula. A track leads up to the ruined old city above the town where Colchicum cupanii and Sternbergia sicula flower amid architectural bushes of Euphorbia dendroides.
A longer day trip takes us to the famed Mani Peninsula, a botanical hotspot where we’ll find the wonderful Crocus niveus, Crocus boryi, masses of Cyclamen graecum some with exquisite marbled leaves – an absolute joy to paint, as well as plentiful Sternbergia lutea. The rugged landscape is dotted with old square towers amid olive groves and a tortuous coastline.
Close to Monenvasia little country roads climb into the hills where olive terraces are plastered with Cyclamen hederifolium and grassy areas are awash with white crocuses. The views back to Monemvasia are sublime. If we have time we’ll seek out the rare and lovely Colchicum sfikassianum, a checkered delight.
We focus on the mass displays of floriferous Crocus gouylmyi and species only found in this part of Greece. They gild old threshing circles and olive groves and nearby will be other lovely species including Crocus cancellatus, with delicate fine lines and a subtle bluish colour.
There will be an optional excursion to the fine Byzantine city of Mystra, near Sparti. The extensive site is a pleasure to explore with many well-restored buildings rubbing shoulders with shattered ruins, a classic before and after. Botanical art interest is provided by the refined and delicate autumn snowdrops we find in an area of moss-clad plane tree woodland.
In the morning we’ll drive north to Athens airport. If there is time in our flight schedule we may visit the dramatic ruins at Sounion, whose columns overlook the sea.