Five Ideas for Summer Artcations in the Pacific Northwest

A painter at the Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island

Summer can make grownups nostalgic for those days when they got almost three months off school to fool around. If you’re missing those lost days of leisure, maybe it’s time to sign up for an adult version of summer camp: an artcation. Whether you have a few days, a month, or just an evening, the Pacific Northwest offers many ways to delve deeper into your art or to try a different medium. Here are just a few ideas for carving out some art time this summer.

Sitka: Art and Ecology at the Beach

Since summer and beach are natural partners, Sitka’s spot on the Pacific makes for a promising getaway. Founded in 1970, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology offers more than 100 one to five-day workshops every year. Its mission is to expand the relationships between art, nature and humanity. 

Sitka gives you the chance to try modes of artistic expression that might never have occurred to you. For example, this summer you can sign up for a three-day workshop on poetry and weaving, or on making luminarias with metal and found objects.

Jessica Townsend's breast implant art at the Hotel Murano

Art Staycation

Lack the time and/or budget to get away? No problem. Portland offers many classes for adults seeking that day camp experience. PNCA and PCC have dozens of summer classes. Or check out the Multnomah Arts Center on SW Capitol Highway. For something really unusual, try their Nunome Zogan class. That’s a traditional type of Japanese inlay where you use gold or silver foil to resemble woven cloth. You can also learn bead making, woodturning, textile arts and photography. How about a two-session class to improve your iPhone photo skills?

Escape to an Island

Run off to Whidbey Island for an intensive week of art study. Plus some sailing and island sightseeing. 

The Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville specializes in fiber arts, mixed media, painting and photography. If you don’t want to drive, you can fly to Seattle and take a shuttle and ferry. Stay in a B&B or cottage and enjoy your island retreat. Many accommodations give discounts to Pacific Northwest Art School students.

The Museum of Glass's famous Green Guy

Glass Capital of the Northwest

Tacoma has the well-deserved reputation of being a glass art capital. But the city is willing to share its secrets. The Tacoma Glassblowing Studio offers a series of half-day workshops where you create paperweights, ornaments or glass pumpkins. You’ll get lots of individual attention, as these workshops are limited to six students, with a teacher/student ration of two to one.

Tacoma’s Museum of Glass offers glass fusing workshops on the second weekend of every month. Participants learn to combine shards, stringers and frit to make a tiles, pendants, sun catchers and magnets. At $29, this is an inexpensive way to play with a new medium. You can also bring the family -- ages six to adult are welcome.

When in Tacoma, stay in the Hotel Murano. Or at least drop by to see its extensive, world-class glass art collection. Every floor of this downtown boutique hotel features a different international glass artist. Glass art enthusiasts will be in heaven.

Art and Wine

Paint nights for amateur and wannabe artists have become popular. And even those who are timid about artistic expression often loosen up with wine. If your summer travels take you to Vancouver Island, consider participating in the Blue Grouse Estate Winery Paint Night: It happens every fourth Thursday of the month. For $45, you get all materials, expert guidance, and a glass of wine. A theme is set every month. For example, in March it was African elephants.

by Teresa Bergen,