From Taissia Basaria

01 Dec - 22 Dec 2016

The Trelex residency went above all my expectations. It was amazing to see just how productive one can be given the time to work and the right environment and Refugio has been the perfect place. I was on the residency for 3 weeks. This was the first time I had gotten a chance to focus solely on my work without other obligations. I began painting right away. My daily schedule consisted of getting up at 4 am and after a quick breakfast, I was on site painting from life. On most days by 10 am, a couple landscapes were completed and the rest of the day was spent walking the jungle and scouting out the next painting location.

Tambopata River

Even before arriving in Peru, I knew that the clay licks (colpas) where going to be one of my main subjects. They attract an abundance of wildlife and the colorful Macaw parrots flock there by the hundreds. With color being the most important element in my work, it was surreal to see such visual lushness in person and to be able to capture it in paint. But this I couldn't have done without the help of the Rainforest Expeditions guides. They were beyond generous with their time and, despite being on a tour schedule, let me paint the colpas from life. It is these paintings that I am basing my new body of work on, as I feel that it is the colpa that most embodies the spirit of the Amazon jungle with its visual abundance and the nourishment it provides.

Chuncho Colpa plein air

The lodge is a hot spot for career professionals from all fields. Refugio welcomes many projects and there is always something new to learn. Whether it was going on night walks to the light trap to find new species of Tiger Moths, re-releasing a baby snake after its photo shoot for a biology book or watching a drone film uncharted jungle canopy. The jungle not only supplied subject matter but also a nurturing work environment to create.

At the tower, taken with a drone

I was very fortunate that my stay coincided with fellow artists Emmaleen. Although we had different styles, our works complemented each other well and I enjoyed watching her process. We spent many days drawing and walking the jungle paths together.


The management team at Refugio were very supportive of our work and over our last week there they arranged a gallery reception for us (pictures of the opening below). The work from the residency filled a very long communal dining table. After dinner guests and lodge staff got to finally see what we were working on over the past month. It brought me a lot of joy seeing everyone examining the works and trying to decide which one was their favorite. Many recognized the places I painted and we stayed up late as the employees told stories about the giant Lupuna tree from my drawing or about how they could tell the exact time of day that I had painted the river. Upon my return home, I found that it was the people that I missed the most.

Gallery opening night

Trelex residency was a once in a lifetime experience. I still find it hard to believe that this opportunity came into my life. Working in the field challenged by painting abilities and the works completed while at the residency have already begun to open doors for me back home. Again, thank you Nina, for your generosity in creating such projects for fellow artists and Abi for all the care and support.

Colpa, painted from sketches done in the Amazon

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