Landscape Painting and Sketching holiday in SW Spain

The beautiful Sierra de Montanchez provides the setting for this art course. Noelle is a professional painter and experienced tutor. She is keen to share her knowledge and experience helping guests to look and interpret the landscape in a deeper more meaningful way.

There are visits to local historic towns. One is a full day out with Gisela Radant Wood as our guide to Medieval Cáceres or Roman Merida - both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or Trujillo home of the Conquistadors.

Observational drawing is an important part of all the courses. I also teach a number of creative exercises which are based on art school teaching and aim to be inspirational and challenging.

The holiday includes instruction and workshops, with people doing as much or as little painting and drawing as they wish. We start each morning with a workshop covering approaches to painting such as choosing a subject, ways of seeing, markmaking, colour and tone, composition, aspects of abstraction. The workshops are adapted to the needs of the group or individual requests. This holiday is suitable for all levels of experience. All drawing and painting media taught.

10.00-14.00 : tutored session sketching and painting. Lunch. Afternoons are free to continue painting or relax in the shaded gardens. 18.00-19.30 : sketching with creative exercises before dinner....see itinerary below.....

Our holidays are perfect for people travelling alone as well as couples or friends. Discount for non-painting partners sharing a room.

"If you could see the olive groves right now! The foliage old silver and greenish silver against the blue sky...In fact, the rustling of an olive grove has something very intimate about it, something immensely old" Vincent Van Gogh

4 nights ~ £500 per person double occupancy. Single occupancy : £700

5 nights ~ £600 per person double occupancy. Single occupancy : £800

7 nights ~ £800 per person double occupancy. Single occupancy : £975

Single or twin accommodation - most rooms are ensuite. All meals (except one tapas lunch on trip). All transport in region. We meet you at Madrid airport. Costs & Dates

We spend time in the landscape drawing and painting at Finca Acehuche. We also walk along ancient paths and caminos sketching and painting the natural beauty of the area, guests can decide how far to walk. You can choose to sketch and paint en plein air or to develop your sketches into paintings at the Finca studio.

For beginners: Noëlle will teach the basics of observational drawing and painting. For more experienced painters: she will teach how to improve existing skills and discuss how to develop your strengths and direction of your painting. Working in a small group, Noelle gives each participant individual attention.

Art boards, easels, sketching stools, tables, basic art materials including a sketchbook, acrylic paints and A1 paper are provided. Watercolour paper and canvases can be bought at cost price.

What guests say:

“Did I die and go to heaven?  A week at the Finca with Noelle and Richard is pretty close.  It nestles amongst stone walls, boulders, wonderful, wonderful wild flowers, exotic birds and olive trees.  Endless subject matter for sketching and painting.  There is no village so you are out in the wild, a mile down a track from the main road.  Richard and Noelle produce fantastic food which we ate on the terrace by moonlight, candlelight or in glorious sunshine.  However the central part of the week was Noelle’s tuition and how she guided us through skills and techniques to enrich our painting.  She is very good at teaching a group who have varying levels of expertise and meeting those different needs.  Each day is structured and planned so we get the most out of painting the surrounding area.  There is always a sense of fun in her workshops and we laughed a lot!  This is my second time on this course – I loved it just as much as the first – if not more.  This is a perfect week to share with other artistic friends.”  Sal Goldsmith, UK

"The tranquility and solitude experienced at Finca Acehuche provided the inspiration for sketching and painting under Noelle’s excellent tutorage.  The sentinel-like granite boulders that littered the landscape in such a reverent way were very inspiring with their imposing presence on the hills, and among the olive trees, fig trees and cork oaks in the valley.  A perfect setting for painterly art!" Fred Alcock, Canada

"As the only apprehensive beginner in her class I need not have worried. Noelle firmly led us away from our comfort zones to try different techniques, always emphasizing the positive aspects of our efforts and always smiling. Finca Acehuche was clean and comfortable and the food was enjoyable and plentiful. Richard and Noelle were both kind and considerate hosts – they couldn’t have been nicer – and both have a lovely sense of humour." Pat Pearson, UK  ...and see testimonials and students' artwork.

EXTREMADURA with its fine historic towns offers an enticing slice of unspoiled Spain. It is known for its wildlife and birds come from all over Europe and Africa to breed. The intense clear sunshine and evocative birdsong mark the changing seasons. Exhuberant wild flowers with the sound of cuckoos and hoopoes in the spring and early summer. Changing colours lead to the harvesting of figs and grapes in late summer and the departure of the bee eaters and golden orioles.

The Sierra de Montánchez is an imposing granite sierra, geographically almost exactly in the middle of Extremadura. The landscape is a mixture of drystone walled fincas of olives, figs, vines, almonds, oranges and wilder, untended areas. The slopes are extensively wooded with chestnut and deciduous oaks. The lower slopes have gentle pastures for contented grazing animals. There are many interlinking paths that criss-cross over the sierra and between small, pretty villages. There are intimate and grand views to sketch and paint, it is a landscape perfect for artists, photographers, birdwatchers, lovers of botany and those who simply want to commune with Nature.

Painting and Sketching in the Sierra de Montanchez

ITINERARY: taught in English

DAY 1 : TRAVEL DAY : We personally meet you from Madrid airport (terminal 1) or Trujillo bus station and drive you to the beautiful Sierra de Montanchez. Time to relax before drinks and dinner at 20.30. Or choose to travel independently, full directions are provided.

DAY 2: DRAWING : 10.00 - 14.00 - We start the course with a session of observational drawing in the studio and later in the landscape. I have taught life drawing and observational drawing for more than twenty years and developed a way to help you to look more carefully and draw what you see more accurately. This is a good basis for the week, however you choose to paint. After lunch there is time to relax, walk and sketch or paint on the studio terrace. 18.00-19.30 : tutored session drawing. 20.00 : drinks and dinner.

DAY 3 & 4 : PAINTING AND SKETCHING : 10.00-14.00 - We start with a tutored workshop exploring different approaches and media followed by painting or drawing directly from the landscape with your media of choice - either painting en plein air or sketching and later working from your sketches in the finca studio. After lunch there is time to relax, walk and sketch or paint on the studio terrace. 18.00-19.30 : tutored session with creative exercises. Day 4 you can choose to explore Montanchez and have a drink on the Plaza instead of the pre-dinner tutored session. 20.00 : drinks and dinner.

~~~DAY 5 : Guests staying 4 nights : farewell and departure after breakfast.

DAY 5 : WALKING AND SKETCHING : 10.00-16.00 - We have the opportunity to walk and sketch, taking a packed lunch. This is a leisurely day and we choose an easy or moderate walk ranging from 3 - 8km, with lots of places to sketch the intimate landscapes or grand views. We choose a walk to suit the group, and if guests prefer not to walk they can stay at the finca painting. 20.00 : drinks and dinner.

~~~DAY 6 : Guests staying 5 nights : farewell and departure after breakfast.

DAY 6 : CULTURAL TOUR of MÉRIDA, TRUJILLO or CÁCERES* with Gisela and Noelle : 10.00-16.00 - We visit the Roman remains in Merida, Conquistador Trujillo or the Medieval old town of Caceres with a leisurely tapas lunch at a bar or restaurant. After lunch there is time to sketch and photograph. We return to the Finca with plenty of time to relax before dinner at 20.00. (transport is provided). *If we have returning guests in the group we choose a different town to visit.

DAY 7 : PAINTING AND DRAWING : 10.00 - 14.00 painting with your media of choice with guidance from Noelle. After lunch there is time to relax, walk and sketch or paint on the studio terrace. 18.00-19.30 - review of all your work with advice on how to progress. 20.00 : drinks and dinner.

DAY 8 : FAREWELL AND DEPARTURE after breakfast.

08.30: Breakfast. 14.00: Lunches are simple but plentiful salads, cheeses and cold meats. 20.00: Delicious dinners with local wine. All served on the terrace with fine views of the Sierra de Montanchez.

"A day visit to Caceres under the expert guidance of Gisela Radant Wood was most enjoyable and informative. Gisela was a fountain of knowledge on the local history and regaled us with facts and stories about the town’s cultural history, its fortified houses, and the evolution of the Roman, Moorish, Gothic and Italian Renaissance architectural styles as we strolled through the narrow streets." Fred Alcock, Canada

Please note: Entrance fees, tapas lunch on Day 6, drinks and refreshments at cafes and bars are not included in the price. At present there are no entrance fees in Caceres, there are entrance fees to the Roman ruins in Merida.

VENUE : The art course is based at Finca Acehuche. This is a delightful country finca set in a walled 3 acre olive grove, tucked away in a varied landscape of olives, figs, grapes and pasture. We start the day with a leisurely breakfast, lunches and dinners are served on the large terrace with fine views. The large garden provides space with hammocks and loungers to relax, read or sunbathe.

For larger groups, some guests stay at one of the country fincas or hotels we have chosen in the area, most rooms are ensuite. We try to book the same accommodation and collect guests after breakfast and return after dinner. All transport is provided in the Sierra.

Finca Acehuche is a simple and contemporary house with two large covered terraces each with fine views of the Sierra de Montanchez. There are two twin or double bedrooms and two ensuite bathrooms. Both terraces provide studio space with easels, tables and boards. The surrounding land ensures a peaceful, rural atmosphere. For more photographs and information see www.finca-art.co.uk There are three local village swimming pools with shaded bar areas (open mid June - early September).  We are happy drive guests to the pool after lunch and collect before dinner if requested.

SINGLE DAY ART TUTORIALS see prices and dates ~ you can stay independently and join the course on as many days as you wish. We arrange to meet you at an agreed location at 09.45 to start at 10.00. You will need to bring art materials - I will send a suggested list.