California: Become an Artist For a Day In Laguna Beach, California

For more than a century, art and Laguna Beach have been inseparable. Today, 250 permanent artists reside here, complemented by hundreds who visit year round. Inspira-tion is everywhere from the glorious weather, seven miles of pristine beachfront, intimate coves, protected marine life and the vast canyon wilderness to a hip and cultured community. Located between Los Angeles and San Diego, this nine-square-mile oasis is a 30-minute ride from John Wayne Airport. But it’s the artists who give the city its heartbeat, helped along by 70 public art pieces.

With three million yearly visitors to satisfy, Laguna Beach, ranks up there with top summertime art festivals. A showstopper is the nine-week Saw-dust Art Festival that encourages visitors to purchase and mingle with the local artists.

Capitalizing on the abundance of the city’s artistic talent, a new, year-round program of art workshops is presented by the Festival and the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau. Every Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and for two hours, the Sawdust Studio Art Classes allow students to design a unique art piece, in just one session, to wear or to share. Cost is $95 per person with supplies included. Private lessons or custom group classes also available throughout the week or on weekends with advance notice. Agent commission is 10%.

Professional art instructors oversee all classes. A sampling includes Sawdust artist Linda Ames who helps students create a contemporary sterling silver wire formed bracelet made from semi-precious stones and beads. Sushi plates with Klai Brown can be decorated with a simple quote or a pattern. Ceramicist Walter Reiss enjoys 37 years of experience that he shares with students making an individual teapot. Or take away a personalized porcelain wind chime with the help of Sawdust artist Robert Jones. Classes are held at the original Sawdust site on the Laguna Canyon Road, minutes from downtown. Call 949-497-0517.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Sawdust Art Festival in the art classes as it brings a consistent, year-round, interactive art experience for visitors. The Laguna Beach brand incorporates everything about the arts and through programs like this we can continue to spread the word and encourage visitors to add this to their itinerary,” said Judith Bijlani, Executive Director for the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau.

Although the art workshops can be taken independently, several Laguna Beach properties offer new packages that include the classes.

Lodging Packages Include Art Classes

The Surf & Sand Resort “Laguna Art Escape” package includes one night in a Deluxe guestroom; complimentary parking and resort fee; champagne art tour via town car or limo beginning with a Sawdust Studio Art Class followed by an art “tasting” at two of Laguna Beach’s finest galleries, plus a nightcap of chocolate and wine parings at the resort’s on-site Splashes Restaurant. Surf & Sand Resort is a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and a holder of AAA’s Four-Diamond Award. All 154 guest rooms and 16 suites offer spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, as does the intimate Aquaterra Spa. This offer is available December 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011. Price is $955, plus tax, double occupancy, and includes an art class for two. Available Friday and Saturdays only. Some restrictions may apply. Agent commission is 10% on room revenue. Call 888-869-7569 and mention “Laguna Art Escape.”

Clients can relax and express their creative tendencies at Sunset Cove Villas, located in the heart of the city, close to the beach and art galleries. Stay three nights, Thursday through Sunday, and receive the fourth night free from December 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011(black out dates are December 20, 2010 through January 2, 2011). The package includes two admissions for Sawdust Studio Art Classes. A stay in one of Sunset Cove Villas’ eight luxury beach villas also includes private beach access, a key-card gated entrance, free private garage parking, Wi-Fi, laundry room, outdoor beach, deck lounges and no resort fees. Agent commission is 10%. Call 888.845.5271.

At Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, its “Passion for Art” package includes a Deluxe Ocean View Room, breakfast in bed, two Sawdust Studio Art Classes and two passes to the Laguna Art Museum. The special $829 price is based on double occupancy (taxes extra) and for two consecutive nights from December 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011. Cannot be applied to prior bookings; must be paid in full at time of booking; absolutely no refunds; all standard policies apply including cancellation window and fees. Art classes must be selected at time of the booking and can either be two classes for one person or one class each for two people. Offer subject to availability; cannot be used in conjunction with any other special or discount.

Built in the 1920s as a private residence, this property is now used as an artists’ refuge and admired for its special vantage point of California’s seacoast. The retreat’s villa setting is complete with manicured grounds adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. Agent commission is 10%. Contact 800-233-0449.

Stay two nights at the 28-room Art Hotel Laguna Beach and one guest receives a complimentary Sawdust Studio Art Class. The property is away from the city center but on the Art Trolley line, close to Crystal Cove State Park and across from Crescent Bay Point Park. Offer valid December 1, 2010 through May 21, 2011. Thursday and Sunday nightly rate is $146; Friday and Saturday nightly rate is $156; taxes extra. A light continental breakfast is available in the lobby. Agent commission is 10%. Refer to the “Sawdust Studio Art Class Special.” Contact 877-363-7227.

Laguna Cliffs Inn is a coastal California boutique Inn located one block from spectacular Heisler Park that has picnic benches, a Cliff Walk and is directly above several North Laguna Beaches. It’s possible to see Catalina Island using free telescopes. The Inn has an open-air garden courtyard and is near galleries, boutiques and cafes. Guestrooms are decorated in wood tones and warm colors with a small wall kitchenette with microwave. A daily “European breakfast and snack basket” is placed in each guestroom.

The two-night “Sawdust Art Studio” package offers two class passes, a local artist souvenir gift, a “Taste of Village Laguna” $50 lunch or dinner certificate and a local pastry dessert certificate. Package price is $499, double occupancy, plus tax, and based on availability December 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011. Agent commission is 10%. Contact 800-297-0007.

Free Art Walk for Visitors

Forty member galleries, lodging establishments and the City of Laguna sponsor the year-round “First Thursdays Art Walk” that takes place from 6-9 p.m. in venues along the Pacific Coast Highway, downtown and the Laguna Canyon Road. It’s free and complemented with artists’ demonstrations, wine, nibbles, music, dance and more. A free tram stops at participating galleries. Map supplied. Contact 949-683-6871.

The Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau is top notch, open seven days for walk-in visitors and centrally located at 381 Forest Avenue. It wins awards for marketing campaigns and, recently, an Emmy and Telly Award for its “Tidepool Scene” DVD that is free for the asking. Contact 949-715-4405 or 949-497-9229.

Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau,

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