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!

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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.

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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.

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