Renee Walden - New Zealand watercolour artist. Art & Illustration.


Art Retreat. Dordogne, France.
June 2025.


Ever wanted to go on the perfect holiday, to a beautiful location, and document your whole holiday in a sketchbook?

In June 2025 I'm planning to go back to wonderful Perigord Retreats for the 4th time, to guide another small group on a painting holiday in France. Based on the trips I guided there, I can honestly say this will be an experience of a lifetime!

We will have 9 days for a beautiful blend of studio time, delightful excursions, cultural experiences and of course, plenty of free time to rest and explore! We will travel into the lovely countryside to paint and visit some of the most scenic towns in Southern France. We will spend time painting and picnicking along the Dordogne River and throughout the valley.

Situated in the peaceful countryside adjacent to a tiny hamlet we’ll be staying at Perigord Retreats, and painting their beautiful surroundings. Beautiful landscapes, comfortable, cozy accommodations; a fully equipped indoor studio available 24/7, lovingly crafted food of local origin, an indoor swimming pool, and excursions into the stunning landscapes and medieval towns of the Dordogne and Lot regions. 

Group sizes are small - a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 12, allowing me to have ample to time to help each student every day.

Your non arty partner is welcome too, because other activities include kayaking, swimming in the river, hiking, taking a swim in the indoor pool, relaxing in a hammock on the grounds or shopping in the many markets and shops. Of course, for those interested in photography, there will be even more to do. 

During the retreat, you will:
- Learn how to become more confident when painting on location
- Learn how to create sketches with minimal materials
- Be guided by me step-by-step through paintings and by following demos
- Have plenty of time to ask questions and receive one-on-one feedback
- Learn about the different kinds of perspective (and to not be afraid of perspective)
- Learn to work with a limited palette of colors to ensure harmony and cohesiveness in your work
- Have access to a lovely studio 24/7 to work at your own pace
- Experience the hospitality (and great food) prepared by Perigord Retreats. I've been there! The food is absolutely amazing :-)
- Experience the treasures of the French countryside: organic food, wine and other local specialties at the markets
- Experience true French culture and connect with other artists who share your passion for creativity!

Travel sketching is a passion of mine.

Back in 2007, I packed a sketchbook along with my climbing gear on a trip to Spain and France and I filled it. Since then the sketching part of a trip has overtaken my climbing passion and I never go anywhere without a sketchbook.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Europe for up to 6 months a year almost every year since 2007 and I have a massive stack of sketchbooks that are filled with priceless memories. There are watercolour sketches of villages, landscapes, flowers, food, and people in every sketchbook, along with little notes that bring me straight back to a place whenever I open a sketchbook. Sketching outside has immersed me in places, creating very vivid memories and has allowed me to meet so many local folks I would not have encountered otherwise.

5 years ago I started teaching people how to paint in pen and watercolour. I've run classes outside giving people the tools to learn to sketch plein air; studio based classes on painting birds, flowers, and landscapes; and classes on Zoom. Then in June 2022 I guided a painting holiday at Perigord Retreats and can honestly say this was one of the highlights of my artistic journey so far!

The details...

10 - 19 June 2025

Perigord Retreats (click on the link to find out more about the location and accommodation)

1. Private bedroom with shared bathroom - 3200€ euros
2. A Private bedroom with ensuite bathroom - 3900€ a euros
3. Private bedroom with ensuite bathroom & direct access to the conservatory - 4100€ euros
4. Double occupancy with ensuite bathroom (for couples, friends, family) - 6400€ euros

Cost includes…
Comfortable accommodation, all meals and drinks (except 2 lunches and 2 dinners), transport from and to the local train station (Gourdon), local transport and excursions during your stay and, of course, tuition by me. Not included are your flights to France or travel insurance.

Ready to join us?

Bookings are open! Please drop me an or a message on Facebook or Instagram.

What attendees said about our retreat in 2023...
"Taking the plunge to join you and a bunch of strangers on the other side of the world for a residential painting retreat turned out to be one of the best holiday decisions I’ve ever made. Your choice of Perigord Retreats was inspired; their hospitality combined with your tutelage is a winning formula, resulting in an exceptional experience that I will long remember."

"It was an experience I will remember forever. You helped me by teaching me how to let go of the “how to video “ sessions that I had become accustomed to and to try doing it on my own. This was my first experience doing Plen Air, and I think I absolutely loved it, nothing like it, I will try and incorporate this, when the weather permits."

"I really appreciated your calm, enthusiastic and patient demeanor in your teaching. You nurtured this group from day one on the FB group and upon arrival so that we all already felt like friends. I can't talk you up enough to friends and family. I could not have imagined a more perfect trip other than in my dreams.""

What Sylvia said about our retreat in 2022...
I signed up for this experience after taking an online course with watercolour artist Renee Walden knowing that I could learn a lot from her. She shares extensive experience, and skill with the watercolour medium. She also has a passion for the power of sketching and painting to extend and preserve our experience of beauty and interest in the environment. I came away from this Retreat with increased confidence in my own ability as well as skills and techniques which will undoubtedly enrich my own work. The setting for our time in the Perigord and the Dordogne in France was perfect. We visited several delightful small medieval towns with old stone cottages and churches, markets, and lush vegetation. We picnicked by rivers and walked through ancient streets. Renee talked through her painting when we were doing plein air work and gave us several useful sessions in the large and well-equipped studio at the Perigord Retreats centre. Renee worked with all of us at our own level of skill and experience. The hospitality and French cuisine and the excellent facilities at the centre provided the perfect context in which to learn from artist Renee Walden.

What Linda said about our retreat in 2022...
Renee Walden's Plein Air Workshop at Perigord Retreats in 2022 was an unforgettable experience my husband and I will always treasure. We made lifelong international friends, painted and photographed breathtaking landscapes and castles, and enjoyed remarkable cuisine. Renee gives 100% to her small group classes stretching your skills and taking you to the next level as an artist. And your Perigord hosts Katel and Harrison ensure you feel right at your home away from home at their retreat set amidst rolling hills and lavender fields. Don't hesitate to put a future retreat on your calendar. You won't regret it!

Ready to join us?

Bookings are open! Please drop me an or a message on Facebook or Instagram.

Here's a full demo of me painting the lovely lavender field at Perigord Retreats in July 2022...

And a little intro video of Perigord Retreats and their surroundings...