Artist Travel



Posted on 02/17/2016 at 10:31am

Issue 16: February 2016

“A Window to the Sea” 30″x24″ Oil on Linen Copyright 2016 Sharon Rusch Shaver



Posted on 02/05/2016 at 2:04pm

The 2-story, well-maintained, old stone dwelling, anchored for untold eons on the rugged south-west coast of Ireland, welcomed me with its front door wide open to the warm spring breezes and shared with me that time had stopped many years before. A roughly painted wooden sign leaning against a chair out front of the building, said “OPEN”.

Stepping inside I was greeted by a lovely old woman, with fluffy blonde hair who was obviously dressed for an occasion. Although with advanced age, her fashion flair was apparent with a light-colored, billowy gossamer scarf tied loosely around her neck. She wore lots of jewelry, stockings with black heels, and her narrow white skirt fit a bit large on her narrow frame.  All combined giving her a demeanor of stately elegance. Bustling around her brightly painted kitchen with fresh white linen towels hanging, I watched as she was preparing to serve tea and coffee from a wood serving tray with her fresh-baked scones and rhubarb apple tarts, to me, the only person who had chanced by at the table placed outside on the grass in front of her home. Working by her side in the kitchen was her elderly husband, carefully handling the coffee and filling a pitcher with fresh cream. The curtains that hung in the entry window reminded me of ones from the 50’s that my parents had when I was little, and when I looked past them at the view overlooking the magnificent, glistening rocky coastline, I knew this was exactly what I was hoping to find. I enjoy creating stories through my work about the places I have been that are only fleeting in my memory, but perhaps will be capable of taking on a life of their own when I return to my studio and spend countless hours with my ideas and sketches to bring something new and perhaps lasting from them to share, with words and paint. If I do justice to any of those moments, I wonder if I will ever know.

“Irish Tea” Oil on Linen 14″x11″ Copyright 2016 Sharon Rusch Shaver

“A Window to the Sea” 30″x24″ Oil on Linen Copyright 2016 Sharon Rusch Shaver

“Irish Coffee” Oil on Linen 20″x20″ Copyright 2016 Sharon Rusch Shaver


“The Proofing” Oil on Linen 20″x20″ Copyright 2016 Sharon Rusch Shaver



“Rhubarb and Apple” Oil on Linen Copyright 2016 Sharon Rusch Shaver










“Entrance to the Coast” Oil on Linen 30″x24″ Copyright 2015 Sharon Rusch Shaver

Join me on the next exciting journey to Europe, this year to Italy, to paint and share in the discovery of those experiences which  can give artists the stimulation that I have found is wonderful for artistic growth.



Posted on 10/30/2015 at 9:46pm


Our Map

Our Map

Searching the long, upward switchback road on this mountain pass to locate an unpronounceable, remote hillside village in the Italian Alps, we had the desire to take a break, pull off the road, leave our rental car and explore for a while on foot. Walking a short distance to a clearing, the crest of the village running along the mountain was now in full view. It looked like a fairy tale, perched and waiting for later discovery amid the tall dense forest. Suddenly we were aware of the only other vehicle we had encountered on our hour-long drive to this location. It was parked a short distance off the road, close to the amazing panoramic view of the tiny Italian village we were heading to called Montefegatesi.

Montefegatesi, Italy

Montefegatesi, Italy

Within moments of our arrival an unusually dressed man was walking briskly down the hillside and out of the deep woods towards us. He had a large basket tied with a long, leather strap, draped across his chest to carry something he was obviously collecting. He was smiling broadly as he walked up to us, excitedly speaking in his Italian language. Wearing a funny little hat, carrying a wooden walking stick, a hand-rolled cigarette was dangling from his lips as he spoke. Although we could not understand a word he said, we could tell by his enthusiasm that there was something he wanted to show us.  As he opened the hatch-back of his miles-worn, very small automobile, there was a bright blue, plastic basket placed inside that was carefully lined with large, fresh, bright green leaves of some type of fern. On top of those he had carefully placed his delicate prizes of the day from his morning of foraging in the quiet, leaf-strewn, forest paths. We gathered around him and were surprised and delighted to see such an interesting variety of delicate mushrooms and various types of fungi resting in his basket!

Fall Bounty!

Fall’s Bounty!

He proudly held high and posed with his largest and most magnificent discovery so that we could take photos.  Although we did not understand the words he spoke to us, we understood clearly that this long, sought after collection from the fall woods was something very important to him. It was an honor to encounter this unique individual that obviously knew these remote alpine woods so well that he was able to find such a special treasure, one that I am sure his friends and family will be enjoying at an upcoming Italian feast!

Mushroom Man

Mushroom Man



You too can join us to this beautiful region of Italy in 2016. Delicious meals, convenient ground transfers, and wonderful authentic private en-suite accommodations are included in the cost. To read more about this exciting journey for artists and anyone who loves exploring unique places, go to this website:



Posted on 08/25/2015 at 8:02pm


Morning light filtering through lace curtains on this most recent journey to Ireland, nudged me from deep slumber on this cool and very damp, 50° morning in late May. With wool sweater, hat, scarf, and tall rubber boots, called Wellies, I walked carefully trying to avoid the large puddles on the road of the 12th century castle. A very small, young, red Irish fox with a distinctive round head and pointed ears, walked towards me and then sat in the middle of the gravel road staring right at me. There was a mist hanging, and the cold dampness barely revealed that spring had arrived. I stood silently, hoping he would not run from me. Moss-covered, grey stone walls, as tall as I am, with multitudes of  tiny purple spring flowers, were blooming from every crack along the wall, bordering the glistening path between the two of us. A muffled silence was hanging in the air, and I am sure that time slowed. I consciously tried not to move at first, studying his unique shape and size. Ever so carefully I moved a bit closer to him into the morning mist, and the diminutive, wild-animal hurriedly turned and bounded effortlessly into the tall grass. I saw his proportionally long tail and definitive gait, but only for an agonizingly brief moment. His curiosity with me, strong enough to allow him to pause, sitting and staring directly at me, was now etched into my mind, and the silhouette of an inquisitive young wild animal beaming at me in the Irish morning mist, left me yearning for more.



Posted on 11/04/2014 at 11:56am

The large jumbo jet rose into the sky from the state of Tennessee as I looked down from the plane in the clear, calm skies from my small cabin window at the vast network of farms that looked like an abstract painting with circles, lines and blocks, muted by blue atmosphere that stretched as far as I could see. Observing the ground from so high above, the world seemed so different from one which I inhabit. Goals and worldly pursuits faded to wonder.


When its final arrival roar of back-thrusting engines brought me back to solid ground,  I was feeling a bit like an adrenaline junkie who climbs the mountains steepest slope for the thrill of accomplishment and the view because I am now participating in my first plein air art event. When the bell rings, we grab our brushes and go to work. Artists from around the world are gathering in wonderful places carrying all of their required equipment to some of the most remote locations to paint. When the light is perfect and conditions tolerable, we all set up and work on a single painting. An artist will sometimes return day after day to the same spot to paint, hoping to capture what a photograph can never do, but during the competition you can only work for the required amount of time on the painting, and the artists must stop when the bell rings again. Good or bad, an artist just uses the best of her ability to produce the painting quickly. I found myself enjoying the mood and felt my painting was acceptable and sold quickly to a collector right after the event.

My good friend, who has a home in Colorado invited me to stay with her and participate in this very special event. She took me to all of her favorite locations in the Rocky Mountain National Park, located just outside the tiny town where she lives called Estes Park, Colorado (Park: Definition: in western states, this is a broad valley in a mountainous region) This historic village nestled between the mountains from the days of early explorers still contains a little of the charm of a bygone era that only a few Colorado towns still have, such as unchanged tall clapboard storefronts and structures built over a hundred years ago.  Those remaining in town are mostly tourist shops now, but they are a reminder from the days when this was a destination for travelers looking for a cool respite from city life in the historic log lodges built high in the mountains, and it still maintains its place as a rugged gem beckoning for continued protection today. When the woman explorer Isabella Bird journeyed through these same mountains during the late 1800’s on a horse that someone loaned her, she was impressed enough to write about her experiences there. One Lodge that remains in Estes Park from the early days is the Crags Lodge.

The paintings I completed while in Colorado were all completed using my plein air technique that I teach. I always do this type of  painting in less than 2 hours.  The light that brought me to the spot that I thought contained the most interest for me, changes so significantly after a short period of time, so I must work very fast. I enjoy the challenge of working quickly, and that is what I help artists to do who join me while traveling to Europe.

I will be conducting another workshop for artists to Europe in spring of 2015. We will be heading to an Irish Castle. Join us!







Posted on 11/03/2014 at 9:53pm

Against a brilliant blue sky,

Ancient stone buildings glow golden in the afternoon sun.

Beautiful people are found wallowing in sidewalk cafe’s staring blindly at the ancient beauty that surrounds them.

History is bleeding from every corner, bound up in rags of modern canopy, which calls this American tourist to join the throng.

Baguette? Crepe? Espresso? Fill me, satisfy my hunger with your culture and only then, divulge your dreaded underworld of yesterdays

Open these eyes to what is hidden within the cobblestone streets now baring only languishing frivolity on their worn surfaces

I secreted myself  into the crumbling ruins of the ancient Roman Coliseum and the bustling city Forum because I have always wanted what only they can share.

I now hold so tightly to the very light that I found dancing in their corners.  What I take will become an integral part of this 21st century artists life.

Now I share the city of roman ruins where Van Gogh splattered his paint

With all those who stumble into me.

“Arles” Oil on Linen 36″x48″ 2017



Posted on 08/08/2014 at 11:41am

Arles,France 2014 My worn out travel diary that I have carried with me to record the things I never wanted to forget beckoned to me as I began packing for this last excursion to France. For over 20 years, I have written sometimes a page or more whenever I left the place I called home. Rarely I would re-read what I had written previously. What would I find in the places that I explored so long ago?  When I arrived in the city of Arles, France a few weeks ago, the ancient sycamores with their pealing, white bark looked ghost-like as they lined the road leading to the place we all called our home for many nights. A large group of horses resident in the fields along the entryway were always there to greet us as we went exploring in our rental car. One particular sunny morning after a blustery day and night of rain, all the youngest horses were laying on the ground asleep in the sun, looking like a deep, golden rust-covered carpet.  Each beautiful young one laying directly under their tall mothers, who were all standing close together with watchful eyes in a beautiful sea of green. Each one of the mature brown, white and multi-colored  horses had a clipped mane and partially shaved tail, so short that the hair stood up, and each one wore a leather bridle with a large bell dangling underneath. This area of France is known as the Carmargue. The land area is very flat, and because of its rich soil, it historically was noted for growing the best grass in all of France.  With our close proximity to the Mediterranean, large flocks of interesting birds where seen feeding in the fields near to the horses.

Horses in Arles, FranceA person I had become “friends” with before this trip on Facebook  lives in Arles, France and we got to meet one another in person and became real friends. She graciously showed us her city and country from a viewpoint of a local person, and that made our time there so much more full and interesting. In all my years of writing in my diary, I would have never thought that kind of opportunity to connect with someone before I ever left home could happen as it did. The world is changing in dynamic ways. Her knowledge of the French language was so important in several circumstances while we were there. One time I will not forget is when the owner of the establishment where we were staying became very angry, and was directing his anger at me for something, and I did not understand why. With red face and growling, we tried our best  to communicate with his broken English and my English with my best French language accent, but we were getting nowhere. I just stood there as my new friend spoke calmly in the French language to him, and I watched as he gradually became more calm and steady. I had no idea what they where saying to each other, but it did not matter. It was working. When I looked in his eyes when she was done speaking to him,  I said in my most sincere tone of voice, in a few of the only French words I know, “Seul regret.” He said, “No Sharon, it is not your fault.” Whatever she had said to him, it worked.

Wendy at home in Arles,France

As you walk along into the ancient city of Arles , you see tall buildings, most built of stone but covered with stucco, lining the narrow streets, then, when you look up, you see dark orange thick tile roofs against a striking pthalo blue sky. Sidewalk cafe’s are throughout and a welcome site to sit and have a cup of coffee and perhaps use a restroom.  One such “le toilet” was in the basement of the building that could have been the original Roman room for such a purpose. I tried not to look around, found a light however dim, and hurriedly did what I came to do before sprinting back up the stone stairs to the coffee bar, feeling like I was running from something that was surely waiting to grab me and pull me back down to that dreadful place.  Seriously, it was very dark down there, and I think probably ancient spirits love hanging out in places like that.Cafe' Tables in France

The ruins of Roman civilization are everywhere. In Roman times the city of Arles was home to over 500,000 people. Today a mere 50,000. Aqueducts that once carried water for miles from mountain hilltops to the city are a marvel of engineering and stand today next to modern roads. The huge ancient Roman amphitheater in the center of the oldest part of the city, built in 90 A.D. could hold 20,000 spectators and has been partially  renovated and is a beautiful site that is still used today for sporting events. Bull fighting, a sport that historically was done in the city, is now called Bull Games, a much less violent version of the sport where “matadors” attempt to put rings on the bulls horns. After a morning of painting, shopping, and a wonderful lunch in a private courtyard restaurant in the bustling area of the city called the “Forum,” we headed back to the van and all thought how wonderful the pool was going to feel when we arrived back at the accommodations. But where was Bob? He had not shown up at the specified meeting time and I was getting concerned. Bob was our most mature artist guest to join us on this trip, who from the start had a glint in his eye that made me believe he was up to something, and most everyone else agreed he looked a lot like Clint Eastwood. After spreading out into the city in search of him, he came walking up where we had agreed to meet hours earlier, but very late in the now hot afternoon.  Everyone was relieved to see him, and after returning the short drive back to our accommodations, and we finally headed to the pool.  Although I was very upset with him, that wonderful glint in his eyes and his statement to me that he had just been “exploring”, made me smile and glad that he was happily doing what I want everyone to do who joins me one one of these adventures, explore!

The Arena in Arles,France

When the guests had left and I had time to fill in the last few pages of my old travel diary, I realized how much I loved this place called Arles, France. Van Gogh settled to paint there through all of his insane moments of his creative  life. Throughout the city are markers to show where paintings he completed during his lifetime were painted. I did several paintings there, and so did my guests. We shared the joy of creating in a place that has so much history and beauty within it to explore. In the next few years I will  be returning to Arles. If you would like to be included on the list of people interested in joining me there, please send me a note.


As I retire my worn out, filled up, old diary I must travel again next week, this time in the states. I am heading from my home in Tennessee to Colorado to participate in a plein-air painting event in the Rocky Mountains.  With pat-downs in the airport, plastic tasting airline food, and cramped uncomfortable seating, it is still my favorite way to get there. In just a matter of hours, I will arrive at some far flung destination. Perhaps I will see you there!

Come, my friends,

Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate,  but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.


Ulysses. Alfred Lord Tennyson





Posted on 05/27/2014 at 10:14am

Before our journey to France this July, we invited the guests joining us this year for a “Van Gogh lunch”, to meet their fellow travelers and discuss the details of the journey as well as have a show and tell of plein air painting supplies we will use while traveling.

Lunch table is set

Lunch table is set


Demonstration of Plein Air painting

Demonstration of Plein Air painting


Artist, Sharon Rusch Shaver

Artist, Sharon Rusch Shaver


Garden House View

Garden House View


Initial Sketch

Initial Sketch












On the pleasant spring day, after a delicious lunch on the pavilion of California Tuna Toss Salad (recipe follows),  and fresh Mango Almond dessert, we set up our painting supplies, and the artists worked and watched as I demonstrated my simple techniques for painting plein air in the lower garden in front of the small brightly painted garden house. Plein air painting is fun and is something that all artists should try. It can be frustrating at times as the light changes so quickly, however any ability to capture some special moment in time on canvas should never be undervalued. It is a joy that is rarely matched in the world of painting.  If you wish to join us on this upcoming journey to Arles, France, or perhaps one that we are planning in the future, please fill out the contact form on this newsletter and let me know your interests in traveling with artists. We look forward to sharing these joy-filled moments with you!

Garden House, Oil on Linen 2014 SRS

Garden House, Oil on Linen 2014 SRS


California Tuna Toss

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 med. Tomato diced

2 Tbsp Capers

1/2 cup tightly packed chopped Parsley

2 cloves crushed Garlic

1 small can sliced Black Olives (or other good Olives sliced)

1 large can White Tuna packed in water, drained

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl

Cook 8 oz. Rotine Pasta according to Package directions (do not rinse)

add hot pasta to bowl, top with

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

Mix well,  serve on washed sliced Romaine lettuce with  extra cheese for topping












Posted on 03/24/2014 at 9:18am

I have a small works show coming up and  I do not work small, however I am so glad I decided to give it a go. Plein air is something that I have always enjoyed as a painter, but doing it on the spur of the moment is not always quick and easy with supplies to set up and take down. The sun was setting quickly this warm, early spring day, and I really wanted to capture the evening light from the shadowed creekbed at the edge of our property.  Quickly, I put on a few of my favorite oil colors that I thought would be perfect to use on my wooden palette. I did not want to take the time to set up an easel, so I decided it was time to try something new. I grabbed my linen canvas that I had already glued to foam-core, and I took one of my old paint brushes and attached it to the back like a lollipop. I held my paper towels, palette, several brushes and canvas lollipop, (put through the palette Sharon Rusch Shaver Lollipop Method copyright 2014 SRSthumb hole) with one hand, and had my painting-hand free to do the work. I stood and painted quickly before the light was gone. Because there was no setup time when I got to the spot, I was able to begin to work immediately, and the take down was just a walk back to my maison. Excellent for quick studies of light and shadow late in the day when time is of the essence. I will surely use my lollipop method again for working small!

Heading to France to paint this summer, join us!


Posted on 03/09/2014 at 7:45pm

photo 1I am visiting Hilton Head, SC. which is considered the Low Country of the state.  Marshes, tiny islands and inland waterways link this land which is barely above sea level. This is an area that was almost entirely inhabited by Africans who were selected and brought here as slaves for their ability to grow rice over 3 centuries ago. As time went on, their community was nearly destroyed by the growth of tourism and encroachment in this area where they had lived for so long, but recently laws were passed to preserve what little of their culture that has still remained. Because of the islands isolation long before the bridges to the mainland were built, the people here lived off the land and sea, speaking their own language, and they preserved much of their African heritage of artistic basket weaving and producing artwork that is very sought after and collected today. While shopping for interesting items in island thrift shops, a hobby that I enjoy while traveling, I came across two interesting items that could have been made by this culture long ago. One if the items I found is a hand made doll. She is completely woven of the pine straw that is growing everywhere on the island. Her hat is intricate and beautiful. She has long straight hair and her hands have five fingers. photo 6Her long dress covers legs with round feet. A scarf hangs around her neck, to protect from the sun, and she carries a bouquet of sea grass.  Her bright colors are now faded unless you look under her  skirt where you will see the bright red, purple and natural shades she was meant to wear.

Another interesting object that I also found while scoping out the dusty dark shelves of forgotten items, was a strange sculpture made from a red clay that has been fired in a primitive way so that it is burned and blackened in some areas. This unusual figure stands firmly on oversize  feet. Its nose is like a dogs, eyes of a chameleon, and it has breasts and pierced ears. It is completely covered with marks like tattoos. I wonder about both of the figures I found that had been cast away. They are truly one of a kind, forgotten by time and left to be found by me. I sometimes feel my artwork is the same, too soon to be forgotten, but where will my work be 100’s of years from now? Who will look at it and try to reveal that which was my unique vision? Time will not allowphoto 8 me to look into the future. I will be gone, as those who made these items now are. I walk into the past trying to hear the echos of the voices that creatively made these unique interesting items, to remind myself that time changes everything.


Another journey is planned for creative adventurers to join me to France this coming summer. If you would like to join us please go to and send for a brochure to be sent to you.




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