Art Adventures

Heading down to explore San Diego in search of landscape inspiration outside the Pacific Northwest, I wasn’t clear what this area had to offer. I’m happy to say it is so beautiful here. I can see why people choose to live in California.

Leaving the rainy, chilly climate of Oregon, we were greeted with this gorgeous pink profusion of color near our home base in Escondido.

Warm, sunny days and flowers blooming everywhere? Yep. I’m thinking this was a great choice for a research trip!

The first day, we adventured to Balboa Park. While it wasn’t necessarily inspiration for landscape paintings, it was culturally and artistically inspiring.

Orchids in the atrium gloriously exhibited a rainbow of stunning colors against dark green background foliage.

And just look at these greens!!

We visited the Museum of Natural History and then headed to the Balboa Spanish Village Art Center, which is packed with small buildings of different artists and their creations. An explosion of color and creativity!

Casa del Prado, near the art center, is a reconstruction of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It is used for youth activities, Park and Rec, and the Botanical Garden Foundation.

Afterwards, we headed back to our home base, absorbed the beauty of the valley, ate chips and salsa, and drank a margarita.

View from our back deck. Love it here.

Until tomorrow, my friends.


Last full day of Paint Costa Rica. It’s hard to think of leaving Costa Rica, our friends, our time of creativity and adventure. And let’s be honest. It’s also hard to leave the warm climate!

We woke up early for nearby Mirador Hike…

…which is a short climb up to the remains of an unfinished hotel. The ruins are a popular hike for locals and graffiti artists, providing a beautiful view of the ocean and downtown Jaco.

First viewpoint of Jaco. Glorious! A little hot for early in the morning, though!

But not too hot for silly.

Graffiti filled the walls of the main structure.


Then we went into Jaco to pick up a couple of souvenirs.

And once again, The Green Room restaurant. This time for breakfast.

On the way game, a few of us stopped for a quick photo shoot at the famous Jaco sign.

At Vida Asana, people swam, painted, visited, read books and just relaxed. For our last painting meeting, we shared thoughts about the week, from what we learned to our favorite lesson, to how wonderful the week turned out.

Everyone shared their work, including self-guided plein air pieces, and thoughts on how successful those pieces felt.

I simply cannot express how truly wonderful this week has been. Not only the painting, but women supporting women in all walks of life, at all stages and ages, connecting and embracing the differences and wisdom we each bring. I believe we all healed a part of ourselves here at Vida Asana, finding authenticity and love and strength.

Painting growth, too, abounded. I pushed each student to try something new, to reach to the next level in their art. and they responded enthusiastically.

Cheers to my crew who joined me. I love each and every one of you. I appreciate where you are in your lives and in your artistic journey.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything.

Until next time, my friends. We await a new adventure.


Today we painted early right after breakfast. I had planned and prepared to paint a landscape, but decided to change things up to plein air paint a cluster of bamboo.

We still worked step by step, but were looking at the plants live as we painted.

Some painted using the bar counter with swings.

Since the bamboo was directly across the road.

After finishing trunks, we added branches, leaves, and foreground.

For lunch, we had fresh vegan sushi wraps with rice and fruit.

Afterwards, we headed to Jaco for a bank run, and ended up with drinks and appetizers at The Green Room, where we were surrounded by fantastic locally produced artwork.

We relaxed by the pool after dinner, visiting together for hours before retiring to our rooms.

More adventures await tomorrow!


Costa Rica is not only a painting retreat, but a trip for the soul. We build new connections and friendships, renew bonds with ourselves and friends, and discover healing as we address those concerns in our hearts. I’m eternally grateful for all the women friendships and wisdom in my life that they graciously share. We can begin to heal with laughter and understanding.

With that in mind today, Once we finished yoga and breakfast, I taught a lesson on how to paint beach waves and surf. I believe waves and the ocean are healing and comforting.

Here is my painting crew, at the table we use in the main gathering space.

Lessons were step by step. First I had everyone draw horizon lines representing waves. Then we began to paint the waves, moving down towards the bottom of the paper.

As we worked down the paper, we built on wave layers, varying width, value, and color to add interest.

Once waves reached near the bottom, we worked on textured sand, followed by a cobalt sky with a few clouds near the horizon.

So much fun!

After dinner, our group assembled in various clusters. Some did a horseback tour with mud spa.

Some shopped or just relaxed at the pool.

I took a bike to the beach, painted, and then relaxed by the pool, returning to the jungle Shala to paint again.

As Buddha looked on.

More adventure awaits tomorrow!

Leave a comment

Today we split our group. Some of us went on the Rainmaker tour, which is a 2 mile loop hike in the jungle, with tires for stairs and suspension bridges. Others from our group went shopping in Jaco and had massages.

I chose the Rainmaker tour, as I love critters, birds, nature and hiking.

Our group had a fabulous tour guide, who pointed out bats in folded up leaves, butterflies, toucans, lizards, and snakes!

Here we are, ready to head out.

During the hike, there were a few steps involved. Wowza. Good job, ladies! That looks a little intimidating!

Our tour guide saved us from certain death. Actually these are extremely venomous: an eyelash pit viper on the hand rail…yikes! He was about 8 inches long. A juvenile, but no less dangerous. Isn’t he beautiful?

During the walk, we crossed 5 high suspension bridges.

The obligatory selfie.

A reward near the end of a sweaty hike? A swim in this cold stream.

Heaven. Butterflies accompanied us near the water, as did basilisk lizards.

While we hiked, others in the group had healing massages, waded in the beach surf and/or went shopping in nearby Jaco, where they happened upon many of its beautiful murals.

I will give the artist credit once I have his iPod her name.

Afterwards, we ate dinner at Vida Hermosa on Playa Hermosa and watched the sun set into the ocean.

Inspiration for painting!

We will be painting again tomorrow. Until then my friends.


Today began with either a walk, a swim, or an hour yoga class to boost our energy and get our blood flowing.

After yoga, a beautiful breakfast and a swim, we got down to business and painted a toucan.

Step by step.

So beautiful!

After lunch we worked on painting leaves from our surroundings.

Which moved us naturally into a tree painting.

For this lesson, I chose to guide everyone step by step in painting coconut tree landscape, using a photo and a painting from my previous trip to Whale’s Tail, Uvita Beach, Costa Rica.

After our painting lesson, we were paint-tired. After all, we had painted most of the day. We had a relaxing, beautiful dinner, directly after which some of us chose to participate in a Cacoa Ceremony in the jungle Shala.

Cacoa is a powerful plant medicine, used to allow one to connect more freely with inner spirit and wisdom. During the ceremony, we drank hot cacoa as we called upon our ancestors for guidance and direction. Cacoa is chocolate, but without the sugar and milk. We looked for signs of direction in the grounds of our cup.

I saw a guppy. ? Not sure what that meant, but the ceremony was very powerful, calming, and healing.

An incredible day, immersed in the culture and tapping into creativity.

Until tomorrow my friends.

Leave a comment

Welcome to Costa Rica!

We arrived in Costa Rica for our week long artistic and cultural immersion retreat, ready to soak in some sunshine and creativity.

This beautiful carpet of fuschia-hued petals from the water apple tree greeted us on arrival. I took it as a sign we would fulfill our lives with color and positive thoughts this week.

We were all tired from the flight but happy and excited for the adventures and friendships ahead.

Some of us were more excited. That’s me, of course. Always up for a goofy photo.

We painted on the patio by the swimming pool. I taught a session on an introduction into watercolor paint techniques, tips, tricks and colors, to build skills and prepare for the week ahead.

Oh, and that lovely salt texture into colorful washes. It’s ALWAYS fun. Right, ladies?

At about 5:30, we had to stop, as the sun set and light became tough to paint by.

After an amazing meal prepared by Vida Asana chefs and staff, we crashed. Time to sleep off that long flight.

More tomorrow, my friends.

Leave a comment

Before yoga and breakfast this morning, I stumbled upon this photographic moment.

Lychees! Yeah, we don’t grow these in Oregon.

On to yoga. I had an amazing experience with singing bowl yoga at Vida Asana.

Jenny, our yoga instructor, uses sound vibrations from different size bowls to help heal our bodies and minds. It seems very strange, but you can actually feel the vibrations move through your body. Gave me chills!!

Loved it! After yesterday’s sweat lodge, I felt a little funky. Once I cried it all out today, I was ok. 😂 Very healing.

After lunch, we headed into the bustling town of Jaco. It’s such a cool little town full of busy energy, great little modern tourist and souvenir shops right beside more traditional juice and coffee places. At night, the place feels modern with both a family and party atmosphere.

Came back and worked on lessons at Vida Asana for the rest of the day.

This bamboo stand right outside my room.

And in the Shala, studying leaves. Two dog friends joined me.

This ended up being a very relaxing day. Tomorrow I will fly out early in the morning. I’ll be sad to leave, but happy I can return home to one of my favorite places, the Pacific Northwest.

The trip has been incredibly rewarding to me, in that I was able to stay at Vida Asana and decide how to organize my workshop, and meet the wonderful family of people who run the yoga retreat. They run it with sincere love, passion, friendship, and peace.

Also, surprisingly, I learned more about myself, which was an outcome I hadn’t anticipated. The yoga, sweat lodge, conversations and space to contemplate helped me to discover and reflect on my life, my relationships, and my dreams.

Happy painting, travels, and peace to you all.

Join me for one of my workshopsArt Adventures.

Leave a comment

This morning at 6:00 am, a local biologist came by Vida Asana. She took me on a walk to discover new birds.

We visited as we walked, looking at the birds through her scope and her binoculars. She is from Spain and lives now in Jaco, where she conducts eco tours and creates drawings of Costa Rica.

We saw many birds on the 2-hour hike; the blue green grassquit, a roadside hawk(actual name), several ahni, kiskadees, Rufus naped wrens, grackles, and scarlet macaws. We heard a toucan as well but he hid himself in the upper tree canopy. Three huge floating blue butterflies flashed their iridescent wings near a small river. Stunning. Termites created highways up trees and across roads. We looked for, but did not find, basilisk lizards, of which there are usually many, but not this day.

Here, a ficus tree, which is parasitic to any tree, grew on a palm. It will eventually strangle and kill the host plant.

A fantastic way to spend the morning. When we returned, it was time for a breakfast of eggs, rice, beans, fruit, and a kale smoothie.

Yoga at 10:00, then lunch by the pool. Such a life. I decided it was going to be hard to go home!

Today was the first sunny, hot day here. The poolside felt refreshing and peaceful.

After lunch, we had a few minutes to get ready for an excursion to a tribal sweat lodge.

When we arrived, the tribal elder’s home had a beautiful view.

He stoked a long-burning fire.

And placed the hot coals inside this small hut.

We took a cold shower and proceeded to all go inside the hut, where the curtain was dropped, water was thrown onto the stones and we breathed and detoxified our bodies with herbs and steam. We would then go out for another shower, a cool bath and repeat. This went on for 4 hours. Whew.

We were encouraged to drink the shower water to stay hydrated. I worried about getting a bacteria from the source. Ugh.

Upon our final shower, the skies were beginning to color. We ran to the beach for sunset glory! Look at these skies!

We headed back to Vida asana and got ready to head into Jaco for dinner.

My first beer in 5 days! So good!

Until tomorrow my friends.

Leave a comment

Rain all night long created a laid-back day of painting, yoga, and a beach visit that turned into a bird-watching excursion.

First, a light breakfast of fruit with almonds and a dragonfruit smoothie.

Since it was an early breakfast, I had time to work on painting lessons before yoga.

Oh I’m so excited about this first lesson! Look at the trees and foliage here!

In between painting and yoga, we had a quick tour of the gardens, mostly filled with herbs such as lemon grass, turmeric, mint, basil, verbena, cilantro, peppers, and beans.

Then onto an incredible yoga session.

Jenny Cribbs of Jaco taught yoga today. Her voice and knowledge brought us all to center.

After another beautiful vegan lunch of potatoes, beans, rice, salad, and fruit, I hopped on Turquoise Bessie and made a beeline for the beach. My hope was to concentrate on a beach painting lesson. The weather threatened to rain, and actually sprinkled on me most of the time.

It’s tough to paint at times because of the humidity. Paintings don’t dry well and in fact, seem to get more wet as they sit out! I am adjusting to damp solutions. Also, Sharpies don’t work on wet paper. So I have to draw my black lines an hour or so later at times.

Clouds were stunning today.

On my way back to Vida Asana, I rode poor old Bessie on a pot-hole filled road next to surfers driving to the next wave. I had to stop every few minutes and pull out my zoom camera to take a picture of a new bird!! I cannot share the pics because I did not bring my computer, but suffice to say I must have added 12 birds to my life list today. And I managed to NOT get run over. Which is nice.

Until tomorrow my friends.

Leave a comment
%d bloggers like this: