Benvenuti in Italia!
The Tuscany Plein-Air Intensive is a week-long immersion in landscape painting with British artist Julian Merrow-Smith of Postcard from Provence, and American painter Julia Ingersoll, a longtime former resident of Tuscany.
The week is all about painting – doing, talking, living, and breathing it together– immersed in the sublime landscape and light of Tuscany. Enjoy a rich experience of living the painter's life in legendary Italy – a birthplace of open-air painting.
You will be embraced into the best of authentic Tuscan culture and welcomed like family on our fabulous, rustic-chic farm-estate. The whole property and excellent staff is reserved exclusively for us. Not to mention gourmet, farm-to-table cooking at every meal, excellent regional wines, and wonderful Italian hosts taking care of every little thing with grace, passion, and joy – Viva!
Set deep in the magnificent Val d’Orcia countryside with mesmerizing views in every direction, the historic property is a painter’s paradise. The landscape here in its entirety is recognized by UNESCO as a world-heritage monument. The hand of man has worked in harmony with nature for millennia, creating a visual masterpiece, which we can recognize as nearly unchanged from the scenes forming the backdrops of Italian Renaissance painting. The nearby town, Pienza, is known as “the Jewel of the Renaissance.” Sublime vistas, old stone architecture, gardens, olive groves, lovely people, pool, animals, and vast skies await, all bathed in the perennial, magical light of Italy.
The charming atmosphere and comfortable beauty of podere make it an ideal setting to relax and draw on your creative energy.
You will do a lot of painting outdoors, alongside Julian and Julia, in groups or on your own. Your fitness levels should allow you to spend between two and four hours a session painting outside in variable weather. The workshop is best suited to painters with some experience – those who wish to broaden their scope and learn by example, or to experience the rigors of plein-air painting for the first time.
The atmosphere of the workshop is warm, supportive, constructive and relaxed. You are welcome to work as hard as you like, or to take time off when you desire.
We will be concentrating on small-scale paintings, directly from observation. Be prepared to be inspired, work a lot, laugh, and enjoy great camaraderie with a friendly band of hardworking students and painters.
There is much to paint right on our doorstep, so travel time will be kept to a minimum. We will also take a few outings to paint in special locations in the nearby area, such as a timeless hilltop village, an ancient abbey lost among vines, wheat and olive trees, and an afternoon at a special Brunello wine-estate in Montalcino, owned and run by an eclectic artist.
A Typical Day
After a bountiful, farm breakfast featuring frittatas, homemade pastries, breads, local cheeses, fruits, and perfect cappuccinos, we will gather our materials and head off to work.
During the first part of the morning Julian will usually give a short plein air demonstration and this will be followed with individual help and instruction. Julia will also teach, offering individualized instruction and demonstration during the day.
We will break for a delicious lunch around 1pm – usually a sit-down meal at the farmhouse, or occasionally an on-site picnic. This can be followed by a short break or a siesta if you need to recuperate.
There will be a further three to four hour session in the afternoon before gathering in early evening over an aperitivo of wine and local specialities, for an informal critique and review of the day's work. This is a relaxing and insightful occasion, and always generates productive conversation about the work, as well as renewed motivation for the following day! Later we will all sit down for a wonderful four-course, farm-to-table dinner prepared by chef Gianni, served with excellent wines from some of our host Alessandro's favorite vineyards.
Accommodations – Our Digs
Our country estate is rustic, comfortable, and very beautiful, and features a pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and excellent massages in their spa, in the midst of authentic Tuscan splendor. Professional kitchen with excellent dining. It is run by the owners, our host, my friend Alessandro Capitoni, and his excellent team including Fabrizio, Massimo, and chef Gianni, who all add unforgettable charm to the experience. Lovely rooms, all with private bathrooms, and a breathtaking setting immersed in the classic Val d'Orcia countryside. The farmstead has become a very sought-after address!
•Inclusive workshop price is $3,495* •Non-painting friends price: $2,100
Price includes: Course tuition with Julian Merrow-Smith and Julia Ingersoll • 7 nights accommodation (lovely room with private bathroom) • All sumptuous meals**: breakfast, lunch, and dinner with excellent wines • Aperitivo each evening with local specialities • Morning yoga with Julia • Tasting at NostraVita Brunello winery in Montalcino • Transportation to/from painting locations • Scheduled group transfer from Florence or Chiusi-Chianciano train station on start/end day.
A $500 deposit is due upon registration to hold your place, with the remaining balance due 90 day before start of the course. * Prices are for shared occupancy. Limited single rooms are available on request with a $450 supplement . **Special dietary restrictions can be accommodated
Julian Merrow-Smith's workshops are very popular and fill quickly. It is recommended to reserve your space by placing your deposit for registration early.
Enrollment for painters is limited to ensure lots of individual attention, and will be given on a first-come/first-served basis.
Non-painting friends and partners are most welcome to join, and will have a fabulous time. Our location is perfect for exploring the surrounding towns both famous and secret, thermal spas, walking paths, and other magical sites, by rental car or bicycle. We can suggest itineraries and bike rentals. Slow down and savor like a local.