CHILE – Creative Sketching

DATES: 03/18/2020 - 03/27/2020
PRICE: $3,850.00

Marni Maree’s vibrant watercolors represent her love for drawing, desire to create beauty and her inner joy. Her favorite subjects to paint are flowers, camels and scenes from her travels to the American West, Greece, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Russia, France and Haiti. Marni never travels without her sketchbook and mini painting supplies and is always ready to capture the spirit of the various cultures.

Marni earned her BFA from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, PA. She worked as a freelance graphic artist after graduating but gradually transitioned to colored pencil and then to watercolors. Her primary medium is watercolor but she changes the surface on which she paints from paper to yupo (a slick plastic surface) to masa (rice paper), and canvas. Since watercolor acts different on each surface it is almost like changing mediums and the thrill of not knowing just what will happen makes each painting exciting.

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Marni has been teaching an International Workshop in France for the past three years and is also planning a Carribbean Cruise Workshop in 2017. Since the France workshop includes all VA locals, it begins at home with plein air practice sessions, continues in France by painting many beautiful locations with a final exhibit in the town with other local artists. Once home, the students continue to paint using their sketchbooks and reference photos to prepare for an exhibit at the Ernst Community Cultural Center’s Verizon Gallery in Annandale, VA. This gives her students the full experience of being an artist.

Marni also teaches Watercolor and Drawing in the Northern VA area at the Workhouse Arts Center, The Loft Art Center, The Fairfax Retirement Community, Green Spring Gardens, as well as private students in her studio.  Her monthly Art Feast Workshop is very popular with beginners as well as more experienced painters because Marni teaches the thrilling and surprising things that watercolor can do while providing a safe place to experiment and be creative with positive encouragement.

Marni coordinates the Enrichment Program at Village of Hope School, in Gantier, Haiti ( where she, along with 14 other American and Haitian teachers, has been teaching art classes every summer since 2007 to children ages 10 – 18. As you might be able to tell, Marni loves to teach almost as much as she loves to paint.

Marni exhibits continuously at the Workhouse Arts Center, participates in local group shows and has had a solo show about once a year for the past 17 years. She has won numerous awards for her watercolors.

Marni has a studio at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA and the Loft Gallery Art Center in Occoquan, VA, She is a member of the Springfield Art Guild and the Potomac Valley Watercolorists, a juried organization of professional watercolorists.

Creatively Sketch and Watercolor Your Way in the Chilean Wine Country!

This will be the 4th edition of our Il Chiostro-Upside Down program, exploring the wine regions of the southern hemisphere in what is their summer – March.

Chile is considered South America’s most stable and prosperous nation with a rich culture heritage that is a mix of Spanish colonists, indigenous peoples and immigrants, largely from surrounding countries. Chile is the seventh-largest wine-producing country in the world.  Chilean wine started with the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century but are more recently noted for their crisp whites such as sauvignon blanc.

This trip will begin with two nights at the boutique Hotel Magnolia in Chile’s capital city of Santiago, the cultural and artistic center of the country, filled with history, South American native culture and national art museums, right at the foot of the Andes (being such a narrow country, the powerful Andes mountains loom majestically over just about everything).  Santiago was the home of poet Pablo Neruda and the dictator Agosto Pinochet – just to give an idea of the intense contrasts in the modern history of this nation.Santiago with the Andes in the background

A painted stone wall in Valparaiso

After Santiago, we’ll make a quick overnight stop in the intriguing old port city of Valparaiso.  The upper town is now famous for its artistic graffiti covering 75% of the walls.  This unique town is fascinating for artists and photographers alike.

Finally we will arrive at our final destination, the Santa Rita Winery in the Maipo Valley, to settle in for the last 6 nights of the program.  Here we will take over the entire boutique Casa Real Hotel.  This is about and hour outside of Santiago.

For non-painters, there will be a concurrent photography workshop with Lester Lefkowitz.

About the Sketching and Watercolor program

What a great way to record lasting memories! Each day you will visit a new location in this glorious South American landscape for a few hours of sketching and painting. Marni will demonstrate and teach various ways to see, draw, simplify a scene, and creatively collect information to fill up your sketchbooks.

There will be daily art “challenges” that will help to think out of the box as you see and draw. You will also have ample time on your own to wander as you find new things to record.

At the end of each day of sketching and painting you will return “home” for fine wine, food, and fellowship with the other artists. Casual and encouraging critiques and instruction will be offered each evening, or you can paint and relax on your own. You will also learn how to use your sketches to create larger paintings if you like.

The interior courtyard of Casa Real, our hotel at the Santa Rita vineyards

Additional Activities:

Vibrant central market in Santiago

In order to get a good sense of the Chilean culture while you explore painting and sketching the program also includes:

  • a guided walking tour of the center and market place of Santiago
  • guided visit up into the Andes from Santa Rita
  • 2 dinners in local restaurants in Santiago where we can sample the traditional Chilean cuisine
  • special dinner at the Maralegre restaurant in Valparaiso
  • Dinners prepared by our private chef at Santa Rita, including a variety to their own wine
  • a premium winery tour at the Santa Rita winery
  • visit to the art gallery at Santa Rita
  • evening presentations about the history and culture of Chile
  • three 1/2 day excursions around the area for painting, photographing and/or shopping

Price: $3,850* p/p ($3,550 for non-participants)

* Early Bird Discount of $100 if registered by August 1, 2019

  • single supplement $650 (limited number available)


  • Room (double or single) with private bathroom (2 nights in hotel in Santiago, 1 night in hotel in Valparaiso and 6 nights in villa at Santa Rita winery)
  • 2 meals per day (dinner with wine and breakfast)
  • Workshop tuition -daily sketching classes with Marni
  • General activities (as noted above)
  • Transportation for all excursions
  • Fully escorted by Linda and Michael, directors of Il Chiostro
  • Final transfer from Santa Rita back to Santiago*

*Departure is on Friday morning March 27th.

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Museum admissions
  • Art supplies

To Register:  just click on the Sign Up Now button.  A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop.  Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can follow the instructions to send in your registration and payment by mail.  Once we receive your deposit we will send you a formal Registration Confirmation with further information about the program.  You will receive 2-3 other correspondences by email prior to the workshop with information about Chile, a supplies list and an electronic invoice for the balance.  Final Balance is due by January 15.  Any time prior to your arrival, if you have questions about anything regarding the trip or the program, you can contact us by email or phone and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Contact us for more information: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

For this 10-day program we will stay in 3 different locations:

  • Santiago – we will all meet in the capital city and spend the first 2 nights in the boutique Hotel Magnolia.  It is in the “El Centro” neighborhood, close to museums, cafes at the foot of the Cerro Santa Lucia hilltop park.  NOTE:  if you plan to arrive early, contact the hotel directly to reserve a room.  Tell them you will be a part of the Il Chiostro group starting on March 18th.
    On the afternoon of the 3rd day we’ll proceed together to…

Santiago vista with the Andes in the background

  • Valparaiso – where we’ll spend one night at the elegant Casa Higueras Hotel overlooking the port.  There is a pool, spa and a 4-star restaurant where we’ll have dinner.  We’ll spend the day exploring the upper portion of this artistic old port town famous for the graffiti artists who have decorated virtually every surface in town with vibrant colors and sketches.

Valparaiso street scenes, photos by Andy Holtzman

  • Maipo Valley Wine Country – for the next 6 nights we have reserved the entire Casa Real Hotel at the Santa Rita Winery about 1.5 hrs. outside of Santiago.  This hotel was a 19th century manor house, set in a park and complete with its own chapel, swimming pool, terrace and restaurant – reserved exclusively for us.

We will spend our first 2 nights in the capital city of Santiago at the Hotel Magnolia, so we suggest flying directly to Santiago (about 14 hours overnight from the US).  Flights right now are very reasonable – under $1,000 from NY and even less if you don’t mind making a couple of stops.  We can recommend our travel agent, Nancy Schaffer, to help you book your arrangements.  Contact her at:
NRSCHAFFER@CHARTER.NET or (508)-836-0143

Since you are traveling all that way, we suggest you explore some other areas either of Chile (Patagonia or the Atacama Desert) or nearby Peru.

If you plan to arrive in Santiago early, we suggest you book a room a the Hotel Magnolia where we will meet.  Contact them directly to make a reservation and tell them that you are with the Il Chiostro group arriving on March 18th.

Once you register for a program we will send you information with suggestions for a travel agent and instructions on how to get to the hotel from the airport.

On the final day of our program, we will arrange for transportation back to the airport in Santiago.

Central market in Santiago, photo by Andy Holtzman

The Republic of Chile, the long, skinny country running just about the whole length of the western coast of South America, is a prominent wine-producing area of the continent.  The rugged Andes mountains line its eastern border with Argentina and it extends all the way down almost to Antarctica in the south and Easter Island (Rapanui) to the west in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The culture and food are truly South American, influenced by the indigenous peoples who have populated its area.

Chile is the home of the poet Pablo Neruda.  During the turbulent 1960’s it underwent a coup d’etat whereby Pinochet emerged as the powerful, tyrannical dictator who remained in power until the early 1990’s.  At that point, Chile became a thriving democracy with one of the most vibrant economies in South America.

Valparaiso:  this is a unique city in Chile.  It is the old port of the country which today has transformed itself into a whimsical center of art.  The upper area, where we’ll be staying, overlooks the sea.  It’s winding streets form a labyrinth of living art in the form of art-graffiti and colorful idiosyncratic architecture.

The colorful houses and picturesque “cerros” – hills – are sure to raise a smile and be a font of source material for painters and photographers alike.  Here is an expert guide to Valparaiso.

Welcome to Valparaiso, photo by Andy Holtzman