The Painting Workshop 2021

art lesson tete-a-tete

Art Courses in the South West of France, specializing in plein-air painting in the warm southern light.

plus NEW 2021 : Online Courses.  Free ‘Introduction to Painting Materials’ included with every painting holiday.


Because the world is more beautiful when you paint

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Colour & Light

You’re in the South of France. Chances are it’s sunny. Want to get outside and paint? We’ll lend you a sun umbrella!

You will improve your use of colour as a painter if you tune your colours with precision to the unique quality of daylight. This painting course will show exactly how to mix your colours, make colors sing, as well as many other instructions about how to paint ‘en plein air’ on the spot. This art course is for you, if you’re hungry for colour & sunlight.

You can not fully develop your vision by painting in a studio all the time. You must get outside to learn to paint correctly.  – Henry Hensche

But plein-air painting isn’t the whole story of picture-making. If you want, you can paint in the studio, where you can try your hand at portraits, semi-abstracts & still-lives.

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All Painting Mediums

Watercolour, alkyds, oils, acrylics, pen & ink, drawing, photographic, iPad.Also beginner level pastels.

The studio has easels, tables, boards, aprons, sun umbrellas, solvents, etc. so that you can travel light. Being comfortable is important. You will be given help as to how to pack & a comprehensive materials list. The art book library is always popular. Adam’s teaching notes have evolved over the years into a ‘how to paint’ book, so you’ll getprinted hand-outs.

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Trouble-Free Travel

for Alkyds, Oils & Acrylics : We offer the possibility of renting a complete set of paints : alkyds or oils or acrylics. So you can fly light with no luggage worries. Just bring your own brushes & canvas boards.

Quiet Time

Lots of quiet time for you to paint as you wish, free of distractions & worries, supported with one-to-one tuition with the teacher.

Art Lessons

Structured lessons where you can learn the skills of painting. Together in group, in the mornings. Demonstrations, ‘See One, Do One’.

Typical Daily Time Table

8hr – 9hr : Breakfast
9hr – 12hr30 : Art Lesson or Demonstration (with a coffee break)
13hr: Lunch, Siesta
14hr30 – 17hr30 : Tutored painting time (with a tea break)
19hr : Aperitifs & evening meal

Opt in or opt out as you wish, you paint at your own rhythm. The tempo is adapted to your needs. This time table may change with the needs of the group or the weather.

N.B. Unlike our other venues, St.Avit is a self-catering holiday. There’s tea & coffee in the studio but aperitifs aren’t included. Students however often take extra-circuluum drinks together.

Learn from Other Students

The camaraderie & mutual support are fun. There’s a group energy that carries you forward & shows you different solutions.


  • painting lesson outside
  • plein air painting student
  • plein painter outside south of france infront of dordogne house cornfield
  • obessionalartis painting plein air
  • eager painter painting outside
  • painters painting on a painting holiday
  • black white photo art lesson
  • life drawing class
  • art crit session
  • Adam Cope teaching art France
  • plein air painting lesson


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I’ve never painted before. Is The Art Course Right for Me?

The course is absolutely fine for absolute beginners. Just bring along your desire to learn, your paints & your holiday spirit, that’s all. It’s OK to drop your brush on the floor. We’ve all done it many times. Eventually, with practice, you stop dropping your brush & the paintings start to happen. You learn painting by actually painting. So go on, leap in the deep end. Make a fresh start. The act of beginning will open up doors & intriguing paths for you. You have begun; things will happen for you… 

Buy a paint-box, and have a try – Winston Churchill  winston churchil painting




Have a look at these two ‘absolute beginner level’ watercolours after their first painting course:



beginner acrylic painting
‘Neil’s Absinthe’ – Acrylic Painting bu an Absolute Beginner by the End of the Course.


absolute beginner watercolour tree
‘Lime Tree’ – Watercolour by an Absolute Beginner by the End of the Course.


matisse vignette


Matisse on Beginner’s Mind: “The effort to see things without distortion demands a kind of courage; and this courage is essential to the artist, who has to look at everything as though he were seeing it for the first time.”




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Easy to Understand Tuition That Ensures You Make Real Progress

progrees painter before & after art course



I so enjoyed your enthusiastic introduction to painting. I have since joined an art class & been painting testimonial faceon a holiday at my cousin’s holiday home. Really loving this new found pleasure – Thank you! – Helen, Scotland.


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This Was a Real Eye Opener for Me!


‘Château Interior’ – Pen & Ink by Margret.



Painting Workshop student watercolour of rooftops in South of France
‘Rooftops at Beduer’ – Watercolour by Bridget.



painting as a pastime churchill

“Once we start to draw, all of a sudden we begin to see again. Were we so blind? How could we have ignored the beauty, the intricacies of these ‘simplest things,’ the convoluted network of veins in an oak leaf, the graceful curve of the clover’s stem, the starry splendor of humble dandelion, the voluptuous curves of a green pepper? . . . It is more than drawing pictures: it is a meditation-in-action on That Which Matters, a veritable breakthrough, an awakening from the years of non-seeing, from the coma of looking-at to firsthand seeing. It is as if the innocent eye of childhood is reawakened through the unjaded eye of the artist… The moment the eye opens up, all becomes equally fascinating, equally inspiring, equally pregnant with meaning.” – Frederick Franck. Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing: Meditation in Action




Artist’s hands sketching, exploring & carefully observing. Note the slow & precise care & sensitivity of this artist. Drawing whilst traveling is a wonderful voyage of discovery. After having spent even ten minutes drawing, you get to know the subject in a way that casually walking past in ‘tourist mode’ & snapping it with a camera can’t give.

When you paint…

You start seeing, your perception changes

And the world becomes more beautiful in your eyes

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I Want to Learn the Basic Skills of Painting

In the structured lessons, you will learn or relearn the basic skills of painting. These are practical, hands-on and where you experiment with the core components of painting:
*    Learn how to look in a way that will help you paint
*    Drawing
*    Tonality
*    Colour
*    Composition
*    Materials & Basic Techniques
*    How to paint ‘en plein air’ & sketch on the spot

I’ve observed that I begin to truly understand when I learn it in more than one way. We are all just (re)learning the basics. Then occasionally, something new comes up. Go over it again with a new teacher. Don’t be in a rush. Deepen. Explore. Discover.

[button color=”white” size=”medium” align=”center” link=””]Quotes About Learning to Paint[/button]


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I’ve been Painting Many Years. Is this an Advanced Level Painting Workshop?

YES. And it’s flexible to your personal style & learning needs. You will:

*    Have uncluttered time to focus on your own personal practice.
*    Be given help & suggestions with the practicalities & techniques.
*    Dialogue with a practicing mid-career painter, who will encourage the development of your personal style.
*    Make your next step. This can be difficult without support. When artists work in a different place & context, there’s often a flourish of creativity which follows as a response to this new input. The workshop hopes to give you that extra boost.



It’s funny how you can keep being told something abstract for years and not fully hear it until something testimonial faceconnects it to your own work and goals. Today I connected with the information better than ever before because of things you said to me during our workshop.   – Juliette, USA



Workshop Student oil Painting
‘Path at Beduer’ – Oil by Janetta.




'Evening Shadows' Pastel by Eleanor
‘Evening Shadows’ – Pastel by Eleanor.


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Would I Hang this Painting on my Wall?


Adam Cope 2016 with text

Adam’s Big Speech: “The question I ask myself is : ‘Would I hang this on my wall?’ Asking this is very helpful in getting to the core of where to you to go with your painting.

And the answer I found for myself is that painting is more than copying what you see.

It’s about painting itself, the history of painting and the visual language of painting. Painters… like painting. The craft of painting. The actual physical materials themselves : paint, pigments and canvas.

It’s about what I find beautiful. Personally, I love colour & light.

It’s about how we experience perceptions. I mean, they start off in the body via the eye ball, but quickly go to the head, where they meet our ideas about how things should be. You can’t take the artist out of the artwork. You’re part of the painting. Your response to the subject matter is inevitably part of the picture, so I understand less & less what ‘copying’ actually means. And it’s no bad thing to have a human response, in an era when we increasing let machines &  photos do our seeing for us.

Ask yourself, ‘Is copying really the number one reason I want to paint?’ Yes I want to capture a likeness. Looking deeply at the subject matter will give your painting an integrity. But there’s a risk of being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of small details. Unable to see the bigger picture. A lot of what is called ‘copying’ doesn’t get to the truth of the subject. Picasso said that art is the lie that tells the truth. Art is illusion. So you’ve got learn the tools of this conjuror’s trade.

We’ve all got different ideas about what a good painting is. We have to find out what it is that we are passionate about. What & how we want to paint. Your answers will be different from my answers.”


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Our Creative Origins

On the St Avit course, we offer the possibility to visit a Prehistoric Painted Cave. To see these sanctuaries is a moving experience for artists. It will enlarge your understanding of ‘art’ & humanity. Adam will give a presentation on Prehistoric Art & Origins.

bison préhistorique, font de gaume

We cannot get to the soul of the image without love for the image.  – James Hillman.


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 Where would you like to paint?


french abbey vignetteIn a medieval Abbey?
vignette chateau france In a wine castle in the Dordogne?
 vignette Rousiilion les ocres paysageOr, maybe, in an old stone farmhouse in Provence?