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Perigord Retreat 01 - Gaining Confidence with Sketching

Updated: Jul 2


I love the group of creative peeps who attended my latest art retreat SO MUCH—nine incredible women and one exceptional hubby who came for support, fun, and adventure. We had all gotten to know each other over a few Zoom calls during the months before we left, and that made for the biggest hugs when we finally got to see each other at the train station in Paris.

Part of my swag gifts - I painted French meadow tote bags for everyone!

After a year of planning, we are finally on our way to meet with Perigord Retreats for nine days of sketching, painting, laughing, eating, wandering, connecting, and taking a break from life to treat ourselves to a magical adventure! It’s a 5-hour train ride from Paris to Gourdon, and I loved seeing the beautiful countryside and the villages along the way.


When we arrived, Harrison (who is very tall—at least 6’5) gave us all bear hugs. I could spot him on the platform with no problem. Then, back at the ranch, we met Katel, Harrison’s wife, who is lovely (and looks like Angelina Jolie) and an incredible gourmet chef who cooked most of our meals on this trip. 



Because I have so many sketches, photos, and stories to share, I will write a few blog posts over the next week so you can get an idea of this region's beauty and how much fun we all had.


After the most delicious dinner on our first night, some of us went out to pick wildflowers. I couldn’t believe it was still light out at 9 p.m. The quiet in the air and the color of the sky were incredible, and we were in the south of France, in a tiny hamlet, living the dream for the next nine days.


The next day, before we left on our excursion, we did some sketching lessons in the studio. Susan, who was on the trip with her husband Dan, happened to be a 7th-grade art teacher—and oh yes, she was the perfect person to teach us one- and two-point perspective drawing! I will always love her for saying yes when I asked her to teach us!

What a treat! Thank you Susan! xo

During this morning's studio time, I asked the group what they were most anxious or nervous about for our retreat. And the common answer was “sketching in public.”


It’s all about confidence. And guess what?! We solved this on Day 1. Keep reading.


 

After lunch, we went on our first excursion to Josephine Baker’s chateau and gardens - Chateau & Jardins des Milandes.


Just the ride alone through the quaint villages was jaw-dropping. May is a very quiet time of year to travel in the South of France, and there were not a lot of tourists, so we had the road to ourselves for the most part!



We took an audio tour of her chateau and learned a ton about this incredible celebrity. I am linking to a great website with some highlights of her career. My favorite part is that she adopted her “Rainbow Tribe” - 12 children of different nationalities and religions—back in the 1950s. Unheard of at that time!


The castle’s six-hectare park has over 60 birds of prey that live in peaceful harmony with the surrounding stone and the valley's natural beauty. We saw an incredible demonstration of some of these beautiful birds.



Toward the end of our tour of the chateau and the gardens, our group sat on these long benches in front of the castle and began to sketch. I never asked them to do it, but we all ended up there, opened our books, pulled out a pen, and started drawing what was in front of our eyes. There was so much beauty in front of us—capturing it on paper seemed like the natural thing to do.


Susan, Leslie, and Erin sketching - we soon all joined them!


There wasn’t anyone around us; we were in our small group, so everyone felt comfortable sketching.


About 20 minutes later, a tour group started to line up in front of us while waiting to enter the chapel next door. It was drizzling a bit, and we were under an overhang, which was the perfect place to wait in line!


So, suddenly, there was an audience and a lot of interest in what we were drawing.


Looking around at my group, I noticed they were all smiling and chatting with complete strangers about their sketches.

One of my favorite group photos - happy sketchers!


Hello, confidence! 


When we got back to the studio, my group realized a few things: they felt more at ease sketching together and chatting with strangers about their art, which wasn't so uncomfortable after all.


I was one proud mama!


Back in the studio - Karen is painting a Snowy Owl, and Leslie is working on her journal

My little pocketbook sketch of the Chateau!


Follow along for more entries about this incredible retreat.

 

If you’d like to wander, explore, and paint with me in Ireland next year, registration has just opened! Click on the link for more info. July 14-21, 2025


Or sign up for my Retreat Waitlist and be the first to know when other amazing retreats open up for registration. https://www.andreagarvey.com/artretreats


P.S. Thank you to some of my Perigord students for sharing their photos with me, I think I couple of these images may be Leslies! xo


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1 Comment


Guest
Jul 10

Lovely! What an artistic adventure !

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