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About Us

Tom Hughes, Plein Air Painting Instructor 
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Tom Hughes was born in Massachusetts in 1965.  He attended Northeastern University and M. I. T. for physics but left in 1986 to work as a staff artist for the Christian Science Monitor daily newspaper, until 1989.  After this, he did freelance illustration for a few years while he taught himself to paint.

Plein air painting instructor Tom Hughes

Hughes has been a professional artist - having finished his last actual job in 1992 - for 20 years.  He paints figures, portraits and landscapes in various media: oil, acrylic, watercolor and alkyd.  He has had solo exhibitions at galleries in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, the New England states, and France.  His work has been featured in American Artist Watercolor magazine and Fine Art Connoisseur, for which he painted the magazine's publisher Eric Rhoads's portrait in oils.  Tom Hughes is one of the artists whose work is featured in a book about watercolor painting skills, Watercolor Painting by Tom Hoffmann, published in 2012 by Watson-Guptill.

In 1999, Hughes moved from New Hampshire to Meeks Bay on the west shore of Lake Tahoe where he and his wife Charlene lived for several years.  They now reside in Alameda, CA.

I am complete painting beginner and I took his workshop in September. He was so patient guiding me. I learned a lot from him. My painting skill was improved in the last day. I was so surprised with the result. He used different technique using big brushes and big stroke.  The masonite board that were used had different feeling and nice texture with the painting. Overall, it's very great experience to learn from this artist!

Allentine T.

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Ramona K.


I've taken a couple of workshops from Tom.  His demonstrations, easy conversation, and encyclopedic knowledge of methods makes it feel as if each lesson is tailor made for your individual needs.   Everything a good workshop teacher should be including a master artist.  Watercolor, acrylic, oil paint, his skill is absolute.

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Tom Hughes, plein air painting instructor

Tom's workshops include demonstrations by the artist, individual instruction and critique, universal encouragement, and lots of laughs. 


"Students work on their own paintings, and I spend time with everyone, helping wherever I can.


Critiques, such as they are, occur naturally in the course of teaching, but if people want a formal, end-of-workshop Critique, no problem."

Kate Kilbourne, Holiday Director
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Kate Kilbourne was born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1963.  She earned a degree in French Language and Literature from Tufts University in 1985, and along the way spent a year studying at the Université de Nice in the south of France.  She moved to Paris in 1998 to study painting, and also worked as a feature writer and columnist for France Today, a francophile magazine published in English. Kate's articles focused on French culture, food and travel.


Kate has owned the Cave Yuccas property since 2000.  In 2005 she began restoring the cottage above the cave which she now rents out as a vacation home.  Kate is an excellent bilingual guide to the local markets, chateaux, and vineyards, and she will do everything she can to make your week in this ancient troglodyte village a magically memorable holiday.


"Having lived in France and studied French my whole life, it seemed to be my destiny to live, at least part time, in France.  I became enchanted by Trôo whilst on a romantic vacation with a boyfriend in 2000. It was a combination of the charm of the cave village, the sheer beauty of the views from the property, and the amazing local food and wine. It's been over 15 years since, and the enchantment has not yet worn off!"


Since 2000 Kate has spent every spring and fall in Trôo, her two favorite seasons.  She lives the rest of the year in San Francisco, California, where she enjoys printmaking (linocut and etching).

Kate Kilbourne, Holiday Director
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