Oaxaca Día de Muertos Workshop 2024

Día de Muertos Oaxaca Art + Culture Workshop: watercolor, group altar, sand tapestry

DATES: October 26–November 4, 2024

art workshop with watercolor + culture immersion
with Oaxacan artist Pedro Cruz Pacheco + Corrie McCluskey

Oaxaca, Mexico


~  Want to experience a hands-on, deep dive into the authentic traditions of Day of the Dead?
~  Replenish your artistic toolkit with fresh inspiration and newfound creativity (you too, beginners!)
~  Unlock your creative potential with Pedro’s art instruction, rooted in indigenous Oaxacan culture
~  Creative time with likeminded travelers in an intimate setting

Experience the sights, sounds, moles and mezcals of vibrant Oaxaca with us – and dive into the color and pageantry of Día de Muertos ~ Day of the Dead. Immerse yourself in the soulful art scene, indigenous culture, rich culinary and artisanal traditions of this magical 16th century colonial city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Our adventures start with a field trip to a mercado to shop for altar decorations and offerings (cempasuchil flowers, papel picado, long candles, copal incense, chocolate, special breads, sugar skulls, fruit and mezcal). We’ll make visits to 2 cemeteries where Oaxaqueños lovingly decorate the graves of their ancestors and bring offerings to share with their spirits. Participants should bring photos of your dearly departed to adorn our group altar – and if you are so inclined, costumes + face paint for the fiesta. We will catch a comparsa – the traditional Muertos parade – along the pedestrian street as our schedule permits.

We will spend our days painting imagery and symbolic representations of our loved ones to honor their memories, assemble a beautiful group altar and construct and decorate a tapete de arena (sand tapestry).

No visit to Oaxaca would be complete without seeing the work of master artisans in their workshops: additional group field trips include a visit to a renowned tapete (woven wool rugs) artistan family, alebrije (carved wooden objects) artisans, and the Mujeres del Barro Rojo (Women of the Red Clay) who are “guardians of the identity & pottery tradition of their community” (where they will have their own gorgeous Día de Muertos altar).

Pedro will focus on symbols + talismans, key elements in all his painting. He will show participants an extensive repertoire of personal symbols that are incorporated into his art, and offer them the opportunity to discover and paint their own in this intimate setting. This is a chance to consider the “secret soul” of things that matter to you and bring them into your painting. There will be demonstrations in Pedro’s techniques, but students primarily will be encouraged to create using their own personal approach.

Workshop details:

  • All levels, 7-day art + culture workshop in the heart of Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Additional group field trips
  • Maximum 10 participants
  • 9 nights at a beautiful location – Villa apartments, a 20-walk from the center of downtown
  • apartments equipped with wifi, functional kitchens, hot water, surrounded by a lush garden to enjoy
  • large supermarket, mercado, restaurants, taxis/busses all within walking distance
  • art materials lists – for all levels of art experience (you bring your own art supplies)
  • list provided of restaurants, museums & galleries, optional tours that you can book for your day off, cool places to visit on your own

Preliminary itinerary (subject to change as necessary):

  • Day One: arrive in Oaxaca – informal dinner in the neighborhood
  • Day Two: AM class, shopping trip to buy altar decorations & offerings; PM create group altar; group welcome dinner
  • Day Three: AM create tapete (sand tapestry); PM art class
  • Day Four: AM art class; PM studio visit @ weavers artisan workshop + special meal
  • Day Five: all day art class; late night visit to cemetery
  • Day Six: AM art class; PM studio visit @ alebrijes artisan workshop; trip to cemetery in small pueblo
  • Day Seven: AM art class; PM visit to ancient tree in Tule; studio visit @ ceramics artisan workshop
  • Day Eight: day off to explore on your own
  • Day Nine: all day art class + art show, group farewell dinner
  • Day Ten: depart Oaxaca


​Pedro Cruz Pacheco is a painter from Santa Cruz Amilpas, Oaxaca, Mexico who works in watercolor, oil, and mixed media. He left his job in a brickyard in 1999 and initially began his career as a self-taught artist. He spent 8 years apprenticing in the studio of master Oaxacan painter Felipe Morales, and has shown and sold his work for years in Labastida Plaza in downtown Oaxaca (by Santo Domingo church). Pedro has exhibited in Mexico (Oaxaca, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Merida, Monterrey), Texas, and California (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sonoma County, Eureka). Pedro’s style is very Oaxaca-influenced, with magic realism as an artistic point of view – a Mexican version of surrealism. His work is intimate, private, and incorporates personal symbols and talismans that reflect his own life experiences as well as the history and customs of Oaxaqueños. His work features bright, vivid colors and his own deeply personal and heart-felt spiritual view of the world around him.

Corrie McCluskey (the workshop coordinator) is a visual artist from Northern California who was a b&w photographer for two decades. She transitioned into visual journaling, mail art, collage, bookbinding and making artist books. She now focuses on mixed media on paper: encaustic monotypes, painting with natural pigments & India ink, graphite, cold wax with oil pigment sticks. Creative journaling is a part of her art expression: it’s all about process and discovery – a container for ideas and working through life experiences. She is a “Guidess”-in-training for people who feel unqualified or too intimidated to express their creativity because they think they can’t “do art”. For 20 years, she was a workshop and event coordinator, and she loves to bring small groups of people together and facilitate an amazing workshop experience.

Workshop location & apartments:
Private apartments in La Noria barrio, Oaxaca
Our unpretentious, comfortable & basic lodging is just a quick 20-minute walk to the zocalo, the main center of the city. This family-owned villa is a secure, peaceful walled compound with lush gardens; the owner is an Airbnb Superhost (with 850+ reviews and a 4.85-star rating). This is not a luxury hotel or super fancy Airbnb, but a real Mexican family’s property with individual lodging, providing the basic necessities – an intimate, safe place with a retreat-like vibe. Our art workshop will be at the large home on the property, out on the beautiful terrace. There is a large supermarket, mercado, restaurants, taxis/busses all within walking distance.

We have reserved 7 individual units (apartments and small studios), all with small kitchens or kitchenettes. And at the large house, there is a big kitchen, beautiful living rooms on both floors, 2 private upstairs bedrooms with shared bathroom, and 1 downstairs bedroom with several beds (for a group traveling together) + bathroom. Lodging will be assigned to participants on a first-come, first-serve basis when you register and pay the trip deposit (so register early to claim your desired lodging).

: Saturday, Oct 26
art classes + field trips: 7 days
day off: (no class or scheduled field trips) Friday, Nov 3
departure: Monday, Nov 4
airport: Oaxaca Xoxocotlan International airport (OAX)

Trip fee, deadline & cancellation:
$2200 for workshop participants

  • 50% deposit with registration guarantees your space – register early before the workshop sells out.
  • Deadline to register & pay deposit is extended to 6/1/24 (Deposits, reservations, and arrangements are made in advance of the trip, so we need to receive your registration + deposit on time.)
  • Balance is due by 7/1/24, or you can pay in full upon registration (deposit + trip fee).
  • Deadline to register in class is now extended to  6/1/24; no deposit or trip fee refund will be given after 4/1/24. No exceptions (unless workshop is cancelled for low enrollment, another pandemic, or natural disaster).
  • If you must cancel, contact Corrie, the workshop coordinator, immediately. You can transfer your deposit or full workshop payment to another person, at no charge. If there is a wait list, we will give you the first name on the list to whom you can offer your spot. Otherwise, no refunds will be issued under any circumstances. (This is why we require travel insurance, and recommend purchasing additional “cancel for any reason” coverage.)

Registration + payment online:
To register and pay online, click below. Your payment will be processed through PayPal.


Price includes:

  • apartment or shared house rental – assigned on first-come, first served basis
  • private van transportation (for all field trips & excursions)
  • field trips to local mercado (market), alebrije & ceramics artisan studios, 2 cemeteries
  • materials to create sand tapestry and altar decorations

Not included in price:

  • airfare or transportation to/from airport
  • food & drinks (except for special meal at weaver’s studio)
  • required trip insurance

Required travel insurance: Why you need it: Oaxaca doesn’t have a robust healthcare system like you’re used to, so if you have a serious fall (sidewalks can be treacherous here), get sick, or the taxi you’re in has an accident, it could be very pricey to get you home for treatment. Therefore, we’re requiring everyone to purchase travel insurance for this trip (include medical evacuation of at least $50,000, international accident & health insurance including primary medical coverage, and trip cancellation coverage). There are also trip policies that include COVID cancellations. Also, we recommend purchasing additional “cancel for any reason” coverage – this will cover you in case you need to cancel at the last moment and there is no one on the wait list to take your place. We recommend that you get PRIMARY medical coverage, not secondary. Proof of insurance must be sent to us at least 45 days before departure. We encourage you to purchase trip insurance immediately upon registering, with “Cancel for Any Reason” to cover you for unexpected circumstances – buy trip insurance WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR TRIP if you wish to have this extra coverage.

suggested provider: Squaremouth – https://www.squaremouth.com/travel-insurance-quotes More COVID policy info: https://www.squaremouth.com/press-room/travel-insurance-coronavirus best choices on Squaremouth: – HTH Worldwide, TripProtector Preferred, includes COVID cancellation – Trawick Intl, Safe Travels Voyager, includes COVID cancellation – TinLeg Gold, includes COVID cancellation another provider: https://www.insuremytrip.com

COVID-19: You are required to send proof of vaccination to participate. You must send a photo or PDF of the documentation and forward it to us. Depending on COVID and the health circumstances in 2023 in Oaxaca,  participants may be required to wear face masks, use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing while we’re together. Proof of vaccination must be sent to us at least 45 days before departure.

Health & walking: Oaxaca is high altitude, at 5100 feet – some people need a few days to acclimate if they are coming from sea level. Can you walk 6,000 steps a day unassisted at 5100 ft? If not, you will be unhappy on this trip, and we only accept travelers who are in good health and can walk uneven cobblestone streets (narrow, with high curbs) and don’t have mobility or breathing issues. Also, dietary restrictions could be tricky, although there are restaurants that have gluten free and vegan options. Travelers will need to make personal accommodations and adjustments to meet group needs and schedule.

Valid passport: Also, be certain that your passport has at least six months on it before it expires from the date you enter Mexico – if not, you won’t be allowed entry into the country.

Flights & getting to/from the airport: airport: Oaxaca Xoxocotlán Intl airport (OAX) Oaxaca City (OAX) is a 45-minute flight from Mexico City (MEX), with many available connecting flights on AeroMexico,  Volaris, and other carriers. To bypass Mexico City airport: in the US, United has a direct flight from Houston to Oaxaca, and American has a direct flight from Dallas to Oaxaca
NOTE: if you fly thru Mexico City, book flights that allow at least a 3-hr layover going TO Oaxaca (the line for passport control can be long and you’ll miss your flight), and 1-hr layover coming FROM Oaxaca.

About a month prior to the workshop, we will send you detailed instructions about how to get from the airport to our location, what to bring, how to get cash from ATMs, etc.

Materials & suggestions:

  • We don’t supply materials for participants, please bring your own.
  • For watercolor – you can bring your favorite quality watercolor paints, brushes and paper. NOTE: if you are a watercolor beginner, you do NOT need to buy the complete list or most expensive art supplies, but just the basics. We suggest buying student quality watercolor kits & good paper to get started. Here is an optional list with suggestions for those undecided about materials: materials list here
  • We suggest that you familiarize yourself with Pedro’s website and take a look at his artwork for inspiration as you begin to think about your own personal symbols and talismans.

If you have questions: For questions regarding the workshop, lodging or transportation, contact the workshop coordinator: Corrie McCluskey at corrie[at]pedrocruzpacheco.com