What happens when you put three non-painters in a painting workshop? Can you really learn to paint like Van Gogh in an afternoon? Those were the questions on all our minds as we walked to an art atelier near where our river cruise ship, the Avalon Vista, was docked in the heart of Amsterdam.
I'm creative but I have zero artistic skill. Even my handwriting is famously illegible. My friends, travel expert Ryan McElroy and travel and gardening journalist Tara Nolan, were no more confident in their own artistic talent.
But we were all game to try to channel our inner Van Gogh.
The afternoon Van Gogh painting workshop is one of Avalon Waterway's "Discovery" shore excursions, included experiences available at different destinations on all Avalon European river cruises. The Van Gogh painting workshop shore excursion is inspired by the Dutch artist and the city that's home to the museum of his works, and it's available to Avalon guests on cruises in port in Amsterdam.
Discovery shore excursions are designed to dig deeper than a Classic tour of sightseeing highlights. Discovery shore excursions allow you to immerse yourself in a particular aspect of local culture and lifestyle.
Even if you've never picked up a paintbrush.
You'll have to decide for yourself if we acquired any painting skill during the workshop. As our artist-teacher, Paul, recommended, we kept open minds and didn't take it too seriously as we went through the process of sketching with pencil and charcoal on paper, then transitioning to canvas and paint for the finale: a still life of sunflowers and iris inspired by Van Gogh's style and two of his most famous paintings.
They won't be hanging in any galleries anytime soon. But it was a lighthearted and illuminating afternoon discussing how art is made, Dutch painters, art in Amsterdam and local life. And we each walked away with the fruits of our efforts: a painting that we all packed in our luggage to take home as a unique memento of our Avalon river cruise.
So that's what happens when you put three non-painters in a painting workshop on an Avalon Discovery shore excursion in Amsterdam!
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