2020 Oil Painting Workshop

We are delighted to have Paul McDonald Smith OAM leading this year’s oil painting workshops.

Influenced by the work of Sir William Dargie, Paul began painting in his early teens. He studied Fine Art at RMIT and undertook many years of extensive private study. In 1986 Paul received a travel scholarship for European Study. Paul has been exhibiting since 1974 and continues to conduct painting classes and workshops since commencing in 1977.

Among his numerous memberships and roles, Paul is a long time member and past president of the prestigious Twenty Melbourne Painters Society. For eleven years Paul served as Chairman of the Bale Scholarship. He is a Fellow, past president and Honorary Life Member of the Victorian Artists Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts – London. Paul has judged innumerable art prizes around Australia, frequently lectures and provides demonstrations, is an author and curator and an awarded artist himself.

Paul will teach and lead oil painting workshops covering plein air in and around the gorgeous local village and surrounding area as well as interiors, still life and portraits. There is, by design, flexibility in the workshops to best take advantage of the light and conditions.

About the Retreat

This is a boutique and intimate experience with a maximum of 10 guests to allow optimal individual attention and teaching.

We have exclusive use of the private Villa San Rocco, set in a mountain village high above Bagni di Lucca. There you can participate in workshops in a relaxed and inspiring environment.

Once you have unpacked and settled in, you’re done; all that’s left for you to do is focus on your art and maybe get to know the locals. In preference to packing and unpacking and moving around every few days, we offer a slower paced, immersive experience. You will, of course, spend time at other locations during the day but the villa is our base. You are encouraged to treat the place like a home away from home. There are lots of wonderful locals to meet. Past guests have forged firm friendships with village locals. Our group visits are now a familiar and welcome part of the community.

Who is this retreat for?

The retreat is for anyone interested in representational oil painting. You have an excellent opportunity to hone existing skills or develop new skills under the guidance of a highly skilled artist.

Suitable for solo travellers or those travelling with a partner or friend.
Non-practicing guests are welcome and can join the group in most activities if they choose. There is plenty for non-practicing guests to do – as active or passive as they like.


Eight Masterclasses with Paul McDonald Smith covering plein air oil painting workshops, interiors, still life and portraits.

Accommodation at the private and exclusive 17th century Villa San Rocco for the duration of the retreat. This Baroque era villa has been lovingly restored to retain authenticity while still providing modern conveniences.

Each bedroom has its own bathroom or en suite. All bedrooms are doubles and there are three twin rooms. Free and secure unlimited WiFi is available to guests. All linen is provided and laundry facilities are available.


* Daily Italian style breakfast buffet
* Prepared lunches each day at the villa, except day/s off or day away at a
   different location
* Nightly dinners at the villa and local restaurants

Any special dietary requirements can readily be catered for. A fabulous local cook prepares meals using beautiful regional produce.

Off-site plein air locations where Paul McDonald Smith will advise and support you in the representational approach to oil painting.

Transfers to and from Lucca train station on arrival and departure days.
Transport to other locations by car, minibus or train.

Itinerary Outline

* On arrival, settle in to your home for the next 12 days.  Get to know your
   fellow artists and the retreat team over welcome drinks and dinner.
* Each day will start with an Italian style buffet breakfast in the dining room.
* A three hour workshop in the morning
* Lunch at the villa – usually outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather at that 
   time of year
* Free afternoons. You can continue painting, relax at the villa, go
   for a walk and explore the gorgeous landscape and village, walk down the
   road and have a vino at the cafe, read, snooze…
* Dinner at the villa or at a local restaurant accompanied by stories galore;
   some true, some embellished!
* On the two days off, breakfast and dinner are provided however lunch is up
   to you as most people tend to go out for the day

Your Retreat Team

Paul McDonald Smith – Teaching artist
Jonny – Villa owner and host
Franca – Fabulous cook
Sana – Retreat organiser

Retreat details at a glance

Dates:  18 September to 29 September 2020
Duration:  12 days / 11 nights inclusive of arrival and departure days
Location:  Tuscany, Italy
Cost:  AUD$6,350


Image: Paul McDonald Smith “Souvenir of Italy – Sovicille” oil on linen
46 x 61cm.