In an era where cell phone cameras are ubiquitous, it’s easy to snap digital photos during your travels. It’s not nearly as easy to pick one favorite scene from each day of your trip and capture it as a watercolor painting. Lumi guest Chris Zafren has taken the time to paint a scene from every day of her trip and shares them with her travel companions at the end of the week.
We caught up with Chris to learn more about her daily practice of painting and what has inspired her…
Chris comes from a family of women artists who over the generations have continued a 60+ year homemade holiday card tradition. Her mother’s collection of linoleum block print holiday cards dates back to 1959, when their family first moved to Alaska. When Chris was four years old, she remembers watching her grandmother paint when visiting their family in Anchorage.
In keeping with the family tradition, Chris flipped through her collection of holiday cards that she has been painting annually for the past 40 years. Each individual card is unique. Instead of painting one card and making prints, Chris paints every individual holiday card that she sends to friends and family each year. One of the originals gets saved in her collection.
Chris has always been artistic, but even though she came from a family of artists and could always draw well, watercolors are a medium that she has practiced and worked hard at since the 1970s.
After graduating from Middlebury College in Vermont, Chris returned home and came across Middlebury College alum Nancy Stonington Taylor’s art on display in the best galleries in Anchorage. Her landscape watercolors were part of what inspired Chris to sign up for her first week-long Alaska Watercolor Society workshop with a nationally prominent artist.
Since then, Chris has taken over 30 week-long workshops and has recently started teaching some workshops, sharing what she has learned over the years with others. Additionally, since retiring as a school psychologist from the Anchorage School District, Chris has been enjoying traveling the world far and wide.
In the past four years, Chris has been on Lumi trips to Italy, Germany, Slovenia and France. This winter she plans to travel with her daughter to Norway for the Holmenkollen World Cup and Birkebeiner Worldloppet. She always travels with her watercolor kit, which she likes to keep small and easy to use. In her kit are water brushes: just squeeze and water comes out, then add paint. She also packs a mini drop cloth and thin tape, which she uses to frame what she’s painting.
When Chris is back in her hotel room after a full travel day, she looks through the photos she took and chooses a highlight to paint. She likes to do these watercolor “sketches” quickly, in about 30 minutes, sometimes outlining them with the same fine-tip sharpie she uses to write a journal entry on the opposite page of her sketchbook.
Here are a couple of her favorites from Lumi trips:
Chris loves the freshness of watercolors, the way the colors mingle. She noted how there’s an immediacy to the medium; watercolors are not fussy.
Most of all, watercolors are an enjoyable way for Chris to capture the experience of her travels and share them with others. From hiking holy Mt. Kailash in Tibet to a float trip on the Marsh Fork of the Canning River, Chris enjoys painting watercolors of her adventures and often gifts them to hosts or friends she’s traveling with as a souvenir to remember the trip. For the past several years, we have sent a favorite image from Chris’ most recent trip to Lumi travelers as a holiday card.
Feeling inspired to bring a watercolor kit on your next adventure? Check out what’s in Chris’ watercolor kit below.
Curious to learn more about the trips that inspired Chris’ paintings? Click to learn more about Lumi Experiences.
–Worldloppet x Lumi
As the world’s premier cross country ski travel company, Lumi Experiences is excited to announce their continued partnership with the Worldloppet international ski marathon series as an official tour operator.
To celebrate, Lumi is giving away a trip for two on the 2023 Seefeld & Engadin trip … over a $10,000 value!
Raffle closes December 15. The winner will be announced on the Winter Solstice, December 21. Click to enter the FREE TRIP GIVEAWAY
Chris’ Watercolor Kit:
Would you like to bring a watercolor kit on your next adventure or gift one to a friend or family member for the holidays? See what Chris travels with in her watercolor kit below.
- Sketchbook with watercolor paper
- Watercolor travel pan set
- Watercolor brushes, travel set
- Water brushes
- Sketching pencil set with eraser and pencil sharpener
- Fine tip Sharpie, black
- Collapsible water container
- Magic sponge to erase color
- Small folding scissors
- Thin artist tape
- Travel case
- Plus, repurpose a piece of plastic to create your own mini, foldable drop-cloth