About a dozen years ago, I put out to the world that I wanted to travel, teach and take my husband along with me. And, that affirmation has come true again and again! Not only have I taught all over the United States, I have been able to travel and teach internationally. And yes, my husband has joined me on many of my trips!
I’m an artist, working in watercolor, mixed media and fiber arts. I’ve been teaching art since 2005. I started by teaching locally at art institutions and museums. I submitted articles about my artwork to international magazines and got published. I taught online, and attracting students from all over the world. I submitted proposals and was accepted to teach at art retreats all over the US, all the while building up my credibility, reputation and following.
My first international teaching was in 2010. So, in the last 6 years I’ve traveled and taught in:
- Orvieto, Italy twice
- The French Rivera twice
- Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy, twice
- Greek Islands, twice
- river cruise from Budapest to Prague, once
- London and Stratford-upon-Avon, England, once
I’ve worked with AdventuresinItaly.net (Orvieto, Italy), TheBlueWalk.com (throughout Europe) and now my current affiliation is with ArtsandCulturalTravel.com, and we’ve got trips in North America (2017 in Charleston, SC and Montreal/Quebec).
I teach Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style on location at each of these destinations. I travel with small groups, from 10-16 people. As a rule, the trips consist of group site-seeing, events like cooking classes, walks, visits to local farmer’s markets, palaces and museums. Of course, every destination has a different itinerary but each includes a few hours a day of drawing and painting on location. We work in a small sketchbook, and our supplies can be carried in something the size of a zip lock bag. We sit in cafes, benches, or on the steps, and draw. Our ‘classroom’ is wherever we are.
The rest of the time, we are eating, walking, seeing and experiencing the country. It’s pretty darn fabulous.
How did this happen to me? I have worked with a few different companies (travel agents/retreat organizers) that specialize in travel and learning experiences. They have contacted me. Then, I do a little research and check out their website. Most of the time, I trust my intuition, and if we get along well on the phone, and they have a similar aesthetic and view point about travel as I do, then I go for it!
Another criterion, for the companies I work with, is they must be good communicators. I prefer to work via email, and I expect them to be as responsive as I am in this partnership. Once we’ve decided to work together, we discuss the location and the itinerary, making sure to include a couple of hours for my on-location demonstration and painting time.
We agree on my fee per student per day. (I’ll also tell them that my husband will accompany me. There is often a small charge for him for the events and meals, but otherwise, he shares my room at no additional cost. He takes part in the classes too!)
The company that hires me plans the trip, choses the hotels, arranges the events and site seeing, makes the train reservations, handles registration and payments. My trips are ‘fully escorted” which means the travel agent/retreat organizer also travels with us, and is very much ‘one’ of us. And she is there to help with our arrangements, change plans if necessary, and generally keeps us on track.
My responsibility is to market the trips. And once at the destination, to act as host, bringing the group of former strangers together, and create our own little community. And to teach them to draw and watercolor.
When I’m teaching in an unknown city, I’m flying by the seat of my pants to determine the location, the subject we’ll draw and where we’ll sit! If it’s raining, we must find an indoor location. If there is nowhere to sit, I find a location with benches or steps. But somehow, it always works out and we always have a great time drawing on location. (Well, there was a recent time where a caretaker threatened to call the police on us…but hey, that makes for another colorful anecdote for the trip!)
There are many other opportunities for teaching on location. Some offer a specific classroom, where pre-planned lessons could be taught. Others rent a villa to the artist and the artist is responsible for everything else. For four or five years, I taught at an annual artretreat in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, that I helped create with three of my artist friends. We found the location and hired a fifth person to be our organizer and to handle registration.
But for me, I like having someone experienced handing the logistics of the trip and so I can focus on the teaching.
Jane LaFazio been a full-time artist since 1998, and in that time, she has cultivated a wide range of skills as a painter, mixed media, quilt artist, art teacher and blogger. She’s known for her fun-loving, creative teaching style, and providing a relaxed supportive environment in the classroom. She teaches her own drawing and watercolor workshops online (JaneLaFazio.com) and is on the faculty of Sketchbook Skool “Beginnings” semester) and at art retreats internationally. Her artwork has been featured in Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Quilting Arts magazines many times, and in Danny Gregory’s An Illustrated Life, and in numerous books. Jane design stencils for StencilGirlProducts.com and has been a Quilting Arts TV twelve times. She is featured in the instructional DVDs “From Art Journaling to Art,” “Layered & Fused Applique Quilts: From Fabric Scraps to Recycled Circles” “Wet Felting Essentials for Fiber Artists” and “The Small Art Quilt” available on Amazon.