Painting Holiday in Provence

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

Gordes, France

  • 15th-21st September Clare Haward 
  • 22nd-28th September David Sawyer
  • 30th September – 6th October Simon Dunstan


Gordes in Provence is the ideal place for a painting holiday. 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 will be occupying a beautiful house and painting every day with the guidance and tuition of an established artist. The focus is on painting but this is also a holiday, our guests often comment that the experience in terms of food and good company far exceeds their expectations. We work hard at our painting but we also have a very good time.

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.

This will be a house party, we will be spending our week in the company of other artists with nothing to worry about other than painting and enjoying ourselves.

Simon Dunstan, who runs the Dulwich Art Group, will be facilitating and hosting over the holiday along with a little painting.

The house, seen from the pool area

Our Tutors


15th-21st September Clare Haward

Clare Haward

Clare Haward’s work has a magical intensity where she imbues simple shapes and forms with significance and and mysterious depth. She works predominantly from life, painting landscape, still life and figure. She exhibits widely and has won many awards and plaudits with paintings in collections around the world. Being a member of the New English Art Club confirms that her peers think highly of her and she is a much loved tutor at the Dulwich Art group and School. She finds that teaching is fulfilling on many levels, not only is there the satisfaction of supporting another artist on their creative journey but in the process a growing awareness of her own path. She is an excellent teacher.

Clare Haward, Co. Sligo, Ireland, oil on canvas – 2019

22nd-28th September David Sawyer

David has spent many years painting in the Mediterranean, so he feels 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 with now King Charles and an official visit to Paint in China, David has seen renewed interest in his work.

David Sawyer – Gordes

30th September – 6th October Simon Dunstan

Simon Dunstan

Simon is a figurative painter who enjoys painting the colours and light of Provence. As a tutor he is a clear and patient communicator with the ability to support those at any stage of their creative journey. He will be working with a model in the landscape.

Simon runs the Dulwich Art group and School so you may have come across him at our studio.

Simon Dunstan – Nathalie by the pool


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 mainly on the terrace. Our chef will focus our meals on local produce and will provide a seasonal menu which will cater for all appetites and diets.

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 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.

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.)

Artists enjoying an early start on the terrace

The house has 7 acres of land with a swimming pool and a 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.

Painting on the terrace garden

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


A Typical Day

  • 8.00am Breakfast
  • 9.15am Head out and paint with demonstration and support
  • 1.00pm Lunch – buffet or picnic as we paint
  • 2.00pm Continue painting with less formal support or relax
  • 4.00pm Tea and chill at the house
  • 7.00pm Aperitifs on the terrace
  • 8.00pm Three Course Dinner
  • 11.00pm Bed

Materials and kit

If you are unable to bring your own kit we can provide an easel, drawing board, solvents and clips. We will also have paints, brushes, mediums, boards and canvas available at our usual reasonable prices. Please let us know if you need anything in particular. 

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.


Other than the price of your travel and incidentals when out and about, there will be no extra costs during the week, which makes this holiday easier to budget for. Once you have chosen to come on the holiday we will discuss your choice of room, they are all great, some are bigger and have ensuite bathrooms and the price you pay will reflect this. The price for the week ranges from £1800 for a room with a shared bathroom to £2200 for a room with ensuite. If you bring your non painting partner we will ask you to pay a supplement of £700 on top of the price for the room and if you choose to share with another artist the supplement will be £850 per room.

Getting There

Most guests to the house fly to Marseille which has several flights a day from London. 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.


Please fill in the from below to register your interest. We will then contact you to discuss further and arrange details.

    Please choose which weeks you'd like to come for

    15th-21st September Clare Haward22nd-28th September David Sawyer30th September – 6th October Simon Dunstan