July Retreat

2-9 July 2023, Sea Shack, Paternoster

This retreat is one of a kind and I know you will have a great time painting outdoors and spending some serious painting training indoors.  The retreat is not a guided tour with porters and those kinds of luxuries.   It’s a fun and collective experience. 

The nature of plein air is different from all other art making processes.  It is personal and enriching.  Its best you have had some experience especially in drawing but is not essential.  You must be patient that’s all.


Sea Shack is about 3 kilometres from Paternoster. I always go look for beautiful places to run.  Sometimes I accompany my partner when she goes to Sea Shack to manage the place and then take a run along the path leading to Tietiesbaai, up the hill to the Columbine lighthouse and back to camp.  This is when the idea of hosting a plein air at Sea Shack camp in nature in the middle of winter first came to me. The winter is beautiful in this part of South Africa, and the national park is quiet, peaceful, and lush, the ocean smells are robust, the earth is fresh from the rains and the wind is still.  The morning temperatures are a good 7 to 10 degrees warmer than Joburg and the ocean warms more with the rise of the day.  It may rain, or not, it still is the Cape.  The camp is empty therefor it is asking for this opportunity!

If you would like to experience something completely new, adventurous, and unique, it may just be exactly what you want.  Winter, fire, food, painting, nature.

What is plein air?

Plein Air is French for ‘Open Air’, meaning painting outdoors, usually landscape.  It was popular, but not originated, with the French impressionists who favoured a more direct approach to painting.  These pioneers created their artwork in nature and explored it’s emotive, albeit harsh elements. Thus, it created vivid, live, and passionate artworks in real-time.  Painting in nature gives you refreshing nuances that a picture doesn’t, but also challenges you because it is not static.

A living landscape

Painting outdoors can be demanding but inspirational as everything changes constantly; light and shadow constantly moves when cloud and sun moves overhead. Therefore, there is a time element that one needs to take into consideration.  Once you have found and drawn your composition, you cannot stay outdoors for more than 2 hours as the light changes too much.  Fortunately for us, we can photograph our composition (arrangement of ocean, rocks, and sand) and do more work in-doors, but care must be taken not to diminish its characteristic freshness.

The Nature of Plein Air

Plein air is poignant – it has a different ‘feel’ than indoor painting due to its directness and speed used.  For this reason, we use different brushes in certain ways to capture its essence.  It has a looser and less restricted flair to it.  For that reason, overworking must be avoided at all costs.

6 Days of Bliss

Besides the sun, the wind, rain, and the weather in general also plays a role when painting outdoors and must be taken into consideration.  It’s you in nature, creating – nothing can beat that.  There can also be flies, heat, wind, and undesirable factors.  But I feel that this combination of positive and negative aspects makes it even more attractive and unique.

Materials and easel are also different from indoors, it should be less and manageable.

All these factors and elements will be dealt with in this 4-day, 5-night course and is aimed at the beginner and intermediate painters.

I structured this course to build a painting gradually, in stages, only once you understand what to do accurately.  You will paint outdoors as well as indoors.  If the weather turns, we will work mostly indoors.

I will show you how to find the perfect landscape in the surrounding area, draw it and paint it.  The first day

of training is completely indoors.  By the second day you will be ready to have a go outdoors with me, focusing on one very specific task of the day, then come back to the studio to have lunch and correct your work from the morning and prepare for the next day.  In the evenings we will visit local restaurants in Paternoster 3km away and Wednesday morning you will return to your place outdoors and complete the next step.  Thursday morning will be spent indoors to complete your painting.   Lunch will be a celebration of food and fire.  The rest of the day can be used to explore paternoster or for rest. 

I have booked the whole camp for us.


Paternoster is typical of many seaside towns which started as a primitive settlement due to the abundance of sea life resources for food.  The evidence of middens and landfills confirm that the San lived there for thousands of years.  The name could have come from the San but is generally accepted as the prayer from the Portuguese sea farers’ Our Father.  The first European colonizers arrived in the nineteenth century and established Paternoster as a fishing and oceanic by-product settlement.

To the south, Paternoster is bordered by Columbine Nature Reserve, including a light house and Tietiesbaai. On entering the reserve, less than a kilometre away, lies Sea Shack, nestled right against the ocean in a quiet bay.  Paternoster is calm and tranquil and beautiful, a place of inspiration.

 It is a beautiful town with white fisherman’s houses, holiday houses and many tourist attractions.  There are plenty of restaurants, galleries, and bric-a-brac shops.

Sea Shack

Sea shack is in nature.  It is an eco-village, powered by solar and gas and is off the grid except for its water supply.  You won’t have a TV, a heater, or a hairdryer but you can charge your phone or tablet or laptop.  There is also Wi-Fi, a kitchen with gas stoves and refrigerators to keep your wine cool.

The kitchen is communal, although you will receive your own basket of crockery and cutlery.  The dining area can be closed and will be used as our studio.

Ablution consists of showers and toilets which is connected to a septic tank.

There is a fire pit, walking trails, surrounding coves, and stunning natural scenery to explore.

The cabins are small, each with a quality queen bed and solar lamp for ablution visits at night.  There are 5 cabins steps away from the ocean, 5 cabins behind them, positioned to have partial sea views and another bigger unit to the back.  The units are private.  You open the door in the morning, and you realize how great life is.

There is a total of 11 spaces available.  No animals, spouses or children are allowed.  One person per cabin allowed, that makes for gentle living.

Program – 6 Day
Sunday 2 July 2023ARRIVALCheck in at Sea Shack from 2 pm Few places are open on a Sunday evening so be sure to bring supper, breakfast, and drinks with. No hairdryers, but you do have WIFI and chargers in the kitchen area for these.
Monday 3 July DAY 1
 BreakfastThere are marked containers for every person with crockery and cutlery.  You have space in the fridge as well.  There are gas stoves but no ovens, and no microwave.   Greet and Orientation
9 amArt Session 1Discussion outdoors: Plein Air Basics – why painting outdoors is so attractive Creating a study Finding a composition with your view finder and camera Understanding natural elements like light and simplicity Review indoors The process Demo and discussion – outdoors, including canvas preparation, drawing and value mapping.
12 or 1pmLunchVegetarian bake, warm winter salad, and home-made bread.  Drinks not supplied
1 pmArt Session 2How to draw landscapes Where to start, including scale, masses, and proportioning Values and what to do with them Setting up outdoors and using a French easel You are now ready and prepped for your first plein air painting
5 pmDinnerVoorstrand if available; will decide closer to the time
Tuesday 4 July DAY 2
9 amArt Session 3Finding your composition Setting up outdoors Photographing Preparing your canvas Drawing Tonal mapping
12 pmLunchVegetarian curry, sambals, and roti
1 pmArt Session 4Review and corrections indoors Colour Theory and preparation
5 pmDinnerDe Seekat
Wednesday 5 July DAY 3
9 amArt Session 5Returning and painting on site – colour
12 amLunchVegetarian soup, ratatouille, Moroccan couscous, and bread or similar
Thursday 6 July DAY 4
9 amArt Session 6Corrections colour and value harmony Detail and chiselling and focal points
1 pmLunchGnocchi and 3 cheese sauce or mushroom risotto and salad
2 pmArt Session 7New artwork This is time for you to explore your creativity further – I will demo more techniques which you can learn from:  Wet on wet and Mixed media
5 pmDinner 
Friday 7 July DAY 5
9 amArt Session 8Painting outside I will guide you in your relevant creative language, loose or structured
12 pmLunchVegetarian pie, brinjal rolls and salad or similar
1 pmArt Session 9Inhouse: Interpretations and or corrections
6 pmDinner 
Saturday 8 July DAY 6
9 amArt Session 10Finalisation of paintings and packing
1 pmLunchLocal Malay fish and seafood braai with all the trimmings Eating around a big table and drinking wine
3 pmOFFSpend your time in town or paint at your leisure
Sunday 9 July
10 amDepart Sea Shack
Inclusive and exclusive as specified below INCLUSIVE Accommodation  1 person per cabin with queen bed 7 nights No other configuration available Cleaning of kitchen and studio area Lunch Day 1,2,3,4,5 Seafood Braai Tuition and Studio Hire EXCLUSIVE Art Materials, Gratuity, Drinks All meals not mentioned above Transport, insuranceR             10800.00
Materials Table:
Below materials can be couriered to Sea Shack at a fee Costs are calculated at the writing of this form in Dec 2022 and does not include supplier’s increases in 2023 before July 2023
Material DetailCost per item @ Ajay’s
French Easel, includes legs, compartments, and palette
You cannot join this workshop without this easel R3700.00
Oil Paints
Titanium White (or flake, zinc) 2ooml or largerDaler Rowney or similar R 350.00 each (250ml)
French Ultramarine 38ml or larger Alizarin Crimson 38ml or larger Phthalo Green 38ml or larger Cadmium Red Light (or orangey/red) 38ml or larger Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna 38ml or larger Cadmium Yellow 38ml or larger Cerulean Blue 38ml or largerDaler Rowney or similar R 95.00 each
Brushes and Pallet Knife
Only bristle please, not synthetic Bristle Flat or Long Flat, one each #2 #4 #6 #8 #10 Bristle pointed #1 or #2 Pointed brush for detail, synthetic 0, double 0, or triple 0 Flat Nylon Brush 2cm width or larger Pro Art 313HF#10 Palette knife – Diamond # 5 or #6    75.00 95.00 100,00 110.00 140.00   75.00 18.00   40.00 50.00
Dilutants and Cleaning
Toilet Paper X 2 Kitchen Cloth or Rags, cut 20 x 20 cm Plastic Jiffy Bags for rubbish Wet wipesNOT SUPPLIED BY ME
2 x Jam Jars with lids 10cm or higher
Odourless Turps or Artists Spirits 500ML Artist Linseed Oil 100ml or larger150.00 90.00
Canvas and supports
Deep or shallow stretched canvas 7×9 inch 10 x 12 canvas or larger as you prefer x 2150.00  
A4 Canvas Sheets x 580.00
A5 Drawing Diary or copy paper sheets80.00
Palette – flat, not welled, larger better. See French Easel below100.00
Masking Tape
Elastic Bands
2 x Pencils – B or 2B25.00
Bull clips x 2 LargeNOT SUPPLIED BY ME



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