“An incredibly relaxing way to paint and experience the beauty of Italy’s countryside!"

I stayed at the Retreat for a week in late July for one of their plein air painting holidays. The Retreat is nestled in a beautiful countryside landscape of Italy. It is not a very touristy area which adds to its charm. You look around you and think, “Are you kidding me? Am I in a painting?” Breathtaking views and scenery. You’ve got mountains, hills, valleys, vineyards, and endless sunflower fields. It was a treat in itself to have a home base in this serene beauty. You could live there a lifetime and not run out of things to paint. Visiting the nearby hilltop towns in the evenings for some watercolor painting was a really cool experience as well. The towns are nearly abandoned or they have a pretty small population so we’d show up, John would do a demonstration and then we got to go off on our own to pick a spot to sketch and paint. I thought this was really neat and you could feel like a local artist in an Italian village on a hill. No matter which way you went, there were quaint little cobblestone alley ways with arched doorways and historic architecture. John and Jana could not have been better hosts! I had the most amazing week staying with them. Jana is an amazing cook who made us amazing, unique local and organic meals that were unbelievably delicious. As a foodie myself, there were plenty of opportunities to try out local cuisine and wines. John is an outstanding artist and teacher and just all around genuine guy! He will always keep you smiling and laughing. He gives great one on one critiques and help when you need it and took us around to some wonderful painting locations and hilltop towns. Whether you’re more advanced or more of a beginner in the arts, this trip will suit you. You really learn to appreciate what goes into plein air painting. I had a wonderful week and would love to come back!

Ashley H, ,

Amazing experience !!

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 !!!

Jess V. ,

Florence Watercolour course

I came on Easter week. There were just two of us: me from London, and Myrna from Houston. We 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 in LeMarche.

D. Oliver,,

Watercolour Florence

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 Uffiz Museum. He is a great teacher and a very nice person who worked very hard to help me improve my skills. I look forward to studying with him in LeMarche.

M. Yarney, ,