Our pick of the best autumn breaks for brushing up on your creative skills.
1. Sketching in Norway
Autumn landscapes and the chance to see the Northern Lights offer plenty of artistic inspiration on an itinerary with painting specialist Art Safari. Based on a waterfront farmstead on Kvaloya island, in northern Norway, guests are accompanied by tutor Karen Pearson, who supervises sketching walks and excursions, with a visit to the Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden in Tromso, a 50-minute drive away, and a cable car ride up Mount Storsteinen for sweeping views of fjords, islands and mountain ranges.
Autumn Aurora from £1,165 for five nights including most meals and transfers. Excludes flights. September 26 2019. Art Safari (artsafari.co.uk).
2. Art & language in Provence
Brushing up two skills simultaneously works well on a fortnight’s course combining half-day language lessons with afternoon art classes in the flower-filled town of Aix-en-Provence in southern France. Focusing on oils and charcoals, art sessions are in French and are suitable for beginners through to more experienced artists with a reasonable grasp of the language. Accommodation is arranged locally, usually with host families.
French and Painting in Aix-en-Provence from £1,067 (course only). Accommodation from €368 (£339) self-catering for 14 nights. Excludes travel and booking fee (€60). September 16 and 30; October 14 and 28 2019. Cesa Languages (cesalanguages.com).
3. Pen and wash in Oxfordshire
Previous artistic experience isn’t necessary on a course offered by the Women’s Institute (WI) at Denman, a Grade II listed Georgian house near Abingdon. Being female or a WI member is not necessary either (although non-members pay a supplement). Autumnal art courses, including a pen and watercolour residential option taught by artist Jonathan Newey, specifically focus on trees, skies and landscape.
Watercolour Pencils: Pen and Wash Sketching from £360 (WI member); £400 (non-member) for two nights including all meals and rail station transfers. September 16 2019. Denman (denman.org.uk).
4. Botanical art in Snowdonia
Overlooking the Dwyryd river valley and surrounded by some of the UK’s most spectacular scenery, Plas Tan y Bwlch – the Snowdonia National Park Environmental Studies Centre – has no shortage of artistic subject matter to draw upon. This 27-bedroom mansion runs a wide-ranging series of art courses, including an autumn residential option that focuses on botanical drawing, learning to create detailed studies of flora and fauna.
Botanical Art: Changing Seasons – Summer into Autumn from £254 for two nights including meals. Excludes travel. September 6 2019. Plas Tan y Bwlch – Snowdonia National Park Environmental Studies Centre (snowdonia.gov.wales/study-centre).
5. Art & walking in Crete
Four half days of painting are combined with daily morning walks of up to three hours’ duration on an autumn itinerary organised by Sunvil. Participants will be based in the hamlet of Nopigia on the northwest coast of Crete. Staying in the Cormoranos Hotel Apartments, with pool, near a pebble beach and tavernas, there’s also an outing to the local museum at Kissamos and free time for visiting Chania or taking a boat trips to Balos beach.
Active Walking and Painting Holiday from £1,293 B&B for seven nights, including flights, transfers and one dinner. September 17 2019. Sunvil (sunvil.co.uk).
6. Watercolours in Tuscany
Individual tuition alongside group workshops feature on a week-long painting itinerary at The Watermill at Posara in the Tuscan region of Lunigiana. Supervised by artist Charles Sluga, participants are provided with portable chairs and drawing boards for excursions to the nearby walled town of Fivizzano, with its medieval castle at Verrucola, and the ancient cloisters of the local Convento dei Carmine monastery. Food is also a focus, with particular emphasis on regional specialities.
Watercolours, acrylics and oils from £1,640 for seven nights including all meals and transfers. Excludes flights. September 28 2019. The Watermill at Posara (watermill.net).
7. Japanese art in West Sussex
Usually depicting flowers, plants or birds, the ancient art of Sumi-e (Japanese brush painting) is also a form of spiritual meditation conveying harmony and tranquillity. Tutor Takumasa Ono introduces the essential tools or “four treasures” (paper, brush, ink stick and ink stone) at West Dean College near Chichester, teaching the techniques through hands-on exercises. Residential accommodation is available in the main house or the adjacent Old Vicarage on-site.
Sumi-e Japanese ink painting from £280 for two days (course only). Standard room from £127 half board for two nights. Excludes travel. October 29 2019. West Dean College (westdean.org.uk).
8. Portraits in Suffolk
The childhood home of landscape artist John Constable, Flatford Mill near Dedham is a study centre offering more than 120 natural history and arts courses. This autumn, tutor Janie Pirie unravels the art of drawing a portrait from a photograph using high-quality coloured pencils, with a focus on skin tones and facial details. Accommodation is in 26 bedrooms (some en suite) across a cluster of buildings, with meals served in the Mill’s large, communal dining room.
Portrait Painting using Coloured Pencils from £220 for two nights including all meals. Excludes travel. October 23 2019. Field Studies Council (field-studies-council.org).
9. Art excursions in Sicily
Composition and perspective are among the artistic techniques explored on a creative autumn week with special interest operator Flavours Holidays. In a peaceful villa surrounded by almond and olive groves in the south-east of the island, tuition is combined with relaxation by the pool and sociable meal times. Excursions include trips to the towns of Siracusa and Modica, and also Ragusa for a sketching session in its public garden, Giardino Ibleo.
Painting Holidays in Sicily from £1,599 for seven nights including all meals and transfers. Excludes flights. October 6 2019. Flavours Holidays (flavoursholidays.co.uk).
10. Oils on the Isle of Wight
New to the diverse programme of art and craft itineraries offered by HF Holidays is a short break focusing on the technique of layering wet oil on top of wet oil, without waiting for each layer to dry. Tutor and professional artist Sophia Flowers demonstrates how to create vibrant and colourful artworks to groups of up to 10 people. The course runs at 48-room Freshwater Bay House, overlooking the sea on the island’s west coast, near the harbour town of Yarmouth and close to the Needles.
Wet-on-Wet Oil Painting in the Isle of Wight from £409 for four nights including all meals. Excludes travel. October 21 2019. HF Holidays (hfholidays.co.uk).
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