Whether you’re a complete beginner, or an experienced artist, a painting break will open your eyes, and supply inspiration from our island’s wealth of spectacular scenery.

With our lifestyles having had an enforced change of pace over the past year, many people have found themselves discovering, or re-discovering their creative side. For some this may even lead to a permanent change of direction, but whether you feel the calling of a new, more creative career, or are looking for a rewarding hobby, it can be hard to find the time and space that creativity needs to flourish when the concerns of day to day life start creeping back in..

A holiday which combines a visit to a stunning part of the UK with expert artistic guidance is the perfect way to ensure that your muse doesn’t get neglected – while giving you a relaxing break in the company of like-minded people. There are a great range of courses and locations out there – all offering the opportunity to develop your artistic style in truly extraordinary environments. 

Whitehouse Studio

Set on the west coast of Argyll, amongst spectacular beaches and rock formations, courses at the Whitehouse Studio encourage students to take inspiration from the magnificent changing landscape throughout the seasons – scenery which has inspired famous groups of artists such as the Glasgow Boys and Glasgow Girls

Founder of Whitehouse, Karen Beauchamp, welcomes students of all levels, “I always take the students along a path which covers the basic rudiments of shape, form, tone and colour – even experienced artists often like to reset their appreciation of these fundamental principles. I especially enjoy teaching beginners – as a self-taught artist myself, I know how the journey feels and can tailor the tasks to help them on their own journey.”

Accommodation is in Glenreasdale House – a light and airy arts and crafts style house, which is part of a hunting lodge built in 1905 by a whisky entrepreneur. The rooms are large and comfortable – with Karen having used her previous experience as an architect and interior specialist to decorate in an eclectic style. The rooms overlook either the loch and the Kilberry peninsula, or the walled garden, and the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, “Everyone congregates in the kitchen or the south west facing sitting room by the log fire,” says Karen. whitehouseart.co.uk 

Callington School of Art

Tessa Sulston and her husband Peter moved to Cornwall in 2006 and founded the Callington School of Art. Located in the Tamar Valley, the school is within easy reach of Bodmin Moor,  Dartmoor, and both the north and south coasts of Cornwall, and accommodation is provided in Tessa and Peter’s spacious Georgian townhouse. 

The school mainly runs six day courses, which Tessa believes enables students to become immersed in their art. “We supply a wide variety of materials so artists can experiment with different media. 

There is a structured element to all courses but an important part of our philosophy is that each artist, with guidance, follows their own path.”

This philosophy works, as guests will testify – one student, Mileva Novkovic, has returned seven times: “Tessa and Peter look after guests really well. Tessa provides invaluable art tuition – she’s a talented artist and an experienced teacher. Peter is a great chef and delights guests with his beautifully cooked and presented dishes, taking into account the whole range of dietary needs.”

“These holidays are about art and fine food in an authentic Cornish setting, run by people who really do know their stuff and make it all such fun. There’s always an element of surprise because at first you don’t know the other guests but it’s fascinating to meet new people and see what inspires their work.” callingtonartschool.com

Big Sky Art

Big Sky Art, on the stunning North Norfolk coast, offers painting courses in a range of mediums led by well-known artists, and the accommodation is in a luxurious country house. Non painting partners are welcome too – so while you receive expert tuition, your other half can explore the nearby harbours and beaches, shop in Burnham Market, or visit RSPB Titchwell Marsh. 

The location is ideal for painting seascapes in the open air. Regular tutor at Big Sky and watercolour artist, Jem Bowden, loves the area, “There are superb painting locations – picturesque small harbours, creeks and inland village scenery all of a type that is full of character and unspoiled by time. People who enjoy coastal scenes, boaty things and water – and of course big open skies will be in their element.”

As the co-ordinator of Big Sky Art, Janie Preece, and recent student, Liz Monk, testify – time to focus on your art alongside fellow enthusiasts complements the scenery perfectly. “It’s so lovely to be able to concentrate on what you want to do,” says Janie, “it’s also a wonderful opportunity to relax, to be looked after, well fed and comfortably accommodated.” 

“I can’t choose one favourite thing”, adds Liz, “the facilities, the catering, the studio, the plein air locations, the guests, the staff and our tutor all combined to provide an unforgettable painting and learning experience. The company, the conversations and the laughs we had during our painting sessions and over dinner provided the icing on the cake.” bigskyartcourses.com

The Lake District School of Art

The Lake District is famous for inspiring artists and poets, and local artist Colin Halliday is passionate about sharing his skills, and knowledge of the region, with visiting students. “I’m from Cumbria originally, so I know the area very well, and we take students to some spectacular locations.” Colin’s speciality is working in oils with a palette knife, “We work with only eight colours and I show students how they can mix any colour they need. They learn to look and see colour and understand it better – to see them get better at it over the days is wonderful.”

Guests stay in Keswick, but travel around the surrounding area to paint in a variety of dramatic outdoor locations. Lucy Wickens studied with Colin last year, “The accommodation and hospitality were excellent – a gorgeous, spacious house, perfect to accommodate the painting group, and the location of central Keswick was perfect. Colin was an exceptional tutor and I’ve taken a huge amount from working with him.” artpaintingholidays.co.uk

St Ives School of Painting 

The St Ives School of Painting was established in 1938 by painter Leonard Fuller, and the school have been running art classes from the same studios overlooking Porthmeor Beach ever since.

St Ives is an iconic destination for artists and art lovers, with a wealth of art to look at, as well as coastal scenery to inspire. Tutors at the school are all experienced practising artists, and the studios are the very same spaces where famous residents of St Ives, such as Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth once came to life drawing classes.  

The school offers a huge range of courses, though accommodation is not provided, so visitors need to find their own – there are plenty of options in bustling St Ives. schoolofpainting.co.uk

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Renoir Walk

This new art trail in Guernsey lets you follow in the footsteps of the famous French impressionist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir – showcasing how the island inspired some of the artist’s greatest works. 

Located in the Moulin Huet valley on the island’s south coast, the Renoir Walk is a short, self-guided trail that takes visitors to locations where Renoir painted during a summer holiday in 1883. 

The famous Impressionist spent just over a month on Guernsey and created 15 paintings during his stay, the majority of which depict views of Moulin Huet bay and beach, and which are considered to be among his best pieces of work.  

The Renoir Walk follows his footsteps around the bay and is marked by five empty picture frames, which are placed in the exact spots where Renoir worked on his own paintings. The frames – especially commissioned to echo the ornate frames Renoir chose for his own artworks – allow viewers to see Moulin Huet from the same perspectives as the Frenchman did.  Next to each frame, a panel offers further information plus a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to play an audio guide by Mr Cyrille Sciama, Director of the Musée des Impressionnismes in Giverny and a world authority on Renoir. A PDF guide is also available to download at artforguernsey.com/renoir. Or visit visitguernsey.com