What to expect on our painting holiday in Paleros, Greece

Twenty years ago, never having touched a paint brush in my life, I signed up for an adult painting course through the local newspaper. There I stood in a seizure inducing ill-lit room with 15 other people, and we all learned to paint the same thing each week. Once it was a fence. I remember that sad fence, as my mother kept it framed to humour me. My how times have changed.

Who has time for night classes anymore? Now in my 40s, I find that I much prefer to be inspired by new surroundings, new culture, and laid back locals. No longer having to copy a fence in college classrooms with 15 others, I can go explore and learn what I want, when I want, and get a personalised holiday out of it.

Just as well solo travelling is becoming a new trend that is perfect for today’s lifestyle. Let’s be honest, a lot of our partners do not like the same activities we do, and life is too short to compromise. While my husband opts for single traveller holidays on buses through Africa (which I avoid, as I puke on buses), I did a cookery holiday in Tuscany. We have both done well doing our own things, as we always make new friends and meet like-minded travellers. But we will be damned if we are to join forces for me to vomit and him to have to cook something aside from beans on toast.

Having already done the cookery holiday with great success, I am now preparing to release the paint again–add some colour to my life, and some sun to my face. And I don’t want to learn with others. I am selfish. I want to start as a really crap painter by myself, and let it be private, and grow on my own. I want it to be my own horrible fence, and then own it, as my week progresses.

Barbara is one of our painting hosts who is all around artistic. She hails from Holland, but has resided in Greece now for years, pulling the ultimate Shirley Valentine move. And with that, I’m going to go. In knowing Barbara for some time now, I felt comfortable asking her some questions as a single traveller, ready to indulge in a once in a lifetime Valentine painting holiday (my thoughts to her responses are in blue):

1. What are the benefits of being the only one on a painting holiday?

It is a great opportunity to go in-depth with tuition on your painting skills, and you can expect a tailor-made painting holiday to tackle your insecurities and weak spots, and improve upon what you’re best at .

This really excites me. I have zero confidence, in fact I suck at painting, but want to smoke and drink and live a Frida Kahlo existence in my retirement, so this reassures me.

Also, it is on a much more personal level; the intimacy between the instructor and the learner removes any insecurities easily, as it is inevitable to build a friendship and trust. As artists, we already have much in common.

Yes, yes we do. I am going to retire and be an artist.

2. If we have more time for personalised tuition, are there other artistic mediums I can explore and see if I work well with them?

All materials are always available, and even within one session one can switch, or paint/draw one scene or landscape with a variety of materials. The freedom is great and I always encourage an open dialogue, and encourage you to try a new medium and explore what works best for you.

Thank God for this. Pastel? Oil? Acrylic? The old water colour of my youth? I’m dying to know the difference and try them all. Surely I must be good at one of them.

3. What do we do during the day aside from painting? Are any cultural excursions involved?

I have been here a long time, and now consider myself quite the expert local! I have plenty of ideas and favourite spots,  and the village surroundings are absolutely beautiful. If you have a particular idea of what you would like to paint, I can take you to the best places for inspiration. In the rare cases of extreme heat or bad rain, I know the best hiding places where you can still enjoy the best of the area. If you would like to try something different while you’re here, there is a tourist office in town where you can rent a car or boat, or join one of their excursions with some others. In general, I find the people in my area love to be lazy by the seafront, sipping on cocktails and watching the world go by, and are happy for people to join them.

All I want is to sip cocktails with great views while painting. Seriously. I don’t mean Merseyside.

4. Can you tell me what a typical night is like where you live? Are there tavernas, restaurants, or bars open? Any kind of nightlife? What are the locals like? Will I encounter any English speakers?

During the summer time there are, bars, tavernas, restaurants, clubs, all with the typical stunning view of the village, the sea and the lovely landscape. However, our village is not overly crowded but enjoys a pleasant buzz. There are people of all nationalities and all ages here. A significant part of the tourists are people with sailing boats who enjoy a stop at our harbour and stay over night, or come out to enjoy a nice dinner.

Also, Greeks appreciate our village, and Paleros is actually quite loved and famous among both foreigners and Greeks alike. It has a great reputation!

I am so making friends with a boat owner. No painting on his boat. I should paint boats, not the boat.

5. Although I am a single traveller, do you have friends, or family, or other people staying at your accommodation that I may mingle with?

There are always people here open to connect, and it is my job as host to make sure you get the most out of your time with me and in the village I call home.

The accommodation is not luxury, but agreeable and nice; just as the locals live. All wishes are taken seriously and granted if possible. The apartments belong to the same family as the restaurant below, and they have many years and experience in hospitality and working with locals and tourists alike.

So basically, I will be asking the friendly, kind Barbara to take me to paint boats near a taverna, with wine. This is everything I love. What do I even start with on this painting holiday? The boats? The people? The beach? I may need 2 weeks.

6. Will I be lonely?

Not if we can help it!

In all fairness, I am never lonely. Also, Barbara is as sweet as pecan pie.

7. What are some great things in your area that make it a unique place to holiday?

The size of the village is pleasant, the people are friendly and welcoming, the scenery is stunning, and it is just the most beautiful hidden gem on the planet. Combined with art, I call it heaven, but keep this secret to yourself you might want to come back to this oasis of crystal blue waters and flowering mountains to escape hectic daily life…

The archaeology of Nikopolis, the island of Lefkada, the blue lagoon, the relaxed Greek tavernas, the wine, the food, the friendly locals and the inspiring art classes are an amazing way to regroup, refocus, and treat yourself to the laid back, artistic lifestyle. Who knows, like me, you may choose to return and stay this time for good.

I am a freak about archaeology and history– I may not leave. Wine and food? Just like Shirley, I don’t think I will have any problems on my first solo painting holiday (that my husband wouldn’t be caught dead on).


Barbara is happy to accommodate groups of people, but is also very used to hosting 1 on 1 painting and drawing holidays for individual attention for any level. She would love to have you on her Greek painting holiday week filled with art and escape.

Or browse our full range of painting holidays here.