Painting Workshops Travel

Painting Workshop in Italy

July 25–August 1, 2019

Many years ago, as an undergraduate studying fine art at the University of California at Santa Barbara, I spent a semester in Europe as part of a study abroad program that focused on art. Twenty students along with two professors took over a pensione in Florence for a month, immersing ourselves in the art and culture of the Rennaisance. It was a life-changing trip and the beginning of my love of all things Italian. So it is with great excitement that I am returning to Tuscany—this time as a teacher—for my inaugural Stone and Sky Workshop in Italy. I’ve had tremendous success with the workshops I’ve taught in Ireland and in my home studio of Asheville, NC, and I know that the Italian workshop will be equally fulfilling.

+ pricing

$3,400 Private Accommodation / $2,900 Shared Accommodation / $1,600 Nonpainting Partner

This includes:

  • Seven nights accommodation in one of the villa rooms
  • Three meals a day—except for Saturday dinner, which will be at a local restaurant—and afternoon snacks
  • All art materials
  • Full use of painting studio and all other facilities of the estate
  • Painting instruction, lectures, demos, and critiques
  • One afternoon field trip to nearby hill towns
  • Pickup and dropoff at Florence Airport during designated time

What isn’t included:

  • Airfare to Italy
  • Optional Italian cooking class offered at Spannochia

Payment schedule:

  • $500 nonrefundable deposit to hold your place
  • 50% payment due by February 15 (less deposit)
  • Full payment due by May 25


  • After February 15th, 50% refund
  • After May 25th, no refund

Travel insurance is recommended; we’ve had good experiences with Matt Konold at AAA Carolinas. He can be reached at

For help with airfare, car rentals, and any additional travel plans, I’ve partnered with Nancy Little of QuintessenceTravel in Los Angeles to help with all of your needs. She can be reached at


For remaining balance, call me at (828) 774-8431 or email

+ location

Just 20 miles south of Siena, in the heart of Tuscany, the workshop will take place at an 1,100-acre tenuta (agricultural estate) called Spannochia, which has been in operation since the 12th century and is a working organic farm known for its wine, olive oil, and award-winning salumi. The farm has the quintessential feel of Tuscany with its array of rustic outbuildings dominated by a 58-foot stone tower overlooking the estate. Our studio will be housed in the Museo building, a beautiful sun-filled space that holds some important Etruscan artifacts and has vaulted ceilings. From its hilltop perch, Spannochia has views of the surrounding beautiful scenery, which can be enjoyed on the veranda with a glass of estate-produced wine and light snacks after a full day of painting. There’s also a lovely pool on the estate in case you’d like to take a refreshing dip after lunch or after a nice walk around the farm. Given Spannochia’s location in the heart of Tuscany, we will be making at least one group trip to nearby towns like San Gimignano, Pienza, Montepulciano, or Siena.

+ studio and art supplies

During our week of painting at Spannochia, we will primarily be working in a space called the Museo. It’s a wonderfully inspiring space full of old-world charm with plenty of room for our group to spread out and make some great paintings. For the most part we will be working from photographs I’ve taken of the area, though there is also the opportunity to take the easels outside and paint from life. I will have a full range of professional-grade acrylic paints, canvas panels, art paper, brushes, palettes, latex gloves, buckets, and easels. However, if you’d like to use another medium such as oil paints or watercolor, feel free to bring those. Even though I will provide brushes for your use, if you have any favorite brushes I would suggest bringing those as well.

+ food and lodging

One of my favorite times during Stone and Sky painting workshops is mealtime. I enjoy the fellowship that develops during the week, and communal meals are always a great time for conversation and camaraderie.

Given that we will be staying at an organic farm, the meals prepared at Spannochia highlight fresh seasonal ingredients grown on the property (including their award-winning heritage pork). Dinner is an especially nice time for gathering on the terrace before our meal, with a glass of the estate-produced wine and an opportunity to talk about all the breakthroughs that are happening in the studio! For Saturday’s dinner, we’ll leave the property for a group dinner at a local restaurant where we’ll be able to mingle with the locals and get a taste of some regional specialties. The cost of this dinner is not included in the workshop package.

Accommodations will be in one of the charming rooms reserved for our group in Spannochia’s Villa building. The rooms are decorated with tile and marble floors and rustic antique furniture, and have lovely views. The workshop price is based on a shared double room, though for an extra cost a limited amount of single rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

+ logistics and itinerary

Spannochia is located about 1 1/2 hours from the Florence airport, and I’ve hired a shuttle to pick everybody up at a designated time, which will be determined once I get all attendees’ flight information. If you want to have some freedom to roam during the week, renting a car is a good option and will allow you to drive to Spannochia.

The first day of your arrival will be a time to get settled into your room, rest up from your long flight, and take a stroll around the farm to get the lay of the land. Our first proper day of painting will begin with breakfast followed by a tour of Spannochia by one of the staff, and then we’ll set up in the studio. During the rest of the week, I’ll give morning lectures and demos, followed by one-on-one guidance throughout the day. We’ll break for lunch midday, and then go back into the studio for more painting. If you feel like taking a break, there’s the pool and farm to explore. We’ll spend one afternoon during the week on a group field trip to one of the surrounding hill towns like Pienza, San Gimignano, or Montepulciano.

+ Optional Cooking Class

If you would like to take a break from painting and explore the world of Italian cooking, Spannocchia offers a wonderful cooking class. The class meets at 9 a.m. and will begin with a tour of the garden then on to the kitchen where you will prepare a three-course meal for lunch. You’ll enjoy the pleasure of eating your creation and drinking a nice glass of wine. The class ends at 2:30, and cost is $110. Let me know in advance if you’d like to take the class so I can reserve a space for you.

+ what to pack

The workshop takes place during the warmest time of the year in Tuscany, with an average temperature of around 75 degrees, which means packing light will be a lot easier. As with any trip, I recommend checking the weather forecast before you leave and adding any items like raincoats or sweaters if that seems necessary.

I’m assuming all of you will have phones for taking pictures. You’ll want to check into getting an international calling plan or SIM card for your phone.

As I mentioned earlier, all art supplies are provided, but feel free to bring favorite brushes and any paints other than acrylics since that’s what we’ll work with. I would also like you to bring a pad of disposable palette sheets.

Testimonials from former workshop participants

David Skinner’s Irish workshop is so much more than direct instruction, coaching, and studio time. David introduces you to the beauty, people, and culture of the Burren via a mini-bus day tour, late afternoon excursions, and visits to small restaurants and pubs. All of those activities are optional, of course, but they are an inspiring feast for the eyes and heart. When you see David’s paintings, you know how talented an artist he is. What you don’t realize is what a good teacher and kind person he is too. He truly cares about everyone and does his best to make everyone’s experience top-notch. 
— Lynne Meacham, NC
As someone who can barely draw a straight line, not to mention or even think about painting a landscape, I thought this experience was a blast. My partner has some talent, and she enjoyed learning some techniques from David. While I slopped around on my canvas, David would come over and turn my mess into a work of art. David is an amazing artist, but more importantly, he is a kind and patient artist who loves what he does and loves sharing it with us. At the end of it all, my partner painted a beautiful landscape, and somehow, despite my best efforts, I actually ended with a painting signed by me that I would put up on the wall. A great experience for beginners or those with some talent. Highly recommended.
— Mark, TX
David’s class was exceptional. I was able to walk away with some new skills and insights. As a teacher he was very present and informative as well as hands on. David’s painting style is colorful and loose, which I admire and was trying for years to head in that direction with my own painting. I was never able to find a teacher with both his level of experience and style who was teaching. It was a pure joy for me to experience his class. Some teachers talk, some teachers underwhelm, some teachers are not at the top of their own game: David is a master of his style, at the top of his game, and a fabulous teacher. A sure bet for any level of artist to take their art to a new level or just plain have fun losing themselves to the moment in a myriad of colors!
— Vanessa, NC