Watercolour moments: Painting holidays

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Will Tate Britain's new exhibition inspire you to pick up a paintbrush on your next holiday? Rhiannon Batten sketches out the creative options

We say

There are few things more restful than an artistic break. Whether you're learning to capture a landscape in watercolours, seeing a new destination from behind a lens or getting tangled up on a willow-weaving course, allowing yourself time to focus on a new skill is an enormously liberating way of disengaging from the anxieties of daily life. You might even discover a new talent. Creative holidays compel you to consider your surroundings, rather than just pass through, and will help you engage with your location. Just don't forget your paintbrush.

They say

"Before the advent of photography, watercolour was used primarily for recording eye-witness accounts. Artists used watercolour because it was so versatile and portable." - Tate Britain

"I'll paint what I see – what the flower is to me – but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it. I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers." - Georgia O'Keefe

"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary." - Pablo Picasso

Painting for the petrified

Frui's aptly named five-day breaks do just what the company promises: they take nervous beginners and give them the confidence to return home firm friends with a paintbrush or pencil.

Based in Abruzzo, the so-called "garden of Italy", the holidays offer plenty of local inspiration, including the Majella National Park, Lake Bomba and the Adriatic coast. The ethos here is one of relaxed education. While participants spend time brushing up on a variety of painting, drawing and mixed-media techniques, there's also a chance to tuck into local delicacies, hit the shops or go for a swim.

Trips cost from £899 per person, including transfers, accommodation, tuition, guiding and meals. Flights are not included (020 7241 5006; www.frui.co.uk).

An urban photography safari

Gone are the days when photography holidays meant seeking out Athena poster images of palm-draped beaches or fluorescent cocktails backlit by a golden sunset. On Creative Escapes' five-day photography tours of Istanbul, you're not going to end up with hackneyed shots of the Blue Mosque or the Hagia Sophia. Instead, the company's ultra-contemporary trips focus on giving a thorough understanding of cameras and creative techniques by homing in on some of the city's coolest spots.

Trips cost from £875 per person, including tuition, materials, four nights' boutique hotel accommodation, breakfasts, lunches and transfers. Flights are not included (020 7111 1293; www.creative-escapes.co.uk).

Meet a maker

It can be easy to dismiss craft as lying in the realm of macramé plant pots or patchwork pin cushions. However, as jeweller Gilly Langton proves, high-end contemporary craft can be extraordinary. Known for her architectural, nautically-inspired pieces, Gilly runs weekend courses for would-be jewellery-makers of all levels in Plockton, on the north-west coast of Scotland.

Participants pay £98 for two days of tuition with materials and lunch included; for those who want to create something special, silver can be bought on demand (01599 544755; www.gillylangton.co.uk). For accommodation, try the family-run Plockton Inn, with a renowned seafood restaurant (01599 544222; www.plocktoninn.co.uk). Doubles start at £78, including breakfast.

Cottages for creatives

As the artists' colonies of St Ives and Newlyn prove, the quality of light has been drawing creative people to Cornwall for generations. If you're hoping inspiration might strike while you're there, make sure you stay at Hale Cottages, a series of three self-catering properties at St Kew on the north Cornwall coast. Their owner, Jon Whitten, is an artist and potter, and between November and April guests can take advantage of complimentary life drawing, still-life painting or pottery lessons in Jon's purpose-built barn studio. Rates for Pottery Cottage, which sleeps four, start at £271 for three nights (01326 555 555; www.classic.co.uk).

Trigger-happy France

With Allen Ginsberg and The Beatles among his subjects, Andrew Whittuck knows his stuff when it comes to portrait photography. Equally experienced at shooting landscapes, he now runs small-group photography courses from his house in the Corbières mountains of Languedoc-Rousillon. With days spent learning technique at all manner of Languedoc locations from Carcassonne to canals, the evenings involve sitting down to relaxed home-cooked meals and wines from local vineyards. Four-day trips cost from £525 per person, including accommodation, tuition and most meals; flights are not included (00 33 468 272 112; www.photoholidaysfrance.co.uk).

Food and fine art

Starting in March, GoLearnTo's new "Food of Art" food illustration courses are based in a stylish guesthouse in Andalucia. Aimed at artistic gourmets, the courses make the most of the guesthouse's peaceful farmland setting, and include trips to local markets. Students learn how to cut and display food to maximise the creative potential of their form and how to plan a design strategy for either watercolour or photography. Colour, composition and technique are all covered.

The price of £658 per person for five nights includes all accommodation, meals, wine, daily tuition and materials but not flights (0844 502 0445; golearnto.com).

What Google will tell you

"All our tutors are professional painters, working in a range of media. This year we welcome several new artists to our team [including] David Paskett – president of the Royal Watercolour Society. For David the act of looking and seeing is more important than the accumulation of painters' tricks. David believes it is never too late to start painting and drawing and encourages people to have a go: 'When you create, you have to risk being bad.'" www.authenticadventures.co.uk

What Google won't tell you... until now

"Painting holidays are not only about painting, but about being transported into a world of different people, new adventures and alternative ways of looking at what is in front of you, be that a landscape or a coffee pot. It is about being in a wonderful bubble of seeing life through other people's eyes and about being stretched creatively," says painter Hazel Campbell.

Hazel runs painting holidays in south-west Scotland ( www.hazelcampbell.com) and also participates in May's Spring Fling ( www.spring-fling.co.uk) open studio event in Scotland.

Watercolours opens at Tate Britain today ( www.tate.org.uk).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition