Experience the Joy of Creative Painting in Venice

DATES: 10/04/2025 - 10/11/2025
PRICE: $2,950.00

Elaine Allen has been an artist since she was a child – when she used chalk from a broken wall to draw on the slate sidewalk in front of her home.  Her long career has included illustrating an international children’s magazine and creating work for public and private spaces across the US, including Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and The Brentwood Library in Tennessee, and Joy Gardens in California. She continues her work in both watercolor and oil for shows in the US.

With her passion for teaching, Elaine has created Bright Mind Arts – an art curriculum for active senior centers, Start in Art – art lessons online, and The Creative Well – membership that’s a weekly dip into the creative pool. She instructs local community programs for adults and runs a summer art program for kids.

She holds membership in the National Watercolor Society, The American Watercolor Society, The Chestnut Group – Plein Air Painters, and Sanctuary Artists.

I love to teach art and have been teaching classes, camps, and workshops for many years. I believe that everyone is creative, and each of us longs to find ways to express our unique form of creativity.  

It’s astounding to see some of the life changes that come about because of creative activity. Studies prove what I see firsthand – that fulfilling the basic human drive to create actually changes the brain. I’ve seen students become more confident, have better communication skills, and have enhanced problem solving skills. Making art is therapeutic, so it’s a calming, centering activity.

 A lot of the folks who show up for my classes are looking at what’s next for their lives. I believe that creative work is one of the best things they can do on that journey of discovery. The experience is what is important, not the end result of the work.  

Elaine Allen

Elaine Allen is the teacher I have been looking to find for years.  I have taken several classes over the years but with Elaine I feel a real sense of accomplishment and growth in my art.  I would usually throw away the pieces I made in classes. But with Elaine’s classes I have finished works I am proud of.  She has a knack for really inspiring her students to create.  I would recommend any class you can take with Elaine. She has impressed me in a variety of mediums.  She has even helped me impress myself!  Thank you, Ms. Allen. Please keep doing what you do.  –Vickie Frazier

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I went with this lovely lady to Venice and the experience was AMAZING! I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, and I have to say, I had SO MUCH FUN just PLAYING with sketching and throwing paint around. It got my “crafting juices” flowing again.   Elaine is a FABULOUS teacher and makes it easy and gentle to bring back a sense of creativity in life. If you’re feeling stuck in your creativity, if you’re feeling like you need a soft getaway to feed your soul, JOIN THIS CLASS!  The combination of Elaine and Il Chiostro will soothe the savage beast that is your mind, into a serene, creative, well fed partner in life.  – Amelia McHenry

Elaine was able to take me from a person sitting before a blank canvas to a woman who saw herself as an artist! I created a beautiful seascape that gives me such a feeling of pride.  Thank you, Elaine for bringing out such talent in me – yes, me!  I still can’t believe it! –Jane Meade

Your inherent creativity is humming and stirring quietly in its deep reserve . . . if you’re alive, you’re a creative person. You and I and everyone you know are descended from tens of thousands of years of makers. Decorators, tinkerers, storytellers, dancers, explorers, fiddlers, drummers, builders, growers, problem-solvers and embellishers – these are our common ancestors.  –From Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The work of art that is Venice will inspire the artist in you.

The Grand Canal, photo by Lester Lefkowitz

Venice…there is no place on earth like it.

You can feel it from the very first minutes you are there. The detail, the beauty, the vibrant plazas and quiet canals and unique bridges. Everything fills your heart with an eagerness to explore and discover, to see and taste and listen to the music, which is everywhere.

“Joy in Creativity” is our theme as we collect moments to savor in this breathtaking city, which is filled with spectacular architecture, priceless art, and deep history.

A huge advantage to our time here is that it is wrapped in the delightful inclusive experience that Il Chiostro provides. You’ll be sharing the week with other artists in a small group setting.

Watercolor sketchbook by Elaine Allen

Our class time will be fun – and easy, especially for a beginner. You’ll learn how to do quick drawings and add watercolor to capture your impressions of this visually stunning city.

This will be a comfortable intro to watercolor, where you’ll learn how to use a limited palette to achieve a full range of color. Classes will also include simple drawing lessons so you can confidently sketch, and you’ll see how a few well-placed lines can define and simplify a scene. We’ll also collect ephemera and use brief descriptions in our journals to capture the places, the sounds, the scents, and your feelings.  You’ll fill your journal with your experiences and return home with a beautiful, personally painted record of your time in the Most Beautiful City in the World.

We’ll be sure to combine artmaking with a great-big-heaping-serving of PLAY! Class will be in the mornings, and then we’ll have plenty of time to do just that.

Watercolor sketchbook by Elaine Allen

I can’t wait to ride a vaporetto, to see the stunning colors on the island of Burano, to fiddle around with one of Leonardo DaVinci’s machines, to shop the unusual produce at the Rialto fish market! I want gelato and Italian pastry and pizza. As the days fly by, we will form new friendships as we revel in all that beautiful Venice has to offer. Around every corner it has so much to offer…and once you fill your eyes with its color, and your lungs with its salty, moist air, and your ears with the rippled sounds of its canals, your sweet memories will call you back again and again.

Come and join me!


An artist learns that creating is play, and in playing there is no failing. It is simply learning to play better through trial and error. There is also a release of creativity as you relax and learn to play without trying to impress someone else. Play helps lift you out of yourself. –Dorsey McHugh

Accommodations: The week will be spent in the a brightly renovated ex-convent on the Zattere in the Dorsoduro sector. When you register you can choose either a single or double room with ensuite bathroom in the complex where our studio is.  Rooms are clean and comfortable, but simply furnished.  If you would prefer to find your own accommodations in a nearby hotel or AirBnB, no problem.  Just click that option on the registration page.
We’ll enjoy traditional cuisine at local restaurants or prepared by our personal chef. It will be an ideal place to improve your painting skills.

We’ll enjoy traditional cuisine at local restaurants or prepared by our personal chef. It will be an ideal place to improve your painting skills.

General Activities: Our first activity will be an orientation at 6pm on the first day followed by dinner with the group.  After that, most activities for the week, like museum visits with Elaine and an intimate walking tour of the back canals of this ancient city, will be organized around the workshop. It’s easy to be independent in this entirely walkable city, but all participants will come together for meals and excursions. Then, at the end of the week, you may participate in an exhibit of class work to share our personal impressions of enigmatic Venice.

Dinners: During the week we will have 5 meals together: 3 dinners at local restaurants, 1 dinner in a palazzo and 1 Sunday lunch. To experience a good cross-section of typical Venetian cuisine we will sample diverse neighborhood trattorie and Michael and Linda will host our group for two home-cooked meals with ingredients we find at the outdoor market. Two nights of the week you will be on your own to follow your nose to restaurants or concerts or the opera or whatever else might pique your curiosity. There is plenty of time for independent exploration.

Watercolor sketchbook by Elaine Allen

Price: $2,950* p/p

Non-painter partners/friends are always welcome for a reduced fee of $2,650

*2023 Price valid only until June, 2024

  • Options:
  • single room supplement – $475 (limited number available)
  • Find your own accommodations – $800 p/p discount


  • 7 nights at refurbished convent – double or single (with supplement) room with ensuite bathroom and shower (Note: departure is after breakfast on the final Saturday.  The last class activity will be Friday evening.)
  • 5 meals at local restaurants or at home, including wine
  • Workshop tuition, daily classes
  • Selected other museum entrance fees with Elaine
  • Guided art history tour of Venice with local art historian
  • Selected excursions with class


    Circular Venice, photo by Andy Holtzman

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing
  • Workshop materials (a supply list will be provided by Elaine when you register)
  • Local transportation: vaporettos, water taxis

To Register: just click on the Sign Up Now button. A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop. Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can follow the instructions to send in your registration and payment by mail. Once we receive your deposit we will send you a formal Registration Confirmation with further information about the program. You will receive 2-3 other correspondences by email prior to the workshop with information about Italy, a supplies list and an electronic invoice for the balance. Final Balance is due by August 15th. Any time prior to your arrival, if you have questions about anything regarding the trip or the program, you can contact us by email or phone and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Contact us for more information: info@ilchiostro.com or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

For our week in Venice we will be staying at the renovated monastery of Don Orione Artigianelli directly on the Giudecca Canal.  The complex is built around a series of quiet cloisters where the only sound is of the bells ringing on the hour.

Rooms are single or double, simply furnished, but each with its own private, modern bathroom.

Breakfast is served each morning in the dining room on the main floor.  We will use one of their conference rooms as our studio.

Convent Alternatives:

If you would prefer to find your own accommodations in Venice, that is not a problem.  Just select Program only-no accommodations when registering and the room fee will be deducted from your workshop fee.  There are many options for hotels or AirBnB apartments that you can research.  Here are some of our hotel suggestions with web sites and number of stars.  They are all in the Dorsoduro section on the same side of the Accademia Bridge as the convent.  Contact them directly through their web sites:  [NOTE:  our studios for classes will be located in the convent so you might want to stay nearby.]

Very Near the Convent

On the Zattere

On Side Canals

Near La Salute:

Inexpensive alternative (save money – less expensive than the convent):

  • Casa Accademia, ex-convent beside Hotel American (not to be confused with Pensione Accademia above), 45 euros/single, 55 euros/ double, cheap, convenient: casaccademia.it

To arrive either you can fly directly into Venice or into Milan and then take the train to Venice. Specific arrival instructions will follow, but from the train station you can take the vaporetto and get off at the Zattere.  From the airport you can take the Alilaguna ferry (Blue Line) and get off at the Zattere.  In either case, Artigianelli will be right in front of you.  We’ll send you easy walking directions so you won’t get lost.  Remember that Venice is a walking city, so pack light because you will have to pull your luggage down the alleys and over the bridges – there’s just no getting around that.

Our first activity will be an orientation at 6pm on the first day, followed by dinner with the group.

Departure is after breakfast on the final day.  If you are flying out that day you might try to arrange your flights for 11am or later to avoid getting up at the crack of dawn.

If you have time you might want to explore the Lakes district or enchanting towns like Bergamo or Verona, the site of Romeo and Juliet, before you arrive in Venice. This will give you plenty of time to recover from jet-lag before you settle in at the convent and start your workshop. Besides, Italy is not something that should be experienced in a hurry. Its charms need to seep into your skin while you linger at a café or amble through a piazza.

Travel Agent

If you don’t have your own trusted travel agent, here are two we can recommend:

They are familiar with Il Chiostro programs and can help you with flights, hotel reservations, extensions before or after your trip, transfers, and especially booking the right travel insurance to cover your trip.

Over the last couple of years, how we travel has changed.  For that reason, we now encourage everyone to use a travel professional to help arrange your travels.  One of the most important services they can provide today is to help you choose and enroll in the right travel insurance program. With Covid and the possibility of changes and postponements of itineraries, travel insurance is all but essential.  On your own, it can be overwhelming to select the right plan from the variety available.  Also, if you confront any obstacle while traveling, a travel professional will take the stress off your shoulders and help you to navigate through whatever issues may arise.  Booking through an online site like Expedia or Hotels is convenient and possibly less expensive, but they won’t be much help if you need to alter your plans.  A travel agent, on the other hand, is there to assist you throughout your trip.

If you choose to Go It Alone, we highly recommend taking out travel insurance for the trip in the event of any unforeseen obstacles to your travel.  We recommend Travelex (800) 504-7883 or Travel Guard International (877) 901-7599.

Venice, city, empire, wonder of the world, is one of the most visually stimulating places on Earth. Stripes of canals, Byzantine mosaics glittering in the sun, window cases of blown glass, leather-bound books, plumed masks, woodcut puppets. Each step through the crooked passages is a delight. Spend a week (or two) probing unknown corners. Stay long enough to lounge at a café. Get to know the old woman at the vegetable stall. Return to that tiny mask shop again and again. Photograph it. Artists and writers have been interpreting Venice since it was born in the lagoon centuries ago, from the Grand Canal to the tiny sculptures above the doorframes. Get lost in the sensuality.

Because Venice is such a visual feast that is a collection of its past, our program offers weeklong workshops in painting or photography. Participants coming from the different disciplines will capture and be stimulated by the passion of Venice.  Throughout the week the groups inspire one another to see in new ways and to experiment with their work in a city that has awed writers, painters, colonels and kings.

Bartosek-rialto sunset

Rialto Sunset by Cindy Bartosek