Figs On The Funcho

Painting Holiday in Europe – A Riverside Location

Art Holiday Europe

Painting Holiday in Europe’s Picturesque Portugal

Listed in Simon Heptinstall’s 10 Best Art Escapes in 2019 for the Mail Online, this riverside location is perfect for plein air painting and exploring the Algarve countryside when searching for painting holidays in Europe.  

Wake-up every morning to Algarve blue skies and an undisturbed and tranquil location with unbeatable sunsets and spectacular views to inspire your creativity and develop your drawing and painting skills in a wide variety of media.

“A great relaxing location with fantastic views.” – Sally

Our Shropshire experienced, fully qualified Art Tutor, a member of Algarve Society of Artists and a Professional Member of the S.A.A., now resident in the Algarve, has a passion for sharing her knowledge and skills through tutorials and demonstrations and has her own step by step lessons in the series “Pick up a Paintbrush”, a regular feature in the quarterly online Algarve Artist magazine.

Tracy-Jane is full of enthusiasm and passion and it is reflected in her vibrant and colorful art work.

group art paintings
Art work by guests – Learn new techniques and approaches

Southern Portugal Is The Perfect Place To Spend 6 Nights And 7 Days

“The River House, I can’t recommend this place highly enough….you wont be disappointed with its location and beautiful views overlooking the river. ” – Charlie

This art holiday offers an opportunity to improve your artistic skills and enjoy the positive healing affects of nature.

Immerse yourself here in blissful tranquility and timelessness, a secluded location, with breathtaking views and stunning sunsets. This serene setting will allow you to fully relax, improve your mood and allow your creative juices take over.

During your stay, you will enjoy daily art lessons on the waterfront deck under the mature carob trees with accompanying bird song. The surrounding countryside and views of the river will make you feel as though you have discovered a secret oasis and you won’t be at a loss when choosing your landscape art scenes.

The clean, country air and beautiful views of the river and countryside can be best enjoyed during picturesque, easy going self-guided walks where you will discover the lovely cistus rockrose, thought to be magical and therapeutic and Portugal’s national tree, cork oak, showing their bright orange-brown coloured trunks when stripped for cork.

paint holiday europe group
Art painting holiday group under the carob trees

10 Reasons To Join Our Art Workshops

“I returned home, from the painting holiday, and I’ve been able to put a lot of energy into creative pursuits. I just finished a 30 day sketch challenge, doing a bird a day in any medium.” – Amy

  1. Develop self confidence within your own artistic practice in a beautiful relaxed waterside location.
  2. Learn new techniques and approaches through preparatory drawing.
  3. Experiment with different materials while loosening up your creative practice.
  4. Gain an understanding of the importance of contrasts.
  5. Learn how perspective affects landscape painting.
  6. Let the artistic journey dictate your finished results without pressure or force.
  7. Immerse yourself here in blissful tranquillity and timelessness, a secluded location, with breath-taking views and stunning sunsets.
  8. An opportunity to improve painting landscape reflections as seen on the river Funcho filled with sunset or sunrise colours.
  9. Groups are kept small to ensure individual attention for all levels and abilities.
  10. Non-painting partners are welcome as there are plenty non-painting activities on location and nearby.

Art and Walking

There’s plenty of space to either join in the everyday activities and socialising, or you can simply opt out and enjoy the magical ambience in a space of your own. The River House provides plenty of relaxation spaces in the sunshine, shelter and natural shade and there are several walking paths to explore. 


15h00 We have one Faro airport pick-up at 15h00 for the group. Airport transfers at other times can be arranged for your own cost.  If you would like to arrive earlier please check if it is possible.  

18h30 – 19h30 Welcome drinks and get to know each other.

Sunday – Thursday will Follow a Similar Format

08h30 –  10h00 Outdoor breakfast with views of the rolling hills

10h00 – 13h00 Mixed media painting workshops. The workshop on Tuesday is a full day. Refer to the section “Art Itinerary” for full details about each workshop.

13h00 – 14h00 Lunch on the sunny terrace

14h00 – 18h30 Free time to enjoy wild swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, walking or lazing around the pool

Every Evening 

18h30 – 19h30 Sunset drinks and an opportunity to enjoy our gorgeous sunsets

19h30 – 20h30 Al fresco dinner under the Algarve starry sky

20h30 – 22h00 Port and cheese on the riverside deck

Thursday Afternoon

Thursday afternoon is an optional day out, as a group, to a place of interest.  Alternatively, if you would like to explore the Algarve region on your own I am keen to share my Algarve experiences with you as I love to explore the area, find new beaches, restaurants and activities and visit the traditional villages nearby.

“Tracy is a very talented artist and a great teacher I hope to return again” – Jenny

Painting Holiday Workshop Program

paint blissful tranquility location
Enjoy the magical ambience in a space of your own


Suitable for all painting levels from beginners to advanced.
Minimum age 18 with no upper age limit.

Art Supplies

Art equipment is supplied so don’t worry if you’re just starting out but if you have favourite brushes, paints or materials, please feel free to bring them
Art supplies on hand include graphite pencils, chalk pastels, charcoal, watercolour, ink, brusho and acrylic paints.
A3 paper is the maximum paper size; should you like to work with large canvases, these can be purchased for you at an extra expense.

Painting riverside landscapes at Figs on the Funcho

Art Itinerary

“Tracy taught me so much about painting and really inspired me. I pay so much more attention to colours and shapes and lines in all the nature I see. ”  – Ramla

The itinerary is for guidance only and is subject to change depending on the group’s needs and wishes but is typically as follows:

Sunday Art Theme – Natural Inspiration (Half Day)

Relaxed introduction morning at Figs on the Funcho learning how to use different shapes, textures and form from the nature. Using various drawing techniques and materials including graphite, charcoal and pen where you can ease into your art holiday learning new tips and tricks or a good refresher for the more experienced. Also a great way to get to know each other and discuss our art interests.

Monday Art Theme – When colour runs riot (Half Day)

A day letting vibrant colours and bold imagery inspired from many different sources comes together to create powerful abstract art. This will be a creative day exploring different colour and how it makes us feel. Chance to try out different art materials like watercolour, acrylics or chalk. All that is required is an open mind willing to explore.

Tuesday Art Theme – En Plein Air Painting Landscape (Full Day)

En plein air painting is the French expression for “in the open air” and we will be outdoors using the stunning location of Figs on the Funcho as inspiration for creating some plein air landscape painting. The morning will be used to work together and discuss how to select your landscape, then compose a painting or drawing while on location. After lunch, we will continue with the landscapes back at base where we can tune the fine details with guidance to create some impressive works of art. The hardest part of this day will be which view to choose, so maybe bring a camera. Material choice is  totally up to you, but maybe try something loose and see where the inspiration leads you.

Wednesday Art Theme – Ink and Mixed Media (Half Day)

A session on the joys of using ink in various ways to create interesting art works. A morning of play and experimentation where we will show you how versatile this medium can be, not to mention the possibilities when other mediums are used. From the application of ink from a pen for sketching, to brush work and the introduction of bleach and other unusual things.

Thursday Art Theme –  Animals in Pastels (Half Day)

Have you ever tried to draw an animal but felt it wasn’t quite right? Have you attempted to draw furry coat but it ended up looking flat? Well this tips and tricks session on all things animal will help you master simple shapes into various species followed by the techniques needed to make fur and feather come alive. From the smallest mouse, to the biggest elephant, anything goes in this session.

“We were able to understand all the different painting techniques that were incorporated into this workshop.” – Jenny


art painting program ink pen
Ink and mixed media workshop


The self-guided walking route, Via Algarviana,  is perfect if you enjoy solo walking or running in the morning allowing you to clear the mind of chatter and make space for clear thinking so that you can focus on the peaceful surroundings and enjoy the present.

Sunset walking along the river to study the water reflections

Wildlife spotted in our area includes owls, hoopoes, herons, woodpeckers, foxes,  Algarve tiger and stags with amazing antlers. The surrounding countryside and views of the river will make you feel as though you have discovered a secret oasis in this remote and beautiful location on southern Portugal.

Outside seating | sun beds | with views of the river and pool | algarve, portugal
A lazy day by the pool

I’m Travelling Solo – Can I Join?

“I attended the plein air day at the Figs on the Funcho and had a wonderfully magical day. I came away with some new friends and my own painting.” – Liza

Solo travellers are more than encouraged to join and you will not be alone. You will meet artists  staying at the villa and artists living on the Algarve joining us for the art workshops.

What is a Non-Painting Partner To Do All Day?

“I went along to Figs on the Funcho as a non-painter with my painting partner. My time there was incredibly relaxing with stunning views across the river and countryside, with interesting walks and sunsets to die for.” – Clive

There are several quiet areas on the property to enjoy and take advantage of the peaceful, tranquil, scenic surroundings. Enjoy bird watching, book a relaxing aromatherapy massage, a stand up paddle boarding lesson, fishermen can find a spot to fish anywhere around the villa and we can help you obtain a fishing license or you could simply chill out by the infinity pool and soak up some much needed vitamin D.

The River House is also great for relaxing and is stocked with a small collection of reading books, board games and a DVD library. 

The clearly signed walking route is ideal for exploring the countryside on your own and you are welcome to join the art group when they go out walking and exploring the countryside.

There is so much to discover and enjoy in the Algarve that is within easy reach:

  • A 10 minute walk takes you to the horse riding centre where you can enjoy afternoon hacks into the countryside and along the river.
  • A trip to the seaside by car is a mere 25 minute drive by car or taxi to Falésia beach with its gorgeous ochre coloured sand cliffs and is known as one of Europes best beaches.  Visit the neighbouring Portuguese fishing village, Olhos d’Agau, with its seaside restaurants and Portuguese souvenir shops.
  • Caldas de Monchique is surrounded by the mountains of Serra de Monchique and is a 40 minute drive by car. Stop at the highest peak in the Algarve, Fóia, to enjoy magnificent scenic views of the countryside.  A leisurely lunch under the mature trees in the village square of Caldas de Monchique is very pleasurable. Visit the art gallery, Portuguese craft shop and stroll through the beautiful woods with natural water features and a fitness trail. 
  • A visit to the historical town, Silves, is a 15 minute drive by car. Visit one of the best preserved Moorish castles in the area, the magnificent gothic cathedral and an archaeological museum.  Sample the traditional Algarvian confectionary at the beautifully decorated Portuguese tearoom, Da Rosa. Seafood lovers can enjoy Rui’s seafood meals or enjoy your meal with accompanying live music at Café Inglês.  Both restaurants are a stones throw from the castle. 
  • A 15 minute drive to Alte, a typical and picturesque Algarvean village where you can experience wild swimming in the cool refreshing springs and the local waterfall. The 13th century church with hand painted pieces is worth exploring and visit the local tile shop, craft shop. Pop in for tea at Agua Mel and try one of their delicious homemade cakes.

Cheryl loves finding places to shop, dine and explore that add a touch of authentic flavour and variety to your Algarve visit, and she is always excited to share them so that you can also experience these wonderful discoveries. Talk to her about  some of  her personal recommendations on things to do in the area.

Delicious Delights Will Dazzle You

“Cheryl is an excellent host and her culinary skills have literally changed our view of food; vegetarian food in particular, with flavours, textures and combinations that were an assault on the senses.” – Clive

“I have been using your recipes and my family and friends are huge fans!” – Ramla

You will feast on a varied menu of raw, local seasonal produce and fresh juices, exploring what feels good and tastes great. Our menu includes tasty homemade cakes and treats too!

We will be lovingly preparing a variety of wholesome vegetarian dishes, to include a couple of fish options (on request), in our riverside farmhouse kitchen using fresh produce from our local village market.  All meals are seasoned with the Algarve Portugal sea salt, Flor de Sal, known as the white gold of the Algarve that is manually harvested from clean Atlantic water.

You will enjoy a variety of healthy breakfast options under the carob trees. Our breakfast options include fresh fruit, my home made granola, freshly baked muffins, gluten free buckwheat pancakes, banana oat porridge served with local Algarve lavender honey and freshly squeezed juices and  smoothies.

Feeling hungry? Take a look at the delicious wholesome meal options and sweet treats on our sample menu

art holiday europe group lunch
Spacious outdoor deck area to enjoy al fresco meals

Spectacular Accommodations. Await You.

“The villa and grounds are beautiful and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking. At night I saw the sky filled with stars.” – Ramla

Just a 35-minute drive from Faro Airport into the Algarve’s peaceful countryside, The River House features:

5 Double spacious, airy and fully air-conditioned bedrooms, some with TVs.

All bedrooms are twin/doubles; 2 are ensuite, and 3 rooms share a gorgeous family bathroom with a shower and double sink basins. Hairdryers in all bathrooms.

Comfortable rooms, stylishly decorated maintaining many traditional of wood beams & skylights in the upstairs rooms and the downstairs room have french doors leading onto the garden.

Light and airy social spaces, a high-ceiling lounge and kitchen fitted with a centre island and a cherry wood dining table. All meals are provided but the space allows you to keep snacks handy.

Weekly clean up and linen service is included, mid-stay clean and bath towel change. Weekly swimming pool towels provided.

Free internet (cable internet) connection is available.

Spacious deck area with terraces offering warm sun, a cool canopy, and natural shade, all with stunning views of the countryside and breathtaking sunsets.

Your meals will be enjoyed with the group outdoors (weather permitting).

An infinity pool with jaw-dropping views of the Funcho dam and river area.

Reading books, board games and a large selection of DVD’s are available for the enjoyment of our guests.

luxury bedrooms at riverside retreat
Spacious, luxurious bedrooms at The River House

What’s Included

  • Daily art tuition from day 2-6. Four morning sessions and 1 full day session – 18 hours in total.
  • All art materials:  graphite pencils, chalk pastels, charcoal, watercolour, ink, brusho and acrylic paints.  Maximum paper size A3. Larger sizes on request.
  • Self-guided walking routes to explore 
  • Spacious, comfortable accommodation
  • Welcome drinks
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (not included: alcoholic and cool drinks (honesty bar provided and one evening meal))
  • Airport Transfers. We’ll have one Faro airport pick-up at 3pm for the group. We can arrange airport transfers for you at other times for your cost. If there is anybody else arriving doing the same we will arrange it so that you can share the transport costs. 
  • Mid week room clean and towel change
  • Bath and swimming pool towels
  • Wifi
  • Check in is after 2pm and check out is after breakfast on day 7
outdoor pastel drawing
Experience various art media – drawing with pastels

What to Bring

  • Your swimming costume to enjoy the pool
  • Swimming shoes for wild swimming
  • Something warm to relax in at night
  • Sun hat, the larger the rim, the better!  Suitable footwear for walking to explore different paths and also if you plan to visit the historical town nearby, during free time, as the cobbled roads can be slippery
  • Plastic or cardboard postal tubes to take your rolled artwork home. Paper sizes provided will be no larger than an A3
group art work sketching
Animal sketching tips and techniques session

What’s Not Included

  • Optional activities such as massages
  • Optional day out trip. Please note: this trip is optional but the kitchen at the villa will be closed on this evening, however, if a guest prefers not to go soup and sandwiches will be provided. The additional cost is the cost of a taxi (approximately €90 round trip for a group of up to 8 people, to be share) and evening meal
  • Travel Insurance (recommended)
  • Alcoholic drinks and cool drinks, we have an honesty bar
  • Airfares to Portugal

Flights to Portugal

  • Direct flights from the UK to Faro Airport (FAO) or Lisbon (LIS)
  • Direct flights from the United States cities New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston and Los Angeles to Lisbon (LIS)

Optional Activities

  • Aroma Body Massages – 1 hour – €60 
  • Stand-up Paddle Boarding / Kayaking – no charge for guests staying with us

Book Your Painting Holiday 

Read more about our upcoming retreat dates and rates and how to book here …

“The whole break is one I will not forget and have already highly recommended to others.” – Clive (non-painting partner)

“A lovely break from normal life.” – Sally


Painting Lessons without Accommodation

Those resident in the Algarve can also join the painting lessons as day trippers without the option of accommodation, see Painting Lessons in the Algarve programme.

Your Art Tutor – Tracy-Jane

artist landscape art
Art tutor, Tracy-Jane, using pastels for her landscape art at Figs on the Funcho

“Tracy, our art teacher, was extremely knowledgeable in a variety of techniques, gave you confidence and always made you feel at ease.” – Sally

“Tracy was relaxed, fun, informative and talented” – Liza

Tracy-Jane has a BA Hons degree in Fine Art as Social Practice from Wolverhampton University and then went on to achieve teaching qualifications in further education.
Tracy-Jane is a member of Algarve Society of Artists and a Professional Member of the S.A.A.

She was so appreciative of the support she received once she was diagnosed as Dyslexic that it inspired her to become an art tutor so she in turn could help other adult art students break down some of their learning barriers.

Originally from Shropshire, but now based in Portugal’s Algarve and blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery, a great inspiration to her wonderful vibrant, colourful sometimes expressive with its foundations firmly based on Realism.

Tracy-Jane likes to capture life and energy in her work and has a passion for sharing her knowledge and skills through tutorials and demonstrations, and has her own step by step lessons in the series “Pick up a Paintbrush”, a regular feature that can be found quarterly online in the Algarve Artist magazine.

Her art teaching experience varies from working in Family Learning with parents and children as young as 4, to working part time in Prison Education for over 9 years. Her UK experience with teaching adult beginners and intermediates in the Telford College of Art Technology, tutoring private groups, running art workshops and organising art day trips makes her the perfect painting instructor for all ages and levels.

Paintings by Tracy-Jane

Your Host and Walking Guide – Cheryl Smith

paint holidays in europe
Cheryl enjoying painting Van Gogh’s Starry Night landscape in acrylic paints

“Cheryl is an excellent host and her culinary skills have literally changed our view of food.” – Clive

“The hospitality couldn’t have been more attentive by the owner, Cheryl.” – Liza

“The owner Cheryl was very welcoming and cooked amazing meals.” – Ramla

Cheryl, organiser of the art painting holiday, is passionate about Portugal; holidaying, exploring, experiencing new creative hobbies, good food, joyful living, well-being and mindful connection, especially with regard to a healthy work-life balance.

I love to share my love of healthy, delicious, simple cooking with friends.  I enjoy exploring raw, vegan and vegetarian recipes.  My knowledge of the locally grown produce enables me to source the best and prepare deliciously creative fresh food for you daily.

Having visited the Algarve for more than 20 years I am keen to share my Algarve experience with you as I love to explore the area, find new beaches, restaurants and activities, visit the traditional villages nearby. And I can spend hours in the local markets, surrounded by the colours and scents of locally grown produce.

Algarve Countryside

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Mixed Media Art Holiday

I had a wonderful time at Figs on the Funcho! Our art teacher was a very good teacher, our hosts were friendly, informative, fun and their food was just amazing! As well as the art it was like a retreat! Thank you Cheryl, Graham and all my new friends!! X
- Dorothy Brown


Just spent a wonderful week at Figs on their art retreat. A truly remarkable venue with great food and top hosts. Rooms beautiful as was the setting and the art workshops were a great way to spend the day. Thoroughly recommend and look forward to my next stay
- Jo Ryder

Art course at Figs on the Funcho

Just spent an amazing week at the River House on their residential course. Very well organised and run with a great art teacher who was patient and encouraging . Excellent accommodation and wonderful food provided by Cheryl and her husband Graham. Great company and beautiful location. Can’t praise the week highly enough and hope to return again next year.
- Ann Peake