I’d like to combine a holiday with my love for painting and drawing. Where are the best places to have an art vacation?
There are now many places across Europe and beyond that offer you the chance to brush up on your brush skills – here are my top picks:
You could join the Cortijada los Gazquez “Paint Safari” in southern Spain, headed by the former Royal Academy student Simon Beckmann. He has converted five pretty farm cottages on top of a mountain in the Sierra Maria-Los Velez National Park into eco guesthouses. He offers a range of creative holidays including the paint safari for landscape artists.
He’ll take you around the striking landscape of the park by 4×4 offering you unreal vistas to paint at various times of the day. This is accompanied with great local food and wine and like-minded people. Three days at Cortijada los Gazquez, including accommodation, meals, transfers and tuition, costs E700. A week is E1,500. There are four airports nearby – Granada, Almeria, Murcia and Alicante.
At the Verocchio Arts Centre in the hilltop village of Casole d’Elsa, courses for this year are already selling out fast so you need to book soon to get a place. The centre has two painting studios, a sculpture studio and terrace and offers a range of one and two-week courses between May and October.
The owner, Nigel Konstam runs sculpture courses in his studio, and offers lectures on the art and art history of Tuscany, meanwhile painting courses are taught by visiting artists and include watercolour, oil, Plein Air, drawing and landscape painting. The centre has five rustic style, attractive single bedrooms and three doubles with communal bathrooms, plus five modern-style rooms. Prices start at £830 per person for two weeks, including tuition and half-board accommodation, and the closest airports are Florence or Pisa.
A very different kind of landscape is on offer to aspiring artists visiting Morocco on a twin-centre break in Marrakesh and Taroudant, to the west. The holiday is organised by Authentic Adventures and offers the chance to sketch and paint riads, Berber markets, traditional village houses, and the Atlas Mountains, as well as offering culinary experiences including tagine, cous cous and mint tea. One week without flights costs £1,189 including most meals, transfers, tuition and a guide. Fly to Marrakesh. The company also offers painting trips to Greece, Italy, Spain, Malta and India.
The Frui “Painting for the Petrified” course should put anxious artists at ease… that and the laid-back Keralan ambience. The landscape offers quiet backwaters, mountains, tea plantations and wildlife, so there’s plenty of inspiration and over the ten-day holiday a chance to spend time in each environment.
It’s pitched at beginners as the name suggests and will hone your paint and pencil skills thanks to one-on-one and group tuition. There’s also great food on offer that’s a bit of a departure from the tikka/korma menus we’re familiar with in the UK. Frui also offers shopping trips, guided tours and excursions. There is a choice of accommodation in beach-side, forest or even houseboat hotels. The price is £1,999 not including flights and the closest airport is Kochi. Frui also offers painting holidays in Morocco and Italy if India is a little too far.
English potter Seth Cardew has set up a stunning studio in the eastern Castellon province in Masia Albadas, population 12, according to the artist. The quiet setting is the perfect place to learn about sculpture or ceramics with Seth, who has been teaching since 1983. The ceramic courses cover throwing pots, cylinders and bowls and each student has their own wheel, plus tuition in decoration and fixing handles.
Teaching is in the morning followed by a late lunch and siesta, or extra work if you’re a keen student. The sea is 35 minutes away for those who want to explore the area, and there are villages a 5 minute drive away. The E750 per week price includes accommodation in a traditional-style casa, tuition, breakfast and lunches at the studio or in local restaurants. Fly to Valencia.