For Art’s Sake

Have you always wondered what it is like to replicate the stunning sceneries before you onto a canvas? Here are three picturesque countries that will get you to pursue in the midst of great food, expert training and fun hosts.

Andalucia, Spain
The Low-down: Uncover your creative side and let the beautiful Spanish landscape inspire you on a painting holiday. Choose from a break at a dazzling creative eco-retreat for some rural escapism or let the hustle and bustle of seaside Andalucia inspire you. You could also head to a natural park near Cadiz for some exciting landscapes. Whatever you choose, the wonderfully sociable and fun painting holidays here are guaranteed to inspire all artists.

X-Factor: Almeria has a lot to offer for one with a keen eye. Travel through breathtaking landscapes from desert-like scenes to rolling hills with wild poppies and almond blossom on a unique paint safari combining the love of the land with passion for art whilst staying in a luxurious eco-retreat. Connect with the landscape on a whole new level with a paint-making workshop here.

Explore the versatile and fascinating medium of watercolour painting and learn how to create masterpieces influenced by the natural scenery of the Parque Natural Sierra Maria-Los Velez.

Immerse yourself in the culture and beauty of the Andalucian countryside staying in a beautiful converted inn or restored 18th century townhouse, where you will be inspired by the dramatic architecture of the village, the culture in Alcalá de los Gazules and the landscapes of the Alcornocales Natural Park. The beautiful Andalucian mountain village of Torrox, located between Malaga and Nerja, is the perfect setting for a painting course and holiday.

Best For: Food photographers. Almeria is a region known for its love for food. Take a week-long creative course perfect for those with a passion for both food and photography. It will cover all activities around food including photography, presentation and illustration. It also includes visits to local markets and food producers.

Languedoc, France
The Low-down: This region was one of the earliest to be inhabited by humans and, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, was an extremely important trade route and passage. The Roman history of Languedoc-Roussillon is long and has left some spectacular traces. The names of towns, the Catalan language, the region’s heady wines and olive-oil dishes all testify to the lasting influence of 400 years of occupation.

X-Factor: Lodeve is a delightful town to explore. Cathedrale St-Fulcrane, one of the more restrained interiors in this area, is a church which owes much to the upheavals and destructions of the revolution. Pont de Montifort is a lovely Gothic arch bridge built in the 14th century.

The museum, Musée Fleury, is housed in the Fleury family mansion, a nationally known and major family of Lodeve. It was built in the 16th and 17th century and is a beautiful and impressive building.

Built in 1819, the Hotel Darde has become a museum of the works of local sculptor Paul Dardé as the title gives away. Visit the Atelier to see first hand how carpets were created for the great homes of Paris.

Well worth the drive out of Lodeve, St-Michel de Grandmont Priory is a place of mystery and spiritual light. Here’s the muse you will need for a remarkable painting.

Best For: Historians. Languedoc-Roussillon is also a region where the “Cathars”, named after the Greek “katharos” or “pure”, fought the Catholic church of the time in the 13th century. It took many decades to exterminate this movement whose followers believed the visible world to be the work of the devil. Nowadays, many impressive fortresses perched on dizzying heights and the ancient villages still bear witness to a lost religion.

The Low-down: I know you’re thinking, “Oh not this place again.” Nevertheless, Italy is a country that continues to surprise its guests, offering unique experiences in every visit. Major factors contributing to that is its natural beauty, rich culture, varying lifestyles in each region, amazing cuisine and of course its exquisite landscapes.
You don’t find many places on this planet where art and life intermingles so effortlessly. There is just so much to take in that if you put 100 artists through the same experience, there still wouldn’t be two paintings that are alike. The key is to slow down from the touristy pace and let in the ethnicity of this phenomenal nation.

X-Factor: It doesn’t matter if you’ve been there already. Head over to Tuscany and have a go at their week-long painting courses set in a charming and elegant 17th century palazzo, lovingly conserved to maintain its aristocratic finesse. Be motivated by the outstanding Tuscan landscapes and medieval village of Tavernelle. Expect great food and wine too.

If you want to be somewhere less crowded, throw yourself into the pretty town of Camerino, where you will be moved by the architecture, impressive landscape, rivers and culture.

Best For: Fitness fanatics. Combine relaxing yoga with painting lessons on a unique yoga and watercolour painting holiday a little north of Rome. Stay in a conventional village house in the pretty-walled village of Casperia and paint the beauty of the surrounding Sabina hills. Just because you’re on holiday, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on a healthy lifestyle.

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