[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]rtful Retreats is tapping into people’s desire for switching off from the stresses of digital, urban life by providing therapeutic painting holidays overseas.

Not so long ago, people turned to the online world to escape the real one. Nowadays, smartphone addiction and desk jobs are causing serious health problems, and travellers are seeking off-line escapes – including painting holidays – to help them reconnect with themselves and nature.

Designed to “detox, rebalance and rejuvenate”, Artful Retreats are open to people of every ability, and take place in beautiful outdoor settings that inspire participants to get out their paints.

However, wellbeing is the focus of the experience, rather than producing finished works to hang in a home or gallery. The idea is that painting helps people become more mindful and centred. It is calming, peaceful and healing.

The website reads: “Artful retreats are based on the principles of art therapy and use art therapy directives to help participants be creative, get in the flow, experience emotions and gain insights.

“According to the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association, art therapy can help people resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress and increase self-esteem.”

Days on the retreat begin with yoga sessions and walks, followed by a healthy breakfast and then time in the studio or an al fresco location. At lunchtime a picnic will be spread out and, in the evening, there will be a discussion about what people have been working on (the tutor will not “interpret” work though). Afterwards, the group will have dinner under the stars.

The next Artful Retreats painting holiday will be in Crete, from October 14 to 21, 2017. It will take place at Belvedere Villas and will cost from £2,200 per person. Participants signing up for the week-long retreats will also have the chance to take pottery classes and learn about colour.

On November 2-5, there will be a four-day painting holiday in Champery, in the Swiss Alps. The group will be based in a mountain chalet surrounded by hiking trails. Art materials and meals are provided.

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