How “hands on” is the art instruction on an Arts Sojourn painting workshop?

You may receive as much advice from the instructor as you desire, but we try to keep all aspects of the workshop informal. Our emphasis is on painting for pleasure. This is one element that distinguishes an Arts Sojourn from so many other workshops and it is why we attract artists of all levels – including many well-known professionals. You are always invited to accompany Matthew Daub to a painting site or to have a one-on-one consultation. Some participants work very closely with him, but others prefer no input at all; the choice is always yours. There is also interaction between participants and much learning and encouragement takes place in this environment. Every evening before dinner we gather as a group for “show and tell;” a very casual time for sharing our work and travel experiences. The types of people who participate in our program are independent and tend to be attracted to our flexible format and the lack of regimentation in the workshop.

What sort of art supplies will I need?

You are free to work in any medium that you like. Matthew Daub is a university art professor with extensive experience teaching drawing, oil painting, and pastels. His specialty is watercolor painting. You should probably select the medium that you are most comfortable with so that you can best concentrate on responding to your environment. We will make suggestions about materials for those that are just getting started. If you are not an experienced plein air painter be sure to use your supplies outdoors a few times before our departure.

Do I have to be an artist to participate in an Arts Sojourn?

Absolutely not! We always have several non-artists with us. Many come just for the pleasure of our locations, accommodations, and flexible slow travel group format.

Do non-artists receive a discounted price?

No. Our hotels and transportation companies charge us the same for artists and non-artists. Our prices reflect that.

How many participants are needed to make an Arts Sojourn happen?

We are often contacted by people who previously signed up for a trip with another group, only to have it canceled because it did not reach the minimum number of participants — often quite high. Our smallest group had four participants, in addition to Matthew and Barbara. Our experience has taught us that at least six participants are needed to form an engaging group dynamic. We reserve the right to cancel a Sojourn if we do not have six participants. In the highly unlikely event that that happens participants will receive a full refund, including their deposit.

Is it possible to attend only part of an Arts Sojourn?

It may be. We have often been able to accommodate these requests in the past. Contact us to see if suitable logistics can be arranged. All costs will be equitably pro-rated.

Can a friend or relative meet me in Italy for part of an Arts Sojourn?

Yes, but we ask that your friends or relatives contact us first and submit an application and waiver if they wish to stay at our hotel and participate in any aspect of our group activities. Any cost will be equitably pro-rated.

What about those with physical handicaps and limitations?

Italy is a very ancient country and is not readily accessible to those with physical limitations. There are stairs and hills nearly everywhere and we normally do a lot of walking so you should be able-bodied and in good physical health to avoid possible problems. This is more critical in certain locations than others. Contact us if you are in doubt about a specific location.

I have never traveled to Italy before. Do I need to speak the language?

No. We always have many first time travelers with us. Italians, as a rule, are very patient and helpful with those that do not speak their language and you will find English speakers in many locations. Taking a few classes or buying a phrase book can be useful if you are so inclined. We also have a very thorough in-country orientation that will help you get acclimated.

How much additional spending money should I bring?

This will depend entirely on your personal spending habits. The US dollar has been strengthening against the Euro, which does make traveling in Italy more reasonable than it used to be. You can get by on a tight budget by eating picnic lunches and such.

What sort of clothes should I bring?

Just like in the US, the weather in Italy can be unpredictable. We have seen it cold and rainy in June and blazing hot in May, but this is not the norm. The weather is usually quite temperate in our locations during the times we plan our Sojourns. We do ask all participants to bring a nice change of clothes for our “show and tell” meetings and dinners. Dress as you would to go out to a nice (not fancy) restaurant at home. Italians tend to dress nicely for the evening meal and we follow that custom.

Should I book my flight right away?

No. Wait until you receive confirmation of your registration and travel instructions from us. We will send you a window of flight arrival and departure times that will enable you to meet our charter ground transportation to and from the hotels and airports in Italy. If you book a flight that does not fit into our arrival or departure window you will need to secure your own ground transportation. Some participants have opted to do this and we will be happy to assist you in making these connections. There is no credit given if you do not use the group ground transportation. It is usually a good idea to begin checking airfares on a daily basis and wait for a fare sale.

Should I purchase travel insurance?

Yes, we highly recommend it. We have had people withdraw from the program due to an unforeseen illness or event. We must be firm in our cancellation policy, so you must decide how much risk you are comfortable with. All deposits are non-refundable and as we get closer to departure time there are greater penalties so we think that it is wise to protect yourself. Many travel insurance companies will even insure pre-existing conditions if the policy is purchased at the same time as the trip. We do not sell travel insurance, but we offer a recommendation in our confirmation letter to all participants.

Do you lead Sojourns to other countries?

Not presently. We believe that to be effective a group leader should be intimately familiar with their locations — everything from local customs to bus and train schedules. We are Italy specialists.