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Join us for a fantastic artistic and cultural experience in the Spanish Basque Country! This is the perfect experience for any sketching enthusiast. Sketching Spain is a 6-day, small group, intensive sketching retreat led by acclaimed artist Judith Cassel-Mamet and Spanish travel expert Danny Adler. With the inspirational backdrop of both urban and rural Spain, you will engage in Judith's famed artistic "Adventure Journal" approach, a no-fail process that aims to take away the road-blocks to creative expression. You will end the trip having seen and experienced La Rioja and San Sebastian in a unique fashion, learning about the culture from Danny and your own observations made while recording your experience in your sketchbook. Absolutely no experience travel sketching necessary!



Our adventure begins in Bilbao. The group will meet in the morning and then board a private coach for a 1.5 hr drive south to Spain’s most famous wine region, La Rioja. Once we arrive, our first stop will be for lunch in a family run winery. Here we will have a fantastic meet & greet Spanish style lunch with wine pairing and go over plans for our extraordinary trip while getting to know our fellow travelers. After lunch we will take a short drive to the charming town of Laguardia and check into a lovely hotel. Once settled, we will have our first lesson on the Simple Sketching method with northern Spain as our backdrop. You will then have free time in town to explore before we meet again as a group for an evening tapas and wine party.

Image by Bernard Hermant


After breakfast, we will head back out into the town for a morning of sketching on site. At noon we will meet our driver and visit the famous R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, widely regarded as one of the top wineries in the area for a truly unique experience. We will have a guided tour of their facilities, learning about their incredible history and wine making process. Even if you have been to wineries before you will be amazed at this unusual location. We will enjoy a quick tasting then head for a rustic Riojano lunch. After this Spanish style lunch we continue onward to the 10th Century Davalillo castle for stellar views of landscapes for sketching in the late afternoon light. There will be an optional hike up the steep hill to see the ruins close up. For those who choose to forgo the hike, there is plenty to sketch from level ground. We end the day back in Laguardia with dinner on your own at one of many small cafes. 


After breakfast, we drive to a great look-out point where we will set up our chairs to explore capturing the Frank Gehry Marques de Riscal (a wild building with bizarre colors and angles) using a unique travel journal technique. We will then return to Laguardia for a free afternoon with lunch on your own. After the relaxing afternoon, we will enjoy a fascinating evening first with a local artist and visit to his studio, then a  light group dinner at a local’s home. Clearly off the traditional tourist path!

Image by Jun Lee
Image by Eneko Uruñuela


After breakfast and checking out of our hotel we’ll drive 1hr 45min north to Zumaia for our next few days along the water. There are stellar views here overlooking the Atlantic and the air will fill us with joy. We will have a look at some famous sites used in Game of Thrones then spend time sketching the sea and the interesting rock formations. When we are feeling hungry, we will drive along the coast to the next town over, Zarautz, where a tasty seaside lunch of grilled fish awaits. Onward to San Sebastian for check-in at another excellent hotel; the rest of the evening and dinner will be on your own.


Today is a relaxed day of San Sebastian Sketching. We will begin with an early morning meeting and demo. We will sketch La Concha beach front and the Brexta Market. Every view is full of energy, whether from the natural beauty, the architecture or the crowds.  Our pace slows and students are encouraged to follow their own interests to sketch in the afternoon or to work on pages from previous days.
Lunch and dinner are on your own.

Image by Toa Heftiba


Ready for a day in France? After breakfast, we drive to the French Basque area. Upon arrival, enjoy a wonderful historical walking tour of St. Jean de Luz with an expert guide. We will sketch together to capture the French v Spanish architecture, then you will have a bit of time to explore (and find a lovely cafe for lunch on your own) before returning to San Sebastian in the early evening. You will have some time to freshen up before we meet again for our final meal. You are in for a treat as we will be granted access to a private Gastronomic Society, a famous tradition in San Sebastian. Here we will rap up our time together and then have a fantastic traditional meal ~ a perfect way to celebrate our adventure before saying goodbye! Your lodging for this night is included.




Dates: 2021 dates TBD.        


Size: 10 participants maximum
Price: 3785€


Please note that all prices are listed in Euros. Check online for current conversion rates.

Your fee includes:
6 nights lodging, 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners (lots of vino!), transportation by private coach, private visit and tasting to a premier Rioja winery,  private historic walking tour of St Jean de Luz, both Judith and Danny accompany the group the entire trip, introduction 3hr sketch workshop then 2hrs of sketching each day.


General Information


Who is Judith Cassel-Mamet?

Judith Cassel-Mamet is the author of Joyful Pages: Adventures in Art Journaling and a Craftsy online instructor. She has been a mixed media artist and educator for her entire career teaching at a public high school in Denver, the University of Denver and the Art Student League of Denver for over 25 years. She offers independent art adventures to magical spots, including Barcelona, Taos, New York City and Crested Butte Colorado. Judith embraces a no-fail attitude with art journaling where students are encouraged to focus on the joy of creative expression and the power of capturing a moment, rather than aiming for a perfect sketch of anything. She loves to share simple sketching techniques, new ways of opening our hearts and minds and a playful approach. You may view her work and sign up for her monthly Adventure Journal Newsletter at

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Who is Adler & Marlow?

Adler & Marlow is a bespoke travel company based in Barcelona with connections throughout Spain. A&M's goal is to make travel dreams come true, create sensational moments, joyous memories and enrich experiences tailored just for it's clients. Authentic, unique and exclusive travel experiences are our specialty. A&M is owned and operated by Danny Adler.

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I'm thinking about this trip, but I have never sketched. Is this trip for me?
No problem!  Please be assured that Judith will guide you thru some simple steps so you can enjoy your time recording the magnificent views on the trip, regardless of your previous art journal or drawing experience. With a small group (class is limited to 10 students) there will be plenty of individual instruction. We will include instructions on fun ways to use our phone cameras for those who prefer to capture their experiences in photos and we will also review a mixed media approach for those wishing to collage their pages with minimum sketching.

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How do I get into Bilbao from the airport?

Transport is not included in the Sketching fee, but may be arranged with Danny Adler on an individual basis. It is really easy to walk to the taxi stand just outside of the airport. The cost of the taxi into town is approx. 30€ ($35)

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I am attending with a friend/spouse, can we share a room?
Yes! Both the hotels can accommodate two people wishing to share a room & bathroom.

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During the free time I'd like to see additional points of interest that I have read about; how will I get around on my own?
Danny will provide comprehensive guidance to for each participant & set you up for exploration on your own.

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How can I make arrangements to stay in Bilbao or San Sebastian before or after the tour if I wish to arrive a few days early or stay a few days longer?
You will have the option of extending your visit on either end by booking extra lodging thru Adler & Marlow directly, depending on availability. You can also book your lodging thru your own travel agent or your own searches online.

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What art materials will I be asked to bring?
Students will be sent a simple list of art supplies to bring on the trip along with a short video tutorial showing various sketchbooks and materials.  We are going to travel light; each student will bring their own materials. Students are encouraged to carry their art materials in a very light day pack. No need to bring a portable stool; we will loan each student a small chair to use throughout the trip.

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Will I have time to do some photography?
Absolutely! Our sketching time will allow students time to explore the area with their cameras if they prefer.

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What will the weather be like (typical October)?
Typical weather in October for northern Spain includes a mix or rain and dry, sunny and mild temperatures with averages ranging from 55° - 70° degrees; perfect! We have planned the itinerary with a "plan B" in mind in case of rain. We suggest students bring a small umbrella and
light raincoat just in case, but also include a sun hat.

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How will we be traveling from one destination to the next?
We will be in a private coach while staying in La Rioja and during our final day in San Sebastian. The price of the coach is included. Other transport in San Sebastian will be at the discretion of the students and not included in the fee,
however, taxis are inexpensive and easy.

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What is the cancellation policy?
Your deposit and fees are non-refundable. We strongly suggest each student inquire about insurance before submitting their deposit for the trip to find out how time sensitive the transaction will be. Most students purchase travel insurance as soon as they purchase their airline tickets and/or when they make the final payment on the Sketching Spain trip.

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Should I purchase travel insurance?
Yes, Yes, Yes! You are strongly encouraged to purchase travel insurance since the tour fees are non-refundable. We recommend World Nomads. Get a quick quote here! Or here is a link to their website for more information.


Please be aware that purchasing insurance is time sensitive; some companies require insurance to be purchased within a few days of reservations.

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What if I have dietary restrictions?
No problem! We are prepared for Gluten Free and vegetarian options, and will survey participants for other dietary considerations before the trip and will accommodate everyone at all included meals.

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What meals are included?
There is a total of 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners included in your fee. You will be well fed!

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What additional fees should we expect?
Students will pay for meals not listed above and any additional transportation in San Sebastian that is not part of the tour. Additionally, Danny will suggest an amount to tip our coach driver and local guides . Any “
add-on” tours scheduled after our trip concludes will be an extra charge at the time of booking.

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How rigorous will the walking/touring be?
Generally, students travel at their own pace when we are not working in a large group for sketching or on a formal tour. Many of the sketching locations are easily accessed but on uneven ground. If walking is an issue, we suggest bringing a fold-up walking stick for stability and comfy shoes. You will have a portable chair to bring along for sketching.

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Any packing suggestions?
Travel light! Spain is fairly casual. A small, carry on suitcase will likely suffice. Comfy walking shoes and a light
daypack to hold your art materials are a must. We will be driving on some windy roads along the coast so please bring motion support (Dramamine, etc) if you know you have difficulty in this area. Tourists anywhere are an easy mark for pickpockets, so it is advised that you carry your wallet in a secure fashion.

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Suggestions for keeping connected to folks at home
Please check with your individual phone carriers to determine the best plan for you. If you decide to purchase a SIM card for your phone when you arrive in Spain, Danny can help you install it. You will have access to WiFi in all of our hotels and apartments.


Other tech suggestions:

We will stay connected on the trip thru WhatsApp which is a free phone app we would like you to download before arrival. We will share our cell numbers with the group so we can confirm meeting times, etc. during the adventure
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Please explain the payments in Euros vs Dollars.

All fees for the trip are quoted in Euros only. The conversion of dollars to Euros varies; you may wish to keep an eye on the conversion rates thru: for an accurate daily rate. The conversion will be made as soon as you submit your payment and it will be based on the rate that applies to that day.  

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This edition of Sketching Spain is limited to 10 students.


Please use the form below if you wish to sign up, or if you have any questions. We will get back to you quickly. If we have reached our maximum, we do accept students on a waiting list.

Thanks! Message sent.

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