Zouak Painting Retreat with Natasha Mann 2018-01-19T23:42:33+00:00

Zouak Painting Retreat with Natasha Mann

March 30 – April 7, 2019


Traditional Moroccan painting on wood, known as Zouak, is a painting technique original to Morocco which creates arresting and powerful designs. Found painted onto ceilings, doors, and furniture, it is an integral part of the decoration of private homes and public buildings in Morocco. Although many countries practice the art of painting on wood, Zouak has a distinctive style that is unique to Morocco due to its rich and varied history.

During the course students will learn the traditional techniques of Moroccan Zouak painting on wood to create their own piece. They will be given an introduction to the history of Zouak painting and the opportunity to view historical examples of exquisite Zouaq painted surfaces first hand in sites throughout Marrakech. Students will be choose from a selection of traditional Moroccan designs to create their own stencil to transfer the design to wood. They will learn the techniques of preparing and painting with egg tempera paint using hand-ground natural pigments and have the opportunity to add gilding with 24 carat gold leaf. Students will leave the course with their own Zouak painted panel.

Natasha Mann is an artist specializing in the traditional Moroccan art of Zouak painting on wood. In 2007 she moved to the old city of Fes, Morocco to undertake a ten month apprenticeship in Zouak painting with a local master craftsman, becoming skilled in the different geometric and floral styles, making paintbrushes by hand, and the traditional Zouak painting techniques still practiced today. Since returning to England she continues to study and research traditional pigments and painting techniques and frequently travels to Morocco.

Natasha holds a degree in Arabic and French from the University of Cambridge and an MA from the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. She is a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) Scholar, Radcliffe Trust grantee and in 2014 she was awarded the Barakat Prize for outstanding contribution to Islamic Art by HRH Prince Charles. She has exhibited across the UK and internationally.






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Exclusive Itinerary

Day 1 – Saturday

a warm welcome to Marrakech!

Plan your arrival to Marrakech for late morning/midday with Airport Transfer to Maison 28. We’ll welcome you with Atay (Moroccan Mint Tea) and you own personal pair of Maison 28 house slippers. Enjoy an alfresco lunch at local restaurant La Ferme Medina followed by a neighborhood and Souk Orientation Walk. Dinner together at a lovely local restaurant.

Day 2 – Sunday

inspiring introduction to the art and application of Zouak painting…

Wake up for a Maison 28 breakfast, followed by an introduction to Zouak painting styles and techniques with Natasha. Then we’ll head out for a guided tour of “Zouak-rich” historical sites in the Marrakech Medina with a lunch stop in the Unesco-heritage Jemaa el- fna square. Late afternoon brings an egg tempera paint intro and demonstration followed by a cocktail & henna party on the roof terrace and dinner at Maison 28.

Day 3 – Monday

another colorful day awaits…

Maison 28 breakfast is followed by a day long dive into Zouak painting lessons and start on your own project with Natasha. Midday terrace lunch at Maison 28 and finishing up the day with a delicious dinner at local medina restaurant.

Day 4 – Tuesday

the creativity and discovery continues…

Enjoy a Maison 28 breakfast followed by another full day of Zouak project painting. We’ll have dinner together at a local Medina restaurant.

Day 5 – Wednesday

the creativity and discovery continues…

Enjoy a Maison 28 breakfast followed by more Zouak lessons and project work. After lunch and afternoon studio time we’ll visit the local Berber Heritage Museum and give you the time for shopping, sightseeing, and dinner on your own.

Day 6 – Thursday

studio work and shimmy time…

Maison 28 breakfast followed by final Zouak painting lessons and project wrap-up with Natasha. Midday terrace Lunch at Maison 28. Enjoy some free time if you finish early before we head head out together for a dinner/belly dancing show at a Medina restaurant.

Day 7 – Friday

Marrakech on two wheels…

Following a Maison 28 breakfast we’ll head out for completely different way to enjoy Marrakech…a guided Bike Tour that will allow you to photograph some of the most beautiful sites in the city, including Majorelle Garden – famously brought back to life by Yves St. Laurent. After a medina lunch together you have another free afternoon for additional studio work/ spa/shopping as you wish. Dinner is on your own.

Day 8 – Saturday

time to explore…

Maison 28 breakfast. Then we will visit the iconic and chic El Fenn hotel for their famous rooftop, family style lunch of the day. After lunch, we tour the nearby by Le Jardin Secret, with its lush gardens and gorgeous architecture. Then we’ll share a Tanjia dinner (slow-cooked Marrakech specialty!) for your final evening at Maison 28.

Day 9 – Sunday

Bislama! Time to go with your lovely artwork and special memories…

Enjoy your last Maison 28 breakfast before your morning airport transfer for departure.

Payment and Terms

$2895 (private room w/ ensuite bath-full or queen bed)

$2495 (shared room w/ ensuite bath-twin beds)

A non-refundable deposit of $695 is required to reserve your space.

The remaining balance will be due over 2 additional equal payments on October 6, 2018and January 5, 2019 You will be emailed an invoice for each payment 2 weeks prior to the due date.

Cancellation Policy:

Your deposit and subsequent payments are a commitment and each payment becomes non-refundable at the time it is received.

IF you are forced to cancel before September 15, 2017 and your reserved spot can be transferred to another person, we will refund any previous payments less the $695 deposit. No refunds or transfers will be available after your final payment.

By registering for this trip with your deposit, you agree to the above Cancellation Policy and to purchase your own trip insurance.


  • • Zouak painting workshop/project with Natasha Mann
    • Set of 3 pointed sable sign painter’s brushes
    • Airport transfers
    • Private transportation throughout
    • Guided Medina walking tour
    • Entrance to Museums, Gardens, and Historical Sites
    • Guided Photography bike tour of Marrakech
    • Cocktails/Henna party
    • Breakfast each day
    • 7 delicious lunches
    • 6 dinner experiences
    • Maison 28 babouches (house slippers) to keep
    • Planning assistance for your free time (spa, dinners, etc)
    • New friendships & cultural experiences
    • SO many amazing memories

    Not included:

    • Airfare (flight suggestions provided upon registration-Royal Air Maroc offers round trip flights to Marrakech from JFK and Washington Dulles on dates you’ll be flying)
    • Travel Insurance (highly suggested)
    • Lunches, dinners, tours taken during your “free” time
    • All shopping and cost of shipping if applicable
    • Alcohol outside of planned dinners
    • Staff gratuities

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“Natasha was a very patient and knowledgeable teacher. It was wonderful to be given time to look at all the different pigments and to grind our own colours. We love the two Zouaq pieces we made which hang on the wall in our home. It’s a wonderfully detailed and interesting course which I would recommend to all, regardless of artistic ability.” ~ Rebecca Gethings

“Natasha is an inspirational, knowledgeable and patient teacher. She guides you through the process and materials simply and effortlessly and with good humour to produce a beautiful finished piece.” ~ Nicki Wisbey

“Kind, fun, energetic and eternally patient, Natasha is exactly the person to guide you through new and complex artistic waters ….The course was everything I had hoped it would be…. Natasha’s patience and support meant that every person created an image that was totally individual… I can’t recommend it enough.” ~ Clarice Holt, illustrator

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). 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. Maison 28 is located in a more conservative, residential area in the old Medina. 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.

Maison 28 offers:

  • 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:

  • European Plug adapters
  • Electricity Converter for hair appliances (cellphones and computers generally have built-in converters)
  • Ear Plugs – especially if you’re a light sleeper. Maison 28 is in a quiet neighborhood but there is local “wildlife”, i.e. Medina cats and a neighborhood rooster who sometimes like to make themselves heard. Also, the first call to prayer from the surrounding Mosques occurs about an hour before dawn.