Travel Sketching in Perspective & Watercolor with Stephanie Bower: June 1-8, 2023

About Stephanie Bower's Workshop in the Loire Valley

Imagine you are looking at an amazing, elegant château in the beautiful Loire Valley. Snapping a quick photo isn’t enough–you want to somehow capture this experience. What do you do? SKETCH! 

Sketching on-location is powerful. The process of drawing imprints what you see into your brain in such a way that years from now, the sounds of the people walking by, the scent of the rain, the feel of the warm air, and much more will all flood back when you look at your sketch. Urban Sketching is about quickly capturing your experiences on paper, and more important, in your mind and heart. It’s a great way to learn and remember.

That said, sketching on-location can be challenging and overwhelming.Where do you start a sketch? How do you shrink the vast, busy scene in front of you onto your sketchbook pages? How does perspective work, and where is that darn Vanishing Point? In this workshop, I combine my background in architecture and illustration, together with my many years of teaching, to demystify the world of on-location perspective sketching and painting. Lessons will focus on quickly capturing buildings and spaces and will also include sessions on skies, trees, and water. I’ll show you a simple three step process to start your sketches and also teach you how to finish them in watercolor—all with light and portable, sketching equipment for quick work. We’ll sketch everything from the gorgeous architecture of the Loire Valley’s châteaux to your wine and cheese at dinner!

Perspective doesn’t have to be frightening or something you avoid! Once you know some basics and a simple process, your sketches will be faster, easier, and more believable–and it will change the way you see the world, as you’ll see perspective everywhere!!! In this workshop, you’ll work hard but learn so much.

Please join me, as together with French Escapade, we will enjoy sketching one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. 

Stephanie Bower's Biography

Honored with the 2013 and 2012 KRob architectural delineation award for Best Travel Sketch and the 2013 Gabriel Prize fellowship in Architecture in Paris, Seattle-based Stephanie Bower is a professional architectural illustrator, teacher, author, watercolor artist, and globetrotting sketcher.

Stephanie graduated in both architecture and interior design and worked as a licensed Architect in New York City before gravitating to a career in architectural illustration. She has taught architectural sketching at the college level for over 25 years — in NYC at Parsons and in Seattle at the University of Washington and Cornish College of the Arts. A popular instructor, she has taught workshops and demos around the world and has been a popular instructor at seven Urban Sketchers Symposiums from Brazil to Taiwan to Switzerland.

Stephanie teaches two online courses on, “Perspective for Sketchers” and “The Essentials of Sketching Architecture” and is the author of three best-selling books– The Urban Sketching Handbooks: Understanding Perspective (2016) and 101 Sketching Tips (2019), and The World of Urban Sketching (2022). She is a signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society and continues to live the dream of sketching and teaching around the world.

Stephanie Bower’s website:

More Samples of Stephanie's Art

Day 1: Arrival

loire-introAlong the lush Loire River Valley, more than 1,000 chateaux bathe in their own beauty and stunning grandeur. Embark on this eight day painting holiday which takes you on a journey of discovery through some of the most prominent chateaux and gardens of this famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your paintings will be inspired by some of the grandest and most beautiful architectural structures in France like Chenonceau, Clos Luce and Amboise.


We will pick you up at Saint Pierre de Corps train station early in the afternoon (TGVs ride from Paris Montparnasse station is about 1 hour).

After the check-in,  you will have time to rest in your comfortable bedroom, enjoy the swimming pool or explore some of the 20 acres of forest that belongs to the hotel before our Champagne reception and orientation meeting, followed by a gourmet dinner.

Day 2: Painting on Location

The first day will be a slow day for you to deal with jet lag. In the morning, the teacher will give you the necessary basic advice to start the workshop in a group meeting, and start on your first painting.

In the afternoon, you will go on with the painting session on the hotel property that offers a variety of typical vignettes to paint.

Day 3: Discover Leonardo DaVinci's Mansion and Inventions

We will go to Amboise, where Leonardo Da Vinci lived at the end of his life. We will visit his home, the picturesque mansion of Clos Luce, where he developed many of his most visionary inventions.

Clos Lucé houses a museum and park filled with prototypes of some of Da Vinci’s most imaginative creations, including the machine gun, helicopter and paddle boat.

loire-day-3-DaVinciThe museum’s basement also features a display explaining on how tech giant IBM brought some of his inventions to life. Food for thought.

You will have the opportunity to paint in the garden, inspired by the magic of the park and surrounded by centuries-old pines, Italian cypresses, yews, Madonna lilies, yellow irises, horned violets, European alders, cyclamen repandums, and of course, the famous Mona Lisa rose.

Day 4: Garden Festival at Chaumont Castle

loire-day4-aChaumont is a Cinderella type castle. But in addition to being a very beautiful castle, Chaumont is famous for its international garden festival. Every year since 1992, the gardens of chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire play host to the annual ‘Festival des Jardins’, a garden festival with up to 30 themed gardens.

loire-day4-bThese gardens are created by different landscape architects, designers and artists around a theme, which changes every year. This brings the chateau surroundings to life with the color and fragrances of the many plants and flowers on display. You will discover the most incredible garden structures.

Day 5: Market in Amboise

loire-day5-marketMarkets are part of everyday life in France, with almost every town and village having their local “marchés”.

A visit is not complete without a wander around the stalls sampling and taking in the atmosphere of French life. You will find fish, meat, bread, fruit & veg., cheese, flowers, clothing, kitchen supplies, furniture, jewellery, handbags, garden supplies, live birds…and just about everything you can think of.

Then, weather permitted, we may be able have a picnic by the Loire in the afternoon with the bottle of Vouvray, bread cheese and rillettes just bought on the market.

The whole afternoon is yours to paint the quaint houses in Amboise, the Loire river or the castle.

Day 6: Romantic Castle of Chenonceau, Built Over the River

loire-day6-chenonceauIn the morning, we will visit one of the gems of the Loire Castles: Chenonceau. This amazing castle was built on a bridge and the proximity of water is delightful. The history of this place is incredibly rich, from the love intrigues under the reign of Henry II to the hospital it was turned into during WWII.

Afternoon: Painting in the sprawling Renaissance gardens of the castle, which are sure to leave you breathless. You will be able to pick among many subjects to paint: the orderly French style squares, the views of the castle, the river plunging under the castle or the amazing vegetable patches.

Day 7: Ending in style

You will have all day to finish up your paintings.

At the end of the day, we will do a “show and tell” to see everyone’s paintings.

We will then finish our week in castle land with a special farewell dinner in…..a castle!!

Day 8: Departure

After breakfast, we will drive you to Saint Pierre de Corps train station for you to catch a TGV to Paris (1 hour ride) or for an extended stay in the area to visit more castles.

Our 4-star hotel in the heart of the Loire Valley

Set in a 50 acre private park and surrounded by woods, this 17th-century mansion, located in the heart of the castles of the Loire Valley is now a 4 star hotel. 

You will enjoy  and a covered and heated swimming pool.

All of the rooms are individually decorated and have a private bath, flat-screen TV, a mini-bar free Wi-Fi internet access.

The hotel’s restaurant prepares traditional cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients for you to enjoy either in the veranda or in the traditional dining room with its fireplace.


The Trip is limited to 15 Participants

Sign up before Nov 30th and save $200!

Painters: US$ 3,390 pp for a shared room before Nov 30th (US$ 3,590 after 11/30/2023)

+ US$ 550 for a single room with ensuite bathroom

Non Painters are welcome to join. They will get a $400 discount. They will go on excursions with the group and share the meals.


– Saint Pierre de Corps train station pick-up and drop-off
– A welcome reception
– 7 nights at our hotel
– All breakfasts
– 2 lunches and 5 dinners incl. drinks
– All art classes
– The use of folding chairs
– Entrance fees to all sites on the tour
– A personal bilingual tour leader throughout the week


– Flight and train to/from France
– 5 lunches and 2 dinners
– Art Supplies (chairs provided)
– Tour leader(s) tipping

Cancelation Policy

If you cancel the trip:Cancellation Fee per Person
More than 120 days before departureThe $600 deposit is forfeited
(however $300 can be transferred to another trip with a departure date within 1 year of cancelation date)
61-120 days before departure50% of total cost forfeited
31-60 days before departure75% of total cost forfeited
0-30 days before departure100% of total cost forfeited
If French Escapade cancels You get a full refund

To reserve your spot, please complete the form below (one per person) and pay US$ 600 deposit.  After receiving your form, we will send you the information for the payment. Note that the deposit is not refundable but is transferrable. See our cancelation policy below.

You will be able to pay:

1- By check

2- Via ZELLE, free instant pay, offered by many major US banks

3- By bank transfer

4- By credit card

Reservation Form

French Escapade LLC | 2389 Blackpool Place | San Leandro, CA 94577 | 510-483-5713 |
California Seller of Travel Licence-CST #: 2091909-40
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