Painting Holiday in Provence

Follow in the footsteps of some of the great impressionists with us in this glorious part of the world.

Gordes, France

  • 20th – 26th September 2020 with Benjamin Hope
  • 27th September – 3rd October 2020 with David Sawyer

Gordes in Provence is the ideal place to practise plein air painting. It is endlessly beautiful with plentiful vistas and historic architecture, market places thronged with colour or quiet spots with rocky outcrops and pine trees. The weather is about as reliable as you can get in Europe and it has the history – Cezanne and Van Gogh painted around here, Picasso too, heck, Chagall installed himself up the hill.

We are organising this as two separate weeks with two brilliant artists and tutors. You can choose to come for one or both weeks. The focus is on painting but this is also a holiday and no one will look askance if you decide to visit one of the local markets or take a walk in the hills rather than paint.

The house is large and elegant in a slightly elevated position overlooking the Luberon Valley with extensive views. It has a 12 metre pool, a tennis court and lots of places to sit quietly and others to meet and socialise. It is a short walk down the hill from Gordes, said to be one of the most beautiful hilltop villages in France, which is relentlessly picturesque and much painted.

Food

Our chef Paul will focus our meals on local produce and will provide a seasonal menu which will cater for all appetites and diets. You’ll know that food is central to the French way of life, and whilst our focus is on painting we will not allow ourselves to ignore this important tradition. Meals will be taken together either on the terrace or at the main dining table in the house.

Breakfast will be continental: Juices, fruit, yoghurt, cereals, bread and pastries. Lunch will be a light meal and may be a picnic if we are out painting. After an aperitif in the evening we will have dinner for which we change out of our painting clothes and pretend to be human for a while.

Wine is an essential part of any French meal and we will serve good quality local wines with lunch and dinner. We budget for about a half bottle of wine per person per day which should usually suffice, but we do understand that on occasions artists push the boat out: if we find that the boat has left shore and is steaming over the horizon we may have a conversation about further resources being allocated!

Provence

Provence is a terrific place to come to and just ‘be’. The rhythm of life is a little slower, the climate is kind and the gently aromatic air makes you feel good in your skin. Even without painting your week will leave you relaxed and renewed.

You can choose to paint as much or as little as you like, we’ll have daily demonstrations or workshops to challenge you or you can just paint alongside. There will be outings as well to explore and paint the area. As already mentioned you can come either for one week or two, bring a partner or come by yourself.

Non painting partners will find plenty to do. If you enjoy rock climbing you’ll know that nearby Bouox is a mecca for climbers and judging by the number of  two wheelers that whoosh past you, the cycling is good in this region too. Kayaking along the Durance is a joy to the senses and relatively sedate whilst walking and running can include tricky ravines or quiet lanes through the vineyards.

If you just like going places there is a market every day of the week in one of the nearby villages that dot the area. They’re all beautiful. Lourmarin, Rousillon, Lacoste, Bonnieux, or Ménerbes where Peter Mayle, author of  ‘A Year in Provence’ lived, are all in easy striking distance. A little further and there’s Aix en Provence, Arles, Marseilles or the fleshpots of the Cote D’Azur. 

If you like wine you’ll find plenty of local domaines to explore and taste your way through, the rosé is particularly good. And if food is your thing there are two Michelin starred restaurants in Gordes with several others at neighbouring villages.

If you enjoy a massage with some phyto-aromatics (?!) you can book in for a day spa at the swanky Bastide de Gordes up the hill. Seriously indulgent but it looks like they have some treatments which will remove the ingrained paint from your skin.

Two girls, our venue in the middle distance with Gordes behind

About The House

The House is a traditional style bastide – that’s what they call country houses in this area of France –  which has been updated for glamorous and relaxed modern life.  It has large entertaining and communal areas with the terrace being the focal point for meals, drinks and congregating. The terrace has extensive views over the Luberon, which you can just melt into, and it catches the soft breezes, which carry the fragrance of the season up from the valley beyond. A quiet coffee on the terrace at sunrise is a special treat as the sun reaches across the valley and all is still. (If that’s you, you may be asked to do the croissant run to a local boulangerie.)

The terrace, a place to eat and congregate: gloriously open yet completely private

The house has 7 acres of land with pool, (not heated at this time of year but available for use) and tennis court set amongst pine woods and orchards. Downstairs there is a laundry room with washing machine and dryer, iron and so on. There is ample parking and good security with an electronic entrance gate.

Someone has a drone…

The rooms are comfortable and well proportioned and either have en-suite bathrooms or share a bathroom with one other room. We have some flexibility about how the rooms are arranged depending upon who’s sharing and who’s not. We also have similar quality rooms in a neighbouring house which are available for all contingencies.

One of the bedrooms in the main house
One of the shared bathrooms

If you’d like to explore the house further it is listed on this website

The artists

Week One – Benjamin Hope NEAC

Ben is one of the rising stars in the firmament of young British artists. He is a painter who combines acute observation with careful reflection to produce images which have a freshness and lightness of touch which belies their substance. He is great to learn from because he has consciously made the journey from crystalline realist to a looser more impressionist style. This means he knows why he paints the way he does and many of his strategies are transferable and based around sound practice.

Week Two – David Sawyer RBA

The classic view of Gordes painted by David Sawyer

David has spent many years painting in the Mediterranean, so he will feel particularly at home here. He is especially adept at defining his motif with precision whilst keeping the painting alive and open. His draughtsmanship is superb yet it never takes over, his brushwork is masterful, his colours vibrant: looking at one of his paintings you know you are in safe hands as the visual story unfolds. His paintings are full of architecture and sunshine and he’ll show you how it’s done by demonstrating, painting alongside you and gently offering his insights. He is one of those rare artists who has sold throughout his career and since his appointment as official artist to the Royal Tour of the Caribbean, David has seen renewed interest in his work.

A Typical Day

  • 8.00am Breakfast
  • 9.15am Head out and paint with demonstration and support
  • 1.00pm Lunch – picnic as we paint
  • 2.00pm Optional visit to a vineyard or continue painting
  • 4.00pm Tea and chill at the house
  • 7.00pm Aperitifs on the terrace
  • 8.00pm Dinner
  • 11.00pm Bed

Materials and kit

We can supply you with kit so that you don’t have to take your easel or paints on the plane. However as kit is so personal we urge you to bring materials you are familiar with where possible. We will communicate with you about this, it may be possible, for example, to take your box easel with us when we drive down.

If you are unsure about what to bring there is a good outline of the equipment required here

Why holiday with the Dulwich Art Group and School

We’re run by artists for artists so the artists and the painting always come first. We recognise that we all want to improve at our art, that all artists are on a journey towards a cleaner statement of their vision. For many the best way of pursuing this is working periodically in the company of other artists.

Artists may have a reputation for organisational insufficiency but we believe that creativity relies upon crisp and professional approaches and we pride ourselves upon the smooth running of our events.

Our school and drop-in groups are known for their collegiate and warm atmosphere, we all produce our best work when we’re feeling included. Our groups will often have beginners and professionals working alongside each other, cheerfully exchanging tips and insights. We learn from the artist next to us as well as the tutor.

We run our painting holidays as house parties, you will be asked to lend a hand occasionally, laying up or clearing at meals; managing the wine: nothing too onerous just the normal civilised stuff.

Our holidays are memorable events where new skills are learnt and friendships are forged in uplifting places.

Getting There

Most guests to the house fly to Marseille which has several flights a day from London. We will pick you up from the airport by arrangement and get you back there for your return flights. It is also possible to take a train de grand vitesse to Avignon.

You may also choose to drive down – it can be done in a day if you start early – or to hire a car at the airport if you want some independence.

We are to arrive at the house on the Sunday afternoon after 3.00pm and departure is before 10.00am on the following Saturday.

Painters and partners enjoying breakfast together on our last painting holiday in Wales.

Please choose which weeks you'd like to come for

20th-26th September - Benjamin Hope27th September-3rd October - David Sawyer

Please choose your accommodation - prices are per person per week, not per room.

Double with en suite £1400Double with shared bathroom £1250Small double in Annexe with ensuite £1250Modest double with shared bathroom £1150Shared twin room with shared bathroom £1090

Sharing

The Mediterranean diet is celebrated as one of the healthiest in the world but it does not suit everyone, if you have any particular food issues please let us know here

Once you have submitted your details via the form above, please confirm your place by clicking on the button below and paying the £50 deposit.