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Wanderlust and art in Spain,

Updated: Jun 9

Wanderlust and art in Spain,

A few years back, I attended fellow artists show, John Lennard, at Masters Gallery in Calgary, AB. I deeply admire his art. I asked him if he ever taught. He said he has in the past done a workshop in Horta de Sant Joan, Spain. Small town, great food, art, Picasso painted here and quoted.

Everything I know, I learned in Horta.” ~Picasso.

Took me less than a minute to say… “Sign me up!” Just say YES is my motto. Dreams do come true and often they are right around the corner.

“Stay true to who you are and what excites you!” ~John Lennard

Despite a rough start to the trip due to unexpected bad timing of pending airline strike and my flight being cancelled, my heart sank thinking this dream was perhaps not meant to be but with a little perseverance and luck from my angel neighbour, I was rebooked on a flight and arrived safely in Barcelona, just in time to grab the bus with the group to Horta….2 days late but still in time for the painting workshop with artist, John Lennard and his group. Each of us with our new very cool wooden paint box that John made each of us.

We travelled together 2.5 hours on a bus to Horta de Sant Joan. A small village in Catalonia, Spain were Pablo Picasso spent a year recovering from scarlet fever and developing his artistic skills in the town. Catalan is the language they speak here and it is very different than Spanish.

A welcome dinner on the terrace with this view. So thrilled I made it!

Picking up our paint supplies and classes begin at 9 am sharp in the government building.

Glimpse of our week of classes and learning from John.

Figure drawing with life model, Francesca.

Still life and painting with oils.

Eating local food, by chef Roberto.

Olive oil tasting with Tony at his award-winning Olive Oil “Identitat”

Painting this view.

Experiencing traditional a Paella and Sangria at a farm in the mountains. Painting and visit from local fox.

Quiquet’s farmhouse Pablo Picasso, Horta de Sant Joan 1898-1899.

Walking to the caves where Picasso and his friend, Manuel Pallares , often slept (1898- 1899)

Visiting Picasso Museum in Horta

Enjoying daily coffee breaks and talking art in local cafes.

Wrapping up the week with art show on terrace. The whole town is invited to see our masterpieces.

It has been a long time since I was able to experience being a student and immerse myself in art. I am very thankful to John for his generous sharing of his artistic skills and passion for sketching and being present in the moment. I feel my cup is a little fuller and am reminded that ART is everywhere you look.

The next week of my solo travel proved that to me.

I was a little, honestly A LOT, nervous about leaving the comfort of the group. I was seriously wondering what I was thinking with my backpack and paint box in tow. My lovely roommates Diane and Mary joined me in our last Café con leche and kindly sent me on my way to Valencia.

I arrived to Valencia via train. The train station was named after the artist Joaquín Sorolla. He was born in Valencia. Years ago, I studied his art with great inspiration and now I am cycling to the beach many of his scenes where inspired from. The museum was closed because it was Monday, so I didn’t get to see his originals…. Note to self, add Madrid to bucket list and visit Museo Nacional del Prado to see his work in person.

Valencia beach in morning light 1908 Joaquin Sorolla

There are tons of things to explore in Valencia, Spain. Valencia oranges are from here and it’s the birthplace of traditional Paella dish. I rented a bike and was amazed at how cycle friendly the city is, with over 150 km of bike lanes that lead everywhere from the beach, to the arts and science centre. Experiencing the amazing architecture of the modern masterpiece La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, stopping to sketch the beautiful sculptures under the shade of the trees in the garden. Remembering why I love art so much and how it threads us through years of history, community, beauty and culture. “

Staying true to who you are and what excites you.” ~John Lennard

Headed to old town Valencia to meet up with a tour, highly recommend Sea Saffron tours. Nice to join a group to learn some history and meet new people when traveling solo. Just don’t forget your glasses in the taxi…

Final days back in Barcelona, where I cycled again to get my bearings and see the sights.

I loved and recommend the hotel I stayed in “Musik Boutique Hotel”. I was greeted with Cava and a beautifully handwritten note from the manager, reinforcing thoughts of how small things make such a difference.

Visiting the Sagrada Familia, largest unfinished Catholic church in the world. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, does not disappoint.

My favourite part was unexpectedly meeting up with John and Peggy again for a morning coffee that lead to lunch at 4 Cats, sketching at the top of Las Ramblas and a local café, vintage shopping and last but not least, pizza with their friends and musicians playing in the background.

Leaving you with my biggest take away of sharing energy and conversing with John in the hills of Horta.

Michelle, there is always time to sketch!” ~John Lennard

How true is that! Sharpening my pencil now…

In creative spirit,


**John Lennard is represented by Masters Gallery in Calgary, AB and Roberts Gallery in Toronto, Ont.

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