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Nancy Thompson working
on a watercolor
Cortona's central piazza,
a community gathering spot
Our friend Ivan's art gallery,
Il Pozzo, in Cortona

Naancy's sketchbook
illustrating ancient doors
Siena, the town
in siena, the color
The Cypress Walk
by Nancy Thompson

A trellissed doorway in Pienza

A Sketching and Painting Holiday
with Nancy Thompson in Cortona

Dates: May 2 - 12, 2018

Join Nancy Thompson, popular speaker, instructor and accomplished artist, as she returns to Tuscany with a special invitation to paint at Bramasole, Frances Mayes' home in Cortona featured in Under the Tuscan Sun. In addition to Cortona, you'll find inspiration in the piazzas and churches of Siena, the dramatic castle and lake views in the small village of Castiglione del Lago Trasimeno, the captivating town of Pienza and all the everyday sights and pleasures of our country lodgings.

Nancy has always enjoyed the excitement and expression of painting, and her passion includes sharing her techniques with students of all levels so that they can experience the freedom to develop their own art. Nancy has been teaching for more than 20 years and delights in helping students achieve their own styles. Her works are in public and private collections worldwide, and she has been featured on Maryland Public Television and in Southern Living Magazine. Nancy teaches workshops in sketching, watercolor and acrylic both in the U.S. and abroad. Her work is sold through City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC; Bishops Stock Gallery in Snow Hill, MD and through her website A South Carolina native, Nancy now lives in Snow Hill, MD with her husband and fellow traveler, Dick.

The Inspiration of Sketching and Painting in Tuscany

Nancy's workshop combines the best of Tuscany in this opportunity to sketch and paint with a professional . . . inspiring painting and photo opportunities, the private gardens of Bramasole, beautiful expansive views, the winding streets and welcoming piazzas of Cortona and Siena and other colorful locales, Etruscan history and culture, incredible food and wine, a cooking class and maybe even a bit of shopping. This workshop is for all levels of expertise. There will be time each day to sketch, paint and photograph the beauty of Tuscany. Each day Nancy will demonstrate watercolor and sketching techniques and will be available for individual guidance. Her goal is to give each student the tools to develop their own style in small watercolors and sketches.

In addition to the incomparable painting opportunities, you will enjoy a cooking class, guided tour of Cortona, excursions to Siena, Pienza and Castiglione del Lago Trasimeno, opportunities to meet local artists and more. After a beautiful day of sketching, we think you should be rewarded with an opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing on one of the shaded terraces of the villa or taking a refreshing dip in the pool.

On most days you'll have an opportunity to share your work with fellow students and Nancy to discuss what worked and what didn't and to seek suggestions. The week ends with an informal "show and share" of sketches and paintings created during your time together, just before enjoying the final night’s gala dinner.

Your days will be a mixture of at home, painting around our country lodgings and grounds, and away days, with excursions to the architectural wonders of Cortona and Siena, a wine tasting and winery lunch, visiting a local ceramics artist, the charming towns of Pienze and Castiglione del Lago Trasimeno and, of course, a private invitation to sketch in the gardens at Bramasole.

“At Home”

Workshop lodgings are just minutes from Cortona's city center. You'll feel welcome and immersed in the warmth of Tuscan hospitality in a refurbished farmhouse with all the modern conveniences you'll need. Shady terraces offer all manner of seating for enjoying a quiet moment or a friendly conversation. Spacious rooms are comfortably furnished and each has its own bathroom. Footpaths and quiet roads beckon for an afternoon stroll to explore the countryside.


We’ve chosen for your excursions iconic architecture and gardens, stunning landscapes, quiet corners and places where you can discover your own muse. A few highlights:

  • Cortona, where a guided tour will introduce you to this charming town, one of Italy's oldest and founded by the Etruscans. Staired alleyways climb up from a central street, each with its own unique character and nearly begging for the artist's interpretation. Mix with the locals in the central piazza, a community gathering spot especially in the evening. Visit churches and galleries, and don't miss Fra Angelico's stunning The Annunciation (1428-30) in the Museo Diocesano.

  • A special invitation to spend the day sketching and painting in the gardens at Bramasole, Frances Mayes' renovated villa and grounds made famous in her book, Under the Tuscan Sun. Picnic lunch is on one of the villa's charming terraces with views overlooking the countryside.

  • An excursion to Siena where you'll see some of Tuscany's most iconic architcture including historic buildings surrounding the Piazza del Campo, the Duomo and the town hall. Wander the narrow winding streets where you'll be immersed in a warren of structures or find yourslef on one of the city's seven hills with a view of the city below you.

  • A visit to Pienza, a fortified hill town with a Renaissance city center. Pienza is also known for its local pecorino cheese made from sheep's milk. Spend some time in the Piazza Pio II with your sketchbook to capture the graceful architecture or consider a small study of an ancient door with its decorative lock and hinges.

  • Castiglione del Lago Trasimeno is recognized as one of Umbria's most beautiful villages. The Fortress of the Lions dominates the village with its crenelated towers and battlements . . . colorful subjects for your art. Set on a penninsula in one of Italy's largest lakes, sandy beaches and water scenes surround the town.

  • Visits with local artists to learn about Cortona's art scene including a private invitation to our friend Ivan's gallery in Cortona and a visit with a local ceramic artist who will introduce you to Cortona's signature pottery with its unique designs, colors and technique.

    Other Activities

    Tuscan food and wine are an integral part of your workshop experience. A cooking class will introduce you to some of the specialities of Tuscan cuisine. You’ll also enjoy dinner at a restaurant in Cortona where the clientele is mostly Tuscans plus a wine tasting and lunch at a local winery.

    The Week's Itinerary

    For a day-by-day schedule of Nancy's workshop, see our sample itinerary.

    Nancy’s Web Site

    Learn more about Nancy, her work and travels and her creative philosophy at

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