Painting Workshops in Provence with Tessa Baker
Creative Retreat to Provence
Tessa Baker of Painting Provence with Tess invited me to join her painting group for dinner on their last night together. The retreat location in the Vaucluse, a restored farmhouse with a driveway lined with cypress trees, offered the group the benefits of privacy, quiet and plenty of natural space. The evening began with a sparkling wine toast and introductions to the painting students. They came to Provence, from both coasts of the United States, with a common goal of improving their creative talents in the South of France. After a week of artistic creativity with Tessa, the group had connected, sharing email addresses and contact details before heading back to their homes.
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’s background here.
Painting for a Week
On the last evening of Tessa’s painting workshops, the program includes a display of the completed projects. For this painting week, 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. With this group, 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 four (4) people to take a photo of the same thing, the results of these plein air painting sessions produced surprisingly different results.
The group painted for an average of five hours a day, with Tessa guiding them on colour mixing techniques and brush strokes. After a leisurely breakfast prepared by Tessa’s friend and chef Janet, the owner of the Limetree House B&B near Montemboeuf in the Charente, the days passed quickly as a new artistic adventure unfolded. One day, the group visited the ochre cliffs of Roussillon, painting on location and experimenting with the natural pigments. They headed to St Rémy de Provence, visiting the St. Paul de Mausole hospital where Vincent Van Gogh produced many of his masterpieces while in the care of the institution. When time permitted, everyone took advantage of the pool for a swim and perhaps a catnap in the sun.
Janet created healthy meals using produce she had brought with her from her garden. 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.
Book a Painting Provence Session
Tessa Baker offers painting weeks for small groups in Provence, the Charante, and even Antigua. Her new program includes options for 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. Discover more about painting trips in Provence with Tessa.
To find out more about Painting Provence with Tess, please get in touch using the contact form below.