An Artist’s Journey in Morocco: Watercolor Journal Retreat in Marrakech with Catalina Rodríguez Villazón
June 10 – June 19, 2020
A visual, creative, and magical journey through Marrakech and Morocco-captured through the flow of ideas and watercolor paint onto paper. For artists and all who want to learn to see the world as artists! No previous artistic experience is necessary as the experience here is learning to see, appreciate, and express it all with your own unique creative voice.
Catalina will lead us through a series of 3-hour watercolor workshops over 6 experiential days to translate our inspiring visual journey. We invite you to “see with your heart” the magic of the country, culture and community here-putting your vision and paint on paper in a personally unique watercolor journal.
Experience life. Express yourself. Enjoy the journey!
Meet our Guest Teacher
My name is Catalina Rodríguez Villazón. I’ve been fascinated by art since I was a child. In the last few years I´ve been focusing in nurturing my creativity and knowledge in this field while living in Madrid, where I also studied a Master´s program in Fine Arts at the “Circulo de Bellas Artes” at SUR school.
I am very attracted to color and watercolor painting is my passion. I want my paintings to be fresh, inpatient and experimental! My curiosity for the unknown and my reflection on the quotidian aspects are my main source of inspiration. I am convinced that creativity is contagious and enjoy collaborating with other creators and I believe this brings a huge artistic and personal growth. I’ve been teaching watercolor in many countries around the world; Cuba, Greece, Japan, and I strongly believe Art is an universal language.
A notebook always accompanies me since October 2012. I understand these notebooks as an essential part of all my processes and researches, as a meeting point and as a draft. My diaries allow me to both be and observe on a broader way the day to day of the places I visit. It gives me a different point of view that especially interests me.
On the watercolour journey diaries we create on our adventures in Marrakech and Morocco, I will guide the participants-helping them to develop a personal style and exploring the many ways of being creative with a notebook as you record your life experiences.
Wednesday June 10
Arrival day at Maison 28, including private airport pickup and transfers to the Medina.
Relax and enjoy a buffet lunch at Maison 28 as we get to know each other and begin our creative journey together.
Enjoy a short walk and introduction to the nearby souk markets.
Group welcome dinner on the Terrace at Le Foundouk.
Thursday June 11
Maison 28 Breakfast and morning walk and visits to the Boucharouite Carpet Museum and Orientalist Museum nearby.
Lunch at local restaurant, followed by…
Lesson 1–Let’s dance! Before we can dance freestyle with watercolors we need to learn some basic choreography. Today’s studio lesson’s will begin by breaking down your first steps to begin to create in your own watercolor painting style. After introducing the workshop, Catalina will take you through two exercises to help you feel masterful with your brushes and color palette.
Group dinner and henna party at Maison 28.
Friday June 12
Maision 28 Breakfast followed by a morning walk to the peaceful surroundings and exotic Islamic garden scents at Le Jardin Secret. Return through the souks for lunch at Maison 28 and…
Lesson 2–Finding beauty in simplicity! The Marrakech Medina will excite and activate your senses, perhaps like no place you’ve been or seen before. The souks are filled with artisan activity, colorful displays of spices, beaded and embroidered slippers, elegant metal work, patterned ceramics, pile after pile of pillows, poufs and naturally dyed wool carpets. We will spend the morning exploring this magical maze, absorbing inspiration and capturing it in photos.
After lunch, we will return to the studio to distill all this visual imagery down to create some simple, basic compositions-either from photos taken, treasures purchased, or even inspirational items that can be found throughout Maison 28. Catalina will demonstrate 3 watercolor paintings and you will have 2 hours of painting and exercises to begin filling your journal with the joy of what your eyes have discovered.
In the evening you can enjoy dinner and time on your own.
Saturday June 13
Maison 28 breakfast and a trip to the local Atlas Mountains for…
Lesson 3 –Make a scene! Today’s class takes us to another world entirely as we leave the city in favor of fresh air and fresh views. We will have an intimate visit and day with a Berber family in their home in the Atlas Mountains. Berbers (Amazigh) are the original, indigenous tribes of Morocco, many of whom still live in traditional mud-built homes, grow their own produce and raise their own sheep for the wool that is woven into the famous Moroccan carpets. Known for their hospitality, our hostess will welcome us into her family and take us on a scenic hike to a nearby Berber village while lunch is prepared.
On our return to the house after lunch, Catalina will give our lesson on painting compositions of landscapes and scenery. You can choose to paint from photo-references you snapped along the way, or simply paint the beautiful surroundings of the Berber house and garden.
In the evening we will have a group dinner at a local Medina restaurant.
Sunday June 14
Maison 28 Breakfast and journey to the past for…
Lesson 4–The past is present! Today’s journey takes us to a 19th Century Sultan’s palace and garden designed to capture the essence of Islamic and Moroccan style. The most highly skilled artisans from Fes have filled the rooms and courtyards with breathtaking examples of carved stucco, intricate zellij tiles, and organic, hand painted Zouak patterns on the cedar wood ceilings; the perfect location for today’s demonstration and lesson in color restrictions, perspective, and basic drawing.
We will capture the images that speak to us there and take them with us to the nearby Marrakech Henna Art Café where we can have lunch and class and then spend a quiet afternoon painting in the gallery room.
In the evening you can enjoy dinner and time on your own.
Monday June 15
Today we will head to the bohemian coastal city of Essaouira for 2 days of relaxing painting, enjoying a traditional Berber breakfast along the way. We will stop to see the iconic “goats in the trees” and visit a female-run Argan Oil Cooperative. On arrival to the coast, we’ll enjoy a fresh fish lunch overlooking the beach. After we check into our seaside Riad you can relax or enjoy some local shopping. In the late afternoon we will venture out to traverse the coastal dunes on a group camel ride at sunset.
We will end the day with a group dinner at the lively and entertaining Caravane Café.
Tuesday June 16
Breakfast at Riad Kafila followed by a morning tour of Essaouira with a local-born guide to learn more about the Medina culture, history and current artisans working their craft in Essaouira. After lunch it’s time for…
Lesson 5-Painting from the soul! Experience the bohemian coastal town of Essaouira through the eyes of an artist and capture the essence of this lovely city with the colors that flow from you brushes. This picturesque, blue and white Medina nestles up against an active and inspiring fishing port, offering up unlimited opportunities to focus on urban sketching and filling our watercolor art journals with beautiful blues, bounty from the sea, and portals into another culture.
In the evening you will have the option to come enjoy the sunset at a beachside restaurant or enjoy dinner and time on your own.
Wednesday June 17
Breakfast at Riad Kafila and a free morning to shop or paint on your own.
We will depart Essaouira around noon, stopping for a delightful lunch at a rustic goat cheese farm and restaurant in the hills just East of Essaouira.
A casual pizza/pasta/salad dinner will be served this evening at Maison 28.
Thursday June 18
Maison 28 Breakfast. For our last full day together it’s time to come together to connect the experiences (shared and personal) of the last week of painting and get a clear idea of how to move forward with our own voice and expressions in our art practice.
Lesson 6– Unleashed! Time for personal expression. Completing the last pages of our watercolor journals should give us the opportunity to paint with our own clear voice, style and color palette. We’ve learned and seen so much in the last week. Enjoy letting go of any remaining fears and have fun painting your last compositions with confidence, mixing and matching all that you’ve learned and experienced. Time in Marrakech and Morocco is a gift for the eyes and soul. Let’s celebrate life and being here with our brushes in hand!
Evening brings final cheers on the rooftop terrace with wine and tapas!
Friday June 19
Maison 28 Breakfast and private airport transport as you depart for your next journey in art and in life.
Shukran! Beslama! Bon Voyage!
Payment and Terms
$3695 private queen room
$3095 shared twin room
(all rooms have ensuite private baths)
A non-refundable deposit* is required to reserve your space.
The remaining balance will be due over 2 additional equal payments on the dates indicated on our check out page.
*All payments become final upon receipt
By registering for this trip with your deposit, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Cancellation Policy and to purchase Trip Insurance
• 6 days of 3-hour Watercolor Workshops
• Private transportation throughout including airport pickup/dropoff
• Enrance to museums and historical sites
• Day trip to Berber Village
• 3 day/2 night trip to Essaouira
• Cocktails/Henna party
• Breakfast & Lunch Daily
• 7 dinner experiences
• Planning assistance for your free time (spa, dinners, etc)
• Mandatory Travel Insurance
• Dinners, activities, and tours taken during your “free” time
• Class supplies (shopping list provided)
• Alcohol outside of Maison 28 dinners
• Staff gratuities
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.