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Our move to Italy many years ago, was inspired by our passion for Italian art, its food, history and culture. It was love at first sight. Starting first with art courses at our country house and art studio ‘The Retreat’, in the heart of the Le Marche region, where guests would find all regions of Italy combined into one – the rolling hill-sides, ancient towns and coastal scenes and beaches of the south all in one panoramic view. We soon expanded to become “Painting Holiday Italy”, offering courses throughout Italy so we could offer our many new returning guests more locations to explore through the eye of an artist.

Join us in sharing our love for all things Italian around the most stunning locations and let yourself be guided by your experienced tutor throughout your creative holiday for an experience of a life-time.

The Tutor – John W. Skelcher



Here are a few examples of my recent work

These paintings are part of a recent series of work and many have been shown at recent exhibitions in London, Paris, Russia and Italy.

Throughout the Year, I work on my own paintings and exhibit my body of work. I also take part in international painting competitions,amongst others the UK SkyTV Landscape Painter of the Year award and Florida’s largest Plein-air competition in 2018 and am representing England and Wales in Italy’s most prestigious watercolour festival at Fabriano in Italy in 2023.

Please contact me if you would like to purchase prints or buy a painting.

I am a professional landscape artist and have over 25 years of art tutoring experience. I have been teaching students of all levels of ability, from beginners to degree level. Whether I am teaching oil painting, drawingor watercolours , I always strive to bring out the best in my students and positively encourage them to develop confidence in their skills. I have taken many students on art trips to Italy and France and enjoy sharing my knowledge of painting techniques and the History of Art during the annual workshops I teach for Painting Holiday Italy.

I always aim to provide guidance and advice on how my students can improve their skills further and encourage them to explore new ideas without infringing on their own artistic expression. I foster a relaxed and friendly atmosphere to allow participants to feel at ease if beginners and allow more experienced artists to push themselves further in a stimulating environment.

Since graduating in 1993 with a BA Hons Degree in Fine Art Painting and Drawing, I have spent many years painting in Italy and enjoying the Italian life-style. I studied classical realist painting at Angel Academy Florence and The Paris Academy of Art. I have exhibited in national exhibitions in Britain and abroad. For many years, I held a studio in London and was a member of Contemporary British Artists’ Organisation (CBA), who’m I still have links with.

I enjoy developing my art practice when painting and teaching in Italy in the summer months, which is when I mainly focus on the landscape using traditional materials such as oil. I have been dividing my time between painting in England and Italy.

I look forward to meeting you on your chosen course for a memorable art experience and a wonderful holiday in Italy’s most beautiful location. You can see more of my work and style I teach on Painting Holiday Italy Courses on my Insta Page here.


Jana is in charge organisation of courses and administrative tasks, from enquiries to guest bookings, she also ensures you have all the relevant travel details you need to make your journey to us a smooth experience and that the dietary requirements of guests are met. With many years of looking after guest hospitality and guest’ liaison, she is your point of contact for any enquiries and questions you may have, and will take care of your individual needs, so you can enjoy a wonderful painting retreat.

At The Retreat, she also takes care of guest hospitality for summer holiday rentals and runs her own Cooking and Truffle Hunting School for visitors to the area. For many years, she has provided deliciously healthy mediterranean meals from local produce, and her culinary journey has led her also to becoming an on-line Cooking Instructor for a Healthy Ageing Platform in the UK.

She is passionate learning the local ancient skills, from truffle hunting to wine-making.  Her expertise, and driven by the many requests over years by guests to collate her recipes, she has written over 300 recipes, and now also runs a cooking school TrufflesinItaly at the farmhouse, where she creates inspiring and healthy dishes and teaches classes for holiday makers, and on-line classes for a British Healthy Ageing Platform. She enjoys truffle hunting with her team of dogs, takes guests on truffle experiences before teaching them how to cook with the precious aromatic tuber.

Together with John the tutor, she is a co-founder of The Retreat and Painting Holiday Italy. She is a driving force behind its development into a well-established art retreat throughout the years. Jana enjoys developing inspirational and delicious menus from local produce for our guests. She let’s herself be inspired by seasonal colours, flavours and aromas to ensure our guests enjoy healthy, seasonal and varied meals throughout their stay.



Thank you for your stories, art history, talent, expertise and fun. We truly enjoyed ourselves can’t thank you enough for your support and kindness with my son Derrick.

 F. Lawn

Venice Course

I loved my week of study with John. It was an amazing experience. I enjoyed the stay at the Convent and the restaurant where we had our meals. He added in a Evening walking tour and a visit to the Uffizi Museum. He is a greyat teacher and a very nice person who worked very hard to help me improve my skills. I look forward to studying with him again.

M. Yarney

Watercolour Florence

I came on Easter week. I had the best time! The Oblate convent was a great, simple central location. The watercolour course was inspiring. I had painted before, but John Skelcher was an excellent teacher of perspective and colour theory. He was also a great guide to Florence – showing where the best Gelateria is! He also knew that there was a special Easter ceremony at the cathedral, and made sure we didn’t miss it. I would love to come next year to one of his oil painting courses.

D. Oliver

Florence Watercolour course