Mexico Nature Sketching Retreat

At Rancho Primavera, Jalisco, Mexico

Date: 2019 dates coming soon
Fee: 2019 fees to be determined
For complete details, download the Mexico Sketching Itinerary & Registration Form (2017 version)


I am leading this nature sketching retreat through the birdwatching tour company, Paradise Birding, for which I am a frequent co-leader.

  • Art instruction, complimented with the natural history and ecology of this fascinating region.
  • A full day at the famous Vallarta Botanical Gardens, rated by Trip Advisor as one of the “Top 5 things to do in the Puerto Vallarta area.”
    Their beautifully landscaped grounds have extensive collections of native orchids, palms, tillandsia, tree ferns, tropical fruit trees and a butterfly garden. We will enjoy lunch at their excellent restaurant, with dining on the deck overlooking the Horcones River and cooled by Sierra Madrean mountain breezes.
  • Accommodations at Rancho Primavera, a lovely private estate nestled among the oak woodlands of the southern Sierra Madre and just outside the 16th-century pueblo of El Tuito. Here we will sketch, stroll and birdwatch on this 200-acre ranch that supports over 215 species of birds, including parrots, trogons, cuckoos and several hummingbirds. Birds are easily viewed as they come to visit the many seed, fruit and nectar feeders right outside the veranda.
  • We donate $100 per person to support habitat conservation for locally endangered species.

Bonus: Your trip fee includes Christine’s new online course, Introduction to Nature Sketching, which comprises eight modules through which you can progress at your own pace, either before the retreat or anytime afterward. It covers basic skills for sketching plants and birds in the field, taught using video tutorials and downloadable ebooks.intro-to-nature-sketching-guide-dropshadow

This course normally sells for $125, but trip participants receive it for free!  You’ll also get a field sketching kit like the one Christine uses; complete with pencils, pen, brush, watercolors, journal, and sturdy recycled carrying bag (value $75).





You’ll study with professional naturalist, teaching artist, and biological illustrator, Christine Elder. Her experience as a freelance illustrator includes projects for organizations such as the National Park Service and the Botanical Society of America. Christine has been teaching people of all ages and ability levels to draw and paint nature’s wonders for over twenty years. Recently, Christine led bird sketching workshops at birding festivals in Jamaica and Mexico and is a frequent arts instructor in her home state of Oregon. Christine is running this retreat through the bird watching tour company Paradise Birding, for which she is a co-leader of tours with them, having traveled from Alaska to Florida, and to international destinations such as Italy, Honduras, and the Caribbean. In the Honduran paradise that is Pico Bonito, she will share her best secrets and techniques for sketching birds and blossoms in pencil, pen, and watercolor.

“Christine Elder has a refreshingly welcoming approach to teaching about birds through art that reflects her obvious passion for wildlife and conservation of our natural environment. Whether at her home in Oregon or visiting us deep in the tropics at the Vallarta Botanical Garden, she has a marvelous potential to connect people with birds in a rich and meaningful way”

– Neil Gerlowski, Executive Director, Vallarta Botanical Garden

“My every wish granted–from the racket of the dawn chorus to tasty home-cooked meals using local fare to Christine and Francisco’s professional guidance, fielding this newbie’s questions. Rancho Primavera– is a beautiful hideaway in rural Jalisco, hosted by Pat and Bonnie, a vivacious mother and daughter team who have lived at the Rancho for decades, I felt part of the family”

–Marion Davidson, participant on March 2017 trip




Retreat fee includes:  Airport transfers in a comfortable air-conditioned van; 4 nights lodging; 3 meals per day; snacks and bottled water, guiding and instruction; group activities; entrance fees; service-related gratuities; and some art supplies.

Not included: Airfare to Puerto Vallarta and any departure taxes; travel insurance; alcoholic beverages; personal items (such as telephone and laundry); and U.S. guide’s gratuity, which is never expected but always appreciated based on your satisfaction with our skills and service.

Tipping: Tipping (restaurants, porters, drivers, and local guides) is included in your tour fee. However, if your leader or any local guides or staff have given you exceptional service, it is entirely appropriate to tip. We emphasize that such tips are not expected and are entirely optional.

Deposit: A $100 non-refundable deposit and enrollment form are required to hold your space on this trip.


To reserve your space on the retreat, contact us to see if space is still available, then download the Itinerary/registration form: Mexico Sketching Itinerary & Registration Form
Instructor and guide, Christine Elder:
Paradise Birding owner, Stephen Shunk:
Paradise Birding, P.O. Box 547, Sisters, OR 97759 | Phone: 541-408-1753

Join me in Mexico for birding & sketching!

A sampling of native Pacific Mexico birds you’ll enjoy sketching

  View the List of Species we’ve seen on these trips

2017 Trip Report Slideshow