Fall in love with Tuscany ... off the beaten path

Paper Paintings Italy Retreat

with Elizabeth St. Hilaire
June 10-16, 2018

Join Elizabeth St. Hilaire in Italy! Her popular, annual Paper Paintings Retreat is based at an 18th century stone farmhouse nestled along the border of Tuscany and Umbria - an area that has inspired artists with its beauty for thousands of years! In addition to exciting side trips to medieval hill towns, you'll enjoy visits with Italian artisans - including a marbled paper expert, hand-hammered coppersmith and Byzantine mosaic artist - plus private transportation in Mercedes Benz vans, delectable meals prepared by a Tuscan chef and 360 degree panoramic views of the gorgeous Italian countryside.

Open to participants of all artistic levels, each day brings new lessons with Elizabeth on using hand painted and found papers to develop imagery and form using light, shadow, and directional ripping - similar to traditional painting techniques. You'll also have fun experimenting with hand painting, staining, stamping and patterning your own papers. Although some painting experience is helpful, it is not necessary!

Learn Elizabeth's Exclusive Paper Painting Techniques!

Painting Paper 
When Elizabeth St. Hilaire began painting her own papers, her collage work sky-rocketed to an entirely new level. During the retreat, Elizabeth will show you exactly how (and why) she paints her own papers, and how you can achieve stunning results as you create your own paper paintings. You'll be amazed at the staggering number of ways you can paint paper!

Ripping and Tearing
Elizabeth St. Hilaire's paper tearing and directional ripping methods are the hallmark of her exceptional artwork! You'll be learning her exclusive techniques through demonstration, slide presentations and (of course!) lots of hands-on practice and one-on-one instruction. 

Color and Glue
Learn Elizabeth's tried and true methods (and a few coveted secrets!) to developing imagery and form through the use of light, shadow and color tones as you glue your papers. Create depth and add interest to your projects as you discover ways to layer and position papers for dramatic effects.  

Painterly Gelli Prints
Whether or not you've ever used a Gelli Arts Mono Printing Plate, you're in for a treat as Elizabeth demonstrates her unique (and plethora!) of ways to apply patterns and designs to your papers - straight from her brand new book, "Painterly Gelli Plates". From found objects to stencils, you'll have loads of fun as you roll, press and apply!

Inspiration with Photos
You'll be surrounded by Italian inspiration everywhere you go on this retreat, so be sure to keep your camera on hand. Elizabeth captures inspiration as she goes - from medieval buildings to works by Italy's master artists to the beauty and color of nature - through photography. Learn how to capture your own special moments of inspiration by using your camera or smart phone.  

Elizabeth St. Hilaire's artwork hangs in galleries throughout the United States, as well as private collections, and her licensed designs can be found on comforters to pillows to prints - from Target to Kohls to Pier One Imports. In a special bonus session, Elizabeth reveals her secrets to marketing from Facebook to face-to-face. (This session is priceless!)

Itinerary and Class Schedule

DAY 1 (Sunday, June 10) ARRIVAL 
Benvenuti in Italia! Upon arrival at Florence Peretola Airport, sit back and relax as you are transported by private Mercedes Benz van service to the Italian countryside and Il Colombaio, your beautiful accommodations along the border of Tuscany and Umbria. After check-in you'll have the opportunity to explore your surroundings and studio space before taking part in your first orientation and presentation with Elizabeth where you'll get a preview of retreat, as well as an introduction to Elizabeth's unique approach to collage. Afterwards it's time for aperitif hour together before enjoying a delicious, regional-style dinner served up by the in-house chef.
Dinner included

DAY 2 (Monday, June 11) Il COLOMBAIO 
​After breakfast this morning, get ready for an fun-filled, inspiring day! You'll be heading to the onsite studio with Elizabeth to learn a plethora of methods for painting paper, from stamps to rollers to stencils - and so much more. You'll also learn Elizabeth's expert techniques for developing imagery and form. After a chef-prepared picnic-style lunch you'll continue painting papers, while preparing to begin your special Italy-inspired paper painting project. In late afternoon it's time for a break - and perhaps a dip in the pool - before walking to a nearby winery for a private tour of the vineyard, followed by a special wine tastings with our friend, Paola. Back at the villa another delicious dinner will be prepared by the talented chef. 
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

DAY 3 (Tuesday, June 12) ORVIETO
This morning after breakfast you'll be heading to gorgeous Orvieto, a medieval hill town layered in 3,000 years of history. First stop is the historic center of town where you'll find one of Italy’s most beautiful cathedrals, followed by a very special visit with a marbled paper artisan (in his 15th century workshop!) for a demonstration and lesson all about paper. Afterwards you'll have some time for shopping and exploring (Orvieto is famous for its hand-painted ceramics and fine lace), as well as lunch on your own at one of the town's charming restaurants. Then it's back to the villa for some extensive class time and paper paintings instruction with Elizabeth. In evening you'll enjoy aperitif hour and another fabulous dinner together.
Breakfast and dinner included, Lunch on your own

DAY 4 (Thursday, June 13) MONTEPULCIANO
This morning after breakfast you'll join Elizabeth in the studio to work on your project while you learn new collage techniques using the papers you have painted yourself or discovered on your outings. After lunch, served up on the panoramic terrace, it's off to the spectacular hill town of Montepulciano where you'll enjoy a private demonstration with an amazing copper artisan, followed by a visit with a local mosaic expert for an up-close look at this ancient art form used by the Etruscans and perfected by the Romans. Talk about artistic inspiration! Afterwards you can explore, shop (so many beautiful leather hand bags!) find an inviting spot for dinner on your own and enjoy the magic of a medieval village on a summer evening!
Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

DAY 5 (Friday, June 13) Il COLOMBAIO
This morning, after breakfast, you'll be heading to the onsite studio for instruction and one-on-one assistance from Elizabeth with your project. Then it's time for a break and a fun-filled pasta-making lesson with delightful Antonietta who will be teaching how Italians really make pasta, as well as how to pair a pasta with the right sauce (an Italian art form!). Lunch will include (you guessed it) the pasta you've made - and a few other goodies. In afternoon you'll head back to the onsite studio with Elizabeth to continue working on your project. After aperitivo hour together, the chef will be serving up a dinner of seasonal specialties. 
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

DAY 6 (Thursday, August 31) FABRO & SCARZUOLA
This morning, after breakfast, it's off to the nearby convent, Scarzuola, (founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1218) for a guided tour of the ancient convent and adjacent theatrical sculpture garden - an evocative, artistic marvel - created between 1958 and 1978 by an renowned architect from Milan. Afterwards you'll enjoy a special, regional lunch at our friends' charming restaurant in a nearby medieval village. In afternoon it's back to the studio with Elizabeth to finish up your project and take part in a celebratory aperitivo hour together! Naturally, the chef will be serving up a delectable farewell dinner.     
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

DAY 7 (Friday, September 1) DEPARTURE  
Alas, it’s time to say arrivederci ... as least for now. Our drivers will be transporting you this morning to Florence Peretola Airport. 

Paper Paintings Italy Retreat with Elizabeth St. Hilaire Includes ...

  • 6 nights accommodations in a historic 18th century stone farmhouse *(no single supplement fee! all single, private rooms with private, ensuite bathrooms!)
  • Daily paper paintings instruction with Elizabeth St. Hilaire:
    • Introductory presentation on Elizabeth's renowned collage process
    • How to create a high quality drawing and under-painting
    • Demonstration of a multitude of paper painting techniques, including stamping, rolling, pressing, imprinting, overlapping and much, much more 
    • Step-by-step instruction on paper painting for variety and interest
    • Group and one-to-one instruction on various ripping and tearing techniques to create a "painterly" effect (a must-know for Elizabeth's collage process!)
    • How to choose and glue papers to achieve the right shading and tonality 
  • A plethora of demonstrations by Elizabeth on various paper painting processes and techniques
  • Daily one-to-one instruction to help you achieve the very best results with your project!
  • Access to art studio space outside of instruction times
  • Fluid acrylic paints and acrylic collage adhesive
  • Canvas panels
  • Paint brushes
  • Group transportation by private Mercedes Benz van service to/from Florence Peretola Airport on arrival and departure dates. Please note that although group transportation is only provided to/from the airport Florence, some of our guests choose to extend their stay in Italy before and/or after the retreat. After you've registered, we're happy to provide contact information for our favorite hotels in Florence, Rome and Venice - as well as a link to book train tickets.
  • Private Mercedes Benz van service for all side trips listed in the itinerary
  • All generous breakfasts with made-to-order Italian coffees
  • 3 lunches served with local wines   
  • All regionally inspired dinners by our fabulous, in-house Tuscan chef, served with local wines 
  • Accommodations for special dietary requirements, including gluten free, dairy free, Paleo and Vegan
  • Paper history and hands-on lesson with Renaissance paper artisan
  • Demonstration with copper artisan
  • Visit with mosaic artisan
  • Tour of Convent Scarzuola and sculpture gardens
  • Private winery tour and tasting with a local sommelier
  • Italian pasta-making lesson
  • Time on your own for shopping and exploring
  • Evening aperitivo hour for chatting, sharing and mingling
  • Daily accompaniment with retreat facilitator and host, Pamela Haack
  • Free wifi 

* Countryside accommodations are a historic, 18th century farmhouse that has been lovingly restored and modernized with beautiful sleeping rooms (each uniquely decorated) private bathrooms, in-house restaurant (where you'll enjoy delectable meals) and various terraces and sitting areas - both inside and out - that offer breath-taking, panoramic views across Umbria and Tuscany. 

Not Included: PAPER! (Elizabeth prefers that you bring your own personal papers), airfare, plus any meals, alcoholic drinks, buses, trains or boat transportation outside of that which is specifically listed in the trip package

Paper Paintings Italy Retreat

with Elizabeth St. Hilaire
Trip Price: $3,195
Per person, based on single occupancy room with private, ensuite bathroom


"What a fabulous time! Elizabeth's class was...there are no words. I learned so much, new techniques and new ways of seeing my art. Elizabeth gave every one as much one-on-one time with her as needed and she was open to any and all questions. I took this trip to Italy alone with one goal in mind, to take my art to the next level. I left with friendships, confidence in my art and a love for Italy. The food was amazing and the side trips were beautiful! My heart and soul are replenished, recharged and I have Elizabeth and Pamela to thank for that. Thank you both for helping me to realize I am on my right path in this journey."
June ~ Jacksonville, FL

"This was the most wonderful trip! Every detail was exquisite! Our villa was stunning, the cuisine was amazing, the excursions and day trips were perfectly planned and the art classes with Elizabeth inspired our creativity tremendously. The entire trip was the vacation of a lifetime! I can't wait to go to Italy again!
Kathryn ~ Simi Valley, CA

"Words cannot describe this experience. It's hard to pick out what I enjoyed most, because each element of the trip just flowed seamlessly into the next. The whole trip was an uplifting and inspirational experience that I will carry with me forever. Elizabeth and Pamela... I can't thank you enough. Experiencing Italy and incorporating creativity in such a delicious way ... I couldn't ask for anything more and I can't wait to make some paper (as we now know, you can never have enough paper!). I just hope I can get the opportunity to experience it again with you ladies. All I can say is.... THE BEST TIME EVER!!! 
Yolanda ~ Willow Grove, PA

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should attend the Paper Paintings Retreat with Elizabeth St. Hilaire?
All levels of art enthusiasts are welcome on this retreat! From the experienced artist to the novice, Elizabeth combines group lessons with her skilled one-on-one instruction to take participants to the next level with both their collage art and creativity!   

How large is the group?
With a maximum number of 16 participants, the Paper Paintings Retreat is an ideal size for both companionship and independence.

Is airfare included?
Airfare is not included, although all ground transportation, by private Mercedes Benz van service, is provided throughout the trip.
Where will we meet up on the first day of the retreat?
You will rendezvous together with the rest of the group at Florence Peretola Airport at predetermined time for our group transportation to the retreat venue. 

What documents do I need to travel to Italy?
A valid passport is required to travel to Italy from the United States or Canada. If you do not have a passport, we recommend that you apply for one as soon as possible. If your passport expires within 6 months of the tour start date, be sure to renew at your nearest passport office.

Should I get travel insurance?
Yes, we highly recommend that you obtain travel insurance. If you must cancel your participation in a Strada Toscana retreat or workshop for any reason whatsoever - including health reasons for yourself or a family member at home - cancellation fees  will apply. Travel Insurance - specifically trip cancellation insurance - can cover some or all of these expenses.

If you miss a specified group pick-up and transfer due to a delayed, cancelled or missed flight or for any reason whatsoever, you are responsible for arranging and paying for your own transportation to the tour venue. Travel insurance - specifically trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance - can cover some of all of these expenses.

Note: Terms and coverages vary depending on the specific insurance carrier. Carefully check the specified terms and coverages before purchasing your policy. We recommend contacting your local travel agent for quotes.

How should we dress during the retreat?
We recommend packing comfortable, casual clothing that includes breathable fabrics and items you can layer - plus versatile shoes that are comfortable for walking.

What level of difficulty is the walking?
Walking ranges from easy/leisure to moderate and includes hard cobblestones, uneven pavement and steep hills (there's a reason they're called hill towns!). We recommend caution for those with serious walking difficulties, breathing issues or any health-related condition that would severely limit retreat participation.

What items will be offered at breakfast?
Breakfasts include both Italian and North American selections, such as freshly baked cornetti and marmalade-topped crostate, as well as eggs, cold cuts, cheeses, tomatoes, yogurts, breads and fresh fruit. Gluten free items are also available, along with a wonderful selection of Italian coffees, from espresso to cappuccino to macchiato. 

What are our accommodations?
Accommodations are a historic 18th century stone farmhouse along the border of Tuscany and Umbria. 

More About Elizabeth St. Hilaire
Elizabeth's love of collage started with a scrap box of mementos from her childhood. She decided to incorporate these memorable papers, notes and snippets of her family’s past into something both memorable and beautiful. Thus was born a representational collage “painting.” This piece, Looking in on Jane (a portrait of her mother), won Best of Show at Orlando Visual Artists League in 2005, and for a second time at the Women’s Caucus for Arts’ Matriarchs and Madonnas exhibit in 2007. The success of this piece plunged Elizabeth head-first into her love affair with collage. Her inspiring work has earned her a Signature Member status with the National Collage Society, a solo exhibit at the Maitland Museum of Art and can be viewed in numerous galleries across the US. You'll also find Elizabeth's paper paintings reproduced on everything from prints to comforters in stores such at Kohls and Pier One.

Her technique has evolved as a result of experimentation with hand-painted, hand-made, and a wide variety of textured and patterned papers, focusing on intense and vibrant colors combined with a sensibility of design. "My collages invite the viewer to look, and having looked, to linger," says Elizabeth. "Layering and weaving, pushing and pulling the colors, patterns, and values makes collage liken to music. I go back and forth, alternating and overlapping until the rhythm creates something I love."

BJ Gallanger, in her article for the HUFFINGTON POST, wrote this about Elizabeth: 
"Once in a great while, an artist comes along whose work is so distinctive, so unusual, so imaginative, and so colorful that it stands out from the crowd, much like a peacock stands out in a colony of penguins. Elizabeth St. Hilaire is such an artist." 

Learn more about Elizabeth St. Hilaire by visiting her website PaperPaintings.com