F.A.Q’s

Monica and Bob have created Casa de los Artistas with love and joy; “We are committed to the growth of the individual on a creative and spiritual level, and have crafted a stress-free environment of acceptance for our guests. A sense of family often develops among the participants in the workshops at Casa de los Artistas.”

Accommodations:

Casa de los Artistas is located in a small traditional village on the south side of the shallow Horcones River that meanders through the center of the village , (you can walk around the whole village in about 15 minutes!). Rooms for participants are located in apartments throughout the village, each clean and comfortable apartment created in traditional Hacienda style architecture with private bath and a charming view.

The only ways to get to the Casa is by foot bridge (and walking a short jungle path)- about a 5 min walk, or by our favorite way- wading thru the river. Your luggage and or art materials are transported in a small boat or carried by a couple of local young men that work for us.
Because this is a non-touristy place, and filled with the authentic culture of rural Mexico, there can be fiestas, loud music, lots of crowing roosters, dogs, etc… This adds to the unique charm and exotic Casa Experience, but, like travel to any foreign land, it might take a little time to adjust – as we are not situated in a isolated building. We are part of the village and the fishing village unfolds around you in a myriad of different unique ways. One of the unique strengths of the Casa Experience is it offers you the opportunity to actually experience the local culture while still having most of the comforts you are accustomed to.

All rooms at Casa de los Artistas are private rooms with, what is called in Mexico, a ‘matrimonial” size bed, which is larger than a double, slightly smaller than a queen, (all our guests who have shared these beds have found them comfortable) or a “king” size, which is quite large. All have views. All have a private bath or shower, nicely tiled with hand painted terra cotta sinks. All have a terrace and chairs for taking in the view of the Boca, river and bay. See Locations in our Menu, and virtual tours, The Casa, Mexico.

Our “Sister” apartments decorated in comfortable rustic hacienda style, also have private rooms and most have private bath, all with wonderful views of the water or river. All apartments are given on a first come basis according to availability as people register for the workshop.  A unique benefit of the Casa Experience and being a part of the “Casa Family” is that participants also become a part of the Boca community during their stay. Our “sister apartment” housing is spread throughout the little village of Boca de Tomatlan and we integrate into the village life and rhythms.

Non Art participants are welcome to join in the Casa experience and enjoy the other activities and excursions ($1,695.00) and take advantage of the Casa and Boca hospitality and friendship (priority of available space is given to Workshop participants). We happily give suggestions, advice and assistance to those who wish to explore on their own. Locations in our Menu, and Things to do.

All Workshop/Vacations are open to singles, couples and small groups of all levels of experience. Attendees must be at least 14,(special family workshops are an exception), and if under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, .


 

Location and Weather:

We are located in Boca de Tomatlan, 10 miles South of Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s gorgeous west coast. It is a small fishing village nestled between the Jungle Mountains and Pacific Ocean on the Bay of Banderas, with a river running through its’ center. Puerto Vallarta/ Boca de Tomatlan is tropical, located on the same parallel as the Hawaiian Islands The temperature averages 28 degrees C. 82 degrees F. in the fall, winter, and spring to the high 80’s and 90’s F. in the summer, with an average of 300 sunny days a year. The rainy season is from late July or August to mid to late October. Being right on the ocean with the mountains behind us, in the winter months, the mornings and evenings can be quite cool, so be sure to bring a warm sweatshirt, sweater or light jacket.


 

Terrain:

You should be in reasonable physical health and sure footed to participate and enjoy your Casa Experience. Physical ability to climb stairs, (the studio is on the 3rd floor of the Casa), and walk uneven terrain, (cobblestone streets, and uneven paths) is a must.


 

Materials:

We suggest that you bring your favorite colors, brushes and painting supports, i.e. paper, (watercolor blocks are good for travel) and or canvas panels, (see next paragraph). We do however supply some materials needed for the workshop at no extra charge unless it is specifically outlined differently for the particular workshop dates you have chosen. The Casa has for your use during your stay; fine drawing, sketching, and a limited supply of some watercolor papers, a variety of quality drawing instruments, pencils, pens, charcoal, etc. A variety of aqueous media – some watercolors, gauche, tempera and acrylics, as well as a large selection of brushes, from cheap experimental to very expensive- kolinsky or sumi-e, as well as materials/equipment for set up -tape , glue, scissors, razor knives, tables, chairs, easels, boards etc.

You are encouraged to bring your own favorite tools and equipment. Watercolor artists should bring a block or pad of their favorite quality paper as well as their favorite colors, palette and brushes. We also encourage you to bring a sketchbook for taking notes and sketching. Plein air artists should bring a portable easel for using on location, or improvise. If you bring oils to work with (I would suggest adding some alkyds to your box, particularly alkyd white as well as a tube of CAS AlkydPro Gel Medium Fast Dry – something I have done for many years now, as it rapidly speeds the drying and therefore ease of transporting your work, as well as facilitate a variety of techniques), the Casa will supply you with turpentine, linseed oil if you desire it. If you need some suggestions and advice regarding transporting materials and supplies, drop me a note and I will share my experience with you to help make this a stress free experience. I will certainly be available to share with you a variety of techniques and demonstration of their use, from simple methods for setting up and techniques of “plein air”, alla prema for working on location, to methods of the old masters, painting “en grisaille”, with under-painting, glazing, frottie, scumbling etc.


 

Transportation to and from the Casa and Puerto Vallarta International Airport, (PVR):

Arrange to arrive at the Casa in Boca de Tomatlan after 2pm, (rooms are ready by 3pm), on the Saturday – the day your workshop vacation begins. It is easy to grab a taxi at the Puerto Vallarta airport. When you exit the customs area into the main terminal (past the room with the people hawking time shares, etc, to where people are waiting for arrivals), There are to your left stalls behind glass. – These are the Official Regulated Taxi Stands, there you can purchase a “ticket”. Taxis from the airport are approximately $40. – $50 and simple to arrange.  Tell them you want to go to “La Playa, (the Beach) at Boca de Tomatlan”. When you get to the entrance of the Boca, the taxi will take you down the hill to the”Playa”, (the beach). At the bottom of the hill you will see a small table with a colorful Casa de los Artistas sign, and our intern, (or possibly Bob will be there with his easel doing a plein air painting). They will direct you to your room and make sure your luggage gets there as well, (you are encouraged to tip the young men working hard to get your luggage to your room!).

Prices for the taxis fluctuate slightly through the year, but it is a “fixed rate” and should be about 500pesos, (if you smile and are pleasant and offer them $40. U.S. ,they will likely take it). If it is a large group of 4 to 10 people with luggage, you will need a van and that cost is about 1000 to 1200 pesos.

Drop offs at the Puerto Vallarta Airport from the Casa (the day the workshop ends), leave the Casa @ 10am and 1pm. If you wish to depart before or after our shuttle departures you must pay for your own transportation and we can help arrange that for you. It is approximately $25.- $35. back to the Airport.


 

What does the basic schedule of the Art Workshop Week or Day look like and How are meals arranged?

Things do change to accommodate the individuals and the unique desires of each group as well as the different kinds of seminars, but the week unfolds around this “typical” schedule.You arrive at Puerto Vallarta airport on “Saturday”, (usually midday to afternoon -please check the start day of your particular workshop) you grab a taxi at the airport and are brought to the beach in Boca de Tomatlan where you are met by Casa de los Artistas. You are checked into your room and are given a simple orientation of the Casa/Boca. There are some refreshments and snacks waiting for you at the Casa. Dinner is at (approximately) 6:30 at “Ramones’ Hauchinango Restaurant”, on the beach with our feet in the sand. A tropical ambiance with traditional Mexican style home cooking, where you can order anything from their menu (fresh catch of the day, famous for the “Huachinango –Red Snapper” and various preparations) along with drinks, beer, wine, etc.

Breakfasts (approx. 8:15 to 9am) and Lunch (1pm.) are prepared by our wonderful Mexican Chef Ruby and her assistant. These meals are served on the main floor of the Casa in the large dinning / living area and consists of a variety of healthful and delicious lacto ovo vegetarian fare. Always available are, coffee, tea, fresh fruits and juices, cereals, granola, peanut butter, jelly, cheese and milk. These are complimented by such things as pancakes with maple syrup (we are from Massachusetts) fresh breads and cheeses as well as traditional Mexican dishes like chiliquilles, or at lunch quesadias, swiss enchiladas or chili rellenos. Please let us know if you have any specific dietary restrictions.

From approximately 9:15am till 12:45 – 1 we will work in the studio, (non-art seminars meet at this time, with afternoons free). Again depending on the workshop and the group this activity will vary greatly. It can be working from a live model, exercises to open the flow of intuitive expression, working on a tropical still life with indigenous fruits and flowers or a demonstration of a particular method, technique or concept, etc. I might add here that the importance of having a quality studio space available to you during a workshop experience is an invaluable asset. Though we do take cultural excursions from the studio to photograph, paint and draw on location, (some only a short walk from the Casa), one can never predict inclement weather (though rare in the Boca), or the desire to spread out your materials, hold critiques and discussions, etc., having a studio to work in, with ample facilities, is an important advantage.

From after lunch till approx. 3:30-pm is lunch and “Siesta”, This is your down time, you may want to sit in the sun, go for a swim in the ocean, relax on your patio with a good book, go exploring or bird watching …….. or continue your time in the studio.

From 3:30 till 6:30pm is more art making, (free time for non-art workshops), either going out in the field on location (either a short walk from the Casa or a good hike, depending on the group), or more art in the studio, there is also time taken for looking at and discussing the work of the day.

6:30pm or so (this is Mexican time) is Dinner. There is a choice between returning to dining next to the ocean with your feet in the sand at “Ramones” or Pena’s on the path next to the footbridge to the Casa, with it’s unique and charming ambiance (famous for their wrapped shrimp). Again you can order anything from their menu along with drinks, beer, wine, etc.


 

Exceptions and Excursions:

As we mentioned before, nothing is rigid here and part of the “artists way” is spontaneity and flow in response to that which presents itself. That said, Wednesday night is Gallery Walk and touring in Vallarta.

This is the one meal that you pay your own way, you can choose to dine as a group or otherwise, and we can certainly steer you to many a great restaurant of all manner of cuisine, from inexpensive ($2 to $7) to moderate ($8 to $25.) to five star (with a price to match). We usually choose the moderate, but this is an opportunity for you to experience the cosmopolitan side of Mexico or for couples to have a romantic diner alone. Often groups will eat together, but we like to leave this an option.

We head to town together at around 4:00 for shopping at the Mercado, craft shops, etc., have an early dinner. If we are not all together for dinner we have set a meeting spot for 7:30. Then we begin our walking tour of the Galleries, take in some fine craft shops, and stroll the “Malecon”, sort of like a boardwalk along the ocean filled with street musicians, artists, tourists, vendors, etc. …. and we try not to get back too late.

We also schedule two picnic (lunch) excursions. A boat trip to explore the dramatic rock formations along the coast with the possibility to see whales, dolphins, giant mantas. We then stop at Los Arcos National Coral Reef Park with the opportunity of snorkeling or stay topside and feed the hundreds of King Angels and other fish that bubble the surface when you toss in tortillas or bread. Then we go on to a secluded tropical beach; where we can swim, eat a sumptuous picnic and make art if desired, sun bathe, etc. We also take a trip to explore the rural Mt. town of El Tuito with its fabulous photo ops. We might sketch at the plaza, visit the local home bakery (wood fired oven in the back yard), visit the church and municipal buildings then go on to have a fabulous late lunch at a Hacienda Restaurant and the afternoon painting in plein air, or if you like, sample the Hacienda’s special Tequila. Again the times and days change depending on circumstances, the sea conditions, the group, weather, etc.

Thus we go till the end of the week, which is (usually), the next “Saturday”, where we say good-bye around breakfast (unless you have a really early flight), and wrap things up. Your welcome to extend your stay at the Casa a day or longer for an extra charge, but this depends on availability and needs to be arranged and confirmed with us in advance.

If you have any other questions, please email us – bob@maslafineart.com or give us a call at (413) 625-8382.