The tutored illustration, drawing, and painting retreat is run by professional painter and illustrator Irena Sophia from a beautiful private villa nestled by forest-covered hills in Istria, Croatia.
Available to solo travelers, couples, friends, and non-participating partners alike, the illustration, drawing, and painting retreat includes daily tutored lessons, workshops, and plein air sessions adapted for a wide range of levels, from beginner to advanced.
You will explore soft pencil and charcoal basic drawing techniques and cover basic watercolors and tempera techniques.
Tuition is adapted to suit guests' needs, interests, experience and ability levels, with people doing as much or as little drawing and painting as they wish.
Your daily art lessons will cover the following topics:
During the illustration, drawing, and painting retreat in Istria, you will visit the hilltop medieval town the hosting villa is looking on.
Motovun, also known as Montona in Italian ("a town in the hills"), is a small, fortified town perched on a hill overlooking the river Mirna valley. In ancient times, Celts and Illyarians built fortifications on the site of present day Motovun.
First mentioned in 804, Motovun/Montona is best known for its still intact internal and external walls with towers and city gates, the well-preserved Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the 1st century Roman gravestones, and the late-Renaissance church of St. Stephen.
Art tutor Irena Sophia will hold guided mindfulness meditation sessions each morning. The sessions are specifically designed for artists as preparation for the art practice.
Restorative yin yoga classes take place at the villa in the afternoons. The yoga instructor will introduce you to long holds and relaxation techniques aimed at deepening your flexibility, as well as Pranayama exercises designed to help reduce stress and calm the mind.
During the illustration, drawing, and painting retreat in Istria, you will embark on a trip to the unspoiled Mirna valley and Motovun forests — a black and white truffles paradise.
You will accompany a truffle hunter and his dog on a 'treasure' hunt.
Each day starts with a mindfulness meditation for artists session run by art tutor Irena Sophia, followed by a hearty breakfast. Tutored illustration, drawing, and painting lessons, workshops, and plein air sessions are scheduled between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. every day. Guests can continue sketching and painting on their own after lunch, and the tutor remains available for art consultations between 3:00 and 4:30 p.m. A guided trip to Motovun/Montona and a truffle hunt are included during your stay.
Your host and tutor can help organize a trip to Rovinj. First mentioned in the early 8th century, Rovinj was originally a settlement of Venetian and Illyarian tribes built on an island close to the Adriatic coast. The island was connected to the mainland in 1763, when the channel separating it was filled.
A melting pot of Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and Illyarian influences, Rovinj is stitched with winding, cobbled streets, hidden alleys, steep stairs, and charming squares.
Surrounded by lush Mediterranean gardens, the private villa hosting the illustration, drawing, and painting retreat in Istria has stunning panoramic views of the hilltop medieval town of Motovun/Montona, beautiful forests, and the specially protected valley of the river Mirna. Large outdoors dining and lounge areas, a heated infinity pool, and ample studio space with easels, art boards, and communal tables are available at the property. All rooms are tastefully decorated, modern, spacious, and comfortable, equipped with ensuite shower rooms, A/C, heating, and WiFi.
For the duration of your illustration, drawing, and painting retreat in Istria, you will be served delicious Mediterranean meals, home-cooked using locally sourced seasonal fruit, vegetables, spices, and herbs, as well as locally produced olive oil, cheeses, fresh meat, and fish. Guests will enjoy hearty breakfasts, light lunches, and copious dinners every day. Coffee and tea are available throughout the day. A local chef will cook the group a gourmet Istrian dinner. Extra meals, drinks and refreshments at restaurants, cafes or bars are not included.
The illustration, drawing, and painting retreat takes place in Istria, Croatia. Surrounded by lush Mediterranean gardens, the private villa hosting the retreat has stunning panoramic views of the hilltop medieval town of Motovun/Montona, beautiful forests, and the specially protected valley of the river Mirna. Motovun/Montona is located 10 minutes away, while the stunning Novigrad and Poreč beaches are a short 30-minute drive away. Popular tourist resorts Pula and Rovinj are both approximately one hour away.
How to get there:
The closest airports are Pula Airport in Croatia (PUY, a one-hour drive to the accommodation) and Trieste – Friuli Venezia Giulia Airport in Italy (TRS, a 1.5-hour drive to the accommodation). Located 150 miles / 240 km from the accommodation in Istria, Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb in Croatia (ZAG) is also an option to consider.
Irena Sophia is an artist currently living in Zagreb, Croatia. Having graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb with a Major in Painting, Irena has dedicated herself solely to her art and subsequently has exhibited in various solo and group shows in Croatia and abroad. Drawing inspiration from soft lines and serene scenes, Irena Sophia manages to create a world of inner quietness and delicacy through her drawings and illustrations. Irena's work is greatly influenced by a combination of vintage illustration, manga, folk art, and modern design.
What language is used during the illustration, drawing, and painting classes and other art activities?
The entire experience is available in English.
Are beginners welcome?
They are. The illustration, drawing, and painting retreat in Istria, Croatia is very beginner-friendly. The tutor has extensive experience teaching beginners.
Is the painting retreat available to all experience levels?
It is. From absolute beginners to experienced painters and illustrators, all levels are more than welcome. Working in a small group of four to ten people, the tutor gives each participant individual attention. Instruction is adapted to suit guests' interests, needs, experience, and ability levels.
How many people are to be expected in a group session?
No more than ten people. The minimum number of participants for a retreat to take place is four.
When is the painting retreat available?
Please get in touch to check availability.
Is any equipment provided?
You will receive an art supply package with the following: plenty of good quality drawing and watercolor paper, a sketching block, a watercolor set of 12 half pans, various drawing pencils HB - B8, black charcoal, a soft eraser, and a sharpener. Standard easels and a large communal table are provided.
What else do I need?
Please bring a large, inexpensive stack of drawing paper for idea exercises, the sketchbook you normally use, pens, permanent markers, pencils, brushes, tape, and an A2 format map to store your artwork. Please also bring any material you want to use for your final illustration. You may want to look up reference materials or do research, so a laptop / tablet / smartphone might come in handy (free WiFi is provided at the accommodation).
I am vegetarian. Can I book this painting retreat?
Yes. Please get in touch in advance to discuss your dietary requirements.
Are there any age restrictions?
Absolutely not. However, please keep in mind that you must be 18 years of age to travel independently.
I have allergies. Can I still book this painting retreat?
Participants who suffer from severe, life-threatening allergies are strongly encouraged to come prepared with all the necessary medication and be capable of self-administering it. Please get in touch to discuss your specific requirements.
Is WiFi available?
Yes, WiFi is available and free of charge at the accommodation, in all rooms and common areas.
How far in advance should I book this retreat?
As far in advance as possible — spots get occupied fast. The retreat takes place only once a year and available places are limited to no more than ten. A $100 deposit is required to make a reservation. The remaining balance is due 60 days before the retreat's start date. Guests benefit from free cancellation and full refunds up to 14 days before their arrival.
Do I need a visa?
Guests traveling from EU and/or Schengen member states may enter Croatia for tourist purposes without a visa. Please contact us for further guidance.
Where should I land? How do I get to the accommodation?
The closest airports are Pula Airport in Croatia (PUY, a one-hour drive to the accommodation) and Trieste – Friuli Venezia Giulia Airport in Italy (TRS, a 1.5-hour drive to the accommodation). Located 150 miles / 240 km from the accommodation in Istria, Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb in Croatia (ZAG) is also an option to consider. This part of Istria offers some remarkably scenic drives, so renting a car is advised. Upon request, airport transfers, car or bike rentals can be arranged separately for an extra fee. Please get in touch in advance to make all needed arrangements.
What is the weather like in Istria, Croatia?
The weather is generally very pleasant in May. Expect average highs of 22°C / 71.6°F and lows of 10°C / 50°F. May is relatively dry, with an average rainfall of 40 mm / 1.5 inches.
What should I pack?
Please make sure you pack light clothes, some layers, a hat, walking shoes or sandals, sunscreen, insect repellent, beach towel, and swimwear. You might want to bring a camera and an old shirt or apron for drawing and painting.
How far away is the closest beach?
The closest beaches are a short 30-minute drive from the accommodation.