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Spain Landscape Painting Vacation with Artist Noëlle Griffiths

by UpTrek
Mon Mar 25 2019

Travel to Spain and learn to sketch and paint from a widely exhibited professional painter, get inspired by the natural wonders of the Sierra de Montánchez and unleash your creative potential on a guided painting retreat in a tranquil part of Extremadura.

The landscape painting retreats are run by artist Noëlle Griffiths — an expert tutor who knows how to bring out the best in your work — from her picturesque country finca (house) in Sierra de Montánchez. You will receive up to 30 hours tuition adapted to your level and needs, complete with accommodation, home-cooked meals served with local wines, art supplies provided for the workshops, and private airport transfers.

The retreats are available to all ages, experience and ability levels. Workshops are adapted to suit guests' needs, with people doing as much or as little painting as they wish.


Landscape painting retreat details


The landscape painting and sketching retreat is run by widely exhibited painter and expert tutor Noëlle Griffiths and her husband, Richard, from their country finca in the scenic Sierra de Montánchez, Extremadura, far from Spain's busy resorts.


An unspoiled and secluded house nestled in a three-acre olive grove and surrounded by lush wild flowers, cuckoos and hoopoes, Noëlle's Finca Acehuche is a great setting for painting, bird watching, walking, reading, or simply relaxing. Winding paths through charming dry-stone walled villages stretched over the imposing sierra, intimate and striking views to sketch and paint — the landscape is ideal for artists, photographers, birdwatchers, and nature lovers alike.

A professional painter with 30 years of experience teaching and mentoring art students of all levels, Noëlle welcomes art lovers into her home and helps them observe the landscape and interpret it in a deeper, more meaningful way. Her approach to teaching tries to nurture and develop each individual according to their level and needs.


Available to solo travelers, couples, friends, and non-painting partners alike, the landscape painting and sketching retreat includes up to 30 hours of instruction and workshops, with people doing as much or as little painting as they wish.


You will learn: choosing a subject, ways of seeing, observational drawing, mark-making, color, tone, and composition fundamentals. You will take part in a series of inspirational creative exercises based on art school teaching.

You will spend each day sketching and painting landscapes in open air at Finca Acehuche. You will walk along ancient paths and caminos in the surrounding sierra, sketching and painting the natural beauty of the area, and sketch in the hilltop town of Trujillo, home of the conquistadors. All walking and painting in the landscape activities are optional, you can choose to paint close to the finca house instead.


The workshops are adapted to the needs of the group or individual requests and are suitable for all levels of experience.

Noëlle will teach beginners the basics of observational drawing and painting and help more experienced painters improve their skills and develop a direction of their paintings.


Working in a small group of up to six people, Noëlle gives each guest plenty of individual attention.


Itinerary

Day 1: Artist Noëlle Griffiths and her husband personally meet you at the Madrid or Seville airport (see Location section) and drive you to their charming country finca in Sierra de Montánchez. After a three-hour drive, take some time to make yourself at home, unpack, relax, and freshen up before drinks and dinner at 08:30 p.m. Meals: welcome dinner with drinks


Day 2: After a leisurely breakfast served on a covered terrace with views of the sierra, you will start your first sketching course at 10:00 a.m. with a session of observational drawing on the studio terrace and later in the landscape. Noëlle has been an art tutor for more than 30 years and developed a way to help you to look more carefully and draw what you see more accurately. This first sketching course will lay the basis for the week, however you choose to paint. Lunch is served at 02:00 p.m., followed by time to relax, walk, and sketch or paint. A second tutored drawing session is scheduled at 06:00 p.m. A home-cooked dinner with local wine is served at 08:00 p.m. Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner with drinks


Days 3 and 4: After breakfast, you can take part in optional tutored workshops. You will explore different approaches and media and paint or draw directly in the landscape — either painting in the open air or sketching and later working from your sketches on the studio terrace. After lunch, you have three hours to yourself to rest, walk, read, or continue working on your sketches and paintings. Tutored sessions with creative exercises are scheduled between 06:00-07:30 p.m., followed by drinks and dinner at 08:00. Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner with drinks


Day 5: Between 10:00 a.m. and 04:00 p.m., you will join Noëlle on a guided tour of Trujillo, a historic town rich with medieval and renaissance buildings, many built by the conquistadors. You will take part in a tutored sketching and painting session in Trujillo and have a leisurely tapas lunch on the Plaza Mayor. You will return to the finca with plenty of time to rest and continue painting before dinner. Transport is provided. Meals: breakfast and dinner with drinks


Day 6: You can choose to remain at the finca to continue working on your paintings, or go for a walk and sketch from the landscape. After your lunch and siesta, you can either explore Montánchez and have a drink on the Plaza, or take part in the daily pre-dinner tutored session. Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner with drinks


Day 7: After breakfast, between 10:00 a.m. and 02:00 p.m., you will paint with your media of choice under Noëlle's guidance. Before your farewell dinner, Noëlle will review your work and give you advice on how to proceed. Meals: breakfast, lunch, and farewell dinner with drinks


Day 8: After breakfast, Noëlle and her husband will take you to the airport. Meals: breakfast

Sample daily schedule

  • 08:30 a.m. - Breakfast
  • 10:00 a.m. - Tutored sketching and painting session
  • 02:00 p.m. - Lunch
  • 03:00 p.m. - Free time to continue painting or relax in the shaded gardens
  • 06:00 p.m. - Tutored sketching and creative exercises
  • 08:00 p.m. - Dinner


What's included

  • Single or double occupancy accommodation in private rooms with ensuite bathrooms
  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 7 dinners served with local wine
  • Landscape painting and sketching courses and workshops with professional painter Noëlle Griffiths (30 hours tuition)
  • Use of easels, art boards, sketching stools, water containers, water sprays, basic palettes, aprons, and bulldog clips
  • Charcoal, A1 and A2 paper, A5 drawing sketchbook, poster paint, bristle brushes, colored pencils, and ink — provided for workshops only
  • Airport transfers from Madrid and/or Seville (please contact us in advance to make all needed arrangements)
  • All transportation in Sierra de Montánchez
  • Guided tour of Trujillo


Not included

  • Airfare
  • Visa fee (if applicable)
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunch in Trujillo, on Day 5
  • Drinks and refreshments at cafes and bars
  • Additional painting and sketching materials (a list of necessary art materials will be provided when you book)


About Noëlle Griffiths

Noëlle Griffiths studied Fine Art at St Martin's School of Art, London, 1978-1982. In 1985, she moved to Snowdonia, North Wales, to paint professionally.


Noëlle paints in oil, acrylic, and watercolor. From London, Edinburgh, and Barcelona to Ontario, Moscow, Cairo, and Seoul, her paintings and artist's books have been widely exhibited since 1983.


Noëlle's works are held in public and private collections in UK, Spain, and US. Her artist's books are collected and archived by the National Library of Wales, the British Library, V&A Museum, Tate, MMU Manchester, Leeds University, and the University of Creative Arts, among others.


An art tutor with over 30 years of experience, Noëlle taught part-time for art gallery education programs throughout North and mid-Wales and for the Open College of Arts between 1989 and 1998. Since 1998, she has been course leader and tutor on the part-time Fine Art Degree Programme at Bangor University.


Since 2005, Noëlle Griffiths has spent time in the Sierra de Montánchez. Her recent paintings are inspired by the scenic granite sierra landscapes, birds, wild flowers, and quality of light in Extremadura, Spain.


"My paintings and artist's books attempt to capture the essence and distillation of an experience or concept. I am interested in exploring memories, sensations and ideas finding connections and structure to give new meaning, using a poetic visual language through a simplification of imagery, colour and composition," Noëlle said.


Finca Acehuche in Sierra de Montánchez


The landscape painting retreat is based at Finca Acehuche, in Sierra de Montánchez, Extremadura, Spain.


Accommodation is provided in a charming country finca set in a private three-acre olive grove. Nestled away in a varied landscape of olives, figs, grapes, and pasture, with stunning views of the Sierra de Montánchez mountain range, the large garden offers generous shaded areas, hammocks, and lounges to relax, read, paint, or sunbathe.


Tiled floors, traditional locally made French chestnut doors and windows with internal shutters, original paintings by Noëlle Griffiths, and rugs collected in her travels to India create a simple yet stylish interior.

 

A covered terrace with views of the Sierra de Montánchez provides ample studio space with easels, tables, and boards, as well as a table and chairs to seat six, a sofa, and a hammock. At the back of the house, there is a small patio with table and chairs to seat two.

Solar panels provide electricity powering an A++ energy efficient larder fridge, CD/radio player, lighting, fans, and a cold wash washing machine. The house is designed to keep cool and shaded in the summer and capture passive solar heat and remain warm in the winter.


Rooms are spacious and clean, elegantly furnished, and equipped with ensuite bathrooms.

Bedroom amenities:

  • Double bed or twin beds
  • Night tables, lamps, and closet
  • Cooling fan
  • Ensuite bathroom with shower, hand-basin, and toilet
  • Toiletries
  • Bed linen, pillows, and duvets
  • Towels
  • Fine views of the Sierra de Montánchez

Living room amenities:

  • Sofa and chairs
  • CD/radio player
  • A selection of music and books
  • Dining table and chairs to seat six
  • Wood-burning stove

Kitchen amenities:

  • Belfast sink
  • Cooker
  • Washing machine (cold wash)
  • Larder fridge

Guests also stay in nearby finca houses or the village hotel, all sharing similar standards and amenities as those offered by the Finca Acehuche house: clean, spacious, and elegant rooms, equipped with ensuite bathrooms, comfortable beds, toiletries, towels, and bed linen.


Transportation is provided, guests are collected after breakfast and return to their accommodation after dinner.


For the duration of your stay at Finca Acehuche, you will be served delicious meals, home-cooked using locally sourced quality ingredients.


Leisurely breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are served on the large, covered terrace in front of the charming country finca, against a backdrop of the scenic Sierra de Montánchez mountain range.


Food


Breakfast options: cereal, muesli, fruit, yogurt, cold meats, pastries, tea, coffee, juice


Lunch options: tapas, plentiful salads, cheeses, and cold meats


Dinner options: paella, baked fish, roast chicken, lamb tagine with couscous, rice, vegetables or salad — all served with delectable local wines


Regular, vegetarian, and vegan meals are provided, please get in touch in advance to discuss your specific dietary requirements.

Location


Tucked away from Spain's busy resorts, the Finca Acehuche country house is located in one of the most beautiful and culturally-appealing parts of Extremadura, close to the historic towns of Trujillo, Cáceres, and Merida.


A three-hour drive from the the Madrid-Barajas Airport and a two-hour drive from the Seville Airport (approximate times, depending on traffic), Finca Acehuche is reached by a 1.3 km (close to one mile) narrow countryside track.


How to get there:

For the May and October dates, please book your flights to arrive at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport Terminal 1 (MAD, commonly known as the Madrid-Barajas Airport).


For the September dates, please book your flights to arrive at the Seville Airport (SVQ).


Airport transfers are included in the package. Guests are collected before 06:30 p.m. and should book their departure flights after 03:00 p.m. from Madrid or after 01:00 p.m. from Seville. Please get in touch in advance to make all needed arrangements.

Reviews


Daphne, UK:

"It was a glorious week filled with sunshine, wild flowers and painting, and I should also mention the excellent food and wine which was accompanied by much chatter and laughter. As a complete beginner with acrylic paint I knew I was going to be challenged - and I was! - but with Noelle's patient and professional instruction I felt well supported and encouraged all the time. We were a small group of people of varying ability but the cleverly structured tasks Noelle set us were stimulating and most enjoyable. As well having had a relaxing holiday in an idyllic place, I have come away feeling that I have learnt a lot that, with practice, should help my painting develop."


Allyson, Portugal:

"I loved my time with you on a number of levels. I valued the art making and the eye changing. Your way of working with me was perfect. I felt totally comfortable to be me and to explore what I could with your help. I learnt a lot and positively learnt. I could feel my sensitivities working, and they’ve not stopped. Your style of teaching worked perfectly. With your guidance I felt I was changing my way of seeing. I look forward to more opportunities."


Fred, Canada:

"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!"


Sandy, UK:

"The olive trees were straight out of Van Gogh; the weather was gorgeous; the instruction was knowledgeable and sympathetic; the company was good and the food and wine at the end of the day delicious. What more can you want?"


Jane, UK:

"Noelle is a very good teacher, the course was well thought out and we were given a new and interesting task each day, I learnt a lot - even that acrylics aren’t as terrifying as I thought! The Finca and surrounding landscape is beautiful, we went in May and the wild flowers were fantastic, also the birds. Wonderful food, the wine flowed, great conversation with a lot of laughing!"


Sophie, UK:

"We had a wonderful week at the finca; Noelle and Richard were excellent hosts and the food was delicious with great conversation and wine. It is very rural, pretty much cut off from the rest of the world and in a beautiful unspoiled area of Spain. The art tutorials were well suited to us as beginners, and we were definitely challenged each day! Each day was structured with a theme such as composition, mark-making, sketching etc, and there was a perfect balance between tutorial time and time for relaxation in the afternoons, with time to sunbathe, read or go for walks in the surrounding area. We finished off the week with a review of everyone’s work and discussion over areas we could each improve, and best of all we could take it all home with us as a lovely memento of the week! I would definitely recommend this holiday for anyone who would like to take some time out to spend in nature and dedicate time to developing their painting and sketching skills whilst being very well looked after!"


Sandra, UK:

"My husband and I have just returned from an inspirational week with Noelle and Richard at their beautiful finca. We are both complete beginners at the art game, and Noelle's patient tuition was just what we needed to get started. We have been given lots of good advice and are both looking forward to trying all the techniques out for ourselves at home. Thanks also to Richard for driving us around the fascinating local area and giving us lots of information about all sorts of subjects! The food and wine were delicious, and we will remember for a long time sitting on the veranda watching the full moon rise!" 


Sal, UK:

"Did I die and go to heaven? A week at the Finca with Noelle and Richard is pretty close. It nestles among 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."


Marion, UK:

"I thoroughly enjoyed the painting holiday experience at Finca Acehuche: everyone was so relaxed and friendly. Noelle was a conscientious and helpful tutor, her advice being particularly relevant to the challenges of painting the landscape. The glorious scenery, with its abundance of wildlife, is literally on the doorstep and there was the additional bonus of delicious home-cooked food and comfortable accommodation."


Alison, UK:

"I was looking for a combination of natural, country scenery away from the crowds, combined with good instruction. The course fulfilled these aims and more. The setting is wonderful – distant mountains with a hilltop castle, olive groves, rocky walls and outcrops, and amazing purple and bright yellow wildflowers. There were only three of us on the course (Noelle has a maximum of six) and as we were all fairly experienced we were left to our own devices if we wished. Noelle would regularly come round to give advice when needed. She offered an art stimulation exercise each morning but apart from the first day, this was optional. Noelle is a professional artist and teacher of fine art at degree level and offers a wealth of accumulated experience and tips. She is also very flexible, responding immediately to requests for guidance on any particular subject. I definitely feel that my painting has improved as a result. As we were staying at the finca or nearby and eating all the excellent meals there, cooked by Noelle and her husband, the experience was very much like living with a family with all the fun and jollity involved. Our off-painting mealtime discussions were wide ranging and interesting. It was a wonderful experience, thank you Noelle and Richard."


F.A.Q.


What language is used during the painting and sketching classes and activities?

The entire experience is available in English.


Are beginners welcome?

They are. The landscape painting retreat is very beginner-friendly.


Is the landscape painting retreat available to all experience levels?

It is. From absolute beginner who has never touched a painting brush before to experienced painters, all levels are more than welcome. The tutor will teach beginners the basics of observational drawing and painting and help more experienced painters improve their skills and develop a direction of their paintings. Working in a small group, the tutor gives each participant individual attention.


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

No more than six people.


When is the landscape painting retreat available?

Landscape painting retreats in Sierra de Montánchez are available three times a year, in May, September, and October. The next available dates are:


  • May 12-19, 2019 - Fully Booked
  • September 6-13, 2019
  • October 5-12, 2019


Please get in touch to check availability.


Are airport transfers included?

They are. Airport transfers are included in the package. For the May and October dates, please book your flights to arrive at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport Terminal 1 (MAD, commonly known as the Madrid-Barajas Airport). For the September dates, please book your flights to arrive at the Seville Airport (SVQ). Guests are collected before 18.30 and should book their departure flights after 03:00 p.m. from Madrid or after 01:00 p.m. from Seville. Please get in touch in advance to make all needed arrangements.


Is any equipment provided?

Yes, it is. You will be provided with easels, art boards, and sketching stools, water containers, water sprays, basic palettes, aprons, bulldog clips, charcoal, A1 and A2 paper, A5 drawing sketchbook, poster paint, bristle brushes, colored pencils, and ink — provided for workshops only. Guests are expected to bring their own materials for other sessions. Please bring your own drawing tools, brushes, paints, and an A3 pad of paper of your choice. Since you will be out in the landscape painting, please bring a bag to carry your paints, brushes, and water container. Please get in touch for a detailed list of necessary materials.


What else should I pack?

Please make sure you pack light clothes, a hat, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and insect repellent.


How far in advance should I book this painting retreat?

As far in advance as possible — spots get occupied fast. Please contact us for further guidance.


I am a vegetarian. Can I book this painting retreat?

Yes. Please get in touch to discuss your dietary requirements.


Is this retreat available for vegans?

Yes, it is. Please get in touch 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.


Can my non-painting partner join me?

Of course. Please get in touch for a special non-painting quote.


Do I need a visa?

Guests traveling from EU and/or Schengen member states may enter Spain for up to 90 days for tourist purposes without a visa. Please contact us for further guidance.


I have allergies. Can I still book this experience?

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?

WiFi is only available at nearby local bars. However, there is good mobile phone signal at the accommodation.


What is the cancellation policy for this experience?

A 30% deposit is required upon booking to secure the reservation.


  • The deposit is non-refundable, once the booking has been confirmed. Should you need to cancel, the deposit can be transferred to another landscape painting retreat scheduled within 12 months.
  • The deposit can be paid online with VISA, MasterCard, Discover Card, American Express, and PayPal.
  • The remaining balance is to be paid 30 days before the date of arrival.
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