7 days
Available in English
All levels
Max. 8 people
Watercolors, Acrylics, Oils

What's included

  1. 6 nights private accommodation
  2. 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners served with local wine
  3. Daily painting classes, workshops, and sessions with John Skelcher
  4. Painting materials (brushes, drawing equipment, fixative, watercolor, oils, acrylics, canvas, paper, pots, pallets, easels and carry boxes and trolleys are all provided for the duration of the course)
  5. Transport to and from painting locations/excursions
  6. Tea/coffee and refreshments during painting breaks
  7. Daily aperitivi
  8. Transfer on arrival and departure day at specified times from San Benedetto del Tronto train or bus station

Not included

  • Two meals served at local restaurants during excursions
  • Airfare
  • Travel insurance
Day 1

Check-in after 03:00 p.m. and get ready to serve drinks at 06:30 p.m. with your hosts and fellow participants. Go through the course orientation and have dinner at 07:30 p.m.

Serve breakfast at 08:00 a.m. and start your first practical drawing session soon after. A coffee break will take place at 11:00 a.m. followed by more drawing time. Lunch will be served at 01:00 p.m. and then you will be able to enjoy a brief siesta until 03:00. A workshop on color theory will take place followed by another practical painting session in the afternoon. Serve an aperitivi and take part in your first critique sessions with the instructor at 06:00 p.m. Dinner will be at at 07:30 p.m. Take part in your first seminars and discussions about plein air painting on the second day of your painting vacation and explore the principles of painting on the third day, right after dinner.

After breakfast and first painting session of the day you will have lunch and go on location in the afternoon to experiment drawing and painting in a local hill-town. End your day with an aperitivi, a short critique session, and dinner.

Head out on a field trip after breakfast and continue your plein air painting lessons. Stop for lunch at a local trattoria. End the day with dinner at The Retreat and a seminar on perspective in painting.

This will be your last day of painting so you will have plenty of time to complete your work and ask for final pieces of advice from the instructor. End the day with a pizza at a local pizzeria and talk about what you have learned during this experience.

Have breakfast, say good bye to your colleagues and hosts and depart from The Retreat.

Standard room
Double bed
Private bathroom
ToiletriesBasic kit

The Retreat farmhouse offers four individual guest bedrooms spread over two floors. There is also a swimming pool (open when weather permits) where guests can cool off in the summer days.

Room is available for both single and double occupancy.
Double bed
Shared bathroom
ToiletriesBasic kit

The Retreat farmhouse offers one self-contained apartment with 2 bedrooms that share one bathroom between them.

Room is available for both single and double occupancy.

During your stay at The Retreat you will be served healthy and delicious meals prepared from home-grown, organic and seasonal produce. All meals apart from those taken on excursions (a maximum of two meals, depending on the weather conditions) are included in the package.

Breakfast optionsDaily continental breakfast consisting of cereal, yogurt, cheeses, cold meats, jams, honey, eggs, juice, white bread, coffee, and tea
Lunch optionsMight include a variety of anti-pasti, pasta, vegetable dishes,plenty of fresh salads
Dinner optionsIncludes three-course meals consisting of a starter, main course and dessert
Regular / Vegetarian / Vegan meals
Please get in touch in advance to discuss your specific dietary requirements.

The painting vacation takes place at The Retreat, a small art school located in the beautiful Le Marche countryside in east Italy, between the Apennine mountains and the Adriatic Sea.

How to get there:

Your final destination is the town of San Benedetto del Tronto where you will be picked up from the train or bus station. Close international airports that offer connections to San Benedetto del Tronto are Rome Fiumicino (FCO, also known as Leonardo da Vinci Airport) that is 3 hours away and Rome Ciampino Airport (CIA) that is 2 - 2.5 hours away. You can also fly to Bologna Airport (3 hours away), Rimini Airport (1.5 hours away) or Perugia Airport (2 hours away).

Transfers from/to San Benedetto del Tronto train or bus station are offered at specified times. Please get in touch in advance to make all needed arrangements.
John Skelcher

John Skelcher will be your painting instructor for the duration of stay. He got his BA Hons Degree in Fine Art Painting and Drawing over 25 years ago and has since studied realist painting at Angel Academy Florence and The Paris Academy of Art. John has been teaching students of all abilities and levels for more than 15 years. His works have been shown in national exhibitions in Britain and abroad.

Is this painting vacation available to all levels?

This experience is suitable for all levels, from complete beginners to advanced painters.

When is the painting vacation available?

Painting vacations in Le Marche, Italy, are available several times a year. Please check our calendar for availability.

What language is used during the painting classes and activities?

All lessons and activities are in English.

How many people are to be expected in a group session?

There is a maximum number of eight students per session, so groups are small and intimate.

Is any equipment provided?

Everything you need is included in the package. Quality equipment including brushes, drawing equipment, fixative, paints (watercolor, oils, acrylics), canvas, paper, pots, pallets, easels, carry boxes and trolleys are all provided for the duration of the painting vacation. Parasols, easel weights, tables, easel shelves and turpentine as well as a spacious studio equipped with day-light lighting make for a quality learning environment.

What’s the weather like in Le Marche, Italy?

Starting with the end of May the weather is usually above 18 °C / 65°F until October.

What should I pack?

Please make sure you bring comfortable clothing and shoes, sandals or flip flops for the summer and sturdy shoes for when you are out and about during the day. Aprons will be provided, however, please pack some appropriate clothing to be worn during the painting activities, as clothes may get stained. You might also want to come prepared with a sun hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent.

I am a vegetarian / vegan. Can I book this vacation?

Most dietary requirements are catered for, including vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free, and gluten-free. Please get in touch in advance to discuss your dietary requirements.


Is this painting vacation available to people with limited mobility?

Good mobility is required, as some painting sessions are held in countryside locations and the local towns have elevations and uneven pavements. The courses are not suited for wheelchair users traveling by themselves, but there have been guests who came accompanied by a non-painting friend/helper.

Are there any age restrictions?

Absolutely not. However, please keep in mind that you must be 18 years of age to travel independently.

Is WiFi available? Is it free of charge?

Yes, WiFi is available and free of charge.


Are there any check-in and check-out hours?

Check-in is after 03:00 p.m., check-out is before 10:30 a.m.

Do I need a visa?

Guests traveling from EU and/or Schengen member states may enter Italy for tourist purposes without a visa. Please contact us for further guidance.

Where should I land?

Rome Fiumicino (also known as Leonardo da Vinci Airport, FCO) and Rome Ciampino Airport (CIA) are the nearest major international airports. You can also land at Bologna Airport, Rimini Airport or Perugia Airport. Your final destination should be San Benedetto del Tronto train or bus station.

Are transfers included? 

Transfers from/to San Benedetto del Tronto train or bus station are offered at specified times. Please get in touch in advance to make all needed arrangements.


How far in advance should I book?

Some of the dates book up quickly. Please book as far in advance as possible to secure a spot on your selected date.

Lily, USA:

"I took the plein air painting class in July with 2 other students. It was one of the best times I've ever had! John, the instructor, gave detailed and continual tutelage. He was very patient and encouraging. He also continues to learn from master painters himself when he isn't working, which I think makes him a better teacher. He is always improving his skill and knowledge. I learned so much about placement and color theory in painting. Even though it was hot some days, John found shady places for us to paint from. His wife, Jana, is a smart, interesting woman, and an excellent cook. They planned entertainment for us some nights as well with films, bingo, and a trip to the local pizzeria. We even went to a local city and to the beach. What a beneficial and relaxing week! I would recommend John's classes to anyone, beginner or not, and I would definitely come back again!"


Alison, UK:

"The Retreat, amidst fantastic scenery and along twisting roads, is a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. We had a wonderful week painting en plein air in this beautiful landscape. After a morning painting we returned for a fresh, home-cooked lunch and siesta before being taken to a nearby hilltop town to sketch the narrow streets and local architecture. A café or bar was usually on hand for those of us in need of an espresso or aperitif. John's tactful tuition catered for all abilities. Our group was very mixed, in both age and experience, but we all came away having learned something new and having had a very enjoyable holiday."

Laurie, UK:

"I went to the Retreat twice this year in May and September doing two very different courses. And this is my third trip altogether. The first trip was an Urban sketchers course with a life class break in between visits out. it was brilliant, a nice team of people and some really great serious teaching. In September I went with my daughter, and we had such a laugh with our fellow guests, but got some serious painting in. John and Jena are brilliant. John the real professional but with a laid back approach, and a sense of humour similar to my own, Jana great organiser and great cook and the place itself with its beautiful scenery is fabulous, and one day if I practice real hard I will master painting that bloody view over to Force."

Jess, UK:

"I have just returned from a fabulous week at The Retreat! Apart from John being the perfect host and exceptionally talented, his method of teaching and organisation of our week was excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and I was amazed at how much we covered and how much we all progressed in such a short time. Stunning scenery, fabulous food cooked by Jana and wonderful company made this a truly memorable experience for all. Cannot recommend highly enough!!!"