Creativity Lab, Tuscany (2024)
A 6-Day Italian Art Retreat at San Fedele Monastery in Tuscany
What is the Creativity Lab?
The Creativity Lab is a special workshop retreat that inspires individuals to unlock their creative potential.
This 6-day Italy workshop will focus on applying a rich set of basic, classical art principles to plein air oil painting. Hosted at an elegantly-restored 900 year-old ancient monastery, participants will also enjoy many culinary and cultural wonders of Tuscany.
Dates: 5/12 - 5/18/2024 (6 nights)
Venue: San Fedele, Tuscany, Italy
Price: $2,750 USD
Hurry! Reserve your spot!
This exclusive experience is expected to fill up fast.
Julie Stonebraker Nelson
Julie Stonebraker Nelson is a renowned artist and educator with a passion for teaching and inspiring creativity in others. Drawing on her 25+ years in classical painting experience from a lineup of modern masters too long to list, Julie leads the Creativity Lab Retreat. She guides participants through the foundational principles of color, composition, and artistic techniques that will make any beginner successful. Julie's holistic approach to creativity helps people apply universal art principles to daily life. Julie's warm and engaging teaching style ensures that participants feel both inspired and supported throughout their creative journey.
Sarah Sedgwick Anderson
Sarah Anderson is an accomplished artist known for her vibrant and expressive works. With a BA in Art History and 10+ years in classical art training, Sarah brings a wealth of knowledge to the Creativity Lab Workshop. Her teaching style is characterized by a practical approach to foundational art principles, encouraging participants to explore their artistic potential. Sarah's expertise in plein air oil painting adds a distinctive dimension to the workshop, fostering a connection between participants and the enchanting landscapes of Tuscany. Sarah has organized art retreats for groups in England, France, New Mexico, Carmel, and New England.
Why participate in this Creativity Lab?
This is a unique opportunity to build your art skills and inspire your creativity
Unlock Your Creative Potential:
While this retreat is designed for the beginner, experienced artists can glean just as much value from studying and practicing time-honored classical principles. We offer a unique opportunity to delve into foundational art principles like color, composition, line, and value. Julie and Sarah guide participants in hands-on exercises, helping them understand and apply these skills. Discussions based on these principles will help foster a more creative mindset that extends beyond the canvas into everyday life.
Plein Air Oil Painting:
The picturesque landscape of San Fedele Monastery and nearby Tuscan landscapes provide an inspiring backdrop for exploring plein air oil painting. Julie and Sarah will give participants all the tools they need to be successful as they begin their journey with sketchbooks and plein air painting. Participants will have multiple opportunities to practice these principles in the stunning rolling hills of Tuscany.
Experience Beyond Painting:
Whether or not you intend to continue as an artist after this retreat, these artistic principles will be applied in many aspects of your life as you seek to live creatively, purposefully and joyfully. Attendees not only get to try something new (and hopefully find a new passion) through plein air painting or watercolor, but they will also be taught to look beyond the skills learned and seek to find or create beauty in their everyday lives.
For example: a solid understanding of composition will aid in designing spaces in your home, arranging flowers, and wearing clothes. Understanding color and value will help you put words into why you like the look of one thing and not the other. Artistic principles are found almost everywhere and after this retreat you will start seeing them!
Hosted at the historical San Fedele Monastery in Tuscany
The Borgo (hamlet) of San Fedele is an architectural site formed by a romanesque church , a 16th century chapel, a parsonage and a detached rural building. The Ministry of Fine Arts has recognized Borgo San Fedele as an architectural site of great historic and environmental interest. Today it is classified as a Historic Residence.
What to expect
A typical day will include early breakfast at San Fedele from 8:00- 9:30. Then Julie will guide you with demos and discussion, after which you will select your painting spot. Lunch will be on your own at local cafes in one of the villages where we paint. We will continue to paint a few hours during the afternoon or visit local sites or gardens. Our daily painting will be combined with other adventures such as:
Day trip to Medieval Siena to sketch, take photos, explore and shop
Excursions to nearby hilltowns like Radda, Castellina, Monteriggioni, etc.
Visit to Chianti winery for a tour and lunch
Variety of plein air locations to paint landscapes, villages, and the Tuscan light
After excursions or painting on location, we’ll return each evening to relax in our 900 year old monastery to enjoy the surroundings and relax after the day’s rich experiences. Then we will move to the dining room (the authentic refectory where the monks used to assemble) to enjoy our local chef’s authentic, homemade Tuscan meal, continuing the day’s discussion with good company. Optional painting session in the old chapel at night.
On the final (Friday) evening, we will have an exhibition of our week’s creations. On the final day after breakfast we will transfer back to Florence: the train station (for those traveling on) or the airport.
Accommodations in the ancient monastery are have been recently fully updated. Prices are quoted in double occupancy. Single occupancy has a $500 supplement.
Dinners are prepared daily by our personal chef using local and seasonal ingredients to make every meal a feast!
Breakfast is served buffet-style and enjoyed indoors or out on the terrace.
Our daily painting will be combined with other adventures, including daily excursions to nearby hilltowns for painting, lunches, and shopping.
There is a lovely private pool at the end of the garden at San Fedele which makes for the perfect end to a long day painting.
Reserve your exclusive spot
$2,750 USD per person
Shared double room in elegant restored monastery ($500 upgrade for single room)
Daily traditional breakfast and dinner
Daily painting and individual guidance
Excursion to Siena
Day excursions to nearby settings and hill towns (San Gimignano, Radda, Volterra, etc.)
Pick up from Florence train station at 3:30pm on arrival
Transfer to Florence station or airport on final day
What's not included
Lunch (lite lunch will be available for purchase at San Fedele on days we are not out on excursion)
Independent meals and sight-seeing
Gratuities – much appreciated by your hard-working staff. (Suggested 10-20 euros per person per day.)
"This workshop was the highlight of my year. It inspired me in so many ways.."
Andrea Dance, CA
Participant at Creativity Lab, Carmel, 2023