Working with Raw Pigments - Egg Tempera and other techniques

2nd to 8th July 2017

(arrival Sunday 2nd Departure Saturday 8th)

Tutor: Olivia Irvine, BA, PG Dip, MA

Cost: £520 includes your own room in self-catering accommodation (all linen provided) with wifi, tuition, studio space, materials and welcome meal on the Sunday evening.

Non- residential place; £350

During this week you will learn how to make your own paints from raw pigments. The technique of egg tempera (pigment and egg yolk) will be demonstrated. You will be able to experiment with egg tempera on paper in a contemporary way as well as make gesso grounds for wooden panels suitable for more traditional techniques. Other binders, such as PVA glue and beeswax, will open up further approaches.

With a range of new techniques and materials at your disposal, you will be encouraged to engage with a variety of subject matter. Using the natural surroundings of Gardenstown, as well as studio set-ups and your own ideas, you will produce a range of studies and finished paintings that will glow with intense and subtle colour.

Tuition is by demonstration, one to one attention and group discussion. Some time will be spent out of the studio gathering information from the beautiful surroundings of steeply arranged houses, cliffs, sea and harbour.

As group numbers are at a maximum of 8, there will be plenty time to receive the tuition you need. Tuition will run 9.30 to 4.00, Monday to Friday. Our main teaching space, the High Street Studio, will be available to you 24 hours a day (for the very keen). This studio has windows on three sides, perched high over the village and overlooking Gamrie Bay. On Friday afternoon we have a pop up exhibition where everyone will put work they have made. This informal gathering with tutor and guests (my family!) will complete the week.


Pigments, binders and materials for preparing gesso are provided, as is a quantity of paper and small boards. I can provide, with Creative Retreat’s compliments, the use of oils, acrylics, various drawing materials, watercolours, monoprinting equipment - and so on. There are also sketchbooks, painting boards and pre-stretched canvasses for sale at very reasonable prices.

If you have any specific sized boards or canvas you wish to use please bring them with you. Please also bring a sketchbook and your own brushes (a range of hog for working with wax and sable type brushes for egg tempera). Palette knives are also useful. If you have any particular sketching materials, such as watercolours, you wish to work with, please bring them.

General Information

You will be allocated your own room, which is in a comfortable self-catering house, shared with other guests on the same week holiday. Due to the period style of the houses none of the rooms are ensuite, but you will only be sharing bathrooms with two others at most. You will have access to your accommodation from 5pm on Sunday. Departure is by 10am on the following Saturday. The walk from the accommodation is short but steep and may not be suitable for those with mobility issues.


The village has a mini supermarket in the upper village which has everyday basics. There is also a hotel/pub, the Garden Arms (closed Tuesdays). If you wish to eat there one evening I recommend booking in advance as it is very popular. I can provide transport for guests to supermarkets in Banff, about 8 miles from Gardenstown on the Monday evening and other days by arrangement. There is also a bus service four times a day. Please note there are no ATMs in Gardenstown. Mobile phone signals are only obtainable from higher up in the village.

Welcome Meal

After being met by me, and shown your accommodation, we will start the week on the Sunday evening with a welcome meal - please let us know if you have any dietary requirements.

Getting Here

I will provide you with a map of the village. Please let me know how you will be getting to Gardenstown. Aberdeen has a train station and an airport. Bus - 35 or 35A, operated by Stagecoach, runs regularly from Aberdeen and also the other direction from Inverness/Elgin. If coming by bus I can offer you a free lift from Banff to Gardenstown. There may also be the possibility of getting a lift from someone who is travelling from near you, but we won’t know that till nearer the time.


Please contact me by email if you wish to make a booking. I require a £120 deposit to confirm your booking. Please do not book flights/ trains (unless insured against cancellation) until I have confirmed the course has enough people to run. The remainder of the payment (£400) should be paid three weeks before the course begins, so by 12th June.

Making Payment

I accept payment by cheque or via bank transfer- details given on request.

Cancellations & Refunds

If you cancel within six weeks of the booked holiday (after 22nd May) I reserve the right to retain the full deposit. If you cancel prior to six weeks before the holiday I will retain 30% per holiday place - the rest refunded.




Apart from the course above we have decided to take a break for 2017 and are not running any courses ourselves. We are encouraging visiting artist/tutors to run their own courses and if a programme emerges we will publish that information here.

You are welcome to hire our houses and studios to run courses or bring your group of friends. You will find the hire prices on the pages on the left hand navigation bar - Holiday Home Rental - and - Studio Hire. Briefly, we have a three bedroom house that sleeps 6 and a four bedroom house that sleeps 8 to 10. Each house has a studio space, but none as grand as the High Street Studio, approx 7m along each side, windows on three sides with views of cliffs, sea, weather and rooftops. The Studio is also full of equipment and materials.

If you hire more than one property we offer a discount, please get in touch.

 You can email us on, or call us on 01261 812276.