Wednesday 14 June 2023

art retreat in france - june 2023

It’s hard to believe that our wonderful 10 days at Perigord Retreats was a month ago already. I guess it’s taken me that long to absorb the whole experience and take it all in!

I can honestly say that it was a truly incredible 10 days. I had the happiest, funnest, most enthusiastic bunch of people (9 artists and 2 non-arty partners). They came from far and wide, and were wonderfully diverse in age and life. The perfect mix. We visited some beautiful places to paint and explore, painted up a storm in the studio, we ate fantastic food (I’m still full!), and were thoroughly spoilt by our hosts.

I have 400 photos in my camera roll and lots of video clips. Our WhatsApp group is full of more. Here’s just a little taster for you.


My 9 wonderful artists were indeed all artists in their own right. What many of them felt they lacked was the bravery to take their painting skills outdoors. Perfect! You’ll know that for me painting outside is one of life’s joys.

We painted poppy fields and irises, in a ’secret’ garden the medieval town of Gourdon and a medieval church on a stormy afternoon.

After visiting the famous Rocamadour we sat near the river and sketched an historic tower and from the hilltop fortified town of Domme we had a gorgeous sweeping vista of the Dordogne Valley.

There was a very Monet type experience painting a lily pond in the water gardens in Carsac and then a truly urban scene in the fairytale Collanges-la-Rouge where hundreds of people passed by taking photos and stopping to chat.

We covered linear perspective, aerial perspective, all sorts of techniques for stonework, tiles and brickwork. There were reflections, greenery and distant mountains.

One my students said she’s never painting in the studio again. Says it all really :-)


Talking of the studio, though … It’s great to have access to a comfy well lit studio at the retreat whenever we want. This year everyone made full use of this treat.

Usually I wake up early to pop down to the studio before breakfast to get ready for the day. This year I’d often hear quiet voices down there before me and it always made me smile. After every excursion we’d come back home and there would always be a few folks who’d head straight down the studio to keep painting. And then! Back down to the studio after dinner too :-)

Plus we had a few days that were studio only days. These days were for skills and also for working on a larger painting - with each person painting their own painting from a photo taken during the week with guidance from me.

At the end of the week we had a little exhibition and it was so lovely to see all the completed paintings and to page through all the sketchbooks. I was so proud - insert blushing emoticon ;-)


You’d think there wasn’t time for this as well, but we fitted it all in. Spring days are long!

Markets, rustic villages, medieval towns, cathedrals, picnics along the river, and, of course, shopping - oh, you know, a holiday in France!


And then what is probably the best part of all - the making of new friends.

The shared meals (every breakfast, lunch and dinner is a feast), the drinks in the sun room, the many picnics and the lunches out. The walks through the villages and the country roads near the retreat. All of these combine to give us time to share stories, laugh and become friends.

Our hosts Harrison and Katel, along with Greg and Paula, have created some kind of magic formula for an atmosphere that is relaxed and comfortable. After the retreat I got so many wonderful, happy emails from everyone. And I understand. I wanted to tell everyone back home everything about the retreat and how truly amazing the whole experience is. But I think you had to be there to really understand. Saying goodbye was really hard!

Thank you to the beautiful people who traveled far and wide to join me. Thank to our hosts. I miss you all. It couldn’t have been more perfect!

Can’t wait until June 2024 when I will be back. Lucky me :-)

Next retreat : 2-11 June 2024. Maximum 12 people. Details and booking information here.

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