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Pastels & Sketching in Tuscany
June 8 - 15, 2024
with Diane Olivier 

Taught in English

Our one week painting holiday in Tuscany takes place at an elegant villa, over 400 years old, painstakingly restored by an Italian-German team of artists who have created a wonderful international culture and study center.  Complete with a gorgeous swimming pool, Villa Palagione is nestled into the picturesque hills of Tuscany, only 6 kilometers from the art city of Volterra. Within a half hour drive of the villa are several gorgeous fortified hill towns for which Tuscany is famous.  We will pick you up at the airport in Pisa, or if you have your own car, parking is available at the villa.


I encourage artists of ALL levels. Groups of no more than 10 insure that I can work individually with you and develop my days according to your needs. We will be working in sketchbooks and doing pastel in our morning and afternoon sessions which will be peppered with demonstrations and in progress feedback of your work. 


After 40 years, teaching continues to give me great pleasure and I look forward to getting to know each of you and your goals. Hope to see you this summer!


Some of the time will be spent walking through Tuscan hills and Volterra's cobblestone streets.  Participants should be comfortable with carrying their gear on uneven surfaces.  You always have the option of course of remaining at the villa to paint on site.

Typical Schedule 

Subject to change depending on weather, desires of group, or other unforseen circumstances.


Pick up at Pisa airport and arrival at Villa Palagione near Volterra


Saturday night 

Welcome aperativo on the villa's terrace

7:30 pm Dinner at villa



9:00 - 9:45 am breakfast 

10:00 am pastels demo at villa

10:30 - 1:00 pm plein air pastels

1:00 - 2:30 pm light lunch

2:30 - 5:30 pm plein air pastels

5:30 - 7:30 pm Siesta

7:30 pm Dinner at villa


Monday - Friday

9:00 - 9:45 am breakfast 

Painting at Villa, in Volterra and at other nearby locations. Optional museum and historical site visits.

10:00 - 1:00 pm plein air pastels

1:00 - 2:30 pm light lunch

2:30 - 5:30 pm plein air pastels

5:30 - 7:30 pm Siesta

7:30 pm Dinner at villa

Friday night gourmet Farewell Dinner



9:00 - 9:45 am breakfast 

10 - 11 am Check out of accommodation and good-byes!


Drawing Instructor Diane Olivier

Drawing has always been my primary media, working with both traditional and nontraditional materials on scales ranging from small book size to mural size. My subject matter ranges from figurative, landscape and cityscapes to non-representational. The media ranges from charcoal to graphite, to full color pastels to non-traditional mixed
media. The sense of touch between the tools and the paper and the immediacy of the mark are important element in my process. It is a dance between the eyes, the hand and the soul.


Holiday Director Kate Kilbourne

Since 2000, Kate Kilbourne lived part of the year in San Francisco, California, and part of the year in her house in Trôo, France... until 2017 when her partner Robert bought a flat in Cádiz, Spain.  Now Kate and Robert spend the spring and fall all over Europe, running Plein Air Holidays in France, Spain, Italy and in Croatia where they lived for nine months during the Covid pandemic.  Kate is fluent in French and is learning Spanish as fast as she can!

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Drawings by Diane Olivier

Click to enlarge

"Tuscany was wonderful! I learned so much from you about drawing and creating pastels. I really love them and plan to do a lot more!  Thank you for sharing so much of your knowledge about making art with me. You are such an excellent teacher and your work is such an inspiration! Plus the villa was such a great place, and it was really grand to be able to hang out with old friends and make new ones. The place makes that happen!"
-- Robin

Historic renovated lodging at

The recorded history of Villa Palagione starts 400 years ago, in 1598, at the height of the Florentine dynasty of the Medici family. A plaque names the original owner as Girolamo Minucci. He was a knight and cupbearer of various Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Over the centuries the Minucci family represented the interests of the Medici in this region. The area's vast mineral resources were the source of great wealth and power, but also the cause of numerous power struggles. Since the times of Girolamo the appearance of the estate has changed several times over the centuries, bowing to the tastes of past generations and the dictates of fashion trends. The villa has numerous large rooms and halls. The "Lords and Ladies" lived on the central floor, or "Bel-Etage", where today you can still find the most beautiful murals and frescoes.

Villa Palagione

Today Villa Palagione has evolved into an internationally renowned centre of culture and study, a place of encounters, learning, enjoyment and creativity. We offer accommodation for up to 65 guests, seminar and conference rooms, as well as beautiful gardens and a pool for recreation and relaxation. Our in-house Tuscan cuisine varies according to the seasons.  Included in your holiday rate is a daily breakfast buffet, midday light lunch including choice of one salad or pasta plate with house wine or mineral water, and a delicious 5 course evening meal featuring regional specialties and house wine. Espresso drinks, mixed drinks, wine, soft drinks and mineral water can be purchased whenever desired at the lobby bar (not included in holiday rate, to be paid to the villa at the end of the week.)

Included in Holiday
  • 6 days of instruction

  • 7 nights lodging at the Villa Palagione

  • Van pick up at Pisa airport

  • Welcome Aperativo

  • Daily breakfast at villa

  • Daily light lunch at villa or trattoria lunch offsite

  • Nightly 5-course home-cooked dinners at villa

  • Local museums and historical site visits

  • Group vernissage, farewell aperativo

Not Included
  • Air fare

  • Travel insurance

  • Medical insurance

  • Train fare

  • Painting Materials (we will provide paint thinner)


The cost for the 7 night holiday, inclusive of everything listed under "Included in Holiday", varies according to whether you prefer a single room or are planning to share a double.  

Accommodation is in the historic Villa Palagione.

Rooms assigned in order of deposits received, and the most elegant rooms are assigned first!


Double Room: 2850 euros 

Per person


Single Room: 3200 euros 

Per person

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Sign up by Dec. 31

to receive a 200 euro discount!

20% Discount for non-painting participants

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