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Wildlife Art Retreat, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

new 2024- art retreat in THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS, MOROCCO

I'm excited to have teamed up with Uptrek again to create a very unique retreat in the magnificent Atlas Mountains, near Agadir in Morocco, Africa. This retreat takes place in September 2024 and you can see more of the details below.

With a jeep excursion to the fabulous National Sous-Mass National Bird and Wildlife Park and trips to a nearby fishing village, castle and traditional Moroccan market, we won't be short of inspiration for our paintings back at base. 

You can get more information and book your place on this retreat via the Uptrek website. 


I hope to see you there!

Sarah Stokes 

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Expressive Wildlife Art Retreat in Morocco- WITH UPTREK

Join me in the Atlas Mountains where we will dive deep into the world of expressive wildlife in an unforgettable art retreat set in Morocco, organised by Uptrek. Hosted at the stunning Atlas Kasbah, this unique journey will have you transposing Morocco's rich wildlife into exquisite watercolor pieces. Whether you're an established artist or just beginning your journey, all levels of expertise are welcome. 


We will delve into the intricate art of watercolor and I will help you harness better control over this fluid medium, focusing on Morocco's diverse birdlife. Dive into exhilarating warm-ups designed to usher you into a flow state, gain insights into creative color mixing, and understand the nuances of tone and shape. I'll work with you to express the native fauna in your distinct style while maintaining clarity and fluidity. Learn the art of painting from references, and seamlessly weave natural elements like water and foliage into your masterpieces.


Morocco's landscapes offer an unparalleled palette of natural diversity. From the sprawling beaches of Taghazout to the bustling alleys of Souk El Had in Agadir and the avian treasures in Souss-Massa, there's an abundance of inspiration. With over 230 species of birds, including the rare bald ibis, flamingos, eagles, and owls, the region is a treasure trove for nature and art lovers alike.


The Atlas Kasbah serves as more than just a venue—it's a sanctuary for artists. Its traditional Berber elegance combined with modern comforts offers panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains, making it an artist's haven. Beyond the venue, excursions to Taghazout offer a serene seascape experience, while trips to Souk El Had immerse you in the cultural vibrancy of Morocco. The journey to Souss-Massa Natural Park in a 4x4 showcases the untouched beaches, expensive wetlands, and imposing rocky landscapes, providing a blend of adventure and tranquility.

24TH september- 1ST october 2024

Discover the wildlife of Morocco through your paintbrush on this transformative art retreat. From the serenity of Atlas Kasbah to the untamed beauty of a nature reserve, immerse yourself in the vibrant landscapes and unparalleled birdlife diversity of the region. Whether you're a seasoned artist or just embarking on your creative journey, find inspiration in every corner of this magical land.


At the expressive wildlife art retreat, you will learn how to:


  • Depict expressive wildlife, with your own mark

  • Improve your ability to lighten, darken, and control watercolor on the page

  • Better understand tone and shape

  • Explore several wildlife subjects, native to Morocco

  • Achieving loose, expressive strokes

  • Color match, create specific colors, and avoid muddiness

  • Retain fluidity in a painting

  • Incorporate natural elements such as water, trees, and foliage

  • Capture a sense of place

  • Accentuate other colors to create movement in a piece

  • Paint from reference

  • Use household items (such as salt or cling film) to create unusual effects

  • Develop your confidence and freedom of expression

  • ...and so much more.


In addition to painting with me every day, you'll dive deep into the traditions of Morocco. Experience a traditional tea ceremony, rejuvenating hammam sessions, and a gastronomic dance of flavors. 


Please note that the trips will involve plenty of walking on uneven terrain. Also, getting to some of the rooms and the studio at Atlas Kasbah involves climbing stairs frequently. This retreat is not suited to participants with low or limited mobility.


moroccan art retreat itinerary

The proposed itinerary is shown below, with all excursions organised & included.

You don't need any art experience to enjoy this tour. 

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Day One

Arrive at Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK) and catch the 1:00 PM transfer to Atlas Kasbah.


Get shown to your comfortable room and settle in.


Meet me (Sarah Stokes), then embark on a lovely orientation tour of the terraces, gardens, and living spaces at Atlas Kasbah.


In the evening, get to know your art group over a three-course welcome dinner, enhanced by a glass of fragrant wine.

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Day three

Start your day with a nourishing breakfast. Over the morning coffee, we will meet & discuss the day ahead.


The morning class will immerse you in the serene world of sea and water, as you paint from carefully selected reference photos. Follow my demonstrations and ask for some one-to-one assistance whenever you need to. As you study the boats gently swaying in the water, I will guide you on how to capture the shimmering dance of sunlight on the waves and the subtle ripples brushing against the boats. This class will better prepare you for illustrating wildlife in its natural environment.


Take a quick lunch break, then travel to the picturesque fishing village of Taghazout, perched on the edge of the Atlantic coast. Gather inspiration from the vast azure ocean, the stunning beauty of the beach, and the golden rays gleaming over the waves. Here, you have the option to apply the techniques from your morning class by painting the majestic waves or simply to indulge in the calm, taking a refreshing swim in the ocean. If you want to test your skills, tackle painting the crashing waves of the Atlantic.


Returning to the Kasbah, you'll have some spare time to relax, dip in the pool, and wander the expansive grounds of the Kasbah. As dusk falls, gather for a delectable three-course dinner, sharing stories and laughter from the day’s adventures over a glass of wine.

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Day five

Refuel with a tasty breakfast followed by a check-in chat over steaming coffee. As the morning light filters in, your art class begins, focusing on seamlessly integrating wildlife with elements of the natural environment.


The subject for the day is the captivating little owl, a species indigenous to Morocco and uniquely seen during daylight hours. Portray these owls majestically perched on trees, and delve into depicting their markings with a burst of expressive creativity. I will also touch on painting trees, emphasizing the texture and nuances of bark, helping you incorporate these natural elements into your art. For an added touch of innovation, you'll experiment with household items like salt and cling film to craft natural textures and harness spontaneous effects.


After a fulfilling lunch at the venue, the afternoon art session will pick up from where the morning class left off, deepening your understanding and honing your skills further. Practice at your leisure, and don't hesitate to ask for guidance from Sarah if you need some extra tips.


As the afternoon mellows, partake in a serene tea ceremony, a tribute to Morocco's deep-rooted culture of hospitality. A knowledgeable guide will lead you through the ritual. Embrace this tradition, absorbing the scent of fresh mint tea and the artistry of the ceremony.


Afterward, enjoy some well-earned spare time to relax or explore, before reconvening for a sumptuous dinner, celebrating another day of artistic growth


Day seven

After a hearty breakfast, join the group for a check-in over coffee, sharing experiences and expectations for the day ahead. The morning art class focuses on transforming memories from the Souss-Massa trip into captivating artworks. Dive into your photographs, and be inspired to complete your previously started pieces or embark on a new artistic journey. With freedom in your choice of subject, you might be inclined to paint a seascape or depict the rich birdlife you've witnessed. I will help you incorporate all the elements you've learned during the retreat, allowing your creativity to flow.


Enjoy a relaxed lunch, then prepare for the afternoon session. With Sarah's expert guidance, add the final strokes to your masterpieces. Lastly, prepare for a special event: a mini-exhibition. Here, you and your group will showcase your journey, celebrating progress, discoveries, and moments of inspiration. While participation is not compulsory, this is a good opportunity to give and receive constructive feedback.


As dusk settles, come together for a lavish three-course farewell dinner. To make this evening even more memorable, a Berber folk band will serenade the night, adding a touch of culture to this special evening.

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Day Two

The morning session will focus on the art of monochromatic drawings with an imposing bird as the subject, such as an ostrich or an emu. Through playful creative exercises, we'll try out mark-making and painting loosely as a warm-up. Later on, we will dive into a structured lesson about discerning tone and shape. Using either pencil or charcoal, you'll follow demonstrations and craft a stylized drawing. The session concludes with an introduction to watercolor, exploring its unique qualities, understanding how to lighten or darken it, and better controlling its movement on paper.


After a rejuvenating lunch, our afternoon session will open up the world of color, drawing inspiration from the regal peacock. Dive into the dance of warm and cool colors, experiment with color mixing, and practice the art of expressive strokes. You'll also gain insights into a couple of essential techniques for watercolors. You'll go over desaturating colors, creating specific hues, avoiding muddiness, and the critical aspect of maintaining fluidity in your painting without overworking it.


With the sessions wrapped up, you'll enjoy some spare time to relax and process the day's learnings before gathering for a delightful three-course dinner. Share your accomplishments with the rest of the group over a glass of delightful wine.

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Day four

Greet the day with a delicious breakfast buffet, then gear up for a journey to Agadir's lively Souk El Had. Renowned as the largest urban market in Africa, this vibrant bazaar encapsulates the spirit of modern Moroccan culture. Marvel at the rainbow-hued displays of fresh produce, aromatic spices, and intriguing keepsakes. As you navigate its winding pathways, soak in the diverse palette of colors, which can later translate into inspiring artwork. Don't miss out on collecting a few mementos and sampling the array of local snacks. End your market visit with a spectacular cable car ride, offering panoramic views of Agadir.


Upon your return to the venue, a hearty lunch awaits. The afternoon art session will follow, which will teach you how to draw inspiration from elements in your natural environment. Together we will work on a piece depicting flamingoes gracefully wading through the waters. Dive deep into integrating water, sky, and foliage into your composition. With loose and fluid strokes, bring out the essence of your subject. Your aim will be to capture the light, evoke the ambiance, and interplay with colors to introduce dynamic movement to your piece.


Concluding the art session, some spare time allows for personal reflection before reuniting for a cozy chef-made dinner.

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Day six

Your sixth day at Atlas Kasbah unfolds with a nourishing breakfast, setting the tone for the trip ahead. Following a brief check-in over aromatic coffee, you'll embark on an excursion to the captivating Souss-Massa Natural Park. You'll explore this gorgeous natural reserve in a 4x4, lending an adventurous edge to the experience. The highlight of the entire retreat, this trip will deepen your understanding of wildlife subjects through real-life observation.


The park presents a mesmerizing tapestry of natural wonders. Here, the coastline gracefully dances alongside dunes, estuaries, wetlands, and lagoons, culminating in the pristine beaches that define Souss-Massa. Notably, the Massa beach, stretching an impressive 15km, is a haven for bird enthusiasts. This national park is a sanctuary for over 230 bird species, serving as both a resting point for migratory birds and a winter refuge. Its highlight remains the presence of around 400 bald ibis, a rare and endangered species. Other species that thrive here are Eleonora's Falcon, Tawny Eagles, Dark Chanting Goshawks, ospreys, marbled teals, spoonbills, flamingos, Audouin's gull, desert warblers, and various migratory birds.


As you travel through the park, be on the lookout for the wildlife that populates its landscape. As with any wildlife viewing trip, a lot of patience and sharp observation are required. If you're rewarded by the sight of the majestic birds living here, remember to have your camera at the ready. You'll be able to take a break at midday with a packed lunch provided by Atlas Kasbah.


As the sun sets on this enriching day, return to the venue for a delightful dinner, reminiscing the day's discoveries.


Day eight

Enjoy breakfast together, exchange any last contacts, and catch the 10:00 AM transfer to Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK), arriving at the airport at around 1:30 PM.


Stay at an Ecolodge in the Atlas Mountains

This "Expressive Wildlife" art retreat organised by Uptrek takes place at Atlas Kasbah, at the foothills of the imposing Atlas Mountains. This eco-lodge seamlessly merges traditional Berber craft with modern comforts, exemplifying sustainable design crafted in partnership with the local Berber community. The venue is adorned with native vegetation, prominently featuring argan trees, and is further enriched by olive, palm, and various fruit trees.


Every room at the Atlas Kasbah highlights the rich Moroccan heritage and offers sweeping views of both the Atlas Mountains and the charming Berber village of Tighanimine Elbaz. Built in collaboration with the local Berber people, the venue embodies and showcases their culture. Guests can enjoy a range of amenities: a refreshing swimming pool, a holistic SPA equipped with a hammam treatment, and scenic terraces with shared spaces. The lush gardens, speckled with argan and palm trees, attract a wide variety of native fauna. Over forty species of birds nest near Atlas Kasbah, making it the ideal venue for an art retreat focused on wildlife.


Each room, a celebration of Moroccan legacy, offers panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains and the quaint Berber village of Tighanimine Elbaz. Constructed in collaboration with the local Berber people, the venue forms a living snapshot of their culture. The amenities include a rejuvenating swimming pool, and a holistic SPA — complete with a complimentary hammam treatment, picturesque terraces, and communal areas. For those breakthrough moments of inspiration, a leisurely stroll amidst the verdant gardens, dotted with argan and palm trees, is all you need.

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24th September-1st October 2024 



The price for this Moroccan retreat is from $3,650 per guest  for 8 days. Spaces on this retreat are limited to just 16 students.

What's included

  1. Art classes, individual tuition, and demonstrations with me (Sarah Stokes)

  2. Exclusive use of the entire property including living quarters, all common areas, workshop spaces, swimming pool, SPA, terraces, and gardens

  3. 7 nights of accommodation at Atlas Kasbah

  4. Tables, chairs, glass jars, French easels, and paper towels available at the venue

  5. A signed copy of my upcoming watercolor techniques book

  6. All meals (7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners)

  7. All meals at the venue are carefully prepared by a private chef, vegan and gluten-free diets catered for

  8. Pre-drinks aperitivo and unlimited wine during dinner service every day

  9. Homemade snacks

  10. Complimentary water, coffee, organic herbal tea, and fresh juices

  11. Trip to the Taghazout seaside village with sketching opportunities

  12. Trip to the Souk El Had of Agadir

  13. Art trip to the Souss-Massa Natural Park in a 4x4 vehicle

  14. Traditional Moroccan Tea Ceremony with sketching opportunity

  15. Complimentary relaxing Moroccan steam bath 'hammam'

  16. Private transportation for all planned trips, English-speaking guides

  17. Berber folk band for the farewell dinner

  18. Roundtrip airport transfers from/to Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK) at prearranged times

  19. All tourist taxes and fees

  20. Fully-staffed venue

  21. Access to a private Facebook group with me and the other retreat participants four months before the retreat

Not included

  • Airfare

  • Travel insurance

  • Art materials — you will receive a detailed list of art materials recommended by artist Sarah Stokes five months before the retreat. Tables, chairs, glass jars, French easels, and paper towels are included

  • Tips — tipping is customary in Morocco

  • Other expenses guests might incur on their own

How to Book:

Please book via the Uptrek website using this link: Expressive Wildlife Art Retreat with Artist Sarah Stokes in Morocco | UpTrek

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Free signed copy of my new book

And last but not least, you'll also receive your very own signed copy of my upcoming book, "Painting Birds: Expressive Watercolor Techniques". The book is equipped with all the insight, techniques, and projects you need to continue building on the lessons taught during your time in Morocco, practicing at home.

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