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Artists have always used their work to express their connection with nature. This is very much also the theme of our art-tour. Through our work, we intend to tell the story of lynx in Slovenia, its living area, its habits and its struggle for survival. At the same time, our art-tour is an opportunity to practise our art-skills in the Slovenian forests, which are the living area of the lynx!
Our art tour is meant for artists of all levels of experience, as long as you love to work outdoors, in nature! Every day, we go to a different place and we explore a different painting theme. In this way, our art-tour is at the same time a painting course, where you can practise and improve your technique. For this, we invited Slovenian professional painter Karmen Bajec to be our mentor during the tour.
But, this is no ordinary painting tour. Through our work, we have a mission to tell about the plight of the Slovenian lynx. And, to learn about the lynx, we will be hiking through the living area of this secretive cat. Researchers who study lynx, will join us on occasion and present their work. For this tour, it would be logical to see a lynx as well, but this will be difficult. Lynx are true masters at hiding and even when we pass one at a few metres distance, we will probably not see him. The best we can hope for, is to see their footprints in the sand …
In the 1970’s, three pairs of lynx have been brought to Slovenia in an ambitious reintroduction of this endangered cat. The reintroduction was a big success and the population increased to several tens, while the lynx spread to neighbouring Croatia. For several decades, the population was stable. Recently, however, a decline was noticed. One of the causes is inbreeding. Because of this, several unrelated lynx will be brought to Slovenia in 2019 as part of project LIFE Lynx.
For lynx to survive in Slovenia, it is not enough that some animals are released. In the long term, the survival of the lynx depends on a positive attitude of the local inhabitants towards this beautiful cat. Our artwork, which is made during this tour, will contribute to this in a unique way: when we present our work, we at the same time present the plight of the lynx to the local people as well as to the media!
We arrive at the Ljubljana airport where our tour organiser and guide Paul is waiting for us. From here, we go with a minibus to our destination in Southern Slovenia. This drive takes a little over one hour; we may make a stopover on the way to look at the beautiful Slovenian landscape. At the accommodation, we meet Slovenian artist Karmen, who will be our mentor during the week. Once we have settled in, our Slovenian dinner awaits. In the evening, we discuss the program for the week.
We start our time in Slovenia with a refreshing walk through the forest. Soon, we leave the village sounds behind and experience the serene natural atmosphere. In autumn, few birds sing, but the clear song of Robins can be heard every now and then. Unseen animals have left their traces here and we may see footprints of Roe- and Red deer as well as European Hare: all are on the menu of Lynx. Of course, the forest is an excellent place for inspiration as well.
We return to our accommodation for lunch and a presentation about Nature as a motif for Art. In the rest of the afternoon, we prepare canvasses with acryl, so we can use them during the rest of the week as well as making sketches of our painting ideas.
The area where we are is part of the Slovenian Karst. The term “Karst” comes from the Slovenian word “Kras”, and is internationally used for limestone areas where water creates a unique landscape. Rivers and streams run underground and appear in spectacular Karst Springs. Under our feet, there are literally thousands of caves. In the middle of the forest, we suddenly stand in front of a steep cliff, where the underground has collapsed.
The karst landscape provides a unique background for today’s painting day, where we concentrate on composition and landscape painting. We start the day with an exercise in sketching, with special attention to on composition principles. We do this on the spot, outdoor, in a most spectacular site, the valley of Rakov Škocjan. Here, we then continue painting the landscape as well.
In the evening, a Lynx biology expert working on the LIFE Lynx project will join us to share with you the unique story of lynx reinforcement in Slovenia and present crucial challenges of lynx conservation.
Lynx is a top predator, which mostly eats wild animals: roe deer and hares. Sheep can be an easy prey as well, so they need to be protected. For this, some farmers keep large guard dogs, which are which are day and night together with the sheep. Today, we visit one of these farmers, and we paint his sheep and guard dogs!
After a short drive, we arrive in the half-open landscape which is where lynx and sheep sometimes meet. We will probably not see the elusive lynx, but we can almost feel his presence here. Throughout the day, we will stay in the surroundings of the sheep flock and their dogs. After a while, the animals ignore our presence and behave as if we are no longer there: the sheep are grazing and one or two large dogs lie down in the surroundings. Whenever there is an unexpected sound, the dogs jump up, full alert. With loud barks, they announce their presence. If needed, they defend the sheep with their life!
We start again with sketching, this time we concentrate on animal anatomy. We then continue with painting in acryl, using the flock and their guardians as a motif. The rugged dry karst landscape forms a phenomenal background which of course we use in our paintings as well …
Lake Cerknica is like no other place on earth. Here, the water comes and goes and in summer, the lake can be entirely dry. In some places, dead fish attract Brown Bears in the middle of the night: in the morning, we may find their footprints in the mud. Lynx and other secretive forest animals come to hidden springs in the forest edge to drink. Later in the year, the autumn rain fills the lake again and water starts bursting out of the otherwise quiet springs!
The Half-open landscape of Lake Cerknica is never the same, as the water level, the light and the colour of the vegetation are constantly changing. However, the Lake is spectacular in any season. Today, we sketch and paint the Lake landscape, with special emphasis on linear perspectives in the landscape. For this, we choose one of the best vantage points at the side of the lake. Of course, we visit various places around the lake as well to get an impression of this speciacular landscape.
The spotted fur of the Lynx melts away in the patchwork of sun and shadow in the forest. Even when he is sitting in plain sight, he is easily overlooked. Today, we focus on the interplay of light and shadow in the great Slovenian forest, the living area of Lynx. After a short drive, we enter a narrow, steep valley. Where the unpaved forest road ends in the middle of the forest, we set up out painting easels. We are at an idyllic, place, besides to a small mountain stream. The sun filters through the leaves of the trees, which start to show the first autumn colours. Today, we concentrate on the interplay of structures of the water, earth and plants with the sunlight. All the while, we enjoy the silence and the wonderful atmosphere in the Slovenian forest.
Throughout out painting week, we gained an understanding of the mysterious Lynx and the area where he lives in the Slovenian forests. We expressed this in our paintings, which we show today in a one-day exhibition. The exhibition provides us with the opportunity to reflect on our work. It will also be will be open to visitors. The local art exhibition will give you a unique opportunity to meet local media and authorities and speak up for the fragile future of the lynx!
Our art tour has already ended and we look back on a unique week. Every day, we practised our art skills while we learned about the plight of the Slovenian Lynx. Today, all which is left is to pack our best work of the week and depart for home. It was a week which we will never forget …
The price of our custom tours is 1,095 € per person.
This price includes 7 nights accommodation, meals, transport in Slovenia, guiding, transfer between Ljubljana airport and the accommodation.
The price also covers art supplies
The price does not include: airplane tickets, travel insurance, any private expenses, alcoholic drinks
There is a single-room supplement of 95 € per person.
Optional additions: transfer from other arrival points like Venice airport.
Your principal guides will be Paul and Karmen.
Paul is a licensed local guide and naturalist, living in southern Slovenia. He speaks English, Slovenian and Dutch.
Karmen is a professional Slovenian painter who speaks English and Slovenian.
Transfer to and from Ljubljana (Brnik) airport is included in this tour. Please tell us when you arrive at another location or by other transport means so we can help you arrange transport to the meeting point at the accommodation.
During the tour, we will stay Hostel Ars Vivo in the valley of Lož, in Slovenia. The hostel offers a variety of quality rooms, as well as a large room for painting. Most importantly, the owner of the hostel is an accomplished painter as well! You can find more information about Hostel Ars Viva on their website: http://www.youth-hostel-ars-viva.si/index.php/sl/
1 – 3 participants: a personal car, the guide is also the driver
4 – 8 participants: a minibus, the guide is also the driver
We think that tasty, high-quality meals are a very important part of any tour! Where possible we prefer it when we can eat local dishes, based on locally produced ecological products. Often, we include seasonal fruits and other farm products.
Breakfasts often include home-made bread with pršut (Slovenian wind-dried ham), cheese and eggs from local farms, as well as home-made marmalade and Slovenian honey.
Lunch during our tours is often a tasty picnic, which we enjoy in a beautiful, natural area. Such a picknick consists of delicious home-baked bread and a variety of local products depending on the seasons together with home-made juice and Slovenian tea.
Dinner is usually served at the accommodation, but in case you stay at our farmhouse “the Dormouse house” we may drive with you to a local farmhouse and eat there. Have you every tried Slovenian štruklji, which are a delicious kind of dumplings, or ajdove zganci, a buckweed-based food – a Slovene staple from the old times?
We can provide vegetarian meals and of course take any requirements into account which you may have, like allergies and based on religious beliefs. We will ask you about this sometime before the start of the tour. Sometimes, it means that we will have to buy ingredients which are not available locally.
This is an easy tour. Every day, we drive to various locations with a minibus, where we unpack our art material to paint on-site. We also have short excursions, mostly these take no longer than one or two hours. During the excursions, we walk over unpaved forest roads and smaller paths in the forest.
While painting we may be standing for a longer time. Please indicate if it is easier for you to have a foldable chair: we can arrange this! We are outdoor regardless of temperatures and wind, so please make sure that you can dress appropriately. However, in case we get constant rain, we move to an indoor location at our accommodation.
Art supplies like paintbrushes, if you like. Please note that we will also arrange Art Supplies including paint and canvasses for you!
Waterproof hiking shoes
Tick- and mosquito repellent
Refillable water bottle