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Expressive Portrait Drawing Workshop from Live Models 

Sept. 25 - 30, 2020

With Oliver Sin

Taught in English

Our 5 night holiday in Tuscany takes place at an elegant villa, built by the Medici family over 400 years ago, and painstakingly restored by an Italian-German team of artists who have created an 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.  It's 65 kilometers from Pisa airport, and we provide van transfer service between the airport and the villa.  Within a half hour drive of the villa are several gorgeous fortified hill towns for which Tuscany is famous.   


Since Oliver has always been deeply inspired by the 20th Century master artist, Nicolai Fechin, he employs his influence in creating sensitive, emotional and dramatic portraits in vine charcoal. To capture the insight and warmth of each subject, then transfer it from life to drawing paper is Oliver’s motivation.  To leave behind an essence of personality on drawing paper, along with intense personal feelings, is Oliver’s attempt to reveal his approach towards art and life. 

This workshop will help students to make competent portrait drawings.  Oliver Sin offers step by step demonstrations that will help students to understand the structure of face in term of shapes, plane changes, and value by using lines and value rendering. Students will learn the techniques of mastering expressive portraiture drawings with vine charcoal, charcoal pencils on drawing papers and tonal papers. All levels are welcome. I’m very flexible in teaching and I prefer to use pic references on first day then live model on subsequent days of workshop. 

Material list: 

Extra Soft Vine Charcoal

Willow Charcoal

A pad of 18 by 24 inch Strathmore 70 lbs Drawing Paper. Medium Surface

A pad of 18 by 24 inch Smooth Newsprint

4B and 6B drawing pencils, General's Brand Charcoal

White Pastel Drawing Pencils, General's Brand

Gray Toned Charcoal Paper, Any Mid Tone Gray

Kneaded Eraser

Final Faxitif

Workshop Schedule 

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


Friday Sept. 25
Pick up at Pisa airport and arrival at Villa Palagione near Volterra


Friday night 

Welcome Vino e Formaggio party on the villa's terrace 



9:00 - 9:45 am breakfast 

10:00 - 1:00 pm visit to Volterra & sketching

1:00 - 2:30 pm lunch in a trattoria

2:30 - 5:30 pm museum & sketching

6:00 - 8:00 pm free time at villa

8:00 pm Dinner


Sunday - Tuesday

9:00 - 9:45 am breakfast 

10 - 1:00 pm Drawing live models

1:00 - 2:30 pm Picnic lunch

2:30 - 5:30 Drawing live models

6:00 - 8:00 pm free time at villa

8:00 pm dinner


Tuesday night gourmet Farewell Dinner in Volterra


Wednesday Sept. 30

9:00 - 9:45 am breakfast 

10 - 11 am Check out of accommodation

Van transfer to Pisa Airport


Drawing Instructor Oliver Sin

Oliver Sin is an alumnus from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA, with a BFA in Illustration. Right after he graduated in 1996, he started his art career as a computer game concept artist in LucasArts. Since 2001 until now, Oliver has returned to his own school to be an art professor for the School of Fine Arts and 2D Animation. Since 2011, Oliver has been lucky enough to come across a few distinguished contemporary artists as his mentors, ZhaoMing Wu, Henry Yan and Chung-Wei Chien. Their tireless guidance has urged him to put greater efforts in capturing fleeting human expressions and paying more attention to precise composition in figurative portraits.  Oliver’s first educational art book, “Drawing the Head for Artists” is published by Rockport publisher on August 6th 2019 and his portrait has won Exceptional Merit Award of the Portrait Society of America’s portrait competition out of 2968 international entries in April 2019.

Plein Air Painting Workshop Director

Holiday Director Kate Kilbourne

Since 2000, Kate Kilbourne has lived part of the year in San Francisco, California, and part of the year in Troo, France... until 2017 when her partner Robert bought a flat in Cadiz.  Now Kate spends the early spring and late fall in Spain.  She is fluent in French and is learning Spanish as fast as she can!

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 and includes a breakfast buffet, and a midday or evening meal (a set meal with several courses) featuring regional specialties. 

Included in Holiday
  • 4 days of instruction

  • Live models

  • Drawing easels

  • 5 nights lodging at the Villa Palagione

  • Welcome Vino e Formaggio party

  • Daily breakfast at villa

  • Daily picnic or trattoria lunch

  • Nightly home-cooked  dinners at villa

  • Volterra visit

  • Farewell 3 course gourmet dinner -- wine not included

Not Included
  • Air fare

  • Travel insurance

  • Medical insurance

  • Train fare

  • Drawing materials

  • Wine with Farewell dinner


The cost for the 5 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.


Double Room: 1650 euros 

Per person


Single Room: 1850 euros 

Per person

20% Discount for non-painting participants

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