Develop your Painting Skills while you Experience Venice!

DATES: 05/25/2019 - 06/01/2019
PRICE: $2,950.00

Tonja Sell is a Wisconsin native and daughter of glass artisans and attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design where she studied fine arts, drawing, and illustration.  Tonja met her husband and business partner Matthew at M.I.A.D.   After time in Arizona, the couple returned to northern Wisconsin where they have been raising four children, building their home, and teaching studio classes near beautiful Lake Superior.

Tonja has a vast range of creative experience.  She works in several different mediums, including all paint and drawing, printmaking, ceramic sculpture, blown glass, and more.  She loves trying new things and learning through experimentation.  She teaches in her Wisconsin-based art studio, online, and across the United States, Australia​ and Mexico. She and Matthew currently host international art adventures to Italy and Spain.

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Tonja has been represented by galleries across the country and her work is in multiple private collections nationally and internationally. Her experience with many materials allows her provide a unique learning experience.

I love teaching, exploring and making new discoveries both on the canvas, and in our great big beautiful world!  I look forward to sharing this with my fellow artists, students, explorers.
-Tonja Sell

If you have the opportunity to take a workshop with Tonja – don’t hesitate, just do it. Yesterday, I finished up 3 crazy-fun days with Tonja in Austin, TX. Beyond having a blast, I learned how to incorporate new tools into my work and how best to achieve shadow, form, and light. Tonja’s teaching style is warm, engaging, and informative. Prepare yourself for some tried and true art knowledge bombs. Tonja talks easily about methods and techniques she has tried and perfected. For an artist of any level, this kind of information can save you a ton of time and heartache. My classmates included a wide range of experience from well-seasoned artists all the way to weekend art warrior types. Tonja seamlessly guided us in a way that spoke to directly to each of us and where we were at in our own art experience. Through encouragement and demonstration, she pushed us past where we may be struggling. Her critiques were helpful and easy to understand. I’ve taken what seems to be a gazillion workshops, but this one is simply a stand out. Highly recommend.
– M.C., Student

I believe drawing is a vital, foundation skill each artist should work to develop; I include drawing basics and beyond in all of my classes.

This Venice adventure includes the development of a travel journal where you’ll learn to capture the essence of your experiences using simple materials like pen & ink, watercolor, and colored pencil.  You will practice and refine your sketching, while creating a sketch journal full of beautiful memories.

Watercolor/pastel study on location in Venice, by Tonja Sell

Artists may also choose to paint on location, take photographs while exploring, work exclusively in the studio, or any combination of the above. This is a trip where your personal goals help determine your focus.  You may paint and explore as little or much as you like.

Tonja Sell teaching

Daily demonstrations and one-on-one personal attention and guidance make this an art adventure like no other.  I work to specifically tailor the creative experience to each group of artists; teaching sessions are determined by the goals and character of the group itself.  There is something for everyone, from beginner to the professional artist.  I encourage you to bring materials that are practical for travel and carrying on our walking tours along the narrow winding streets and canals of Venice, but you may bring any art supplies that you are comfortable using.

Masquerade by Tonja Sell

We will focus on sketching the amazing and unique character of this place that has been a jewel for famous “carnival”  in some of our art.  I often work figuratively; costuming and sculptural work is of special interest to me, and a common theme in my work.  You will have the opportunity to observe and explore this in our studio time together as well.

This trip is for you if:

  • You enjoy exploring and making beautiful memories with other creatives!
  • You LOVE fresh Italian food – enough said!
  • You are open to trying new things, experimenting with visual media, and recording your experiences visually.
  • You want personal guidance in the development of your work from a working, professional artist and teacher.
  • You just want to explore new and amazing places in the safety and company of creative people with or without and camera and sketchbook.
  • You want to take advantage of this opportunity to tour other parts of Europe or Italy, before or after our time together!

Suggested Supply list (think small and portable):

-Watercolor travel palette
-Brushes (fill-able water brushes are handy)
-Journal suitable for sketching using mixed-media
-Permanent ink pens
-White out pens- like the Jane Davenport:
-Paint Over Pens
-Derwent Inktense Pencil Set
-Fluid or High Flow Acrylics, I suggest a limited color range and small sized bottles.

Is is so amazing to have an opportunity to be able to watch Tonja and her creative gifts of vision right before your eyes if you are lucky enough to get into her class or studio! I feel blessed to be able to see the “mysteries” of Tonja’s art continue to unfold! It will be cool to see what the future brings with her boundless experimentation!  I love it Tonja and thank you for offering these pieces of you for others to love.

D.J. – Student

Painting along a quiet canal

Activities:  Our daily painting in Venice will be combined with other adventures such as:

  • A guided walking art history tour of Venice
  • Visit to morning fish market
  • Visit to selected outer islands in the lagoon (Burano)
  • Selected evening activities such as visit to San Marco when the orchestras play
  • Studio time to work on the compositions you started on location

General Activities: Our first activity will be an orientation on the first day followed by dinner with the group.  After that most activities for the week will be organized around the workshop but coming together for meals and events, like the guided walking tour of selected highlights of Venice. Then, at the end of the week the artists will stage an exhibit of their work to share their visual impressions of enigmatic Venice.

Price: $2,950 p/p, non-participant fee is $2,650 (Non-painter partners/friends are always welcome.)
Options: single room supplement – $475 (limited number available)

Our painting studio at the convent


  • 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.)
  • Daily buffet breakfast and 5 dinners at local restaurants, including wine
  • Workshop tuition, daily classes
  • Guided art history tour of Venice
  • Selected excursions with class

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing
  • Workshop materials
  • Local transportation: vaporettos, water taxis

Salute, photo by Lester Lefkowitz

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 April 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: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

For our week in Venice we’ll be staying at the renovated convent Domus Ciliota near Campo Santo Stefano in the San Marco sector of Venice.  It is a short walk to the Accademia Bridge or to Saint Mark’s Square.  There is an abundance of cafes, shops and restaurants nearby.

Rooms are single or double, clean and simply decorated.  Each room has a modern private bathroom with a shower.  There is a small lounge area on each floor.

Breakfast is served every morning in the dining room beside the sunlit courtyard.

Our studio for the week will be the spacious ex-church of the convent.

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 #2 and get off at San Samuele.  From the airport you can take the Alilaguna ferry (Orange Line) and get off at the Sant’Angelo.  In either case, 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.

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