Bonjour! Art Retreat on the French/Italian Riviera

Bonjour! Join me for a gelato on an Art Retreat to the French/Italian Riviera. We will be based in the citrus-colored city of Menton. You will create your own travel journal with watercolor accompanied by lettering. Record and savor unique places on our travels with endless views and surprising daily treats. Not your imagination – real!

For prices and full link to receive a Registration Form,

Apr.30- May 6, 2020. Bonne journée!

Meet Janet

I’m a published, free lance artist with a love of letters, calligraphy and an outdoor journal illustrator. I paint in the field, working “en plein air” capturing the scenery before me whether it be flowers, architecture, or people. Nature’s showcase is my favorite inspiration.

I’m also an avid journal keeper, and a professional illustrator for books and magazines.  Journaling is my passion and I’ve written a book on the subject; Artful Journals.

We’ll teach you how to create your own travel journals with watercolor scenes that are accompanied by lettering.  With just a few basic skills, learn how to record and savor unique places with pictures, collage, and descriptive text to treasure your travels for years to come.

Come join Viaggio Tours this spring as we explore the “artistic” side of the French Rivera through the painting of architecture, food, and scenery plus exploration of other unique venues that inspired Monet, Picasso and so many others.

Our Program in Menton, France

We’ll be based in this lovely, citrus-colored city that stretches to the Italian boarder, and has a more chill vibe than the other well-known towns along the coast.  Menton has great shopping, waterfront restaurants, a lovely old town, and a big gorgeous beach!  A great find, and perfect place  to unpack.

Viaggio Tours offers daily  art classes with Janet while taking advantage of this stunning coastline.  We’ve included visits to  the cities and towns listed below, as well as the Picasso Museum, Villa Ephrussi di Rothschild, and many more activities.  An opportunity not to be missed.

A shady little square in Menton

Ventimiglia, Italy

Every Friday, Ventimiglia has a huge  market of meats & cheeses, produce, leather, clothing, and tons more.  Even the French cross the border for it!

Dolceacqua, Italydolceacqua.jpg

If you recognize this bridge (our photo above), it may be because you’ve seen the painting be Monet (to the right.)

Antibes, France

Wonderful covered Provincial Market, walking the walls, fantastic beaches, the Absinthe Bar and the Picasso Museum, There’s a lot to love in this town!

Nice, Francefrance-nice-promenade-des-anglais.jpg

“The Pearl of the Riviera”, Nice is a vibrant city filled with treasures like its Flower Market, Old Town, public art, museums, and a waterfront promenade that goes for miles.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, France

A magnificent villa on Cap Ferrat with nine gardens and a musical fountain.  We’ll even have time for lunch in the Tea Room.

Villefranche sur MerVillefranche.jpgWe’ll explore this charming French fishing village lined with pastel colored buildings, and enjoy wandering its lovely narrow streets full of restaurants and cafes.

What’s Included
  • 6-Nights at our waterfront hotel in Menton

  • Choice of rooms with city views or sea views

  • Daily buffet breakfast

  • Welcome and farewell dinners

  • A full program of Art Classes by Janet Takahashi held in interesting daily venues

  • Transportation to all destinations by local trains & buses

  • Visits to Menton, Dolceacqua, Nice, Antibes, Cap Ferrat, Ventimiglia and Villefranche sur Mer

  • Entrance to Picasso Museum in Antibes

  • Entrance to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Cap Ferret

  • Visits to street and covered markets in Nice, Antibes, Menton and Ventimiglia 

  • All taxes and fees, fully hosted and guided 

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Ink bottle, spilled words

Have you ever thought of the words and drawings that spill out of your bottle of ink? Ideas, dreams, doodles & scribbles and rambling thoughts that untangle all the jumble in our heads. Morning pages from Julia Cameron’s book; “The Artist’s Way,” practice ovals, To-Do lists and notes. Lots of notes, even music notes. I’ve seen those music nibs, to all of you who compose on paper with ink – how cool is that? Calligrapher, Peter Thornton says, “In every bottle of ink is at least one good ‘A’ and it’s usually at the bottom!”

Watercolor artwork, to the left of the pink-hearted rabbit’s foot.

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In a pink-trimmed rabbit state of mind

For someone who has always loved the color red in every way, I woke up one morning and my world turned pink. I’ve been fighting it all along and there it was. I focus in on the pink streaks in a sunset, my fabulous fugitive pink Opera watercolor and desserts. I notice THAT color everywhere and it makes me happy. I found myself in search of the perfect pink colored fountain pen. I’m picky. Not fuchsia or raspberry, but the color of cotton candy-how sickening sweet is that! I have pink socks and not much else, clothes-wise. So there it is. Maybe the seed was planted last fall when I read a framed quote I saw in a little seaside bookstore from Audrey Hepburn: She said, “I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything else seems to be going wrong. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” Wonder what will happen next. Cerulean blue?

My watercolor painted pink-hearted rabbit announcing…, 15″x22″.

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2019 Nature Journaling in Yosemite, 4-days!

Janet Takahashi leads artists with experience on a multi-day watercolor journaling adventure through Yosemite Valley.
May 15, 2019 to May 19, 2019

This spring art workshop is so joyous that it borders on play. As artist Janet Takahashi shares her love of letters, art and journaling, you’ll sharpen and apply watercolor and calligraphy skills to translate spectacular Yosemite scenery into artwork. Take advantage of the inspiring setting and relaxed pace to produce a series of small sketches that reflect your surroundings and personal experiences. By the end of the workshop, you’ll have a sketchbook journal filled with reminders of your time in the park — and be prepared to continue creating beautiful, artful records of your journeys in Yosemite and beyond.

Included with your registration:

  • Four days of progressive learning (starting Thursday morning, May 16, through Sunday, May 19, afternoon around 3 pm) with an introductory evening meeting on Wednesday, May 15, at Happy Isles Art and Nature Center at 5:30 pm.
  • Park entry (as needed).
  • Camping included, if needed; limited sites are shared among all the participants (reservation arrives Wednesday, May 15, and departs Monday, May 20) at Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. We cannot adjust these dates.

Note: There is no discount if you choose not to use our gate pass or campsites. Information about upgrading your accommodations to stay at Yosemite Valley Lodge will be emailed to you after you sign up. The option to upgrade expires 45 days before the program.

Experience Level: Intermediate (at least 20 hours of instructed watercolor classes). Not suitable for beginners.
Hiking: Easy. Minimal walking in Yosemite Valley.
Elevation: 4,000 feet.
Registration Price: $389
Janet Takahashi, Artist Instructor at Yosemite Art Center
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Imagine a new year of wonder!

Imagine a new year of wonder where ideas flow easily from pen to paper, colors melt like rain from heart to hand, and we can see the world in a better place with our eyes closed. Share something you know, pull someone along, rise above the swamp water. Fill your being with light and kindness. Open the door to the new year. I wish you a galore of inspiration, creativity, always love, and peace. Hellooo 2019!

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My Illustrated Desktop

Here’s the 2018 catalog cover for Paper & Ink Arts.  My desktop really does look like this, sort of.  

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Step-by-Step Uncial Calligraphy

Enjoy this 3 part video on Uncial calligraphy done here with broad edged pens, Pigma Calligrapher by Sakura of America.  It is a beautiful rounded bold alphabet that looks great when written tiny or large.  I hope you have fun with it.  I had fun and sure learned a lot in the preparation, as I did it ALL the time, while hiking in the mountains, adding it to my sketches while eating, in my sleep (dreaming nightmares!) and more.  I became the student. Isn’t that the way it is when we become engrossed in learning to share?

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Sketchbook page from Mendocino County

HAVE SKETCHBOOK WILL TRAVEL … for Journeys of Daily Explorations at Home and On the Road. I’ll be in Orlando, Florida teaching a 3-day workshop March 17-19, 2017. Getting ready for a full immersion sketchbook journey in the class, in a restaurant, and in the field.

One way to create a sketchbook page is to create a grid with panel shapes. Here, I used tape while painting two of the panel shapes. Sometimes, I like to include a map from the area and continue to overlay images and writing.

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Breakfast Pens


I eat pens- morning, noon & night. Devour them. They are part of daily nourishment. Elixir, vitamin boost, magic potion and dessert. Ink flows like blood through my fingertips and I write what I think, draw what I imagine.

My pens are not for just collecting. Each has its own personality, makes its own mark; a hairline, flex, italic. And each requests its own ink color. Some pens are workhorses, “thinking” pens. Others for finish work, drawings in my sketchbook and note taking. I especially appreciate the vintage pens that had a previous owner and can only imagine its writing life.


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What Thanksgiving looks like

AS WE LIFT OUR GLASSES to toast all the blessings as we give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, I’ll remember throughout the day my loved ones here and past.  Thank you sweet friends, colleagues and family.  I treasure your footprint in my life.  My sketch shows here my parent’s house where the heart of this home was always at the gathering around the table and every meal was thanksgiving.

Blessings of Thanksgiving

Blessings of Thanksgiving

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Sketching Yosemite ~ a watercolor sketchbook



WATERCOLOR SKETCHBOOK JOURNALING Workshop in Yosemite            National Park,  Sept. 21-26, 2015.

Sketch, Write, Observe, Slow down,  Record your journey.  Light watercolor notes and lettering will be included. Your sketchbook journal will become an artful record of your journey in Yosemite.

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Playing Card – Creative Challenge

6 of Clubs Playing Card

6 of Clubs Playing Card

A collaborative Deck of Cards Project headed by amazing artist, Susan Longerot with 26 Artists.  She dealt two cards per hand to interpret artistically.  Final design size 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.  Susan’s article appears in Bound & Lettered magazine, January 2015 issue.

6 of CLUBS (black card), a pen and ink illustration.   I thought about “club shapes,” hence 6 club-like clover florets churned by a red dressed mousie.  What could be better than having a midnight harvest and making ink!  My other card, the 10 of Diamonds.

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Pen & Ink and Writing Bliss

Pen & Ink go together like bread and butter, You can’t have one without the other! Sounds like a familiar tune, but so true. Which pen and which ink will dance together on the page tonight? It depends.
Pen nib:  needlepoint hairline, broad, wide, flexible, fixed?                                                           Ink:  juicy wet, dry, ink viscosity, color, opaque, waterproof, oak gall, sumi, acrylic?               Paper:  slick, smooth, rough, recycled, toothed?                                                                               Throw in other factors, such as writing speed, writing pressure, and then there’s the calligrapher!
And then, when all is said and done, when the right ink is paired with a writing tool to deposit an inked line that sits up on exquisite paper, glistening – it is as if all the stars are aligned in the night sky.  It is writing bliss!


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A few of my all time favorite pens for sketching are:

1.  Fountain Pens are the best!!! Watersoluble ink makes a nice wash with a water brush.  The line can also be varied with pressure and release.

2.  Pigma Micron, size 01, by Sakura.  Waterproof.  Black and other colors 3. Tombow Zoom Pen.  waterproof!    I love this one.   4.Pentel Slicci.   5.  Pilot Hi-Tec C for a fine line.





Airport waiting holds one of the best opportunities for sketching people and of course, planes.

Waterproof Tombo zoom pen, light watercolor wash of color.

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Poinsettia December

IT MUST BE DECEMBER . . . Poinsettia4webcombined+2-copyPotted bouquets line the walkway like velvet jewels, a crimson forest to a Christmas mouse. Welcome to this Winter.
Summer trees take an extra season to remove their coats allowing Artists and Naturalists to appreciate the beauty of their framework. As winter solstice nears, daylight is traded for candlelight and the atmosphere chills and fills with moisture. I am writing in my journal and reflecting on the year. Wishing you all a happy, warm holiday season filled with lots of hot chocolate and love!
My watercolor painting of poinsettias on 140 lb. Arches watercolor paper, “saving the white paper”, 11″ x 15″.

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