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Arts & Culture

Here’s How Barcelona Can Turn You Into an Artist

In Barcelona, don’t just see art, be art.

Let Barcelona’s art inspire you, then make your own with a traveler-friendly art class.

Paris is elegant. Tokyo is vertical. New York is flashy. And Barcelona … Barcelona is one of the world’s most palpably creative places.

In Barcelona, art is everywhere. It’s woven into the architecture, the culture, even the sidewalks. Ever since the Modernisme movement pushed the boundaries of what art could mean a century ago and brought an ambitious, frenetic—and in the case of the Sagrada Familia, nearly never ending—vision of art to the city, it has never looked back.

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There are dozens of ways to embrace Barcelona’s artistic side. Explore Gaudi’s masterpieces (or lesser-known gems). Take a tour of Domènech i Montaner’s intricate and whimsical Palau de la Musica Catalana. Go for a picnic in the serene and surreal Parc Guell. Or, you can take matters into your own hands and create art.

Art schools dot the city, but most focus solely on degree programs for serious students. However, a few also offer classes and shorter programs—ranging from an hour to several weeks—for visitors.

On a recent trip to Barcelona, I stopped in at the Davinci Escola d’Art. I’ve known about the school—a warren of sunlit studios and a bougainvillea-lined rooftop patio near Barcelona’s cathedral—for decades (a friend married one of the sons of the family that runs the school), but it was only recently that they began offering classes geared to visitors.

One of the reasons I was most interested in the school’s short workshops is that they take into account the limitations of the average traveler. The classes last just three hours. Most focus on an art form specific to Barcelona and allow students to take away a piece that doubles as art and souvenir. And the art that students produce is light and packable, which sets it apart from many of the other classes in the city. There’s a textile-painting workshop, for instance, in which students can either design their own or paint a shirt or tote bag silkscreened with the Sagrada Familia or other famous local monument. The Collage-Mosaic workshop, meanwhile, offers a lightweight and beautiful paper (rather than tile and glass) version of the Catalan mosaic Trencadis technique. There’s also the unusual Gyotaku class, which teaches the traditional Japanese art of fish printing. (Barcelona has a long history of interest in Japanese arts.) The school also has flexible, extended (a few weeks or longer) programs for artists looking to hone their skills in drawing, painting, and illustration.

Opportunities to make art abound in Barcelona. TripAdvisor’s list of top classes and workshops in Barcelona lists more classes in watercolor, mosaics, and photography from providers around the city.

What are your favorite cities for making and appreciating art?

(Photo: Christine Sarkis)

More from SmarterTravel:

Christine Sarkis may not have a natural talent for the visual arts, but is convinced that if any city will unleash her inner artist, it’s going to be Barcelona. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

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Email Christine Sarkis at editor@smartertravel.com.

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