Mexico: A Painting Adventure

Gretchen Lopez
Feast Day Celebration
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez
Gretchen Lopez


A Painting Adventure in Mexico!

Join us at the beautiful boutique hotel, La Casa de Espíritus Alegres in Guanajuato, Mexico. We will paint markets and plazas, the ruins of rock walls and arches at Mellado, and visit nearby San Miguel de Allende for a full day of painting. We’ll start painting in the courtyard with outdoor still-life scenarios and the environs of the hacienda to get our painting juices flowing. The last day will feature the option of working with models in the outdoors. Gretchen Lopez will demonstrate and provide one-on-one teaching during the entire experience.

Arrival November 17 – Departure November 24, 2020
Tuition: $1895.00
(Non-refundable deposit of $500 will hold your position with balance due October 1st. Balances are non-refundable after October 1st.)

Included: 7 nights lodging (shared occupancy*) and full breakfast daily. 6 days painting workshop. Welcome dinner on first night. Lunch on first and last day at the hacienda. Ground transportation to all painting locations. Guide and translator throughout.

*Rates based on shared occupancy with other student or other paying partner.  There are limited single rooms available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Non-Painting Partner price: $1595 (must call to reserve).

Not Included: Flight to Leon BJX, taxi to hacienda and return. Food other than described. Painting materials.

The Instructor:  Gretchen Lopez combines traditional as well as contemporary elements in her works, from the figurative to still life to plein air painting. Gretchen teaches classes and workshops at the Sedona Arts Center and leads international workshops. She has been nominated for the Viola Award for Excellence in Art Education. Her works are included in numerous private collections both nationally and internationally, and can be seen in select galleries throughout the Southwest.

The hotel: This is not your cookie-cutter chain hotel!  It is full of historic charm and beauty!

From their website:  In the heart of Guanajuato, luxury hotel “Casa de Espiritus Alegres” offers exclusive accommodation for travelers looking for a peaceful haven within easy reach of the city’s delights. The beautifully restored building is set on a magic and peaceful old hacienda of picturesque colonial gardens, under the shade of ancient trees. A relaxing hideaway in pure surroundings.

The property, which includes a nine-bedroom old hacienda building, with a big kitchen, embraces both the heritage of the hacienda lifestyle and its inherent connection to the colonial Guanajuato and, while honoring rustic simplicity, growth, modesty, and transience.

The interior décor features expertly selected antiques, elegant furniture, and rustic details, making guests feel completely at home for the duration of their stay at “Casa de Espiritus Alegres”.

Get the best service on Guanajuato at this family-run hotel in a beautifull ambient…

Ininerary:  Details are yet to be determined and further information is forthcoming, but the following is a rough idea of our schedule:

Mon, Nov 17 – Arrival / Orientation/Welcome dinner!

Tue, Nov 18 – Painting workshop begins on the grounds at the hacienda. We’ll start with a talk including a history of the area followed by a demonstration with students working with individual instruction painting till 5:00 pm.

Wed, Nov 19 – Grab your drawing materials for sightseeing around Guanajuato in the morning. Painting in the afternoon from 1 – 4 with a nocturne painting demonstration in ruins overlooking Guanajuato.

Thu, Nov 20 – Plan to spend the day painting with instruction in El Centro Guanajuato experiencing color and culture.

Fri, Nov 21 – 9:00 am departure for our expedition to San Miguel de Allende touring and painting the beautiful city.

Sat , Nov 22 – Painting at San Gabriel de Barrera in Guanajuato.

Sun, Nov 23 – Painting at hacienda environs with live model option

Mon, Nov 24 – Breakfast and check-out!

Airfare and all travel occurring before the evening of Tuesday, November 17 is left entirely to the student.  Please arrive at Casa de Espiritus Alegres in the afternoon of Tuesday, November 17, 2020 and attend the welcome/orientation dinner that night.  Breakfast is served daily and there will be time in the evening for visiting the town.  Rooms are based on double occupancy (two paying guests).  Rooms vary between double beds, single beds, king-sized beds, and sofa-beds.  Double-occupied rooms have one king bed and one sofa-bed.  Limited single rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis and will be assigned in order of enrollment.  Rooms will be assigned by admin and requests for specific rooms cannot be accommodated. Each room has a private bathroom with bath or shower.

Gretchen Lopez

Gretchen Lopez

Gretchen Lopez majored in advertising and design, when she attended Ventura College, then went on to study fashion design and illustration at the Fashion Institute of Design and Mechandising in Los Angeles. She completed her studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

As a tenth generation native of California, Gretchen has a rich family heritage. She is a descendant of the first Spanish settlers of what was to become the Mexican Rancheros, her colorful family background includes Chumash and Apache Bloodlines. Gretchen’s works are greatly inspired by her ethnic heritage. Being experienced in many mediums and techniques allows her to express a feeling of freedom, vibrancy and spontaneity through color and design to depict the varied faces, fabrics and gentle beauty of Native and Hispanic women in her paintings.

She combines traditional as well as comtemporary elements in her works, from the figurative to still lifes. Gretchen resides in Northern Arizona, where she pursues her love of paitning. A teacher of painting, life drawing and portraiture at the Sedona Arts Center in Sedona, Arizona, Gretchen was nominated for the Viola Award for Excellence in Art Education. Her works are included in numerous private collections both nationally and internationally, and can be seen in select galleries throughout the Southwest.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Painting Materials List below

Painting Adventure in Mexico

Materials list from instructor, Gretchen Lopez, for Painting in Mexico 

The following should be packed in your checked bag.  I will have information for you on how to label your supplies…

I pack most of my clothes into my carry-on, which is my backpack.  Once I get to my destination, the backpack serves to carry my supplies, clothing goes right into my check-in.  This is the most recommended carry-on backpack (and this fits right into the overhead), the “Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible” from Ebags.  It’s a real workhorse and gets great reviews – I own two.

Plein air paint box – The Sienna Paint box, Strada (comes in three sizes, a little pricey though), Guerilla Painter Cigar Box, Open M, or Joshua Been has a good kit.  There are many out there to choose from.  Keep it light and make sure it can fit into your pack….

Tripod for your paint box

Plein Air Umbrella – recommended – “Best Brella” folds small enough to put in your check-in.

Bungee cords for windy days, utility tool

Paint – Duo Aqua water mixable oils – two each of titanium white, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, Indian yellow, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson or napthol red, and Quick Drying Medium Gloss medium for water mixable oils.   Please stick to small tubes 40ml or 50ml.

Brushes Synthetic hog bristle– #2 #4 #8 and #10 flats… #4 and #6 brights…

Brushes – Soft Synthetic – Qualita Colada wash brushes from Jerry’s Artarama – 1/2-inch and 1-inch

Metal Palette knives – Diamond shape, a 2-inch blade for mixing and a smaller one to paint with.

Linen panels or pads Centurion Acrylic Primed Linen Canvas Pads for all mediums – 9×12 or 11×14.  Get some parchment paper to put in between your paintings.

Plein Air Butterfly Ultra Lightweight Oil Primed Panels – these are pricey but might be well worth it.  With a beautiful finish for oils, and lighter than any other panel, they come ten to a pack -11×14’s – $174.00  Available through Jerry’s Artarama

Raymar Feather Lite Panels for Plein Air – go online to  These are light weight and the size I recommend is 9×12.

If you don’t mind the extra weight, use panels and get to  Order five small paks to fit ten small panels.  Each Pak holds 2 wet panels.  I traveled with these to Spain for my 2017 workshop.  Since we have four days of painting, keep it fun and supplement with drawing or painting smaller with 8×10’s?

Raymar has wet panel carriers, but, Panel Paks, though pricey, did the trick, plus they do take a beating!

Miscellaneous:  masking tape, small trash bags (I pack my shoes in these), wet wipes, container for water (Walmart has a container which folds down in the camping area), paper towels.


Water Colorists! Your supplies are a snap to pack!!!  But pack them in your checked luggage.

Small travel kit – there are so many choices.  I used a small travel watercolor case with 18 pans for color, simply called the “Water Color PALETTE”, I took mine to Hawaii.

I recommend tube paints over the cakes – Holbein Tint, burnt umber, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, French ultramarine blue, Don Andrews turquoise, dioxazine purple, alizarin crimson, opera pink, Quinacridone red, cadmium red medium, aureolin yellow, Carr yellow, transparent yellow oxide, Halloween orange, and Pat’s Coastal Blue.  Most of these are available through Cheap Joe’s, and are from the American Journey line.

Brushes – 1 1/2” Neptune wash, #8 Neptune Mop, 1-inch Neptune Oval wash, #8 round, the Neptune brushes are available at Visible Difference in Flagstaff

Pitt Artist Pens –  Sanguine or Sienna

Miscellaneous:  Fold-down container for water, paper towels, small pack of Tissues for lifting color from your paper, natural sponge for texture

Paper – I recommend a small Water Color Block by “Fluid” no worries about stretching your paper.  Choose 140lb cold press, full cotton content.  

Easel – a portable water color easel might be of great benefit, although there are many to choose from, make sure you get a lightweight aluminum easel.

Last but not least – Painting Itinerary, passport, ID, maps, schedule for air, sunscreen, folding sun hat, tech stuff – phone chargers/world traveler adapter, walking shoes, RFID waist stash to carry money/passports/ID……I would leave all valuable jewelry items at home.



Cancellation Policy

Registration Information:  Each student must register individually.  Students may enroll online or by calling the Sedona Arts Center’s Administrative Offices in the Art Barn toll-free at 888-954-4442 or locally at 928-282-3809.  Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express are accepted or student may pay with cash or check by registering in person during office hours at the Art Barn (M-F, 9-5).

Cancellation/Refund Policy:  The $500 deposit is non-refundable; the balance is due October 1, 2020.  No refunds after October 1, 2020.  If paying in full upon registration, $500 of the total tuition fee is non-refundable.  There are absolutely no refunds after October 1, 2020 unless the Sedona Arts Center has to cancel the workshop, then all money paid will be refunded in full.  The Sedona Arts Center is not responsible for providing make-up sessions or issuing refunds, credits, or transfers for courses missed as a result of illness, emergencies, or other events beyond our control. Students will receive a full tuition refund only in the event that Sedona Arts Center cancels the course.

Reed Thorne, Sedona AZ

We have just returned from our Mexican Painting “Adventure" in Guanajuato with Gretchen Lopez. It was absolutely wonderful in every way and we look forward to more of this type of workshop from SAC in the future! In fact, my wife, Jayne, and I are already talking about repeating the same trip with Gretchen next year if it is offered. I do not think you could find much to improve this experience. Everything, from the venues, the food, the accommodation and the transportation was superb. The fellow artists who attended were also some very fine people indeed. We enjoyed getting to know them and are looking forward to some of them attending next year as well!