March 23, 24, 26, 27, 2020 Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri
Olga Community Club, Orcas Island, WA



contour drawing

Often people find they are restricted in their painting because they don’t trust their ability to draw. The trust is crucial. This retreat is designed to help you to discover your ability to draw, to start having fun drawing, and to learn to trust that “I can do that.”

Once again I am offering the annual drawing retreat. It is always exciting and fun — for the students who discover, in spite of their doubts, that they too can draw; and for me to have the joy of watching them develop confidence and skill.

Drawing is about self-discovery. It is about tuning in and tuning out. The week will be as much about learning how to shut out the world and allow yourself to tap into your artist self as it trying different ways to draw.   With a “Yes I can!” attitudeboatss, anyone can learn to draw.

There are some “secrets” to learning to draw – or learning to see to draw. To understand these try a variety of ways of drawing with a variety of different tools.  We will do some exploring of Orcas as we find different subjects to draw.  We will do quick drawings and longer drawings. In the course of the week you will try.

  • blindcontourcontour drawings
  • shaded drawings
  • blind contour drawings
  • gesture drawings
  • shadow shape drawing
  • simple figure drawing
  • simple perspective
  • simplifying complicated subject
  • tinted drawings
  • drawing to scale
  • exploring areas of specific interest to you

blind contour drawing

Note that the format is for two days  and then a break, coming back for the last two days.   The rest day gives those who have come a distance time to focus on exploring the offerings of the San Juans. Students of other classes have hiked, kayaked, shopped for pottery, gone to other Islands, met friends, gone on horseback rides.  When they return to class on Thursday, they have absorbed the introductory days and eager to learn more.

Location: The Olga Community Club, Olga (Olga Energetic Club) on the east side of Orcas. It is a quiet hamlet about 8 miles from Eastsound, 22 from the ferry.   There are many cottages in the area and it is near Moran State Park, where you may camp.  Driving directions will be sent to you closer to the class time.

 Hours are 9:00-.2:30. The days are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. We have found that the break in the middle allows you to have a breather and absorb what you have learned so far. It also allows time to explore the Islands if you are visiting, or take care of chores if you live locally.

The time has been tweaked  for inter-island  (Shaw) ferry commutes.  If this causes you a problem, please let me know.


shaded drawing

The retreat is limited to 8 to keep allow for an intimate atmosphere and plenty of individual attention.

At the end of every week I have taught this class everyone(!) is not only drawing drawing and excited, empowered by what they have learned.  You too can do it!



All you NEED is

  • a pen – I will have one nice gel pen for you.
  • a sketchbook, I like Robert Bateman, 8 1/2 x 11, or bring  any that does not bleed when using ink
  • a pencil — a 2 B (soft) is good
  • a heavy marker like a Sharpie.
  • You CAN bring more. A  4-pen Faber Castell set is a nice addition – and then you don’t need the Sharpie. You can also bring  #4, #6 pencils.

For tinted drawings we will use watercolors; colored pencils, colored markers. Bring what you have or borrow mine.

Feel free to bring  ANY and ALL drawing equipment you have including charcoal, newsprint pads, watercolor, color pencils, etc.

Any questions: Check at Office Cupboard in Eastsound or call me, 360-298-2641.

 If you want to start practicing, go to the Technique Corner (lower left of the home page) for drawing suggestions  or try  Nick Meglin’s Drawing from Within.  He and I see eye-to-eye on how to approach drawing.


If you want to take the class and would like to share housing, you may contact me  360-298-2641. 3-4 people can share housing (4 beds to the town houses) at Smugglers’ for the lowest rates on Orcas (about $75 a night). Another possibility with low rates is Golden Tree Hostel in Eastsound. A new place that is highly recommended (at least in off-season).

Drawings_0001Olga (eastside) area (close to the workshop site):

Blackberry Beach — very close to class, right on the water in Olga hamlet. Reasonably priced – Carol Jo Enge, 360-376-2845
Sand Dollar Inn Bed and Breakfast across from Meadowlark Guest House; walking distance. Very popular with students.
Coming with 3 others? Try The Olga House, 100 yards from the workshop site. A delightful private house for rent. 503.645.6240
Another whole house is The Olga BEACH House – about a mile from class. Sleeps 6 (4 beds). On the water.360-393-9661.
Bayside Cottage – several cottages with quiet beach – 360-376-4330.
Be sure and click on their website and click on the map.  You can navigate the entire Olga area.
Doe Bay Resort – many different levels of cabin and camping arrangements. Small restaurant, hot tubs and sauna on site – 360 376 2291, office@doebay.com
Lieber Haven Resort – cabins and small marina at Obstruction Pass. Ask for a water view cabin – 360-376-2472
Winter Pond Near Doe Bay (3-4 miles from the class); highly recommended by ’08 students, (206) 783-1961
done at Doe Bay Resort


Rosario area (half way between Eastsound and Olga):

Cascade Harbor Inn – suites and studios with a lovely view; very popular with past students – 360-376-6350
Otters Pond – lovely garden and view of a natural pond – 360-376-6350, host@otterspond.com
Camping: Moran State Park – 1-800-452-5687 for reservations. 1-800-233-0321 or 360-376-2326 for information. Early reservations a must!
Go to LINKS on this website for more disucssion.

shadow shape drawing

Highway I-5 to exit 230, route 20. Turn west and follow the road through Anacortes to the ferry (obeying the 30 mph speed limit!) – drive is a half hour from I-5.

Ferry: from Anacortes. For schedule information, see the Washington State Ferries Web site or call 1-888-808-7977. You will also need to make reservations.  I will write about this or look at WSF site and choose a ferry an hour to an hour and a half after you turn off I-5 at exit 230. Be sure and buy gas before coming on the Island.

The workshops are planned, where possible, to take advantage of off-peak travel times. Arrive the afternoon or early evening before the workshop, if possible.

Because of the cost of ferry tickets , I will purchase a bulk book of fares.  If you wish, a month before the class  I will e-mail you  ticket for a car and driver. The price is about $31.. To be confirmed at the time of the purchase.

Plan to pick up a San Juan Beckons or Springtide on the ferry for a map and useful information.
Don’t forget to fill your gas tank before coming. Gas is even higher on the island!  and

You can see a map of Orcas Island at google maps  or  http://www.sanjuanweb.com/webmaps/orcas.htm




Registration Form

Send $50 deposit (or full payment) to:

  • Buchanan Watercolors
  • 1309 27th St
  • Anacortes, WA 98221



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Questions: 360-298-2641 or email watercolors@rockisland.com