Painting holidays guide

Keeping a diary and taking photographs are the go-to ways of recording holiday memories, but what about documenting them through paint? A painting holiday lets you sketch, daub and create until your heart’s content. Experienced tutors are on hand to offer advice and feedback, and to nudge you gently towards subject matter or topics that you might never have considered before. The locations for these trips are nothing short of inspirational, of course. Seascapes in southern Spain; mountain kasbahs in Morocco; olive and citrus groves in Cyprus; the west coast of Scotland; there’s much more to painting than a bowl of bananas or a lifeless lobster.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
– Pablo Picasso
Joining a small group holiday lets you share your thoughts and brushstrokes, with friendships forged and friendly feedback offered, both out in the field and around the communal dining table. Artistic abilities will be mixed, non-painting partners are often welcome (at a discount), though artists travelling solo are usually the norm. A painting holiday gives you a blank canvas for fresh ideas and newfound skills as you develop your hobby or craft en plein air.

What does a painting holiday entail?

Our painting holidays immerse you in local landscapes and communities, and you’ll spend most of your time each day painting or sketching. Expert tutors, and their assistants, will help you with different techniques, styles and skills, with group lessons balanced out with one-to-one advice and feedback. The idea is for guests to leave with sketchbooks bursting with vibrant, evocative images that capture the essence of the place, as well as showing creative progression and practice with different materials. Abandoned properties, bobbing fishing boats and botanical gardens may all provide the inspiration, with painting sessions timed to make the most of varying light and shade. Some trips offer access to a studio, but there is always plenty of time spent outdoors, simply enjoying painting in the open air surrounded by nature.
Artists are encouraged to explore their creativity and experiment within a range of new or familiar media, materials and techniques. From pencils, pastels and oils, to liquid watercolours and mixed media, including collage and photography, this is an opportunity to explore, express yourself and have fun.
Large and bulky equipment, such as easels and drawing boards, will be provided, and sometimes more detailed pieces can be finished off indoors, in studios or other sheltered spaces. Some trips supply basic art materials, on others you’ll be asked to bring your own sketch books, paper, canvases, paints and brushes; the equipment list will be sent in advance. Rarely will you need to purchase anything too specialist.
Free time will also be factored in to help you enjoy these picturesque landscapes in your own time – walking, swimming, or practise painting sessions, all add to the overall experience of rest and relaxation.

Our top trip

Painting Holiday in Crete

Painting Holiday in Crete

Painting and sketching outdoors by the Cretan Sea

From €950 to €1090 8 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2024: 7 May, 18 Jun, 10 Sep, 8 Oct
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Painting or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Groups & accommodation

Painting holidays are usually run for small groups of around 10 people, and based in characterful, locally owned accommodation. A converted monastery in the Cypriot village of Lefkara, for example, or a nine bedroom hotel in the town of Torrox, close to the Andalucían coast. Single supplements may be available for artists seeking solitude, while the chance to share a twin en-suite room with a group member of the same sex, is an affordable and sociable alternative. Sometimes you might be staying in more than one location – a series of traditional guesthouses amongst the medinas and mountains of Morocco, for instance. Don’t expect 5-star, high rise hotels; comfortable and quaint are much more in keeping with these artists’ escapes.
On a tailor made art course in Romania, you’ll stay at a hotel with access to a self catering kitchen. This course specialises in sketching and painting botanicals as well as offering plenty of free time to explore in and around the Transylvanian landscape.
Colin Kennedy is the owner of our Cypriot painting holiday specialists, Lefkara Art Hotel & Studio: “I think the village of Lefkara surprises painters due to its diverse architecture, narrow alleys and the obvious heritage of its artisans. We also serve traditional Cypriot cuisine and locally produced wine to ensure our painters experience authentic Cyprus whilst staying in our hotel: a converted monastery, close to the Church of the Holy Cross.”

Art tutors

Experienced art tutors are on hand throughout the holiday to offer advice and guidance. These resident teachers will be professional artists in their own right and will have studied and taught art at all levels, often across a range of media. Most will live in the local area or at least be based there for the season.

Through a combination of practical demonstrations, friendly feedback sessions and individual instruction, tutors encourage guests to express themselves and get the most from the experience as a whole. This might be through fun and relaxation or via a deeper understanding of different subjects, techniques and styles.

Demonstrations provide an excellent example of how to get started on a particular painting project. Sometimes tutors will set specific tasks each day or recommend subject matter depending on the location, and the wishes of the group. Some guests might prefer to be left to their own devices, others will be more than happy to follow instructions. This is your holiday, and it's about your painting.
Sometimes guest tutors will be available; for example, a painting holiday in Andalucía might include the expert tutelage of water colour expert, Dawn Oliver. Perhaps it could be award winning artist Robert Dutton, who specialises in pastels and mixed media; professional artist and illustrator Kevin Skully; or the equally inspirational Klaus Hinkel, who has his own art studio and permanent watercolour exhibition in the village of Frigiliana, Málaga.
All art tutors are very patient and instruction is often offered on an informal basis. There will be one art tutor per group who will be with you for the entire holiday. Tutors may also have an assistant who will also be able to offer advice and help where needed.
We recommend chatting to the painting holiday company to find out who will be teaching and when. This allows you to pick a professional tutor who might well specialise in your chosen medium or style. Of course, whoever is providing the artistic instruction you can be assured of a gentle and friendly approach to art. Beginners and experienced painters are welcome, and tutors offer positive and relevant feedback to help each artist to develop and grow at their own pace.
Mary King is a tutor and founder of our Moroccan painting holiday specialists, Vistas Sketching Holidays:“At the end of the holiday I hope that beginners will have gained the confidence to sit outside painting the landscape and the more experienced might have adopted a few new ways of working, or challenged themselves by painting unfamiliar subject matter.”


Before booking your painting holiday, why not take a look at the work of some of the artists who have also sought sanctuary and inspiration by painting outside. Impressionism is common in landscape paintings, as it captures the changing light, movement and weather conditions. From the wild and untamed nature of Scotland's west coast to the striking light and colour contrasts of southern Europe, we've picked a few of our favourite impressionists to get you flowing with ideas.

The work of French impressionist, Claude Monet, is bound to resonate with any artists wishing to paint en plein air. Impression Sunrise, View at Rouelles, Le Havre, and the beautiful Bain à la Grenouillère, are all great examples of Monet's love of light, movement and natural colours. Countryside locations and seascapes in southern Spain and Cyprus are perfect for painters wishing to become wrapped in warm air under a bright blue sky.
Another impressionist who certainly appreciated and understood the value of working outdoors was Camille Pissarro. He extolled the virtues of painting generously without hesitation so as to create a canvas that expressed what he saw, in one fluid movement. Blue skies, scudding clouds, light on water, the earth, the trees; Pissarro wished to paint his first impression, often in one sitting. The Hay Cart, Orchard in Bloom and Landscape at Pontoise are all ideal examples.
There's nowhere quite like Scotland for experiencing four seasons in one day. In fact, the quality of the light on the west coast of Scotland was one of the main contributors to the start of the Scottish Colourists movement. Stylistically similar to the French impressionists, the work of Francis Cadell, John Duncan Fergusson, Leslie Hunter and Samuel Peploe embodies the essence of the west coast islands and beaches, like Iona and the Outer Hebrides. The light was so pure and clear there, that the colours ‘sang’ for them. The Beach Largo at Low Tide (Hunter) and A Rocky Shore, Iona (Peploe), are particularly relevant for any artists contemplating a canvas in Scotland.
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Eddy Klaus] [Painting in the garden: Yale Cohen] [Painter with hat: Ilnur Kalimullin] [Paintbrushes: Alex Mihis] [Claude Monet - Water Lillies: Ed Bierman]