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Santa Fe, New Mexico May 5-12, 2019

This will be my first time traveling to this area of the United States and I am so excited to discover this beautiful area alongside you.

I am always fascinated by the ways in which humanity has a profound impact on the landscape in which we live. The accumulation of structures over history that come and go. The lost and found. The way we impose our mark on the land both in sympathetic ways and sometimes in more powerful ways.

To see our surroundings with the eyes of an artist is to look, observe, unearth all that interests us, edit and interpret what we are seeing in our own unique way. We will be discovering the marks of humanity on the landscape alongside the more natural elements and taking our inspiration back to the studio to create works in mixed media.

Our inspiration will also come from the history and culture of the area as well as artists who have also drawn inspiration from the beautiful landscapes of colour and texture.

The focus will very much be on observation and expression in the landscape itself using simple materials to record what we see and feel. Gathering and creating images to inspire personal interpretation in the studio mixed media.


Pic by Diane Stanley

Pic by Diane Stanley


Day One, Sunday May 5. - We will meet at 4:30 in the Sitha Room which will be our classroom this week. You will be able to drop off your supplies before we have our welcome reception, introductions and preparations for the week. 

Day Two, Monday May 6. Breakfast is on your own. We will meet in the classroom at 9:30. Our first day will be spent playing with mark making and the idea of the lost and found – creating history in the layers and seeking expression and exploration. We will break for lunch at the hotel and class will be over at 4:30. You will have free time before we go to dinner at the Cowgirl. 

Day Three, Tuesday May 7. Have an early breakfast because we will leave at 8:30 a.m. to drive to Abiquiu. Today is a day out and we will be taking sketchbooks and simple drawing materials to record our experiences as we get out and about.

First, we will drive to Georgia O'Keeffe's home with a very special tour with our friend and guide, artist Frank Shelton! You will see the beautiful landscape that inspired Ms. O'Keeffe throughout her long career. 

Lunch will be at the very charming Abiquiu Inn. Then we will drive to Plaza Blanca for more sketching.

Plaza Blanca by Debra Fritts

Plaza Blanca by Debra Fritts

We will top off our wonderful day by visiting Frank and Debra Fritts at their home and studio. These are two very talented and special artists and you will be in awe of their work. 

Frank and Debra

Frank and Debra

Day Four, Wednesday May 8. Breakfast on your own. We will meet in the classroom at 9:30 for another studio-based day. We will experiment with turning our sketches into ‘play pieces,’ thinking about color, value, layering and composition. Working on multiple images on a relatively small scale to encourage exploration and experimentation. 

A layer here and a layer there - creating history and a sense of the lost and found.
— Gillian Lee Smith

We will break for lunch at the hotel, return to our classroom for the afternoon and ending around 4:30. This evening is another treat and another studio visit with Geoffrey Gorman who also teaches for Bellissima Art Escapes. 

Day Five, Thursday May 9.  Breakfast on your own. We will leave at 9:30 for the Bandelier National Monument where we will see the remnants of the Ancestral Pueblo people's communities. We will gather inspiration from these ancestors that will inspire our work. More sketchbook pages, more exploration, more inspiration!  Lunch today will be at Pig + Fig (isn't that a great name?!). After we return to our hotel the rest of the day and evening is free to explore. 

Pic by Debra Fritts

Pic by Debra Fritts


This workshop is Full - A Waitlist has been started

This Escape Includes

  • Six days of instruction with Gillian

  • Tour of Georgia O'Keefe's home/studio in Abiquiu

  • Sketching at Bandelier National Monument and in Abiquiu

  • Visit Debra Fritts and Frank Shelton's studio

  • Visit Geoffrey Gorman's Studio

  • Welcome celebration

  • Farewell dinner

  • Six lunches, 4 dinners

  • Some art supplies

  • New art tribe

The price for this workshop is $3,100 

A $1,000 non-refundable deposit is due at registration. The final deposit is due January 8, 2019.   

Price does not include airfare to/from Santa Fe. Price is based on shared accommodations. Limited single rooms are available for an additional price of $700. 

Locals who would like to attend but not stay at the hotel the price for the workshop is $2200.

Airport: There are two airports serving Santa Fe and depending on where you live, one will make more sense for you to fly into

Santa Fe Regional Airport is 10 miles southwest of Santa Fe. Airport code is: SAF. There are limited flights to this airport. 

Albuquerque International Sunport is 64 miles from Santa Fe. Airport code is ABQ. You can catch the Sandia Airport Shuttle into Santa Fe with a stop at La Fonda. 


La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza has received many accolades including named one of the best in its class and top in the southwest with great art. It's the only hotel on the Plaza so you will be steps away from everything. 

TOLL FREE 800-523-5002 • PHONE 505-982-5511

The hotel has offered the group rate 3 days prior and post workshop dates. You can contact Linda Wood at Thomson Travel to make these reservations.

Supply List

We will provide

  • Drawing paper and newsprint for studies and explorations

  • Arches oil paper for mixed media works

  • Graphite powder

  • Gesso

  • Transfer paper

  • Cold wax

  • paint - basic colors

Student Supply List

Sketching supplies

  • Lead/graphite pencils in various levels of softness – Gillian likes a range of 6b, 8b and 9b pencils. She also particularly likes the Blackwing palomino pencils.

  • Eraser – stick eraser, white eraser and kneadable eraser

  • Retractable knife or scalpel for sharpening pencils

  • Charcoal and carbon/graphite pencils of any kind – Gillian likes Generals peelable charcoal pencils. Carbon pencils are great too as they are almost midway between a graphite and a charcoal pencil.

  • Embossing tools in various sizes – you can find these in the card making dept of craft tools – just something with a dull rounded point – even an old ballpoint pen works for this.

  • A sketchbook – the bigger the better!! Gillian loves the A3 Moleskine sketchbook which is 16.5 x 12 inches. It is pretty big but allows for incredibly expressive drawings when out sketching. However, bring a sketchbook that is as big as you can pack and can comfortably handle when out and about. No smaller than 8.5 x 11 inches of at all possible.

  • Backback or bag to carry your sketching supplies in the field

Studio Materials

  • Art Graf tailors chalk – these do come in a set, but you don’t have to get that. Just a black and one other colour would be grand.

  • Charcoal sticks – Gillian likes Coates willow charcoal if you can get it but any charcoal will be great. Medium and thick sticks.

  • A roll of Masking Tape/blue tape/green tape

  • Brayers – at least 2 brayers/rollers

  • Paint shapers/Princeton hand held silicone scrapers or dough/kitchen bowl scrapers

  • Or old credit cards/business cards

  • 1 or 1 ½ inch bristle brushes

  • Paint brushes in various sizes from small to medium – we will be using these with oil and cold wax so a variety of old brushes will do or bristle brushes.

  • Paper Palette – tear off paper palette

  • Palette knives – at least 2 or 3

  • Rags – a few!

  • Something to wrap and protect your paintings for the travel home – plastic bags or glassine paper or non stick parchment paper

Optional extras

  • Oil sticks or oil bars

  • Other mixed media supplies such as graphite sticks, coloured pencils, stabilo woodys

  • Colour powder pigments

  • Soft pastels or oil pastels

  • Paper will be provided however you are welcome to bring cradled boards or cotton or linen covered boards in a size of your choice but no bigger than 24 x 30 inches.

Locals have informed us that the Artisan Art Store has everything in case you forget anything. 

Day Six, Friday May 10. Breakfast on our own. Meet in the classroom at 9:30. Lunch will be at Tomasitos and dinner this evening at Pink Adobe. 

During these last two studio-based days we will be working on several pieces at once, to create multi layered mixed media works that explore composition, expression and abstraction and interpreting the landscape in our own unique way. You will be able to work on several pieces at once, creating images that are full of layers, marks, history and atmosphere. Discovering a sense of place through the lost and found.

You will finish the week with sketchbook pages, studies, expressive experiments and some fully resolved mixed media pieces and a wealth of ideas for ways of being inspired in your own landscape and surroundings.

Day 7, Saturday May 11. Breakfast on your own. Meet in the classroom at 9:30. We will break for lunch and work until around 4:00 when we will clean up and share our work. Our farewell dinner this evening will be at Las Casa Sena

Day 8, Sunday May 12. Workshop is over and you can leave anytime.

Seeking open ground - large file.jpg


Gillian Lee Smith is a Scottish artist living in the beautiful, historic North-East coast of England that daily influences her work. As a teacher, Gillian is inspired to bring her love of people and place to each workshop using a wealth of techniques to make new discoveries along with her students. She has several very successful online courses and a mentoring program. This will be her seventh Bellissima Art Escape.