Painting holidays with ADELE EARNSHAW and JOE GARCIA in Adele’s home country of New Zealand!

Unlike traditionally structured painting workshops where students spend the day in the studio with only one or two excursions to paint on location, this will be a laid-back adventure and your studio will be the beaches, islands and rain forests of the the Bay of Islands, where Adele now resides!

Please click on the colored links throughout the blog for all the information about the Painting Holidays in New Zealand. As in all blogs, the last post is the most recent, so be sure to scroll down to see all the posts.


February 22 – February 28, 2015

Watercolor Magic with Deb Groesser

March 3 - 9, 2015

Capture Impressions Swiftly with V...Vaughan

Interested in an Artists' Retreat? Please contact us for information!

Below, you will read posts from SCAV crew members, giving you lots of first hand information about what to expect when you join the Painting Holiday. Be sure to read the older posts too! Visit the INFORMATION ABOUT THE HOLIDAY pages listed on the right side of the blog.

There are lots of links sprinkled throughout the blog posts and pages. Be sure to click on those for an abundance of information about New Zealand. Come back often to view the latest posts and schedule!

All images copyrighted by Adele Earnshaw and Joe Garcia.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Using our Blog

Hi to all of you who will be joining us in New Zealand.

We're hoping that you might start using our blog to ask questions, communicate with each other and share information. You'll see "COMMENT" at the bottom of each post. If you click on it, you can make a comment that the rest of us can see. In a month or two, I'll make a post about airfares. If you have found a great deal that you'd like to share with us, post the information in the 'comment' section.

If you have trouble using the comment section, email Joanne, Anne or me and we'll help you work it out.

And don't forget to scroll down to previous posts. We've been posting lots of helpful information for you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making a Watercolor Journal

You'll be receiving your supply list (by email) for the New Zealand painting holiday in just a few days. Most of you are working in watercolor, but no worries if you've chosen another medium. Here, I'll give you instructions on how to make a watercolor journal to use on your trip.

Watercolor is the perfect travel medium - lightweight and easy to pack. There are different brands of watercolor paper, which come in different weights from 90lb to thicker-than-cardboard. The heavier the paper, the less likely is it to buckle when wet. Joe has worked on 140lb Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper for years while I prefer Arches cold-pressed 300lb. He also prefers ready-made watercolor sketchbooks, specifically the Pro Art brand, however I've had no luck finding these online. Someone sent him a stack of the sketchbooks years ago so this is what he continues to use. Not sure if they're made anymore. There is what appears to be a reasonably good Arches watercolor sketchbook available through ASW that is made of 140lb Arches cold-pressed paper. You'll find an ASW link for it in your emailed supply list.

I tried different watercolor sketchbooks over the years and couldn't find one with decent paper so resorted to making my own. I've learned there are some major advantages to this - mainly that if I wait until I get back from my trip before having the paper bound into a book, I can leave out the paintings I didn't finish or I didn't like! I can also arrange the pages in the order I like.
ASW sells a 3-pack of 22" x 30" 300lb Arches cold-press watercolor paper. If you click on the link for this on your supply list, it will take you to the right page in the online ASW catalog. The paper comes in 'natural white' or 'bright white'. I use 'natural white'. Either will work.

If you make your sketchbook according to my instructions, the three-sheet pack of paper will give you 24 pages for your sketchbook. If you use all of these in the week-long painting holiday, you'll be sure to win the highly coveted Perseverance Award at the end of the week!

Cut a 22" x 30" sheet of watercolor paper lengthwise, giving you two 11" x 30" pieces of paper. Then cut each 30" length into 7 1/2" pieces. This will give you 8 pieces of 7 1/2" x 11" paper, each with a deckled edge. You can make your sketchbook larger or smaller - but I find this size works well for traveling with no wasted paper.

You can arrange the sheets of paper so the deckled edges are all on the same side, which makes for a smart-looking sketchbook once it is bound. I stack the paper and pack them in a big envelope (Fed-ex has a perfect paper envelope which will last through the trip without tearing. You can borrow one from the shipping supplies at a Fed-ex office or Kinkos, but don't tell them I put you up to this!)

Using a carpenter's square to make sure my corners are square, I draw a rectangle on each sheet of paper. You can see here that my rectangle is 1 1/2" in from the edge of the paper on three sides, but there's a wider margin on the fourth side of 2". This will be the side that will be bound - so I'm giving a little more room. This allows for a 4 1/2" x 7 1/2" painting. You can make yours any size you wish. I use a 2H pencil (it doesn't smear) and draw a very light line which can be erased after your painting is finished. (I've used a dark line here so you can see how I do it)

Once I return home, I sort the paintings in the order I like and take the pages to Kinkos. There are several different types of bindings available - I prefer the spiral. You also have a choice of covers. I like the black plastic. With some of my sketch books, I've inserted a piece of vellum in between each painting before it is bound. If you have any questions, email me!

If you prefer, you can take your watercolors home and have them framed....but there's something impressive about a finished watercolor journal of your travels.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Things to Do in Wellington

Default 101 things to do in Wellington

Wellington is the Capitol of New Zealand, though Auckland is the largest city. It is home to New Zealand's parliament, Te Papa Museum and is at the very most southern tip of the North Island.

There are too many places for me to post a link for all of them, but just google the name plus Wellington, NZ and you should be able to find information or email me and I'll track down a link for you.

1. Visit the Te Papa Museum.
2. Ride on the Cable Car from Lambton Quay to the Botanic Gardens
3. Visit the Marine Education Center at Island Bay
4. Listen for penguins coming back to their nests at dusk
5. Rent a kayak and paddle round the harbour.
6. Fish & chips at Wellington Trawling Market (Cuba Street/Lambton Quay)
7. Wash them down with a beer at Mighty Mighty on Cuba Street
8. Enjoy at bottle of Waiheke Island wine at the Matterhorn on Cuba Street
9. Walk up Mount Victoria for a great view of Wellington (take the 20 bus or walk up through the greenbelt)
10. Regional Wines off the Basin reserve offers free wine tasting
11. Buy fresh fish right off the boat (market behind Te Papa Museum)
12. Have coffee at Cafe 32 on the Terrace, keeping an eye open for the Prime Minister, John Key, who is known to sneak a cigarette there.
13. Go surfing at Lyall Bay
14. Go horse riding in the Ohariu Valley
15. Take the Dominion Post Ferry for the Harbor Explorer Trip
16. Go to the Dockside Restaurant for Bluff oysters
17. Go to the market on Saturday afternoon (behind Te Papa Museum)
18. Go to the Weta Cave in Miramar
19. Go wine tasting in Martinborough
20. Buy a $6 day tripper bus ticket and see Wellington by bus
21. Take a tour of Parliament (called 'The Beehive')
22. Visit the City & Sea Museum
23. Have High Tea at the James Cook Hotel
24. Visit the Carter Observatory at the top of the Botanic Gardens and learn about the Southern Hemisphere sky.
25. Try locally-brewed beer at Malthouse on Courtney Place
26. Walk the skyline from Mt. Kaukau (above Khandallah) to Crofton Downs for a spectacular view
27. Have authentic ethnic food in the Mediterranean Food Warehouse (hole in the wall places but supposed to be good)
28. Take the ferry to Sommes Island - great views, flora fauna and history.
29. Have a drink at the BackBencher near Parliament. This bar/cafe is on the property that my great great grandparents owned in the 1800's.
30. Buy 'The Entertainment Book' for discounts at many of these local places.
31. Take the ferry to Eastbourne and go to the Chocolate Dayz Cafe.
32. Have a beer on the grass at the Heineken Hotel
33. Take the nigh tour at the Karori Sanctuary Experience
34. Visit the New Zealand Portrait Gallery
35. Go to a free Wednesday lunchtime classical concert at St. Andrew's on the Terrace
36. Go to a ukulele jamming session with the Wellington Ukulele Collective
37. Pick up a free booklet, 'Feeling Great! Wellington's Guide to Recreation and Events. The booklet can be found at the railway station, libraries, shopping malls, etc.
38. Go swimming int he Hutt or Akatarawa River in the Hutt Valley. Best spots to swim are at the junction of Hutt River and Akatarawa River, Hutt River by accessway next to 91 Gemstone Drive, Hutt River at Totara Park or the Akatarawa River at the Blueberry farm, where you can pick your own blueberries.
39. Check on the free concerts at the Botanical Gardens
40. Go to Makara Beach, which overlooks the Tasman Sea and were you can sometimes see the South Island from the lookout point.
41. Go to the roller derby!
42. Visit the historic Bolton Street Cemetery and look for the graves of my rellies, some of the oldest gravestones there!
43. The best contemporary art exhibitions are at City Gallery.
44. Follow a visit to City Gallery with smoked salmon kedgeree lunch while reading British Newspapers at the adjoining Nikau Cafe.
45. Visit old St. Pauls on Mulgrave Street to see stunning gothic architecture using native New Zealand woods. This is near the pub/cafe Back Bencher, that I mentioned earlier in the list.
46. Into literature? Visit the Katherine Mansfield House on Tinakori Rd. It contains a lot of photos of early Welly.
47. Take the Marine drive from Owhiro Bay right around the coastline to Eastbourne. It takes about two hours (easy drive) at the water's edge for most of the way.
48. Visit Petone - historical and quirky. Petone was the first European settlement in the region and retains many historical buildings and landmarks.

Thanks to cousin Margaret for the last 7 suggestions!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hawkes Bay

I can't get enough of New Zealand. After living in the U.S. for so many years, I still return home almost every year and find it very hard to leave. So yesterday, a FOR SALE sign was put in front of my house. When the house sells, I'll buy a house in New Zealand and spend about 8 months of each year there. I'm hoping that I'll be living in New Zealand by the time you arrive for the 2012 Painting Holiday....but we all know the current state of the housing market in the U.S. so perhaps it will take a little longer.

Joanne and I were born in Hawke's Bay, which is about three-quarters of the way down the North Island and named by Captain Cook Our great great great grandparents were some of the first settlers in the area and our father grew up in Otane - a wide spot in the road about 30 miles from Napier. In 1931, Hawke's Bay was hit by an earthquake. The quake and subsequent fire destroyed the city of Napier. My father has vivid memories of the quake and living in a tent afterward as their house burned when the wood-burning cook stove toppled. If talk of earthquakes makes you nervous, let me point out that the first earthquake I experienced was in California - and Joanne's first earthquake was in Japan.

As Napier was rebuilt in the 1930's, the city is called The Art Deco City. "Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th Century - in such a concentrated area." The area surrounding Napier is known for great wineries. Hawke's Bay is flatter and drier than further north. If you're interested in birds, Cape Kidnappers has a fabulous gannet colony, one of the largest mainland colonies in the world.

Joanne and I spent a lot of time in Napier when we were kids. Our grandfather was manager of the largest theatre in Napier - back in the days when there were torch (flashlight) carrying ushers and ladies in short skirts with trays around their necks who sold lollies (candy) and cigarettes! As we were 'bush kids', we enjoyed the wonders of living in a city for a few weeks; taking the city bus, having milk delivered in glass bottles, waiting for the postie (mailman) to deliver the mail and roller skating on the Marine Parade. Our Aunt still lives in Napier, so every trip home to New Zealand includes a trip to Hawke's Bay.

As all my photos of Napier seem to include waving cousins, I'm afraid I don't have any of my own photos to post here....but if you click on the links, you'll have all the info you need.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Garcia's adventure down South

Our last trip to New Zealand took us to the South Island for a week's adventure to Milford Sound, Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, Christchurch and a few other choice spots. It was a whirlwind trip, but we saw a lot in a short time.

If you possibly can, include the Milford Sound in your plans. We were thrilled by the peaks and the fiords! The drive from Te Anau was memorable in itself. Allow a half day from there to the Sound, so that you can stop and enjoy the sights along the way. Chartered buses are available, but we prefer to go on our own in most cases.

Along the Milford Road

Stands of lupine along the river near the Milford Road

Views of  the majestic mountains

We stopped near the entrance to the tunnel through the mountain to the fiord and were met by
cheeky beggers--Kea parrots!
 Beware! They will tear off rubber and metal from your car--even go for your shoelaces!

The vast beauty of the Milford Sound

Don't miss it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Driving in New Zealand

If you are planning on renting a car and driving while you are in New Zealand, we have a couple of recommendations. First, if you don't already have a GPS, buy one before you go. If you get a Garmin, you can download New Zealand maps free from The free maps are only available for the Garmin.

Having it in New Zealand is valuable, as it is hard enough driving on the other side of the road without having to worry about what street you should turn on next. I was concerned that perhaps I had not downloaded the maps properly, as there is really no way to check until you are there. The minute we picked up my rental car, I plugged in the GPS, changed the country I was in, and voila! the maps were there! We were thrilled, and it made driving through Auckland much easier. It really helps you to know your estimated time of arrival in a strange country when you don't know how long it takes you to drive 100 Kilometres.

As for rental cars, we are cheapskates! I really dislike spending a lot of money on renting a car. We have used Ace Rentals three times now, at $28NZ a day, and are very happy with them. They are high mileage cars, but they are reliable and cheap. We did have brake issues twice, but when we called Ace, they told us to take it to an AA garage (no, not AA as we know it, but the Automobile Association) and they were fixed quickly at no charge to us. We were staying in one place for a couple of weeks, so had the time to do that. The first time it was simply a sensor squealing, but last time the car needed new front brakes. The cars both ran like tops and were very reliable. For two and a half weeks rental, we spent just over $500NZ, which is about $375 US.

Gas, on the other hand, is very expensive. We paid between $2.15 and $2.19 per litre. There are approximately 4 litres to a gallon, so that means it was $8.60NZ, which would be about $6.45US. No moaning about $3.50 a gallon here any more! Luckily it is a small country, but be prepared to spend between $60 and $90 every time you fill it up. We tried to fill up before it was 3/4 empty, and it usually was about $65. Now you know why Kiwis drive small cars!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Preparing for the New Zealand weather

When we were kids, we always used to say that the difference between summer and winter was that in the summer it rained every other day, and in the winter it rained every day! New Zealand is green everywhere you go, and that is because of the moisture they get.  As a result, we always plan for rain.  February is mid-summer and March is late summer, early fall.  March is traditionally one of the drier months of the year, but like weather everywhere, you can never really predict it. 

When planning for your trip, bring light layers. A light fleece jacket or pullover top and a light waterproof jacket with a hood are ideal for summer. You can wear them together if it is cold and wet, but you can also wear them separately. Rain doesn't necessarily mean it will be cold.  A small umbrella is optional but a sun hat is almost mandatory. The sun is strong and you will find you need it. Dell and I both wear flip flops every day and don't like the idea of having to put shoes on!  Jandals (flip flops) are the footwear of choice for the locals, and you will be surprised to see many people barefoot, even in grocery stores. It is that kind of country! Casual is good. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's SO Kiwi!

A kiwi guardrail. There is a long drop off the edge of the road here. It is a narrow gravel road, and only one lane wide in places as it goes over a steep hill. The guard rail is to notify you that you shouldn't drive over the edge, but isn't designed to keep you from going over. It is saying, "hey, there is a drop off here, use your common sense and don't go there!"

Once you get off the motorway and start driving on the more rural roads, there are many one lane bridges. In the South Island there is one that you share with a train and you have to make sure no train is coming before you drive over it. Here you just have to make sure no car is coming. This sign tells you that you have to yield (give way) to someone coming from the other direction.

This view is very typical of the North Island. The photo was taken on the road just above the turnoff into Matakana, about an hour north of Auckland.  Note the older home to the left. It is small and probably 70 years old. Here, they call them "character" homes. A lot of 5 acres or more is a "lifestyle block". This is probably a farm with even more acreage than that. New Zealand uses the metric system so land is measured in hectares and smaller "sections" are measured in square metres. Note the tank to the right of the house. Large homes might have 2 or 3 tanks. It is called a storm water system, and is actually the source of water for the home. Farms often have bores (wells) but most homes get enough water just from catching what drains from the roof when it rains. See the pipe going from the gutter to the tank? The water is  usually drinkable without treatment.   New Zealanders don't have very good teeth, and part of the reason is that there is no fluoride in rainwater. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Another great day!

Today, my long-time artist friend Lindsay Scott and her husband, Brian McPhunn, called with an offer to take us out on their boat to Beehive Island for a barbecue. The weather was perfect - and even better were the NZ sausages on the barbie. Oh yum!! We'll be visiting Brian & Lindsay's 'Koru' home along with a tour of Lindsay's studio during our Painting Holiday. What a fabulous day!

Yesterday morning, we went to the Matakana Farmers Market - a weekly Saturday-morning event in the small-but-bustling community, where you can buy local cheeses, whitebait fritters, fresh oysters, homemade bread, soaps or just sit and listen to local musicians. A real treat!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another Day in Paradise

Joanne and I have been busy taste-testing muffins and fish & chips to make sure they're up-to-par for those of you who have signed up for our 2012 Painting Holiday. It's been a rough week but someone has to do the dirty work! While checking out painting venues, we've been keeping our eyes open for optional activities for non-painting partners. We had a good laugh when we saw this sign....

This one's for you, George

Yesterday we visited the Parry Kauri Park where we're scheduled to spend an afternoon next year. The park is an area of dense native rain forest (called bush in NZ) that is home to many native trees including the Rimu, Totara and Kauri which rivals the redwood in size and height. The Kauri and Ponga (treefern) give the New Zealand bush a very primordial look. As you follow the walkway through the bush, you see and hear many of our native birds; Piwakawaka (Fantail), Wood pigeon, Silvereye, Tui and even an Australian parrot, the Rosella. I carry an Audubon bird call with me and called in both Fantails and Silvereyes.

It's end-of-summer-early-autumn here. The weather has been great - a bit of rain every now and then, but it hasn't lasted. It's been in the mid 70's with about 90% humidity. Not sticky at all - but the air feels soft and very sub-tropical. It has been clear at night and the Southern Cross, in the middle of the Milky Way, looks like a kite made of diamonds. Though I haven't been swimming, I've dipped my toes in the sea and have been surprised at how warm it is.

Another day in Paradise. Today we may take the launch to Kawau Island - and will post about the trip later today.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weather for the 2012 Painting Holiday.

Our 2012 New Zealand Painting Holiday starts a year from today!  I just checked Wunderground to see what the weather forecast is for this year, guessing that the weather for the same year next week will be similar.  Let's hope it is!

Feb 26 & 27,  2011: 
20% chance of rain (which means there's an 80% chance it won't rain),  high of 73 and low of 59.
Feb 28:
Partly cloudy, high of 78, low of 64.
March 1 & 2,
20% chance of rain, high of 77, low of 64-68.

Joanne and I leave this week for New Zealand.  We'll be double-checking on the resort and transportation arrangements,  we'll have a few lunches at the Leigh Fish & Chip shop and the Matakana Bakery to make sure the food is up to snuff and we'll line up under-cover places to paint in the event of rain.  

New Zealand Painting Holidays may become an annual event.  We've spoken to some other well-known artists who are interested in teaching for us in 2013.  When dates and instructors are confirmed, we'll post it here.

My mind has been on New Zealand this past week after the tragic earthquake in the South Island.  I'm reminded of the Maori expression, kia kaha - forever strong.   If you're interested in following news of the earthquake you can listen to New Zealand radio live, online.   Or go to
Listening to New Zealand radio is a great way of getting to know New Zealand and New Zealanders.  

Kia ora,

Friday, February 4, 2011

Calling all friends of artists!

If you are the friend or significant other of an artist and would like to go on the Paint New Zealand Holiday, this is the trip for you!

As one of the team members, and wife of Joe Garcia, I am really excited! All non-artists will be included in every aspect of the holiday. If you are a photographer, like me, then this will be "image heaven" for you! Or, if you like to hike, swim, ride horses or are into botany, New Zealand is the place!

I'll be posting now and then on some of the activities to look forward to as a non-artist, so keep in touch!

Kia Ora!