Are you searching for your inner artist? relax, relax,relax

If you’ve always wanted to get in touch with your artistic side and never had the time, you’re not alone. Evening classes are fine, but you need to be pretty motivated to go out on those cold winter nights and if you’re tired after a busy day, will you really be in the mood? The answer is an art holiday, away from home and the pressures of everyday life, with an experienced teacher where you can truly relax.

But if you’re like me, you’ll be worrying that everyone else will be better than you. I picture myself producing something that looks as if it’s been produced by a three year old, while all around me the rest of the class turns out stunningly beautiful watercolours. I’ve been chatting to Karen Stamper who teaches art and yoga, she says most people feel that way at first, which is why art and yoga work so well together.

Of course, you need to find the right location where you are made welcome and comfortable. Karen teaches in two very special places: Gardoussel and Le Cerf Gris in the Languedoc. Gardoussel is a secluded retreat amongst the natural beauty of the Cevennes Mountains, simply but comfortably furnished. Mornings are devoted to yoga and art and afternoons are free. So you might take a swim in the natural pool, complete with waterfall or stroll into the village for a spot of people-watching from a shady café terrace. Gardoussel specializes in the most delicious Ayurvedic food, so light and so tasty even hardened carnivores are converted. In contrast to Gardoussel, Le Cerf Gris is a large, elegant Maison de Maître owned and run by artists for artists. The routine is similar to Gardoussel with yoga and art in the mornings and afternoons free to relax by the pool or stroll into the village for a tasting with a local wine producer, but the cooking style is Mediterranean with vegetarian and vegan cuisine a speciality.

So now you’re in the right place, you’re already feeling quite relaxed and it’s time for the yoga to put you in the right frame of mind. Of course, for some of us the idea of getting up for an early morning yoga session is a bit of a shock to the holiday-making system but you soon get into the swing. Karen teaches Iyengar yoga which is based on Asanas or postures and Pranayama which is breathing. Unlike other forms of yoga it concentrates on aligning different parts of your body in space, organized sequences of postures and the use of supports and objects, such as straps, blocks and chairs. You’ll feel your body stretch, your muscles relax and the confidence you gain will be carried through into your art.

At the end of your yoga session it’s time for a delicious breakfast and finally, you’re relaxed and ready to tackle the art……but you’re still a bit nervous. Karen will soon calm your nerves; she has many years experience with novice artists. She uses a step by step approach, so you might begin with some abstract drawing with chalks or charcoal before moving on to try other materials and techniques. Sometimes Karen will just pick a few leaves from the grapevine above the door to use as stencils and before you know it, everyone has got lost in their own work and forgotten the rest of the group. As confidence increases you can move off in your own artistic direction, to see with an artist’s eye and choose your own subjects and materials, whether it be still life, abstract or landscape and in the Languedoc there’s plenty to inspire you.

Another reason to relax is that once you arrive in France, Karen’s holidays are all inclusive: accommodation, food, wine and art materials, so you have no exchange rate worries. At the end of your holiday you leave, relaxed and rested and full of artistic ideas and already dreaming of next year’s art and yoga holidays.

To contact Karen, follow this link