Embark on a Trip of a Lifetime Travel Journal Course
What do you love about travel? Beautiful places? Finding expansion and inspiration from a different point of view? Meeting new people and perhaps discovering something new in yourself? Whatever your travel passion, often the challenge of a vacation is creating the time and space to have these authentic experiences. There is so much to see! Our artist-teacher Leslie Fehling knows this all too well. There is a balance about Art Walk Greece. Leslie easily brings you into a place to slow down and truly notice where you are while cultivating and discovering new artistic expression.
Sunrise over the caldera of Santorini
It’s too easy to end up rushing from one must-see location to another. At The Blue Walk we are big fans of slowing down. We take time to really be in the place where we are – whether it is picking a path through ancient cobbled avenue, strolling along the coast of the Aegean, or having a first taste of real Ligurian pesto.
Life’s details are worth noticing. Our Art Walk vacations are especially so. Imagine yourself lounging in the shade of an ancient olive tree, sketching a blue-domed Baroque church as a gentle breeze cools the heat of the warming sun. Capturing your travel experience through sketching or watercolor makes it easy to see a place, notice details, and be in the moment. Leslie is not only passionate about her craft. She brings a true joy of life and practice of presence to her instruction.
Blue Walk Interview with Leslie Fehling
To give you a better idea about Art Walk Greece with Leslie, we spent some time with her chatting about art, travel, teaching, learning and what inspires. She also provided some comments from her students for us to share. Our island-hopping Art Walk Greece vacation departs from Athens September 2017. For more information on the tour you can visit our website. If this sparks your wanderlust you may make a reservation request here. We still have a few spots left, but with a maximum of 14 passengers, space is limited!
Boats in Cinque Terre by Leslie Fehling
Why do you do what you do?
Because I love it! Sketchbook journaling is the most fun I’ve ever had with art. My sketchbook can be anything I want it to be. There are no rules; it’s all about the process. Sketching encourages me to slow down and focus on the things that are truly important in life, to find beauty in the everyday. It’s an antidote to negativity, a positive force in my life, and sharing it with others is the icing on the cake. I’ve met the most amazing people on my artistic journey. They’ve enriched my life in ways that would have been hard for me to imagine just a few years ago.
What is your background?
I have a BA from Colorado College, and I’ve always enjoyed the artsy side of life. I’ve drawn, painted, quilted, done calligraphy, and just about any other craft you can name. I painted with oils during my younger days, but they never gave me the thrill that I get every time I watch watercolors combining wet-in-wet on a piece of paper. I owned a custom sewing and design business for thirteen years and taught classes to industry professionals. Then, about seven years ago, I picked up a dusty watercolor set I had had since my college days and set about teaching myself to paint. I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and spent a year journaling about my hopes, fears, and dreams. Eventually, I discovered sketchbook journaling.
Art al fresco with Leslie Fehling students
The idea of sketching and painting for myself, with no fear of judgement or pressure to achieve a goal, touched a chord in me. I threw myself into it, learned a lot, grew more confident, and finally began to share what I was learning with others. I closed my design business two years ago to focus on art. It felt like leaping into the great unknown. I trusted that my heart was leading me where I needed to go. Since then, so many doors have opened for me. My life is richer than I could have imagined. I get to spend every day doing what I love – sketching, traveling, and interacting with amazing people all over the world.
What inspires you?
Life! Whether it’s in Prosperity, Pennsylvania, or on the island of Santorini, I paint and journal about my life and experiences. I draw the big things, like panoramic landscapes and European cathedrals, as well as the little things, like my napping dog or fresh raspberries from my garden. They’re equally interesting and inspiring to me. I often tell my students to paint what makes them say, “Wow!” That’s a good gauge for me as to whether I want to spend my time and energy on a sketch. I tend to prefer nature over urban scenes, but my sketchbooks are filled with every sort of subject you can imagine, from the leaning tower of Pisa to fat spring robins hopping around on my lawn at home.
There is something happy and simple about her style but something deeper too… She doesn’t just teach technique (of which she is a master). She is fully committed to life and joy and using every day to the fullest. She uses her God-given talent and energy to give all that she can to your experience and help you get it too. She truly believes the saying she left us with, “When we draw our daily lives, we elevate the mundane to the sacred.
Every room has an ocean view at our Amorgos Hotel.
What attracts you about travel journaling?
It enhances the whole travel experience in so many ways. It gives me a reason to slow down and savor a new place, to find beauty where most tourists don’t even think to look. Sketching imprints a place on my mind, so that years later, when I open my travel journal, I’m taken back to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and conversations I experienced while I sat and painted. Travel journaling connects me to a place like nothing else can. It sparks connections with strangers and makes me feel a part of the place I’m painting.
Why do students attend your courses?
I asked a few of my students this question and they said that my style of sketchbook journaling is what first drew them to my workshops, but now that they know me better, it’s my enthusiasm for what I do that keeps them coming back. They say my classes are inspiring and motivating. Taking one of my classes encourages them to do more with their own artwork, to push themselves to grow. Another thing they love is the camaraderie of getting together with other like-minded women. Friendships grow as they paint together and share a part of themselves through their journaling.
A thing about Art Walk Greece is it’s a big decision to travel halfway around the world to take a painting workshop. The students who have accompanied me on past trips to Europe tell me that they were confident all the details would be taken care of if I was in charge. And – they knew it would be a lot of fun! It was something they wouldn’t have tackled on their own, but being with my group gave them a sense of security. Knowing the itinerary allowed time for sketching ensured keeping a travel journal of their experiences would be a reality rather than just wishful thinking.
Leslie is by far the best teacher I have ever had. What she teaches, and how she teaches, really speaks to the “everyday” artist. She’s inspirational. She is the hardest working instructor I have ever met. And she shares not only her talent, she shares “self”…which creates a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere for learning. My art and productivity have improved immensely under her guidance! – Cheryl Carr
What is your teaching style?
Manarolo, Italy by Leslie Fehling
I’ve been told my classes are very different from most art instructors. I spend less time demonstrating and more time giving my students concrete information they can apply to their own work. Let’s talk about Art Walk Greece and what a typical class may loo like…
Usually I share examples from my own sketchbooks to demonstrate the concepts I’m teaching that day. Then I do a short demo on a particular subject or technique. It might relate to watercolor, such as “Three Approaches to Painting Shadows” or “How to Paint Sparkling Water.” Optionally, it may focus on a new hand-lettering style or how to handle perspective challenges. Next it’s time for the students to try out what I’ve shown them. Following the step-by-step directions I’ve given them in their handout and shown them in the demo, they dive right in. Of course I am always present, offering help and encouragement as needed.
Apolo’s Gate, Naxos Island
After the instructional session during the Greece workshop, I’ll offer suggestions for what to focus on that day when we’re out and about. It might be a page layout idea, a certain subject, or a painting technique to try. Then we’re off! We might sketch together for awhile, or I sometimes do an onsite demonstration. There are always lots of options. And then there are times when everyone wanders off to sketch on their own.
During my travel workshops, lessons focus on how to paint common subjects we’ll encounter during our time in the area. However, the techniques learned can be applied when painting any subject matter. They’re the tools that enable my students to sketch with confidence.
What have you learned from creating while you travel?
It has made me realize the quality of my experiences is more important than the quantity. It is better to linger in a cafe with a friend and sketch my lunch or the view across the way than to rush off to see five more sights from the “must see” list. It’s one of the things I love about Art Walk Greece. I used to feel obligated to see everything when I traveled. Now I pick and choose, and tell myself I’ll come back another time to see more.
Sunset on Amorgos Island
I’ve learned when I’m traveling, it’s important for me to find a balance between sketching time and all those vacation activities that I love: sightseeing, shopping, eating, and just plain relaxing. I never want travel journaling to feel like a chore or obligation. So I do as much as I can, but I don’t stress about what’s left undone. I really enjoy working on finishing up a travel journal later at home. It gives me a chance to relive all those happy memories about Art Walk Greece and amazing places I was lucky enough to visit.
You can find more information about Leslie on her website Everyday Artist. If you would like to learn more about Art Walk Greece you can visit our tour page here.