Tuscany Drawing Retreat

Learn to draw in Tuscany.

Tuscany Drawing Retreat

Next Session: Sunday, May 31st - Saturday, June 6th, 2020
Enrollment Closes: Jan 1st, 2020
Location: Barberino Val d’Elsa, Tuscany!

Discover the joy of drawing and the beauty of Tuscany in this week-long guided experience. Students will explore the Tuscan countryside, practicing drawing as a means to observe, appreciate, and connect with their environment in a meaningful way. With guided instruction, group critique and conversation, and a first-hand experience of Tuscany’s local farms and vineyards, students will strengthen their relationship to drawing and looking through this unconventional taste of Italy.

The Drawing Course

Students will begin each day with a 3-hour guided drawing course, working directly from the Tuscan landscape. Drawing on-site and in their sketchbooks, students will consider their relationship to place, exploring drawing as a record of experience. Through observational exercises, students will be encouraged to draw with consideration of scale and proportion, as much as impression, movement, and mark. As a group we will discuss these languages, and how the visual elements of a drawing work to create meaning and impact in a work of art. In the afternoons students are free to do their own exploring and independent work. The class will later re-group for dinner and drinks.


Our home base: Barberino Val d’Elsa

We will spend the entire week of our course in the small, tuscan town of Barberino Val d’Elsa. Students will stay at a local agriturismo (farmhouse accommodation) and meet daily at Fattoria le Masse, a tuscan villa and family-owned vineyard, where they’ve been making wine for over 50 years! Barberino Val d’Elsa is a scenic and peaceful reprieve from city life, filled with farms, vineyards, great local restaurants, and hiking. It is also 1 hour by bus to Florence, so students can make day trips into the city if they like.

Students will meet every morning for coffee and breakfast at the villa. We will conduct our drawing course on the vineyard and village grounds. We will also have access to our own private studio for the entire week. Students can set up shop in the studio, and use the space as they like in the afternoons.

The town of Barberino Val d’Elsa is a short walk (15-20 mins) from our accommodations at Villa Spoiano. Students can stop in the town for lunch, grab a coffee, grocery shop, or to draw from the beautiful Medieval village and local church.

The week is set up for students to get away from busy tourist centers, enjoy Tuscany, and dive into their sketchbooks.

Our own private studio for the week!

Our own private studio for the week!

Local church in Barberino Val d’Elsa’s medieval village.

Local church in Barberino Val d’Elsa’s medieval village.

In the village

In the village


Participants will stay at a local agriturismo, Villa Spoiano, a beautiful 20 minute walk from Fattoria Le Masse. Students will have their choice of private or shared rooms. It is recommended you book early to guarantee availability. Accommodation includes access to a terrace and surrounding property with scenic views. Rooms include access to wifi. Student accommodations are not included in the course price, but can be booked separately from a reserved block of rooms, at a very reasonable price.


Breakfast, 3 dinners and an aperitivo are included in the program price. Dinners will include 3 home-cooked meals straight from the garden/kitchen of Fattoria Le Masse! Students will get to pick their own lettuce and vegetables from the garden, and have them prepared for dinner. All meals and wine will be locally sourced from Tuscan farms in the area. Our winemakers will guide you in a tasting of local wines so you will end the week knowing the different between a chianti and chianti classico.

Students are free for lunch, which they can eat in the village at great local restaurants, or can grab something quick from a local grocer.

A "fresh from the garden" meal

A "fresh from the garden" meal


If you are in any way considering the Tuscan Drawing Excursion, just do it.  Right now.  From beginner artists to those with more experience, the time spent immersed in the page of a drawing offers lessons for everyone.  Your days will be well spent and will fly by before you know it.  

Christine offers insightful feedback, helpful hints, and a new way of seeing the world around you as an artist, budding artist, or non-artist.  Everyone can learn something from taking the course, both on and off the sketchbook pages.  Christine has set up amazing authentic Tuscan experiences that will expose you to another side of Italy you may not have seen before.  (And be sure to take her up on all her food recommendations!)  Have you booked yet? What are you waiting for?!"

       -Lauren Briel, Student 2017

“Christine’s trip is a slice of Italian culture that truly links you to Florence through it’s local food, fantastic site visits, camaraderie, and most of all, chances to observe and draw it all under the eye of a fantastic teacher!  I want to go again! 

- Claire Gilgannon, Student 2018

“The Tuscan Drawing Excursion was a wonderful creative immersion into the Florentine world of Renaissance painting, architecture, modern day vini-culture, cuisine and of course gelato. Under Christine Garvey's wonderful teaching I tried out new ways of seeing and drawing while sitting and drawing under a bridge alongside the Arno river, in the middle of farm producing wine and olive oil or inside a magnificent church! It was a very rich, sensory experience which Christine has designed for a wonderful week of artistic learning and cultural adventure! Era meraviglioso (It was marvelous)!”

- Teddy Pearlman, Student 2018

"Christine is a smart and caring teacher who is deeply invested in giving each student a rewarding experience that is custom-tailored to his/her skill level. Beginners find her teaching style clear and welcoming, and more experienced students appreciate her sharp eye and wide-ranging skill set. She creates a space in which students feel able to step beyond their comfort zones and challenge themselves. Students who attend Christine's classes are often return customers; once they take one class, they are eager to come back for more."

- Jen Messier, Director - The Brooklyn Brainery

"What better way to discover the beauty and culture of Tuscany than through the daily discipline of sketching the breathtaking landscapes, famous gardens and historic architectural sites of Florence!

Under the expert guidance of artist-teacher, Christine Garvey, students were encouraged to engage with this beautiful setting through developing observation skills and exploring with dynamic drawing techniques. Christine is a skilled and intuitive instructor who is able to translate her unique approach to on-site sketching into a language of drawing that each student, whatever skill level, can comprehend and apply to their own practice... thereby further enriching the experience of travel through drawing.

Christine's affinity for Italian culture enhanced our connection to the people and the place. Charming accommodations situated in the midst of the hip Oltrarno neighbourhood afforded a glimpse into everyday life with historic destinations and sketching sites only minutes away. From the guided museum visits which highlighted famous artworks directly related to the course material, to the discovery each day of local gastronomy, including a wine tour at a stunning Tuscan villa, each element of this drawing excursion was carefully planned to provide an authentic taste of all that this unique region has to offer. This course was the ultimate travel / learning adventure exceeding my expectations on every level!!!"

- Patricia Kehler, Student 2016

"I've been taking classes with Christine for the past few years at the Brooklyn Brainery, and quickly became a big aficionados of her teaching techniques. Her courses, from collage to mixed media to drawing from observation, gave me great tools to work on my own artistic projects and most importantly to learn how to look around me with different eyes! In just a few classes, I learned techniques that I will use over a lifetime to improve my drawing skills. And Christine teaches this with humor and insight. When she offered me to join a small group of students to spend a week in Florence, Italy and get a chance to explore Tuscany through drawing, I jumped right in and couldn't hardly wait to be there! This trip is great for anyone. It was a unique experience and I highly recommend it."

          - Sandrine Delattre, Student 2016


Drawing by Patricia Kehler

Drawing by Patricia Kehler

The Fattoria le Masse family

The Fattoria le Masse family


The Spring 2020 Program Includes:

  • 5 Days of guided drawing coursework with individual attention and critique with expert instructor

  • An evening aperitivo

  • Daily Breakfast

  • 3 Dinners, home-cooked and fresh from the farm

  • Private studio to spread out and make some drawings!

  • Wine tasting with a local wine-maker and tour of an olive-oil factory

  • Optional scenic hike

  • Farming lesson from Fattoria Le Masse team

  • Local tips on what to see/where to eat in Florence (for a day trip)

  • Some surprises along the way!


Course price: €1995
€350 for private room, €245 for shared room

Note: accommodation to be booked separately at Villa Spoiano.
Book early to guarantee availability!


Sunday May 31st - Saturday June 6th, 2020

To register, please contact:   christine.garvey@gmail.com
* Course is subject to enrollment minimums in order to run.


About Christine

Since 2009, Christine Garvey has been teaching drawing workshops across the US, working with institutions like UT Austin, Florence University of the Arts, The Brooklyn Brainery, Pioneer Works Center for Art and  Innovation, and The NY Center for Book Arts. A long-time lover of Italy, Christine first visited as a student in 2006 and has been addicted ever since. In 2013, Christine returned as a teaching artist with Concordia University’s study abroad program in Bagnoregio, assisting in the direction of a month-long drawing course. She returned to Florence in 2015 as a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Fellow at Florence University of the Arts, and began her own program, Tuscan Drawing Excursions. Since then, she's been bringing students from across North America to learn the practice of drawing in the inspiring place that is Tuscany.