Around the World in 80 Paintings

Announcing… Around the World in 80 Paintings. And you’re invited. Like Phileas Fogg’s (or rather Jules Vernes’s) wacky and wonderful Around the World in 80 Days, this world tour is begun half-baked but with a great sense of adventure and a bit of fear. It started in my imagination eons ago, but now it’s official and the clock is ticking.

Frances Schultz painting en plein air in Provence.
Painting in a workshop in France with Jill Steenhuis, who I think took this photo.

Like Fogg’s foray, there is a wager to fulfill if I miss the deadline: Thanksgiving Day 2024, when I will burst through the kitchen door up to my elbows in pie crust, and say stick a fork in me I’m done. Or whimper: I whiffed.

Then if all goes to plan, that very December there will be an exhibit and sale of the paintings, location TBD. Possibly our garage. Or a broom closet in New York. Either way there will be free wine. That always brings them running. And cheese straws. Don’t forget the cheese straws. The other important thing is that the purchase price of each piece will go to the charity of the buyer’s choice.

At this point in life I’m probably not going to find a cure for cancer or found an orphanage, but I can paint. Sort of. I’m not even that good. But Ima let that go and not look over my shoulder. Comparison is the thief of joy (thank you whoever said that). I’m doing this because it’ll be a challenge and fun. Work too Lord yes, but fun.

Frances Schultz Around the World in 80 Paintings
Slovenia is gorgeous. I can’t wait to go there. But for now I’m inspired by a photo on the Internet.

Now if this brings up for you any notions about ideas and adventures that call to you for some reason, then good. That’s intentional. I use the word reason loosely. Maybe your adventure/project/pursuit does not stand to “reason,” but it makes your heart sing. That, dear reader, is the best reason of all. (If you want to talk about it, let me know. Seriously. Or come to one of our retreats, several coming up—see here.) 

Meanwhile I hope you will join me around the world. I hope you will be entertained and inspired. And if you are inclined, I hope you will share favorite photos of places you’ve traveled to, the farther flung the better. I cannot actually make it to all the places I want to paint, but you might. Of course I will paint some on location and work from my own pictures, but I’d like to work from yours, too. Instagrammers welcome! I’m looking at websites and magazines too. If I can’t be en plein air, en arm chair will do.

Here’s an example.

The luxury tented camp habitat Al-Ula, in Saudi Arabia.
My little oil painting Inspired by Melissa Biggs Bradley’s photo of a tented camp in the Saudi desert.

My friend Melissa Biggs Bradley founded the travel company Indagare: It is the best, and so is Melissa. This is a photo of her trip to Saudi Arabia and Habitat Al-Ula, a tented camp in the desert. It’s all moody and mysterious – and terribly romantic. I put the moon in myself, btw, and may have moved a mountain or two. You can do that when you paint. Very empowering.

A list of countries scribbled in my Moleskin...
A list of countries scribbled in my Moleskin…

The other day on a plane I was scribbling down names of places, mostly countries, just for the heck of it.

You know how many countries there are in the world? 236. There is a lot to choose from. 

I will probably never make it to Yemen, or the Falkland Islands or Burkina Faso. But if you have an amazing photo from there, I’m all eyes.


Horseback riding on South Africa's Wild Coast. Photo by Danielle Zondagh, from Conde Nast Traveler
Color sketches are helpful in working out how to approach a painting–or not.

This photo of South Africa’s “Wild Coast” is by Danielle Zondagh, in Conde Nast Traveler. I’m sketching a possibility. Also, riding a horse in the water is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

Slovenia is definitely somewhere to go. That place looks gorgeous. An image of the Church of the Assumption of Mary on Bled Island, with the snow streaked Karavanke Mountains in the background, I (thought I) found via a website called HBHolidays. But when I tried to find the site again, something like a Chinese slot machine flashed on my screen and WTF! I’m not looking again.

Church of the Assumption of Mary, Bled Island, in Slovenia. Watercolor by Frances Schultz
My watercolor of the Church of the Assumption of Mary, Bled Island, in Slovenia.

If your photo does not turn into a Chinese slot machine and is chosen as inspiration for a painting, it will be properly credited I promise and included in the catalog along with your name and your words about what the photo captured for you. Images can be landscapes, street scenes, interiors, people, gardens, anything that strikes you as of the place and its energy, beauty, light, or spirit.

My hope also is that this project will serve as a reminder of what this crazy-ass-upside-down-sometimes-horrific world of ours offers us in spite of itself. This, too, is a world we need to love, inhabit, and care for in spite of itself. And we need to do it together.

To comment or send a photo, and thereby enter into the wager,* write me here in the comments section, or connect with me here. I’m happy to hear from you.

*The wager. Two ways to play: 1. Leave a comment below about this post or about whatever project or pursuit you might be noodling but are fearful of doing. or, 2.Submit a photo to be considered as inspiration for one of my paintings. Either of these will put your name into an electronic “hat.” If I do not finish on time, a name will be randomly selected (by computer), and I will give $10,000 to the charity of that person’s choice.  Either way, the exhibit and sale will take place and those proceeds will go to charity.

The Taj Mahal by Frances Schultz
The mist-shrouded Taj Mahal, from a trip there in 2016. I gave it to my sweet sister. The painting, not the building.

And hey, wherever you’re going or whatever you’re dreaming and scheming, traveling mercies and grace to you.

Love, Frances


  1. Frances, what a delightful idea! You’ve inspired me to dig up my photos from the Serengeti in Kenya, the charming streets of Montreal, the Christmas Market in Leipzig, and St. Patricks Day in Dublin…Gosh, I really need to take up painting again…

  2. Frances, you’ve really put yourself out there this time! I wish you much luck and wish your paint brush god speed. I eagerly look forward to the results.

    1. Lordy I know! What have i done?! But v then i thought, what is the worst that could happen? Thank you dear Carol, your words are encouraging! X f

  3. Ahh, what an inspiration you are! Your paintings are wonderful. My husband and I are planning a new build dream house (on a river!) for our retirement and are scared silly that we are too old to be doing this (I’m 65). Perhaps not!

  4. Frances- What a fun, creative, adventurous, and generous idea! I’ll look at my photos from a new perspective and send any worthy ones your way. Maybe from the sunflower and lavender fields from that bike trip so many years ago! I look forward to enjoying your journey -xo- Terry

    1. Thank you Terry! And yes would love to see your pictures from that fun trip to Provence – despite our respective bumps and bruises! xo F

  5. I just returned from a helicopter flight to an Alaskan glacier where there was the most stunning aqua blue pool of glacier water. I don’t know if the photos are any good but if not, I will send something in Alaska because it was too gorgeous to not include 🙂 xoxo C.

  6. Your Around the World in 80 Paintings idea has given me the much needed inspiration to “get unstuck”! Six months ago, I retired at 58 which has given me time to think and daydream about my next chapter in life. I want to dedicate myself to creating something of value, significance and purpose that aligns with my passion for travel, books and yoga. I will submit a photo from my recent trip to Croatia where I have yet to find the words to describe the brilliance of the color of the Adriatic Sea. Grace to you, Carolyn

    1. Thank you Carolyn, and I am so happy you are getting unstuck! Your daydreaming may be your soul speaking and it sounds as if you have the courage to listen. Go well, good luck, and keep in touch.

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