Spring Watercolor Painting and graphics Retreat Hosted by Eleanor Mill

Spring Watercolor Painting and graphics Retreat Hosted by Eleanor Mill
1-8 October 2023

Description of my artist technique:

I am a watercolour and graphics artist. Foremost I work in a realistic manner.

What I reckon is that the best practice for learning & pleasure is Plein Air and Urban sketching.

As a Plein air practice, I’m going to teach my students watercolour wet-on-wet technique. It is a quick and impressive way, which helps to create air-filled spaciousness landscapes. Usually work on the painting takes 3-4 hours.

Watercolor wet-on-wet or watercolor on glass is one of the classic techniques.

The most important tool for this technique is a glass (plastic or plexiglass, or any water-resistant surface)

The key aspect of this technique is that we no need of any additional fasteners. We no need to fix a sheet to the surface.

We use a wet sheet of paper without tape, clothespins, clips or any others.

The idea is that as long the sheet is wet, it is absolutely flat. That is a perfect surface to work on.

We moisten the leaf on the back side only. Then wet back side of the sheet securely stick to the glass. Paper won’t bend and wave during the work.

The sheet will be generously soaked with moisture, but the front side will remain dry enough so that the watercolour does not spread over it. In this way, we will be able to control the edges of our drawing. And any applied colour won’t dry immediately and will remain mobile for some time.

My recommendation list of tools:

- Plastic or plexiglass, or any hard water-resistant surface. I recommend using a 40x60 cm drawing board.

- Watercolor paper 100% cotton. I usually use a half of imperial sheet paper: 38x56 cm. But it’s optional.

- Watercolor paint set. It’s better to use your favorite. I could give some recommendations for colors, but I’m not sure that it’s necessary.

- Watercolor brushes: round, flat or just favorite type and sizes.

- Optional! But I also use tripod support for my glass surface. It is very useful.

- Graphit pencil.

- A few clips (usually we don’t use it, but sometimes on the windy day it’s better to have additional fasteners. The only extra difficulty may occur on the street on a windy day. A gust of wind may simply rip a piece of paper off the surface. And it will fly away.)

- A bottle of water + spray with water.

In the second part of the practice we are going to give our attention to sketching in an album. As a result at the end of our trip, we will get a beautiful album of Morocco sketches. The drawing story of our travel in the art book, what could be better for sweet memories?

Example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WW-7CmhSnw

The urban sketch is a short drawing from the spot. It takes usually 30-90 minutes. During one day we can mix one big watercolor artwork wet-on-wet and a couple of sketches.


What we need for sketching:

- Art album with watercolor paper or set of singles sheet. But I recommend use an album for creating a whole story.

- It’s better to have HP or CP surface of the paper. (I prefer HP - Hot Press for sketching).

- Watercolor set.

- Liners or ink pen with water-resistant ink.

- Pen or liner with white ink might be helpful.

So watercolor wet-on-wet and urban sketch is a perfect opportunity to practice our skills, save unforgettable memories and enjoy picturesque and vivid Morocco landscape.

Day 1

 1st day: MARRAKECH - TELOUET OASIS - AIT BEN HADDOU -

Morning departure with our  vehicle to the High Atlas through the Tichka pass (2260 m). Then you take the direction of the very beautiful site of Telouet from where you join the kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou by the old caravan route. have  Lunch and visit this jewel that is classified as World Heritage by Unesco. 4 hours - painting

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Day 2

 2nd day: AIT BEN HADDOU

first sketch of Aït Ben Haddou from the panoramic terrace our gîte. In the afternoon, visit to the historic city and sketch in the shaded alleys and on the edge of the wadi. 4 hours painting
historic city - 4 sketch session

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Day 3

Day 3: Ouarzazate- Zagora - M’hamid - Erg Chegaga

Departure from Ouarzazate to Zagora, M’hamid, stop in Tamgroute to visit the Koranic library and the manufacture of pottery. Then continue until M’hamid. Lunch. In the afternoon, departure for the Chegaga dunes, crossing 60 km of desert, passing through the sacred oasis. Arrival at the magnificent camp before sunset, take a walk in dromedary, welcome tea, evening animated by songs from nomads, dinner and night in tent at the feet of the dunes. 2 hours painting in Zagora after lunch.
1 hour to 2 hours sketch session in the desert .

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Day 4

Day 4: Erg Chegaga - Foum Zguid – Skoura

After breakfast in the middle of the desert, departure to cross 90 km more in the desert via Lake Iriqui and the village of Foum-Zguid, midday meal on the road, then pursuit to Ouarzazate. Arrived at the end of the afternoon. 4 hours painting after breakfast.

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Day 5

5th day: Kasbah Amerhidil

The kasbah Amerhidil is impressive for its size .It was built by the master of the Glaoui Qur’ an in the seventeenth century.

The visit to the inner courtyard and apartments makes it possible to understand some of the rules of community life in such a building: the 5 windows of the prayer room symbolizing the number of prayers per day ; the 4 towers used by the 4 women of the master of the place. A small museum presents objects of daily life from the period and an olive press. 4 hours sketch session in the morning.
4 hours painting afer lunch.

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Day 6

6th day: palm - MARRAKECH

You return to Marrakech by the Tichka pass and the laurel road. Visit to the medina. At a time when the sun is setting in the famous Place Djemaa el Fna, also classified as a heritage of humanity, acrobats, snake charmers, storytellers, musicians, etc., are busy entertaining you. A unique time to penetrate the soul of Marrakech. 4 hours painting after lunch

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Day 7

 7th day : Marrakesh 

Get a Lay of the Land

Today, enjoy a full day of sightseeing of this incredible city. Your guide will meet you at the hotel lobby. Start with visits to:

El-Bahia Palace

This 19th century palace is elaborate in its decoration and was built over a period seven years for Ba Ahmed, the son of the Grand Vizier Si Moussa. There are row after row of apartments-that once housed Ahmed’s harem-a trapezoidal garden, a huge tiled courtyard, and many hidden treasures, both in the form of antique objects d’art, and the palace’s convergence of Andalusian and Moorish architecture. Continue to Menara Gardens in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, and wander among the olive trees surrounding the central lake.

Stop for a lunch at a local restaurant (You will pay directly for your meal).

After lunch you will continue the tour. You will have the visit of the botanical gardens of Marjorelle, a property acquired in 1922 by the painter of the same name and then bought and developed by Yves St Laurent. These gardens are an oasis in the heart of the city and rich with flora and fauna. Once inside the garden walls, you would never think you were in the heart of a busy city.

Then on to Le Jardin Secret. One of the largest and oldest riads in the medina has been beautifully restored to showcase the art and architecture of Moroccan gardens. Behind high walls is a hidden oasis that celebrates the ancient role of gardens and water in traditional Moroccan living. One garden features exotic plants from around the world; and the Islamic Garden symbolizes paradise as it is described in the Koran. In addition to the gardens and ancient water fountain system, there are restored buildings including a hammam and café that offers lovely views of the gardens and medina. 2 hours to 3 hours sketch session in the morning visiting " El Bahia"
4 hours painting after lunch.

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Day 8

8th day: Marrakech airport

After breakfast, you will be taken from the riad / hotel to Marrakech airport. End of Circuit 8 and end of our services.

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Southern Morocco


Discover the riches of southern Morocco; sand dunes, plateaus and oases. From Marrakech, you cross the High Atlas, descend to the Daraa Valley, cross the great zagoura and Mhamid desert. In addition, you will discover all the wealth of the Zagora region: the stage city for the caravans who went across the Sahara to bring back the precious salt, gold and ivory from Timbuktu. Under palm trees, fruit trees and crops, a multitude of villages and sumptuous kasbah are available to you. You will leave Zagora via the Drâa valley by the road leading to Ouarzazate, and from there will join the pearl of the south: Marrakech.


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Gallery Photos :


Do you have pre-booking questions? Please contact us.

contact us quick question

Good To Know

Travelers from the US only are required to have a valid US Passport – but it must NOT be due to expire within 6 months of your return flight.

Your flight destination will be Marrakech Menara International Airport (RAK) / Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport. Royal Air Maroc is the only airline that has direct flights from the US to Morocco, from both JFK and Washington Dulles.

You can also book flights traveling through major European airports, as there are many connecting flights to Marrakech through economy airlines such as Ryan Air, Easyjet, Iberia, etc. We’ve found that it is easier to find good connecting flights on the way to Marrakech than on the return, but you can take the opportunity to end your trip with a day or two stop in Spain, France, Portugal, England….

Immunizations are not required or necessary but check here for CDC recommendations.

Weather is predictably unpredictable so be sure to check on the estimated conditions the week before you travel. Even though Marrakech can be quite warm by day, it is usually quite cooler at night so pack light clothes that you can layer. We recommend cotton pants, long skirts, wraps or large scarves over tank and tee shirts, and a sweater or light jacket for chilly nights.

Your most important fashion asset: comfortable shoes for traversing the Medina on sightseeing and shopping adventures!

Morocco is a Muslim country and women generally dress more modestly than in the US or Europe. Like elsewhere, dress codes are gradually becoming more lax and there is a lot of tolerance for tourists, but wearing clothing that covers your best “assets”, and that your grandmother would approve of, shows cultural respect, good taste, and common sense.

The currency here is the Moroccan Dirham, and the exchange rate usually hovers these days around 10 Dirhams/1 Dollar. You CANNOT exchange for Dirhams outside of Morocco, but there are several currency exchange booths in the airport when you exit Passport Control and also located all around the Medina. Larger stores and restaurants may take Euros, but it’s really best to have dirhams.

If you bring large bills ($100) to exchange be sure that they are newer bills with holograms. Otherwise they will slide them back to you with a shake of their head.

Another good option for padding your wallet with dirhams is to use the ATM machines which are located around the medina. The exchange rate is a little better, especially if your bank or credit card doesn’t add foreign transaction fees (some homework for you). Be sure to notify your bank of your foreign travel destination so they don’t flag you for fraud. I also recommend that you bring 2 or 3 cards-just in case you still get flagged (happens!) and find too many things you just can’t live without.

  • Free Wifi access in all rooms and common areas
  • Bedside Mineral Water
  • Hair Dryers
  • One-time complimentary laundry service for retreat weeks

Extra items you should pack:

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