Painting Holidays in Provence with Tessa Baker
Painting in Provence
Sometimes when you meet someone, it feels like you have known them forever, which was the case with Tessa Baker. Warm and welcoming, Tessa is a talented artist who runs small-group painting holidays and workshops in Provence, Italy and beyond.
She had invited me to join her “Painting Provence with Tess” group for their last evening together. They were staying in a restored farmhouse with a cypress-lined driveway, with privacy for their creative work. The festive evening began with a sparkling wine toast and introductions to the students who had come to Provence from both coasts of the United States. They all shared a common goal of improving their painting techniques in Provence. By all accounts, it was a week filled with artistic creativity, fabulous food, and new friendships.
Painting for a Week
With this group, each of Tessa’s guests had some previous painting experience. However, that is not a requirement as Tessa is happy to coach anyone who wants to learn how to paint.
She challenged them to try a wet watercolour technique that involved dampening the canvas before applying the colour. This method requires a quick hand and forces the artist to embrace abstraction. Much like asking a group to photograph the same scene, the results of these painting sessions produced surprisingly different results. Discover more about painting trips in Provence with Tessa.
The group painted for an average of five hours a day, with Tessa coaching them on colour mixing techniques and brush strokes. During her tours, Tessa organizes several day trips that combine exploring Provencal highlights and painting time.
On her Provence tours, the group often visit the ochre cliffs of Roussillon, painting on location and experimenting with the natural pigments. They head to St Rémy de Provence, visiting the Saint Paul de Mausole hospital where Vincent Van Gogh produced many of his masterpieces while in the institution’s care.
Since it’s hard to be creative on an empty stomach, Tessa’s longtime friend Janet produces healthy meals. After the festive aperitif, we ate a delicious dinner al fresco finishing with Janet’s homemade pannacotta. After a week of creative work and fabulous food, the students said their good-byes before heading off to pack for early departures the next morning.
Artist and Chef
Born in London, Tessa lived with her parents and four sisters in the English countryside village of Rousham. Her creative education included Chelsea School of Art and later at Slade School of Fine Arts. Tessa’s artistic interests sparked working with her mother on theatre set designs. However, her father determined that she needed a practical profession and sent her to Switzerland to train as a chef. Both educational paths have served her well, she has painted for over 30 years, and she has proven culinary talents. Read more about Tessa Baker’s background.
Book a Painting in Provence Session
Tessa Baker offers painting weeks for small groups in Provence, from her farmhouse in Lorgues and the Cinque Terre in Italy. Her program also includes long weekend workshops and day courses based from her home in the Var. Whether you choose the full program or a shorter session, you will acquire new skills and confidence with a paintbrush.
Painting Provence with Tess (website). The 2021 tour dates are listed below, and short courses are available on demand.
Paint Provence (based in Lorgues):
Includes visits to Tourtour, Lorgues, Saint Tropez, and Commanderie de Peyrassol a vineyard and Sculpture Park.
April 17th – 24th, 2021
May 8th – 15th, 2021
June 19th – 26h, 2021
Paint Provence (based in Valmasque):
Includes visits to Roussillon and Les Baux
September 4th – 11th 2021
September 18th – 25th, 2021