3 Painting/Sketching Workshops in Santa Barbara, California, the American Riviera



With breathtaking coastal mountains to the east and sublime beaches to the west, Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places in California. With its perfect Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara is a little gem with lush gardens and distinctive white-washed, terracotta-tiled Spanish architecture. No doubt that it deserves its name of  “American Riviera”.

Day 1: Orientation Meeting and Welcome Dinner

5 PM: Meet your fellow travelers, your teacher and your tour leader at our selected hotel for our orientation meeting followed by a welcome dinner.

Days 2 to 5: Sketching in the heart of Santa Barbara

You will sketch in plein-air some of the emblematic spots of Santa Barbara. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of them:

The Queen of the Missions

The Santa Barbara Mission is known as “Queen of the Missions” for its exceptional beauty.With its grand double bell towers, lush gardens and the majestic San Ynez mountains as a backdrop, the Mission is one of the city’s most picturesque landmarks.

The Rose Garden

We will enjoy a picnic in the Rose Garden, a wonderland of more than 1,500 rose plants. Spring is the best time to see the roses in their full glory. An exceptional foreground for your sketches with the Mission in the back.

The Court House, one of the most beautiful public buildings in America

With its Spanish-Colonial architectural style, dated from 1929, the court house will be the a perfect subject for your sketches: distinctive red tile roof, four-faced clock tower, verdant grounds and sunken gardens, elegant arches.

Inside, you will admire the amazing architecture, including spiral staircases, thick wooden doors, hand painted murals and subtle touches that reveal the building’s historic Spanish roots. You can even climb to the top of the 18th century clock tower for breathtaking panoramic views of downtown Santa Barbara.

Spanish Colonial Village

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this adobe building from 1820’s was an affluent Spanish-Mexican-style home that became the social, political, and cultural center of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Wharf

From the oldest working wharf in California, you can sketch amazing views of the blue Pacific Ocean, breathtaking views of the harbor and beaches backed by the Santa Ynez Mountains, while enjoying salty breezes and soaking up the sunlight.

Santa Barbara Meadow

The Santa Barbara meadow is surrounded by 1,000 types of native California plants and trees.

In spring, the Meadow is famed for its spectacular show of wildflowers, with California poppy, meadow-foam, farewell-to-spring, succulent lupine and others vying for attention.

During the week: Wine Tasting


The ebb and flow of ocean breezes makes the Santa Barbara Wine Country region a jewel in the crown of California viticulture. At the end of a sketching day, we will treat you for a wonderful wine tasting experience of some local wines. We will enjoy different wines accompanied by some finger food, in a private setting just for our group.

End of Day 5: Show and Tell and Farewell Dinner


It is time to finish up some of the paintings started this week. The sketching workshop will end with a little “Show and Tell”. We will then treat you for the farewell dinner before saying goodbye.

Day 6: Departure

You can leave at your convenience or extend your stay to enjoy this wonderful city.

Brenda Swenson – Travel Sketching Workshop: USA – Santa Barbara, April 5-10, 2020


About the Workshop:

“Join me for 4 days of sketching with watercolor in beautiful Santa Barbara. We’ll enjoy the free-flowing and colorful nature of watercolor at its best while sketching and having fun!

I’ll help you develop observation skills, color awareness, simple design principles and learn about light and shadows. We’ll investigate various techniques, sketching tools, and approaches to watercolor. Enjoy time with fellow artists, instruction and friendly critiques”.

Space is very limited (max 12 participants).

About Brenda Swenson:

Brenda Swenson is the artist author of two books, Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook (Award of Excellence Finalist) and Steps to Success in Watercolor. Her paintings and sketches have been featured in numerous books (Splash 11, 12 & 14, Artistic Touch 4, Creative Freedom, Incite 2), and magazines (Watercolor Artist, Watercolor Magazine, Watercolor Highlights, Plein Air Magazine).

Brenda has achieved signature status in WW, NWWS, and SDWS. An active participant in the arts community she has served on the board of directors for the National Watercolor Society and Watercolor West.

Brenda Swenson (with Valerie-left and Jackie-right)
“No one comes close when you compare what FE offer!”

No one comes close when you compare what Jackie and Valerie offer their guests and instructors. I’ve got it good and I know it!!!

I had the most amazing experience working with French Escapade. Never before have I experienced such a high level of attention to detail. Everything was handled beautifully and seamlessly from the moment I arrived: Locations, Accommodations, Transportation, Food….You name it and it was perfect.

It’s rare to find someone like Jackie! She is outstanding at communicating and laying out the plan for the day making my job is easier. She is the best tour leader, host and guide. Thank you for the best experience I’ve ever had teaching in Europe. Best workshop ever!

Brenda Swenson has been a Watercolor Sketching Teacher for French Escapade in:
Provence 2016 | San Francisco 2017 | Spain 2017 | Tuscany 2018 | Belgium 2019
Drawing and Painting with Colored Pencils with Kristy Kutch in Santa Barbara, CA: April 10-15, 2020

Click here to go to Kristy Kutch’s website

About the Workshop.

“Drawing and Painting with Colored Pencil” with Kristy Kutch will feature the many dimensions of this excitingly vivid, versatile, portable, and non-toxic medium. Santa Barbara, “the Riviera of the United States”, is an ideal place to learn and create!

Colored pencil is ideally suited to both plein air and studio artists. With plenty of demonstrations and access to a generous supply of sample materials, workshop students will explore a wide range of colored pencils and enhancing techniques: color-layering, line impression, texturizing, burnishing, buffing, heat techniques, color-lifting, highlighting, clear-marker blending and brush-blending, non-toxic solvent hints, and value treatment.

You will apply all of these to your colored pencil paintings. Using saturated, intense colors that fairly glow, you will be amazed at art that is so startling that it fairly jumps off the page!

Although wax and oil-based “traditional” colored pencils will initially be used, watercolor pencils will also be featured.

Kristy will offer guidance in creating paintings from these pencils, complete with the aquarelle characteristics of watercolor. Learn techniques and surprising hints for their creative use, either alone or in combination with “traditional” colored pencils.

Venture into colored pencil painting (with either type of pencil) on a wide range of surfaces: stonehenge paper, sanded colored pastel papers, multiple-medium art boards, and watercolor papers.

About Kristy Kutch

Kristy Kutch is a graduate of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, as well as a life license in teaching. She has taught almost 300 drawing workshops nationwide for students of all ages. Her educational style is friendly, relaxed, enthusiastic, and supportive of the individual student’s uniquely personal style. Cultivating the enthusiasm of her students, Kristy tailors her instruction to beginners and accomplished artists alike. Her instructional book, Drawing and Painting with Colored Pencil, was a 2005 release from Watson-Guptill Publications. It was also featured as a main selection for the North Light Book Club. Her second techniques book, The New Colored Pencil, was a 2014 Watson-Guptill release and is a comprehensive study of drawing in color. It also explores various compatible art surfaces, plus  techniques for colored pencils, both “dry’ and watercolor. Ideas and guidance for the use of wax pastels are included, too.

Kristy is a contributor to The Best of Colored Pencil 1, 3, and5; Creative Colored Pencil; Design: Illustration;  The Best of Business Card Design 3 and5; Creating Radiant Flowers in Colored Pencil;Exploring Color (revised edition); Floral Inspirations, Colored Pencil Explorations, Signature Showcase, and Northwest Colored Pencil Tips .She has also filmed four instructional DVDs (Artist Palette Productions) , Colored Pencil Landscapes: Beyond the Basics; (F. & W. Media) Colored Pencil Techniques: How to Paint Fruit; Watercolor Pencil Techniques: How to Paint Flowers, and Colored Pencil Techniques: Easy Landscape Painting.

Shari Blaukopf – Travel Sketching in Watercolor: USA – Santa Barbara, April 11-16, 2020


Shari Blaukopf-profile

About the Workshop:

“I’ll teach you techniques for capturing the close-up and colourful in this wonderful town, as well as the distant and scenic on the magical coast of Santa Barbara. In true travel sketching tradition, we’ll pack light — carrying a small bag for art materials and a folding stool (that will be provided).
Shari Blaukopf-sketch
This workshop is designed to give you confidence sketching wherever you are, gazing at a street scene or the way the light grazes the trunk of a tree. We’ll work spontaneously, and I’ll show you how to keep your watercolour sketches fresh and colourful. Each day will start with a short demo and end with a critique, hopefully while sitting in a shady courtyard with a glass of wine in hand. As part of a small group, you’ll have plenty of individual attention as we work on value studies, composition, simplifying a scene and capturing the essence of a place. We’ll focus on having fun while we sketch, recording as much as we can as we move around town. The aim is to have you return home with a fat book filled with fresh and colourful sketches”.

About Shari Blaukopf:

Shari a Montreal-based painter, graphic design teacher, illustrator and sketch blogger, is best known for her urban scenes in watercolour. She is a correspondent for UrbanSketchers.org, a global organization that promotes on-location sketching and is co-founder of Urban Sketchers Montreal.

She is the author of “The Urban Sketching Handbook: Working with Colour”. She has given many watercolour workshops both on her own and through the Urban Sketchers Workshop Program in Chicago, Galway, Barcelona, Singapore, Manchester and Porto. Shari is a signature member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour and her paintings are in corporate, government and private collections in Canada, the United States and abroad. You can find her online courses Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor and Sketching the City in Pen, Ink and Watercolor on craftsy.com.

Shari’s almost daily sketches can be found on her blog

Shari’s watercolours can be found at Shari Blaukopf

Price and What is included


April 5-10, 2020 with Brenda Swenson: Travel Sketching Watercolor Workshop – Max 12 Participants-Full-Wait List

April 10-15, 2020 with Kristy KutchDrawing and Painting with Colored Pencils – Max 12 ParticipantsOpen

April 11-16, 2020 with Shari Blaukopf: Travel Sketching Watercolor Workshop – Max 14 Participants-2 spots left

Price: $1,490 (Hotel is not incl., see below).


  • A welcome reception
  • 2 dinners: one welcome dinner on day 1 and one farewell dinner on day 5
  • 1 picnic lunch
  • Wine tasting in a private setting for our group
  • Ticket entrance to some painting sites
  • All art classes (daily demos, one-on-one support and instructions)
  • The use of folding stools
  • Complementary snacks and drinks brought to the painting sites
  • A tour leader throughout the week


  • Your hotel. We will be staying at the www.hotelsantabarbara.com. Make sure you tell them you are part of the group French Escapade when you call to make your reservation. Please do not book the hotel online but call Jennie Jacobs directly at (805)-957-9303. Rates/night are $219-$229 for a queen room,  and $259 for a double queen room (+ tax.) during the week (+$20/night for Friday and Saturday nights).
  • Some meals (the ones not listed as included)
  • Painting supplies (folding stools will be provided)
How to Book

To Make Your Reservation for a French Escapade Tour please follow the steps below and review our Cancellation Policy:


Check Availability

Send us an e-mail to check availability. Include the dates of the workshop you are interested in (not just the destination since we do have several workshops at the same location) and the number of people you will be reserving a spot for.

Submit Registration Form and Send $600 Deposit

After receiving confirmation of availability, complete and submit the Reservation Form and send your $600 deposit 

3 methods of payment:

  • pay by check, (if you live in Canada, it needs to be a money order), payable to French Escapade LLC, 2389 Blackpool Place, San Leandro, CA 94577
  • pay by wire transfer (let us know and we will provide you with our account number)
  • pay by credit card using www.paypal.com (3.5% convenience fees applies)

Receive Confirmation

We will send you a written confirmation of your reservation along with an information package for your trip (info about pick up and drop off, recommended insurance, name of a travel agent, what to bring, etc…). Do not make any travel arrangement before we tell you that the trip has a guaranteed departure.

Submit Remaining Balance

Your remaining balance is due 90 days prior to departure. Make sure to review below our cancelation policy in case you need to cancel the trip.

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel the trip:Cancellation Fee per Person
If French Escapade cancels You get a full refund
More than 90 days before departureThe $600 deposit is forfeited
(however $500 can be transferred-only one time-to another trip with a departure date within 2 years of cancelation date)
61-90 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

Thank you for traveling with us!

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