Somewhere in the largest forest of Central Europe, the warm sun shines through the leaves. All we can hear is the water of a clear forest stream, buzzing of insects and the soft sound of paintbrushes on canvas. We are on a unique art holiday for nature lovers, which connects painting with wildlife conservation. Do you want to be a part of the lynx conservation in Slovenia? Gain a deeper understanding of lynx conservation issues, learn about Europe’s largest wild cat and its fight for survival, whilst developing your artistic skills? In that case, join our art tour and help us to ensure the future of lynx through visual arts.
Every day, we will be painting in the midst of the pristine nature, together with our mentor, academic painter Karmen Bajec, who will instruct us about different painting techniques. Each day we paint outdoor, discovering some stunning locations of Slovenian forest, the living area of the lynx. We are accompanied by Paul Veenvliet, biologist and former lecturer in Wildlife Management, who will share with us his wealth of knowledge about local wildlife, show you footprints of bears, wolves, deer and other signs of wildlife presence. Lynx also live here – there is only a handful of them left and they need our help. This tour is run in close cooperation with researchers from the LIFE Lynx project – an ambitious project aimed to save the Dinaric lynx population from extinction by translocating animals from healthy populations. You will meet the large carnivore experts and your art work will become part of the local art exhibition, organized to present different opportunities that presence of large carnivores offers to local communities.
What do you need: art supplies like paintbrushes, if you like (please note that we will also arrange art supplies including paint and canvasses for you), camera, hiking shoes, sun hat, waterproof sportswear, tick repellent.
Highlights: painting in the pristine nature with your tutor, learn about coexistence with large carnivores through your art, the presence of predators and other wild animals, large carnivore experts.
Nature friendly practices:
• Staying at bear friendly accommodation ARS VIVA
• Learning about effective protection of livestock and beehives from large carnivores
- Price: from 1.095 EUR per person (price may change according to the number of participants).
- Date: 9 – 16 July 2019
- Duration: 8 days
- Physical difficulty: low
- Suitable for individuals, couples, small groups: painters of all levels of experience
- Season: April to October
- Location: Podcerkev, Cerknica
- Maximum group size: 8
Your art tutor, Karmen
Karmen Bajec, academic painter from Stari trg pri Ložu, will be your tutor through the week. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana under the mentorship of established prof. Metka Krašovec. She has several experiences in art education with adult and children since 2005. She is qualified for cooperation with disabled person in the field of culture, from 2014 she is working as an assistant of Creative Buroeau Cooperate. Since 2016 she is an artist tutor of »Painting in nature« workshops and enjoys working with people of many interests. People can discover some peace around her relaxed personality, with the goal to get in touch with the hidden wildlife nature. Karmen is approaching different media and genres to the students that wish to fulfill holidays with good-vibes as well as with painting knowledge of animals, landscapes and portraits.
Your nature guide, Paul
When Paul Veenvliet first came to Slovenia in 1998, he immediately realized how beautiful and unique this place is. Now that he is living in the Notranjska region, he got to know the countryside pretty well, but he never ceased to admire everything he sees. As a biologist and former lecturer in Wildlife Management, he is an engaged speaker, known for his enthusiasm. He started out as herpetologist but is an all-around naturalist with a broad knowledge. In Slovenia, he has worked on a variety of nature conservation and education projects. He is also a scientific illustrator.
LIFE Lynx project
LIFE Lynx project strives to save Dinaric lynx population from extinction. Currently, the lynx population in Slovenia is small, isolated and extremely inbred. The project will improve genetic diversity of the population by translocating healthy animals from another population. This art tour was developed within the project to promote conservation of lynx through arts. Part of the revenue generated through this ecotourism product will continue to support nature conservation activities and enrich local livelihoods.
Day 1 - Arrival to Slovenia
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.
Day 2 - Painting in the Slovenian Forest
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.
Day 3 – Composition in nature
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.
Day 4 – Painting sheep and their guard dogs
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 acrylic, 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 …
Day 5 – Linear perspectives and wide views
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 spectacular landscape.
Day 6 – Painting the light: an exercise with shadow and sun
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.
Day 7 – Showing our paintings!
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!
Day 8 – Departure
Our art tour has already ended and we look back on a unique week. Every day, we practiced 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 …
from 1.095 EUR per person (price may change according to the number of participants).
- 7 nights accommodation
- Transport in Slovenia
- English (Dutch, German … ) speaking local guide
- English speaking mentor who is also a professional painter
- Art supplies including paintbrushes, canvasses and paint
- Tourist tax
- Basic accident insurance.
- Travel insurance
- Any private expenses
- Alcoholic drinks
- Flight to and from Slovenia
- Other things that are not mentioned as included.
- 9 – 16 July 2019
- This is an easy tour. Every day, we drive to various locations with a van, 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 fold-able 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.
- During the tour, we will stay at ARS VIVA accommodation in the valley of Lož, in Slovenia. It 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!
Transport from and to Ljubljana (Brnik) airport is included in the tour. Please contact us if you arrive at another airport, by train or by car. We are happy to help you with driving instructions or with booking a shuttle bus (the shuttle bus is not included in the tour price).