Cecelia Jurgens in the Media

Sketchbook Tours Provide Inspirational Journeys

as seen in the Saskatoon Sun on Sunday, January 22, 2011

This May marks the eight year artist Cecelia Jurgens has been offering Sketchbook Workshop Adventure Tours. These tours have taken participants to inspiring destinations such as Rome and Tuscany in Italy; Windsor, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the Lake District in England; Chile, Argentina and the Andes in South America; the Hoodoos and Rockies in Western Canada; Paris and Provence in France; and Spain, Portugal and Morocco. These areas, rich in culture and history, are truly a painter’s paradise. For 2011, she is excited to be offering this Sketchbook Adventure to Greece-Athens, and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini.

“These Sketchbook tours are the most enjoyable way to see a country because you really experience and connect with the location you’re sketching while you’re also mingling and interacting with the local people,” says Jurgens.

Having travelled a great deal over the years on business, one of the first items Jurgens always packed into her briefcase was her sketchbook. Sketching became a form of relaxation, and she soon learned why her sketchbook became such a valuable tool in her art studio back home.

“Sketching in thinking and feeling on paper. You become sensitive to your surroundings as you spend time doing a sketch. However brief it is, a period of concentrated sketching will bring you extraordinarily close to your subject. You find yourself becoming even more sensitive to the excitement of line, of colours, the subtlety of light and shadow, and the tactile qualities of texture and form. Sketching increases your observational skills and prepares you for time at the easel.”

Prior to the two-week tour, Jurgens hosts a get-acquainted party at her home for the artists, including spouses and friends who have signed up. Having researched in advance the country they’ve chosen to travel to, she is now eager to share its history and culture. Jurgens and her travel agent, Corinne Thomson at Voyages Millefleurs Travel Inc., schedule sites that are safe, comfortable and ideal for the group to sit and sketch. They also locate accommodations and restaurants that will make the trip a memorable experience for everyone.

“Non-artists and friends of the artists also come along and concentrate on photography or whatever suits them. They are very well looked after by my agent with interesting things to do,” Jurgens says.

A maximum of 20 people an sign up for a tour. Most come from Saskatchewan, but there are always some from different areas of Canada and the U.S. Jurgens says it’s a diverse group, who generally range in age from their late 30s to seniors in their 80s.

“Because of their common interests, the group gels quickly and we all have a tour filled with laughter, enriching and unique experiences, and enjoyment of great food. New friendships are built and everyone’s creative journey is advanced,” she adds.

The artists will generally sketch between two to two and half hours every day. Depending on the country, they also take time to visit museums and galleries and study the masters. This enhances the whole artistic experience and the growth of each artist.

“For example, when we were in Provence in France, we followed in the footsteps of some of the great impressionists. We visited the places where Van Gogh lived and worked. We went to Monet’s garden, which was a phenomenal experience. We saw the studio where Cezanne painted, which has been left exactly as it was when he was alive. Props that he used for his still life paintings are still there.

“Because they’re sketching in all these unique and memorable places, you really connect with the location. Then when you’re back in your home studio working from sketches and from your reference photos, it adds that much more depth, emotion and interest to the paintings. The feelings you experienced come flooding back when you look at your sketches even if it’s years later.”

Jurgens says she encourages journaling along with sketching. Jotting down additional tidbits of information such as where they were and what they had for lunch, what affected them emotionally, what inspired them, the feel of the day, even recipes, makes for an interesting book to peruse later on.

“I remember the first sketchbook tour I organized. A lady who had travelled the world with every kind of tour imaginable had joined us. A few weeks after we were home, the doorbell rang. This lady, hugging her sketchbook, came in and said, ‘I’ve been on many, many tours, and taken every art course, but this was the best I’ve ever been on. This time I came home with a sketchbook filled with my memories.’ That was the most reaffirming for me - to know I was doing the right thing,” she says.

Jurgens adds that it’s also rewarding to see the growth in the artists during the two-week tour.

“It shows that with daily practice and direction, plus a little help and encouragement, you keep on progressing. And for me, it’s a joy to be able to share skills with them that make their journey easier, helps them over the humps and reach their goals much quicker.”

Jurgens’ own art journey began in her youth - painting and drawing as much as she had time for. She became a registered nurse, and nursed for several years before going into business handling management training for a company in Ontario.

“But art became more and more important to me. I started attending workshops at Kenderdine Campus and other places across Canada. In 1998 I left the business to concentrate fully on art.”

She was soon asked to teach workshops, which she continues to enjoy. These vary from Basic Drawing, Beginner Watercolour, Intermediate and Advanced Waterecolour, Fun with Acrylics, Beginner Pastel, and Ink and Watercolour Sketchbook Workshops.

“I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by a number of established international artists who have also become lifetime friends. Now it is time to pay it forward by helping other emerging artists,” she says.

Today Jurgens is best known for her contemporary paintings, celebrating colour and light. In 2003 she was elected to become a member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour (CSPWC). She is currently one of only three members in Saskatchewan with this noteworthy distinction.

“It’s a tremendous honour because the standards are very high and you have to be juried in. It’s really advantageous to belong to it because you have the support and input from the best artists across Canada,” she says.

Jurgens work is in private, public and corporate collections across Canada, the U.S., Europe, the U.K., Russia and Africa. Her paintings are at Collector’s Choice Art Gallery in Saskatoon.

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For information about Cecelia's paintings, workshops and travel adventures

contact Cecelia at (306) 242-6778

or e-mail cjurgens@shaw.ca

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