Testimonials – Workshops / Intensives

Every moment I spent in Costa Rica with Jan was an eye opening experience.  She has created a unique and lovely indoor/outdoor home in a magical place.  I found it peaceful and calming.

I also had fun sharing laughter, interesting conversation, great food and some “WOW”  experiences with my two fellow painters.

As an artist and teacher Jan is kind and encouraging, insightful and skilled in relaying ideas.  I loved her enthusiasm and her patience….

This was an unforgettable experience.  I came looking for inspiration and found it!

– Mary Lu L., 2015

I had the pleasure of learning with Jan Hart near her home in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a glorious place to paint if you want to wake up your color senses and Jan knows how to select and work with watercolor paints masterfully. She gave us key highlights of color theory and demystified the essence of painting light and shadow.  My trip revitalized me and my painting!”

– Jennifer S., 2013

Whew!  Finished my 4th Costa Rica watercolor workshop with Jan Hart. Yes, I’m addicted, but in a good way. I re learn what I forgot, and learn more every year.  This year we had a fantastic group of artists, and I learned from them as well.  A week seems like a long workshop  up front, but it flies by so fast! We went to Frank’s organic farm, to the farmer’s market (not to be missed) and to the beach.  And we painted and painted, but there is always more I want to paint, and it’s such a joy to paint where I can call out for help from Jan whenever I want to.  Jan is still the best teacher in watercolor I’ve had.  I’m getting pretty spoiled.  Loved it.  Will do it again.

– Susan E.

I had the great pleasure of attending Jan’s ‘Intensive” painting class this last February. Jan along with her two dogs and parrot provided a very warm welcome to her home and outdoor studio/workshop area. The location totally supports an artist’s creativity – being up above the city of San Isidro – the quiet, the view of the surrounding hills, the city below (especially at night when the twinkling lights of the city come on), the vegetation, the sound of the birds …I even saw a …….. (Jan- I forgot the name of that bird- toucan?)right there on Jan’s property!

Now on to the wonderful benefits taking the “Intensive”:

   5 days/small group = more time….

  • allows Jan to be more detailed in her excellent and very thorough instruction
  • allows Jan more demonstration time
  • affords more time to watch and learn from Jan’s personal process while she paints her own paintings
  • because you are staying on the property and painting there each day – your creative flow is uninterrupted and is allowed to flow and flourish
  • provides the opportunity to implement and really “get” what you’ve been learning which then allows Jan to better see and understand your individual process to guide you in your painting
  • allows for more critique time
  • more fun!

When family and friends ask me about my experience taking the Intensive Class – I let them know Jan is on the top of my list of instructors – some information I have heard before but I better understood after Jan’s very thorough explanation and demonstration as well as learning new techniques such as “dancing stroke” which allows the background in a painting to do just that – dance.

To be able to stay on the property, in Jan’s incredible setting is an opportunity not to be missed. I stayed in the Casa Tranquila and that was wonderful – to be able to walk out each morning and just a few steps away to the outdoor set up for breakfast and class – who could ask for more? Outings that we took for a meal, the farmers market and to the beach offer a glimpse into life in Costa Rica.

– Joy P., 2016

We wake up in a tree house to surround-sound, exotic bird songs as the windows here are always open. Sunrise around six, no curtains on the windows; adjust bedtime accordingly. Each morning is a fresh start but the weather changes little. The air is soft and warm, so full of moisture that nothing is completely dry. A natural moisturizer for skin and hair; my clothes don’t get a chance to wrinkle.

The morning view of the valley always delights me, almost like a programmed response. There are other houses hidden in the vegetation, but it seems to be exclusively our view.

We join Frank in the open air kitchen for strong coffee and quiet conversation as he prepares breakfast for us. Eventually, we all gather for another incredible meal, heavy on tropical fruit that we can barely afford to buy in the States. The mist is lifting from the valley, the sun is warmer; we are encircled by vegetal greenery and bright flowers.

If it’s Thursday, we can travel a short distance to an open market, a farmers’ market on steroids. Fruit and vegetables for sale in such abundance, it looks like it could feed the world.

The market has a county fair like atmosphere as local residents come to socialize as much as to shop. All fun stops at the Mennonite lady’s table. Her breads are popular but do not smile here where life is apparently very serious and certainly not joyous or carefree. The cheese lady stands alone. Her cheeses may be superb and her hat is festive, but she is not having a great day either.  

On another afternoon, we stop at a local, neighborhood bar. There is little separation of the inside and outside; windows with no glass or screens keep nature close. Anything seems possible; a jaguar or ocelot might be wandering the dirt road below our open window.

Given enough privacy from passers-by, glass and screens are completely optional here in the countryside. Our friend has lived here for nearly twenty years with artfully liberated windows.

But real open space begins at the beach. We’re on the Pacific Ocean side where there is a stunning lack of commercial development blight. People friendly beaches abound that are nevertheless not crowded with people.

Paradise doesn’t exist, and in other parts of Costa Rica there are bars on all the windows and razor wire is a prominent feature. But bars on the windows is also a state of mind, and I’m going for the open space.

– Vandana W., 2014

To put it simply, both my husband and myself would go back for another workshop in a heartbeat. He was there for watercolor and I was there for writing. We both not only got instruction that inspired and challenged us, but Jan is very tuned-in to your needs. As a writer, I was worried I might have to work on a packaged series of journaling exercises, which is not what I needed at this time but is often what you get at writing workshops. Instead, Jan was very sensitive to my particular place in the continuum of my writing development and listened with open heart and mind to my needs.

The result was, every morning she had ideas and challenges specific to the book I am writing, ready for me to take on. I spent each day working on these, and checked in with Jan during the afternoon as needed.  A very important piece of what made this such a productive week for me was the ambience. For one, Jan is a warm, open, and intuitive teacher. As such, all three of us attending were motivated to put our heart and soul into our work each day. In addition, we worked in a spacious outdoor studio area, in beautiful weather and perfect temperature, under the cover of the sun, with an amazing view. Wonderful meals were served and we had great conversations and good laughs. In the evenings, Jan showed us around town, giving us a taste of the tico (Costa Rican) nature and local foods.

Honestly, it was just magical, and I miss it already!

– Carla K.

I recently attended an artist’s intensive workshop hosted by Jan Hart in Costa Rica.  It extended over the period of a week at her home in the high hills above the town of San Isidro.  This was no ordinary week!  It was a unique time spent among people that not only love art, but lively conversations about a host of subjects both serious and otherwise, wonderful food, and the stunning natural beauty of Costa Rica.  This setting feels even more like home with Jan’s two dogs, Frida and Seurat, and Sage, a talking parrot that will keep you in stitches.

We got started early every day, and dove into painting, critiquing and informative discussions where Jan brought her considerable knowledge of the watercolor medium to bare. Topics like pigment characteristics, color identification, design considerations were all included, along with painting demos.  We were assigned paintings of specific subjects to practice techniques such as painting white objects and the inherent challenges with direct light, cast shadows, and reflected light. Our painting activities were periodically interrupted with a fabulous meal consisting of Tico foods like Gallo Pinto, beet salad, fried roots of all sorts, colorful fruits and Costa Rican coffee.  In the evenings, we would often enjoy a restaurant and then relax on Jan’s deck, looking at the twinkling lights of San Isidro below while discussing the events of the day.

Jan is a wonderful artist and teacher, and a fabulous hostess.  My week at her Costa Rican home has left me with a basket full of wonderful memories, great ideas about my own art, and new friends.  If you get the chance to enroll in one of her intensives, I am sure that it will do the same for you.

– Carla K.

I’ll never forget the week at Ghost Ranch when my son and I were in your class – my first very emotional try at watercolor or any art. This was one of the places we painted. I can say that after the wonderful start you gave me, I have been painting and drawing for 17 years now, and think of you many times with thanks.

– Marilyn S.

Yesterday I received an email from a juror informing me that my painting,  ‘Piggy Sue’ was among the 9 paintings chosen from Arizona artists that will be exhibited at Texas Tech University in the Western Federation of Watercolor Artists show.As my first teacher, I thought that you would like to know just how far one of your absolute beginner students seven years ago has come due in no small part to the solid foundation with which you sent me off into the world of watercolor.

– Nancy D.

I recently returned from a week long Intensive with Jan and Frank. It was a wonderful experience for me. First of all, Jan & Frank are warm, gracious people who seem to be very happy with what they are doing. The first morning we were there, Jan asked what my goals were for the week. I had learned about Jan through her book on color and was particularly interested in improving my “color sense” and use of color in my paintings. She is a wonderful teacher and through discussions, demonstrations and critiques, I really felt as through for the first time I was developing an understanding of how to achieve the effects I desired. That alone was worth the whole week as far as I was concerned, but there was so much more…Frank’s wonderful, creative cooking, the drop dead beautiful views from anywhere on Jan’s property, the interesting discussions at mealtime, our trip to the farmer’s market and Frank’s farm… I could go on and on.

We were also fortunate to be able to spend some time sightseeing around Costa Rica with Jan’s friend Francisco Torres as our tour guide. What a treat! Francisco is a very knowledgeable and charming and knew just where to take us to see the things that interested us the most. Our trip to find the “elusive Quetzal” was especially memorable – we saw four of them!

– Jane T.

Either a person who is new to international travel or an experienced traveler  should feel very comfortable with the authentic experience that Jan Hart has created in Costa Rica.  From the time that I left the airport in San Jose and met  my English speaking driver Barnaby and throughout the week that I was in this Spanish speaking Central American country Jan made sure that the whole trip went smoothly.  Her experiences living in Costa Rica for the last couple of years  are evident in the decisiveness with which she is able to plan out the most interesting places to visit.

With her ability to give painting guidance in a constructive and gentle way Jan works easily with beginning as well as more advanced students.  During the week I was able to improve the way I paint backgrounds, and better understand how to make the center of interest advance and the background recede.   We painted both from photographs and on location near the beach along the Pacific Ocean.  I had taken a class from Jan last fall in Espanola, but for me watercolor painting seems to be a skill that takes repeated exposure to ideas thus allowing deeper understanding over time.  Some of the ideas that I was introduced to in Espanola weren’t solidly understood.  This five day intensive workshop gave me the time with Jan that I needed to paint, receive supportive instruction, and if I chose, to repaint pictures which incorporated the suggestions that she made. I think that I made great advances in my painting skills.

I finally understood how to make the center of interest advance and the background recede.   We painted both from photographs and on location near the beach along the Pacific. Thank you, Jan!

– Carolyn W., 2012

After having just spent a week in Costa Rica with Jan Hart, I can honestly say that it was a fabulous, inspiring vacation!  After morning breakfast we met for our watercolor lesson which included demonstrations by Jan, personal feedback, critiques and plenty of painting time.  Jan is an excellent teacher!  I learned so much about color and design! The afternoons were spent with trips to the San Isidro farmer’s market, Liliam’s orchid farm, Frank’s coffee finca, and the beach.  While visiting we were able to get a feel for typical Costa Rican cultural and the very friendly people that live in this beautiful country. Several of us brought our sketchbooks along on these trips so we could document our experiences.  Sign up~you won’t regret it!

– Missy W.

What a unique and valuable experience it was to paint with Jan Hart and other watercolorists in South Central Costa Rica. From the moment group members were greeted by Jan at our airport B and B we had a great rapport in our group that will last beyond the workshop. The site seeing, the accommodations and food were fantastic. Jan delivered excellent instruction and critics. Workshop members enthusiastically practiced Jan’s lessons outside of the regular class time under the shelter of our beautiful cabana surrounded by a river, gardens and our hotel pool. Many of us sketched and painted until bedtime, taking time for enchanting walks to see picturesque villagers in action on the lovely hilly and flower decked roads above our hotel and while eating and drinking under palapas. Jan’s workshop is a lovely medley of painting instruction and practice, site seeing and experiences with other painters and Costa Ricans!

– Robbin R., 2012

Overall a wonderful experience – a good mix of adventures, learning, social time – all centered on seeing color and painting in watercolor. Jan’s critiques and demos are – in my experience – unparalleled. Critiques are supportive and, at the same time, to the point. It is a testment to Jan’s ability to both inspire and also to teach technical fine points – that artists who teach and exhibit attend her workshops faithfully. The setting was perfect, with good facilities, great food and the friendliest staff ever. On a scale of 1 to 10: 11!

– Marietta M.

I went away from your workshop finally able to call myself an “artist”. Before your workshop I felt very inadequate as an artist. You changed that feeling with your encouragement and supportive critiques. I am so excited to finally use COLOR in my paintings. Before your workshop I seemed to use drab color schemes (Wyeth) because I felt comfortable with drab colors. Now I see how exciting Costa Rica (rain forest) colors can be. Thank you! I’m so glad I went to Costa Rica and finally stepped our of my “Comfort Zone”.

– Bonnie S.

Here’s a note of reflection on the workshop week. . .

The watercolor workshop was ‘one of a kind’ uniquely special! My expectations were met and then some. The course ran out of the norm and stretched us to be all we could be, physically, spiritually, mentally and physically. I was thrilled to be able to participate and learn new depths of art expression. Of course, many factors played into the week that actually enhanced it. Thank you all for becoming a loving unit! Love my paintings and my classmates. Most of all, Jan, you went over and above during the depths of grief. Loved my week and the lasting memories and friendships.

– Janice R., 2014

Testimonials – Private Teaching

I just wanted to let you know, again, how much a lesson with you means to me. I am SEEING differently! THANK YOU for the gift of your time and experience and talent and for pushing me forward and onto paints & paper. It is a new world.  

– Jill T., 2015

I found Jan on the internet through a Costa Rica website a few years before I actually met her but she was always at the back of my mind as someone I would love to meet and learn from. Jan is a warm, caring and deep person who shares not only her invaluable expertise in art and colour but also her very interesting  amazing story as a person. Jan paints with her mind and her heart. Her instinct and knowledge in colour was very eye opening and profound. What I like most about Jan’s style is her boldness of colour and vivid portrayals of nature and the environment. Jan was very approachable and down to earth. I look forward to continuing my education in art with Jan next year when I return for my “winter” in Costa Rica. Thanks Jan!

– Paula S.

Watercolor Videos

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you are talking – “thinking out loud” about exactly what you’re doing. I know from my own experience just how hard it is to talk and paint. I generally start out with the intent and then as I get pulled into the painting my voice trails off…generally some student will ask something and I go “….wha-a-t?” I really enjoy the format with your student there, asking questions, responding, jumping in with comments. And telling your colors is HUGE – people always ask “what color.” I think there is NO ONE painting who knows as much as pigments as you do. Hopefully some of that will rub off.

I really like the set of videos and think the price is very good and the information is AWESOME!

– Laurel W. 2017


Jan’s 5 Day Intensives


Jan’s Book


Jan’s Videos