I recently had a most amazing opportunity to visit Mexico for a Sterling Edwards five day workshop at Bob and Monica Masla’s Casa de los Artistas in Boca de Tomatlan. Boca is a small Mexican fishing village about ten miles south of Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean side. The climate is tropical, very similar to that of Hawaii, with the white sands and palm trees swaying in the mountain and ocean breezes. The verdant mountains fall down to the sea and give the evenings a cool refreshment from the heat of the afternoons. Average daily temperature was about 75 with evenings cooling off about 10 degrees.
Bob Masla picked us up at the Puerta Vallarta airport and transported us over the twisting mountain roads to Boca. The shallow Tomatlan River, about 50 yards wide, separated the village of Boca from the Casa and other residences on the other side. Suitcases were unloaded and taken across on a small boat while we followed Bob to a walking bridge a short distance upstream. When we reached the other side we traversed a winding, narrow path perhaps 100 yards down along the river until we arrived at the Casa. Our large room was two houses down and up three flights of steps with the most spectacular view one can imagine. Looking out through the palm trees past the beach and sand bar at the mouth of the river we could see the blue Pacific shimmering in the distance! Boats of all types from fishing to water taxis plied the river mouth.
The Casa experience included all meals except for one during an evening visit to Puerta Vallarta. Breakfast and lunch, all authentic Mexican dishes, were prepared by a wonderful Mexican lady and her assistant. My wife and I never liked the Taco Bell or Mexican restaurant fare one gets in the eastern U.S. and we avoided it with a passion. How utterly amazed were we at the fantastic Mexican food prepared at the Casa! Everything was more than outstanding with fabulous dishes that not only had we never heard of but also couldn’t pronounce! The evening meals were taken at the two local restaurants in the village. One was across the river on the village side where the staff set up tables on the beach and we reached it by wading across the river; we sat with our Margaritas and watched the sun go down. It was tough, but someone had to do it!
The workshop studio was located on the third floor of the Casa, a large open space with loads of room and one side open to the tropical outside. A large roof overhand protected us from any unwanted elements that tried to intrude. Each workshop participant had more than ample room to spread out. Sterling Edwards, in my opinion, is one of the best instructors in the art world. Patient, easy going and humorous, he made this workshop one of the best I’ve ever attended. Sterling has a style and manner that allows him to point out where you need to improve without making you feel as if you’re standing before the prison warden. Everyone got special, individual attention from Sterling every day of the workshop! We started painting about 9:30 am and went to about noon. Siesta time was after lunch until about 3:00 pm with dinner about 6:00 or 7:00 in the evening.
As I worked hard in the studio (it was easy to get distracted by the fantastic view) my wife amused herself by claiming a spot on the beach or roaming through the village. One afternoon and evening was spent in Puerta Vallarta and another day was spent in a small mountain village of Tuito.
For a most unforgettable experience, I would highly recommend taking a workshop, especially from Sterling Edwards, at Casa de los Artistas. www.casadelosartistas.com
I have placed some photos of my trip on the website. You have my permission to download and use any of the photos that you want.