This sensational 10-day painting holiday for beginners is crafted to offer you a true taste of India, away from the tourist traps of the north, so you have plenty of time to slow down and record all that Kerala has to offer with your pencil or brush. Don't lose the chance to explore India and work on your painting skills.
Our enthusiastic, down-to-earth and accomplished tuition makes this so much more than simply a painting holiday. Suitable for complete novices, everyone on this holiday will be of an equal standard, so there’s no need to worry about your ability. Our tutors will also happily adapt the course to your individual needs, as it’s important to us that you feel comfortable, confident and passionate about your painting. One thing’s for sure, after 10 days your drawing and painting skills will improve considerably.
With its mountainous peaks, sedate backwaters, timeless tea plantations and exotic wildlife, Kerala is a magical pocket of southwest India that will captivate you from the moment you arrive.
During this painting holiday we will find ourselves way off the tourist trail and have the opportunity to meet local Keralites in their homes and workplaces, who will gladly offer us a unique insight into life in Kerala. Unlike many Eastern countries, here locals are happy to take time out of their day to pose for sketches and paintings, in fact, they positively welcome it!
But that’s not all, as we will also enjoy the mouth watering local cuisine, warm hospitality and exotic charms of this region.
Arrive in Cochin and transfer to the Kumarakom backwaters
After landing at Cochin City Airport we'll be greeted by our local guide. From here it’s a short journey south to the small town of Kumarakom, in the heart of Kerala’s enchanting backwaters.
After checking into our lovely first hotel we’ll enjoy a spot of lunch and welcome drink, all against the backdrop of exotic tropical birds native to this part of India. Dinner tonight will be a welcoming feast at the hotel.
A morning drawing class and exploring the backwaters
Following a morning drawing class by the hotel’s pool we’ll head out to explore Kumarakom and the surrounding backwaters. Here life exists at a slower pace and we’re free pitch up our drawing boards and practice some sketching, while observing all the activity that takes place on the water and riverbanks.
After stopping for a leisurely lunch at a local restaurant we have a chance to visit a local school and teach some of the children a few things about life back at home and perhaps a thing or two about art… (Or vice versa!)
It’s then time to stroll back to the hotel stopping on the way to meet some locals who, with the help of our guide, will be able to offer us an insight into day-to-day life in the backwaters. Here, with the help of your tutor, there will be plenty of opportunities to throw yourself into some quick fire sketching portrait exercises, as we’ll no doubt also be accompanied by a few locals more than happy to pose!
A chance to relax by the pool and a look at the day’s sketches
After a day of exploring it’s time for a well-earned cocktail and lie-down by the hotel’s pool.
For those who want to there is also a chance to have a traditional Indian massage.
As the sun sets, we gather outside on the terrace to have a look at some of the day’s sketches. (Everyday on this holiday tutors will set a specific theme or series of exercises that will help you to focus your creativity in one area.) It’s then time for yet another mouthwatering southern Indian dinner followed by a chance to explore the local area and get to grips with some night sketching using different media!
All aboard our houseboats and an artistic adventure into the backwaters
Following a morning art class we leave our hotel and journey down to the water’s edge and to our stunning fleet of traditional houseboats. There’s no better way to explore this network of waterways than by boat and today and tonight we’ll be taken deep into the untouched backwaters of Kerala. We’ll have the chance to stop along the way to set up camp and experiment with different media, using all the exotic flora, fauna and remote villages that line the miles of riverbanks as subject matter.
Following lunch on the boats, we’ll sedately cruise further into the backwaters, stopping along the way to record paddy fields, men in their homemade canoes, local communities and waterside toddy shops. Our boats will then take us to Alleppey, a town with picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons, described as ‘the Venice of the East’ by Marco Polo.
Late afternoon stroll around Alleppey, a look at the day’s pictures and dinner on the boats
Here we’ll moor up the houseboats, grab our pencils and sketch pads and wander around the local area. As the sun sets over the backwaters we’ll gather on deck and enjoy a G&T or two (to help keep the mosquitoes at bay, of course...) and take a look at some of the day’s pictures. Our chef will then cook us up a selection of local curries for us to sample on the boat – a mouthwatering introduction into gastronomy in Kerala!
Transfer inland to the Cardamom Hills and settle into our jungle lodge
Today offers a very different taste of Kerala as we journey inland to the Cardamom Hills and to the edge of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Misty, with deep valleys, roaring waterfalls, thick jungle and wild tigers, this region is an artist’s dream. Here we check into our hotel sitting down to a delicious lunch offering different flavours and ingredients to those found in the backwaters.
Up-close and personal with an elephant!
After lunch we visit a nearby elephant reserve where you have the chance to wash an elephant in their oversized bath! This is a truly magical experience, however, by no means compulsory! Here you can also ride an elephant through the reserve. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.
Today you have the choice of three different activities:
OPTION 1 – OVERNIGHT CAMPING EXPEDITION INTO THE TIGER RESERVE
During this expedition you will venture deep into the reserve with a tribal guide. If you want to increase your chances of seeing wild elephants and tigers, as well as get well and truly back to nature, this is not to be missed!
(There is a £60 surcharge for this. Only six places are available and they are offered on a first come first served basis. Please be aware that this expedition involves about 5 hours walking over uneven terrain in humid conditions)
OPTION 2 – ONE-DAY JEEP SAFARI INTO THE TIGER RESERVE
During this jeep safari you will drive deep into the reserve. This will also increase your chances of seeing wild elephants and tigers.
(There is a £40 surcharge for this. Places are also limited and will be offered on a first come first served basis. Please be aware that this jeep safari involves about 2 – 3 hours walking in humid conditions)
OPTION 3 – PAINTING PROJECT IN THE TOWN OF KUMLEY
Spend the morning with a painting tutor who will set you a creative project in the town of Kumley. You will also be able to visit a local market and a spice plantation. Lunch will be at the hotel and dinner will be at a local restaurant.
(There is no surcharge for this activity)
Munnar and the tea plantations
After lunch in Kumley we journey further into the heart of Kerala and to the majestic tea plantations surrounding the town of Munnar. After settling into our hotel we have the chance to practice some painting techniques using the awe inspiring surrounding landscape at sunset as our subject. It's then time of dinner at the hotel followed by a look at the previous day's pictures.
Jeep safari into the hills of Kulukmalai
Just before sunrise we are picked up at the hotel by a convoy of jeeps! These jeeps take us on a journey through the plantations and into the hills of Kulukmalai. Put simply, the scenery here is awe inspiring and best seen early in the morning, as the mist slowly rises off the tea leaves. After breakfast in the hills, we visit a secluded tea factory which has not changed since the 1930s.
Transfer to Munnar town
On returning to our hotel for lunch we then travel to the town of Munnar where there will be the chance to have a one on one tutorial with your tutor. As early evening draws in we'll have a look at a selection of the day's paintings and drawings and then sit down to a wonderful dinner made from ingredients grown in the surrounding hills.
Journey back to the coast and to Cochin
After breakfast we’ll head west and back down to the coastal town of Cochin. After settling into our lovely hotel in the heart of the old town known as Fort Cochin, we’ll enjoy a spot of lunch and then head out to explore the town. Most of Fort Cochin is over one thousand years old and has an unusual blend of Portuguese, Dutch, English and, of course, Indian architecture.
Fort Cochin beach at sunset
As evening draws in we’ll wander down to the beach to bask in the golden sun while recording all the hustle and bustle, including fishing boats being loaded up and heading out to sea, local children playing games in the sand and old timers chewing the cud. Dinner tonight will be at a local waterside restaurant.
A morning of shopping or a walking tour of Fort Cochin and afternoon of tutorials
This morning there is the chance to go shopping with a local guide or you can have a guided walking tour of some of the other many highlights of Fort Cochin.
After we all meet for a leisurely lunch you’ll be able to have a one on one tutorial with your tutor, who will help you edit your (now quite considerable!) portfolio down into a final selection which reflects your time in Kerala. Perhaps you were most struck by waterside life in the backwaters, the wildness of the jungle, the sedate pace of life in and around the tea plantations of Munnar or the lively comings and goings of Fort Cochin…
Tonight we’ll all be sitting down to our final feast!
Leisurely breakfast and depart for Airport
This morning depends very much on flight times, however, usually we’ll enjoy an early breakfast and head to the airport. Depending on flight times, there may also be the opportunity to get in some final shopping!