Towering pillars of rock, sculptured and splintered into surreal monolithic columns… jagged ridges thrusting high into the clouds above serene, fertile valleys… Alpine meadows alive with the sound of cowbells…Sleepy villages, ablaze with flowers.
A landscape and culture like no other; the perfect setting for your sketching/painting holiday in Italy…
IntroductionHeads in the CloudsFields of GoldYour sketching dayAre these holidays for me?How to book
Italy-intro - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

Just a short flight from the UK can bring you into an unforgettable world, a million dream-miles away. In the north of Italy, rubbing shoulders with Austria and with characteristics of both, lies the glorious mountain region known as the Dolomites. Nestled in the midst of all this splendour is Alta Badia, a collection of valleys and soaring rocky peaks which maintains its own unique culture and language. The Ladin people proudly inhabit this much fought-over area and the peaceful serenity which now reigns does much to conceal its turbulent past; the region is scattered with worlld war 1 trenches, tunnels and memorials, drawing visitors interested in its history.

Deep-in-concentration - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

Most of the Dolomites area is a UNESCO world heritage site and with good reason. Apart from the native wildlife (which includes ibex, chamoix and moufflon – even brown bear – along with the endearing, iconic marmot) and profusion of flower meadows protecting many rare species, the landscape is like nowhere else on Earth. Geographically forming the southern end of the Alps, the mountains here are quite different both geologically and in appearance; although they are somewhat lower in height their shapes are at once more striking and unique.

This ‘other-worldly’ landscape lies somewhere between ‘The Sound of Music’ and a fantasy 70’s album cover and when you first feast your eyes on these incredible peaks you will pinch yourself to check you’re not dreaming. Yet it is very real, as thousands of visitors from all over the world can testify, and for all its mind-blowing grandeur and apparent remoteness, the area is actually quite accessible, with connections from major airports and an excellent tourist infrastructure within the valleys.

I offer two Painting Holidays to Alta Badia, which can be taken together as a satisfyingly extensive introduction to the area’s delights, or individually to suit your personal needs. The Dolomites are a virtually infinite source of creative stimulation for the lanscape artist, thus the two itineraries are distinctly different, yet equally inspiring. Suitable for total beginners or professional artists alike, non-painting partners with an interest in photography, walking or flowers will find plenty to amuse them .As the cost of these trips is based on the daytime painting activities only, a non-painting partner who is not accompanying you on days out incurs no charge.

If you have any questions about which of the two itineraries is best for you, on combining the itineraries together or extending your time here, then please ask. I can also advise on walking routes in the Alta Badia area.

Heads-in-the-Clouds - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
  • Months: Last Sunday in June
  • Next Trips: June 24th 2018
  • Duration: 7 nights, Alta Badia
  • Min/max number participants: 4/8
  • Price: £495 Special offer: Book this trip together with “Fields of Colour” and save £200 off combined price

'Jimmy's-Hut' - Sketching & Painting Holidays in ItalyOur heads will truly be in the clouds along with those of the highest mountains on this full itinerary. Aiming to maximise every opportunity for sketching, painting and becoming immersed in the incredible Dolomitic Alpine scenery and choosing a varied selection of scenes from an almost limitless range, we visit a perfect new spot each day, easily filling our sketchbooks with startling and evocative images. There will also be opportunities to produce some more finished’ paintings.

On this programme we incorporate a fair amount of walking, as I believe that if you are able, a visit to this region without a thorough exploration would be a shame, and thus it will appeal to those trying to decide between a painting holiday and something more active. Our walking brings us to otherwise inaccessible painting spots and despite the ‘seriousness’ of the high Alpine ridges, there is an extremely well-maintained network of paths of all difficulties which can be managed by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. On several days our walking will include fairly short but steep uphill or downhill sections, some of which can’t be avoided. While it is not a ‘walking holiday’, those uncomfortable with uneven terrain or steep inclines should consider the following programme, ‘Fields of Gold’, where there is less exertion involved.

Highlights:

Gondolas and ski lifts to some of the most breathtaking views in Europe; Incredible rock pinnacles and towers of the Sella massif; the tranquility of Longieru; hot chocolate and apple strudel in the refugios and a walk along the beautiful Eidelweiss terrace.

A detailed daily itinerary is available for this trip; please ask.

Setsas-on-the-Pralongia-plateau - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

  • Day1: Views of Corvara and Colfosco. Easy walks, great sketching, a short gondola ascent and the option of a steep decsent on foot at the end of the day.
  • Day 2: A leisurely day around the spectaclular Capana Alpina with about an hour’s walking
  • Day 3: A moderate 3-4 hour walk along the beautiful ‘Edelwiess terrace’ with plenty of stops for sketching in truly stunning surroundings
  • Day 4: An easy uphill walk of about 30 minutes from the sleepy Alpine village of Longiaru
  • Day 5: A fairly energetic walking day taking in Lago Boe and the ‘Pinnacles’. The walking can be shortened or lengthened to suit the group. Spectacular sketching!
  • Day 6: Amazing views from the Sella Pass and ‘City of Rocks’. Lots of non-strenuous wandering amongst the jumbled rocks and tree roots. Something really different!
  • Day 7: Ski lift to ‘La Crusc’ with optional long walk back down. Stunning views and haunting silence near the top of the Fanes massif with a very sketchable little chapel.

On the final evening we will have a farewell drink and pizza in Corvara, where we will look back over everything we’ve achieved during our busy week and celebrate this incredible place.

The price for this trip includes:

All tuition and guidance as indicated in the itinerary; Art Packs; a packed lunch each day; bus fares each day as per itinerary; 3 gondola/ski lifts; coffee and strudel on day 1; farewell dinner on final night (pizza and special cocktail)

The price does NOT include:

Transport to/from resort; accommodation; meals other than where stated; drinks and snacks other than as stated; bus fares to/from daily meeting point if staying in a different resort; optional gondola/chair lift rides other than those central to stated itinerary; any other optional excursions taken in place of organised sketching days.

Fields-of-Gold - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
  • Months: First Monday after July 1st
  • Next Trips: July 2nd 2018
  • Duration: 7 nights, Alta Badia
  • Min/max number of participants: 4/8
  • Price: £550 Book this week together with ‘Heads in the Clouds’ and save £200 per person

Beneath the stark cliff faces, towers and spires, where wispy waterfalls plunge down through dark forests, lies a brilliant green blanket of rolling Alpine pasture which, in June and July, becomes a riotous profusion of wild flowers. These uncut meadows, bursting with colour, conjure memories of childhood; tall grasses brush legs as the clean, fresh air is filled with the buzz of summer. Rare species abound in a kaleidoscope of shades: campanulas and lillies sway in the gentle breeze while brilliant pink daphne smothers the rocks; gentians and edelweiss nestle in the grass while rare orchids hide in the woods. Bright blue endemic “Lord of the Alps” can still be found clinging to crevices high on lofty mountain tops, a joyous surprise for the adventurous climber.

This area is a botanist’s and photographer’s dream, and Heaven for painters.

Perfect-sketching-spot - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

While in the region it’s impossible to ignore this incredible display of nature and during both weeks we’ll be painting flowers along with the mountains and other features. This week, however, we’ll focus extensively on the meadows and plants as part of the landscape; we’ll produce some larger paintings and the sketchbook, while still useful, will stay further in the background.

Highlights:

Incomparable Alpine meadows in full bloom; exquisite tangle of roots and flowers amongst the rocks at the Sella Pass; rustic wooden barns; window boxes choked with geraniums and a mirror-calm, icy mountain lake.

Please ask for a detailed daily itinerary for this trip

  • Day 1: An easy 20 minute stroll to a lovely spot in the meadows beneath a wispy waterfall
  • Day 2: A day exploring La Villa and some enchanting old barns
  • Day 3: Gondola up onto the Pralongia plateau for stunning views and superb meadows with easy walking tracks and a lovely ‘refugio’
  • Day 4: A wonderful and unusual day at a boulderfield full of stunted trees, twisted roots and bright pink daphne
  • Day 5: A visit to a mirror-calm, icy mountain lake with a pretty 30 minute walk each way
  • Day 6: A short, steep walk to a truly stunning spot with incredible pinnacles all around
  • Day 7: An easy day painting window boxes, barns and meadows with free time in Corvara.

In the evening we’ll get together for a farewell drink and pizza and a review of all the work we’ve produced, a fitting finale to an enjoyable and informative week.

The price for this holiday includes:

Expert tuition/guidance each day; Art Pack; daily transport by bus and/or ski lift as stated in the itinerary; 4 packed lunches; refreshments on Days 1, 3 and 5; farewell drink and pizza on final night

The price does NOT include:

Transport to/from the Dolomites, and transport to/from Corvara on a daily basis if staying in a different village; taxis or extra ski lifts taken as an optional alternative to routes on itinerary; accommodation, breakfast and dinners except on final evening; extra drinks and snacks and any optional activities or excursions not mentioned on the itinerary.

Due to the overwhelming choice and differing qualities of accommodation in the Alta Badia area and the speed with which it sells out, I have not included any accommodation on the Italy trips. This gives you flexibility over location, type and price as well as allowing for extending your holiday and bringing along non-painting partners at no charge.

Your-day-Sketching - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
As we are not all staying in the same accommodation, and possibly not in the same village, we will meet each morning at a specific time in Corvara which is the main transport hub; buses from here go to all the places we plan to visit. Usually we’ll meet around 9.30am.

On many days we’ll be taking a packed lunch, for flexibility and to maximise time spent sketching. Each carrying our own materials and refrshments we’ll get onto one of the reliable and friendly local buses to our destination for the day, from where there’s usually a short, pretty walk (no more than 30 minutes on the Fields of Gold itinerary) to reach our chosen place.

Spring-flowers-and-Sass-di-Stria - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

When we get there I’ll go over the day’s ‘task’ and usually give a quick demonstration, after which you can choose your first view. During the week there will be a range of these painting ‘tasks’ specifically designed to develop and stimulate your sketching and painting. These are especially valuable for beginners and novices; experienced painters may choose not to participate in them, or they may find some of them interesting. The tasks will not take up more than half of your sketching time unless you wish them to! I will encourage you to produce around 2 to 4 watercolours a day, along with as many sketches as you feel like doing.

On some days where appropriate we’ll have lunch and a good break in one of the excellent ‘refugios’, which offer full meals as well as snacks, pastries and coffee and are often good places to go if the weather decides to play tricks on us.
Where possible, I will provide a wet weather alternatives if we’re unlucky enough to experience a washout day, and it will be optional. Additionally if you wake up one morning and don’t feel like painting, that’s fine, as long as you let me know. Nothing on these holidays is compulsory, except having an enjoyable time!

The day will usually finish between 4pm and 5pm, depending on the bus schedule. Before going our separate ways for the evening we’ll have an informal get-together to look over the day’s artwork, perhaps over a coffee or hot chocolate in one of the many wonderful cafes or outside soaking up the late afternoon sun.

Are-these-holidays-for-me - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
A holiday in the Dolomites will suit anyone who appreciates truly stunning mountain scenery. It will appeal to those who don’t like to travel too far from their comfort zone, but want to feel as if they’re somewhere truly different. Nature lovers, botanists, photographers, walkers, those who just like to sit in a cafe and eat strudel…. all will feel totally at home here.
On both of these painting itineraries we will need to walk a certain distance on well-made but stony tracks. We will be sketching and painting out in the open, mostly sitting on the ground. We will be spending time in the sun and although it’s not ‘hot’ in a Moroccan or Sri Lankan way, there is not always going to be shade in the exact place we want it. Occasionally we will need to pee behind a bush.

With the above considerations, a basic level of health and fitness and an enjoyment of the Great Outdoors is required for these trips.

Summer-colour - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy

‘Fields of Gold’ has a gentler itinerary and will suit anyone who can walk up a slight hill for 30 minutes, although on many days there will be very little exertion needed.

While we will also use our sketchbooks, ‘Fields of Gold’ incorporates completed watercolours and is ideal for those wishing to develop in this medium, loosen up their style or simply have a wonderful, relaxing time getting close to nature in one of the most stunning places in the world.

‘Heads in the Clouds’ is perfect for people who enjoy walking as well as sketching as we incorporate some wonderful short walks into the itinerary. While the walks are neither difficult nor long, they sometimes involve steep inclines and rough tracks, so you should possess a reasonable level of fitness, or at least be familiar with walking in a mountain environment. ‘Heads in the Clouds’ is sketcbook-based but we will have time to produce finished watercolour paintings as well.

Both itineraries include at least one exhilarating ski lift ride, on which some people feel rather exposed. For many, the thrill of these lifts and the fact they can transport you quickly and effortlessly half way up a mountain is one of the highlights of the trip. They are perfectly safe and reliable; however, if you are terrified of heights this might be something to consider.

It is also possible to combine both trips to form a 2-week Painting Holiday as they run concurrently and except for one afternoon, the locations are all different. This would provide an extremely comprehensive and satisfying overview of both the region and watercolours as a sketching medium, and I am also able to offer a discount if both weeks are taken together.

As no accommodation is included on these Dolomite holidays and your evenings are free, they are ideal for bringing along non-painting partners who have other interests to pursue during the day, such as longer walks, via ferrata or cycling, or exploring the rich history and ecology of the area.

How-to-book - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Italy
You may reserve a place on any trip with payment of a 10% deposit All the trips will run subject to the minimum number of participants being reached 6 weeks prior to departure. In the event of insufficient or excess bookings, you will be offered an alternative holiday or a later departure. If this is not suitable your deposit will be refunded. Anyone wishing to join a scheduled trip departing within 6 weeks may do so, subject to availability.
  1. Firstly, please use the contact form to send an e-mail to me, and let me know which trip you are interested in. If you are unsure which will suit you best, I will contact you so that we can go through the options.
  2. When you are ready to make your booking, send me an e-mail. I will confirm exact joining dates, advise on recommended flights (if relevant) and give you payment details so that you can pay your deposit.
  3. I will confirm your booking and your place on your chosen programme, on receipt of:
    The full name, address and phone number of all members of your party
    A 10% non-refundable deposit made by direct bank-to-bank transfer, or (cleared) cheque paid into my UK bank account (NOT posted as I may not be in the country)
    It would also be helpful to include a short summary of your painting experience to date.
  4. I will send you essential information about how to join the group if you are not being met at the airport; advice on choosing flights (if applicable) and what you need to bring with you on your holiday, as well as a more detailed daily itinerary and your Useful Information fact-sheet for the country you will be visiting, if you have not already requested these.
  5. The balance of your payment is due in British pounds, 2 weeks before the commencement of your Sketching Holiday. You may make a bank transfer (recommended), or if you prefer to pay by cheque (in pounds sterling), this must be presented and cleared in my account well before the commencement of the holiday.

Non-UK residents may choose to pay in cash on arrival at the destination but please speak to me about this first.
By making your booking you are agreeing to our ‘Terms and Conditions’, which can be found below.

Contact information:
Email: hello@sketchingholidays.co.uk
Phone: 00 44 (0)798 281 2842 (active only when I am in the UK).
Ask for my Skype name.