Painting à la Française

Nestled in rolling French farmland fifteen miles east of Toulouse, Olivier Art is an art course that cannot fail to inspire. In a seventeenth century farmhouse with views of the Pyrenees and Montaigne Noir, beginners and experts alike are invited to draw, sketch and paint, individually nurtured by reputable and professional tutors who can bring out the artist in everyone.

English artist, Hermione Owen, and her husband William, have restored this delightful, rambling farmhouse, where aspiring artists and friends enjoy a restful and challenging time.

The course is broken up into three workshops taught by three different tutors, each of whom have exhibited their work all over Britain and taught across the globe. Students will work both inside the studio and the great outdoors. They will be taught to explore use of composition, light, colour and tone and experiment with different materials, including watercolours, oils, charcoal, pencil, guache, acrylics, pastels and chalk. But whether painting is a potential new hobby or an already established and burning passion, the course is designed to inspire creativity on all levels and is about having fun with art while enjoying ‘la joie de vivre en France.’

And if your husband, wife, lover or friend is more into relaxation than painting, they won’t be left tearing their hair out. There is a swimming pool at the house, where sleeping, reading and sunbathing are actively encouraged, and a local masseuse on permanent standby to send you into a soporific stupor. For the more actively inclined, you can walk in the surrounding countryside, play golf, tennis or ride nearby and then fatten up with gourmet French food cooked by local chef Jannick Hervouet.

You’ll have the opportunity to visit the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in nearby Albi.  The museum is housed in a former Bishop’s Palace in the imposing 13th c fortress Le Palais de la Berbie.  The collection consists of over 1,000 works by Lautrec donated by his mother after his death in 1901.  This is a great afternoon out if you’re needing a break from painting.

But be quick or you’ll miss the boat – the courses are already filling up for 2014!

– Lucinda Baring


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