December – Painting the Cuban Landscape

Registration Flyer: Painting the Cuban Landscape 

In December 2017 I went to the Escambrey Mountains and Trinidad de Cuba in south-central Cuba with birders and photographers.  It was gorgeous, despite the recent ravages of Hurricane Irma.  I am returning to this area with a small group of artists who love to work outdoors.  We are going with Joni Ellis from Optics for the Tropics, who runs several trips there each year and uses local guides familiar with the regions we visit.

Cascada Bella Waterfall at Banao © Jeff Ripple

As a participant, you must be able to paint or draw outside relatively quickly (2-3 hours) per location.  The emphasis will be on painting the landscape (in any media, including watercolor, oil or acrylic, pencil, pastel) but we also may have some time for painting cityscapes in Trinidad and possibly Havana.  There will be plenty of individual time as well.  Photographers are welcome but remember you will be with other artists who cannot work as quickly as you might.  If you are a writer or musician Painting the Cuban Landscape Tour  may be a great trip for you, too.

The trip is being planned primarily as a group of 8-10 artists exploring the Cuban landscape together.  This will not be a workshop, but I will be available to share my techniques for painting and sketching outdoors with anyone who wants it.  I am hoping we will learn much from one another.

Dates: December
Cost: $1500 ($500 due upon registration)

Please see the following pages for Itinerary and Registration For questions about the art elements of the trip, please contact Jeff Ripple (  For questions regarding trip specifics, contact Joni Ellis (

Grotto © Jeff Ripple


Photo © Jeff Ripple


Photo of Jeff painting at Cascada Bella courtesy of Allison Reeves © Jeff Ripple


Photo © Jeff Ripple

Day 1
Fly to Havana.  We then travel on a comfortable bus to Lomas de Banao Ecological Reserve in the Sancti Spiritus Province of south-central Cuba, check in and have dinner.  This biological station is well off the radar and features little-explored mountains, waterfalls, tropical forest, rare birds and steep limestone cliffs.  We’ll find rivers, lush tropical vegetation, and rustic farms in the foothills.  The reserve’s highest peak in the Guamuhaya Mountains is just over 2700 feet.

Day 2 and 3
Explore Banao Ecological Reserve, sketch, paint, photograph, journal, swim in the waterfall and hike.  If conditions permit, we may journey with our art gear by mule back to nearby mountain peaks.  We can also travel by bus down to the little town of Banao (set amid the mountain peaks by a river) and paint street scenes and farms.  I am working on possible visits to artists and their studios local to the Sancti Spiritus region, including Ana Theresa Toledo Hernandez and Diego Torres.

Photo © Jeff Ripple

Day 4
Depart Banao and head towards Topes de Collantes in the Escambray mountains.  We will stop along the way to sketch roadside farms and paint the scenic Sugar Mill Valley.  If time allows, we may also stop in historic
Trinidad for architectural sketching, photography, and lunch. Arrive at Topes, check in, and meet for dinner.

Photo © Jeff Ripple

Day 5 and 6
Nature is the big attraction of Topes de Collantes National Park.  There are several scenic overlooks with views of the mountains (including one that includes the distant coastline near Trinidad de Cuba), trails to waterfalls, grottoes, canyons and natural pools with crystalline water, mountainside villages and farms, and lush tropical vegetation and birds, including Cuban parrots. Generally our transport to destinations within the park will be by Russian cargo truck, an adventure in itself!

Photo © Jeff Ripple

Some of the world’s finest coffee is grown in this region, so we will be sure to visit the coffee museum for a cup or two.  We may also schedule a visit to a local Improv group and the local art museum.



Day 7
Depart Topes for Havana with lunch on the road.  After arriving in Havana and checking in, we will have dinner and then visit Fabrica de Arte Cubano, a multi-room gallery, club, and cinema. Very avant garde!

Day 8
Depending on when your flight leaves Havana, you may have a few hours to explore Old Havana’s plazas and cobblestone streets before heading off to the airport.  The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana in Old Havana has a variety of styles of painting and sculpture ranging from the Colonial to modern.  If you are flying out of Tampa, that flight generally departs about 6 PM.
If there is something special you want to see or do, we want to make every effort to work it into the schedule. Just let us know on the form below.  We will send more specific information to registered participants about what to bring, lodging, restaurants, etc. as we get closer to the departure date.

All images and painting of Cascada Bella Waterfall at Banao © Jeff Ripple.
Photo of Jeff painting at Cascada Bella courtesy of Allison Reeves

Registration Flyer: Painting the Cuban Landscape