Exploring Nature with Gouache -Clare Therese Gray

9-13 May 2024 (5 days and 4 nights)

From 9th May (Thursday) until 13th May (Monday)  2024

This unique getaway aims to immerse you in the rich flora and fauna surrounding Monsaraz, Portugal. 

With Clare’s expert guidance you will develop a thorough understanding of the medium of gouache alongside experimental use of pencil and ink.

You will be working with foraged wildflowers, fruit and other plants to inspire loose botanical-inspired illustrations whilst also developing the use of natural motifs as the starting point for imaginative design.

Exploratory drawing is central to Clare’s practice and this is very much at the heart of the retreat, working both within a sketchbook and out onto loose sheets of paper. Clare’s warm and relaxed teaching style aims to enliven a passion for the natural world, and a freeing approach to picture-making alongside a group of like-minded artists. Clare will be on hand throughout the retreat to offer both group and one-to-one advice and support.

Over the course of the full day workshops you will learn to master gouache and the rich wealth of techniques which can be created with this versatile medium. The focus will be on creating dynamic compositions as the starting point for more finished final studies. You will develop experience with brush control and colour mixing, creating coloured grounds, layering and fine detailing. You will explore how limited or single colour palettes can create striking designs and, going deeper, you will explore how painted illustrations can be enriched with different mediums such as watercolour pencil and ink.

All levels of experience are welcome, from beginners through to experienced artists looking to apply gouache and mixed media to their work. You will leave the retreat brim-full of inspiration and ideas, confident in composing your own imaginative nature-inspired artworks.

You Will Learn With:


Clare is an illustrator, surface pattern designer, author and educator based in the UK, inspired by the natural environment of her rural Hampshire surroundings. Her illustrations and patterns are primarily inspired by the changing seasons, fauna, flowers and plants of the British Isles. She works prolifically with a variety of mixed media including gouache, watercolour, pencil and ink to create lively floral and nature-inspired artworks. 

Clare’s design experience spans a range of clients and sectors from textiles to craft collections, homewares to book illustration. She is the author of two books, ‘Painting Nature with Clare’ and ‘Woodland Watercolor: A Coloring Workbook’ and illustrates the ‘Agnes Series’ picture books for children. Her patterns can be found around the world on children’s and women’s apparel, luxury toiletries, stationery, ceramics and decorative objects. She has shared her unique painting and drawing style for many years in process videos and tutorials with her engaged following of 130k on popular Instagram account @claretheresegray and has recently launched a series of workshops focusing on floral gouache painting.

Learn more about Clare’s work:

www.claretherese.com  || Instagram @claretheresegray


May 2024

From 9th May (Thursday) until 13th May (Monday) 2024 (5 days and 4 nights)


Shared Room:
1.600€ PP
(+IVA 23%, only 6 rooms available) = total 1968€

Single Room:
1.800€ PP
(+IVA 23%) = total 2.240€

Payment 2 times: 

Until  20th December 2023:
1º Payment:
(Shared Room)
(Single Room)

Until 25th February 2024:
2º Payment:
(Shared Room)
(Single Room)

Retreat to Include the Following:

  5 Classes with Clare Therese Gray

  1 Yoga Class

  Tea Tasting

  2 Dinners

  3 Lunches

  4 Nights Acommodation (with breakfast)

  Wine Tasting Event 

  Gardening Lesson – Plant a vegetable garden

  Transport from Lisbon Airport to the Hotel, and vice-versa (2 hours trip) and in the area.

Optional: Buy one hour pottery class with local artist.

It is advisable to book the plane after the final confirmation that the retreat will happen, by end December 2023 or sooner until we have 10 participants.

We will accept up to 15 people for the retreat. The event does not include spouses, partners or friends if they are not taking the workshop.

If we cannot gather a minimum of 10 participants by the end of December 2023, the event will be cancelled, and the payments refunded to the participants.


Day 1


The bus will collect the participants from Lisbon airport at approximately 16:00. It is advisable to arrive at Lisbon airport before 16:00. 

We will arrive at the hotel Vila Planície, Monsaraz at around 2 hours after we depart from Lisbon.

Day 2

FRIDAY, 10 May

After breakfast at the hotel you walk 15 minutes to “Sofia In Monsaraz” with Clare, taking in the environment, plants and flora.

We begin 1st class at 10.00am with a welcoming session, introduction and connection among artists.

We soon have a tour of the garden and terrace to place ourselves in nature, and to collect some flora to work on with our warm-up session.

After coffee we begin by thinking about drawing from nature. Clare will give demos about exploring and handling gouache and other mixed media, before we all work experimentally on loose sheets and in our sketchbooks, preparing pages to work on in the afternoon. 

After lunch in the garden, served with local produce and vegetables, we will gather for a demo of exploratory gouache techniques and adding in mixed media (2nd class).

We will find local plants & flowers to draw in situ and to gather to create small compositions to paint. Clare will work with both the group and also one-to-one as artists work individually outside in the garden and terrace.

It’s time for a wine tasting before we head to the castle for dinner, where we can share the best experiences of the day.

Day 3


The day starts at 9h with a walk in nature to “Sofia In Monsaraz”, where we will start the workshop (3rd class) at 10.00am. 

Once we arrive, it is time for a gardening lesson followed by a coffee break.

After this we regroup for a demo with Clare, we will be using limited palettes to create quick and dynamic studies from the vegetables and plants in the gardening lesson.

Around 13.30, we’ll gather around the lunch table in the garden, where the food can be cooked in the outdoor oven.

Next, we get ready for an afternoon painting session (4th class) outside to create longer studies looking at the landscape, gardens, plants and flowers with a particular focus on layering and adding fine details. Clare will be on hand for one to one advice and support.

Then it’s time to unwind with a yoga lesson followed by a chat around the firepit or an outdoor film.

Day 4

SUNDAY, 12 May

The day starts with a walk at 9am and then it’s time for a tea tasting. Then we take a coffee break and begin the morning workshop (5th class).

This day will begin with looking at the drawings we have made so far and talk about the direction we might like to take our drawings and paintings for the coming day. The demos will take a focus on composition and using patterns in our paintings to create decorative designs.

At around 1.30pm we’ll savour our lunch in the garden, and then continue the workshop which will finish at 5pm.

Just before we end our session, we’ll come together to talk about the artwork we have created and look forward to the future, thinking about how we might like to develop our work and ideas.

Before dinner at the local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a cocktail and remember the nice moments of the day.

Day 5

MONDAY, 13 May

After breakfast at 09:00, you return to Lisbon via bus with an estimated arrival time of 12:30. On the way to Lisbon the bus will stop at a local pottery shop for 45 minutes.

Where you will stay:

Everything is organised to detail so that nothing will prevent you from enjoying all the peace and quiet of the Alentejo.

All the rooms have air conditioning, full and private bathroom, shared or private balcony and outdoor access. 

This accommodation is a 15-minute walk from the workshop venue (SIM) and passes by the Bulhoa menhir (National Monument) and the Alentejo plain, ideal for reflection before starting work.


May 2024

From 9th May (Thursday) until 13th May (Monday) 2024 (5 days and 4 nights)


Payment 2 times: 

Until  20th December 2023:
1º Payment:
(Shared Room)
(Single Room)

Until 25th February 2024:
2º Payment:
(Shared Room)
(Single Room)

If you want us to provide the Materials we will add 100€ to the final fee, in the last payment.

If you would like to make a direct booking: info@sofiainmonsaraz.site


Round-trip international airfare, transport from the hotel to Sofia In Monsaraz, alcoholic drinks, boat trip, activities not included in the itinerary, hotel expenses including room service, list of materials, expenses during leisure time, laundry service and hotel bar, food and drinks not included in the itinerary. COVID-19 test, if applicable.

We require all participants to have personal travel insurance that at minimum covers medical emergencies and cancellations.

We do not provide travel insurance for the overall retreat, and each participant is required to have their own individual travel insurance. The place, where the retreat happens, has an Insurance that covers accidents. Will not be responsible for refunding any lost trip funds if you have to miss your scheduled trip.

We cannot guarantee to accommodate vegan, gluten free or dairy/egg free, and some allergies. We are unable to accommodate participants with severe food allergies or food intolerances. 

Please contact us in advance of registering if you have any dietary questions.

It will start when arriving at the hotel on Thursday and finishes when you leave the hotel on Monday.  We are not responsible for any non-retreat activity that a participant decides to purchase outside of the retreat and such activity will not form part of the participant contract with us. The bus transport is insurance secure.

This retreat includes one walking tour, where the ground may be uneven and you may be on your feet for several of hours at a time and should be comfortable walking 1km.

The materials list is below, so you can bring your own. If you want us to provide them then we have to add 100€ to the final fee.

Materials list:

  1. Gouache Paints: (NOT acryla gouache)

Clare would recommend that these are at least student quality or better. Some suggested brands would be Designers Gouache by Winsor & Newton, Holbein, Schminke, Horadam, Caran D’Ache or Royal Talens.

Clare suggest to bring a warm and cool shade of red (ie. Cadmium Red and Alizarin Crimson), yellow (i.e. Cadmium Yellow and Lemon Yellow) and blue (i.e. Ultramarine and Pthalo Blue) as well as White, Black and several earth shades such as Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and Olive Green.

Other enjoyable additions to a set might be Opera Pink or Cobalt Turquoise Light or any colours you might like to try painting with.

2. Brushes: A variety of synthetic brushes in a range of sizes ie. Round (00, 1, 3 and 6), a Wash Brush, as well as any angled brushes.

3. Palette: A couple of round plastic palettes will do nicely.

4. Watercolour or non soluble coloured pencils:

Coloured pencils again should be at least student quality and some excellent brands are Winsor & Newton, Caran D’Ache, Derwent etc… Please try and include a light Brown/ terracota shade in the mix

5. Sketchbook: Please bring a fresh sketchbook to dive into, sized A4 or smaller (square etc is great..) with cartridge paper and preferably not spiral bound.

6. Any coloured/ Brown kraft paper that takes your fancy or that you might like to experiment with.

7. Sharpener & eraser

8. Pencils: A few graphite pencil such as 2B or 4B

You may cancel before the end November 2023 and receive a full refund minus 50€ fee.

Your payments will be split in two, with an initial deposit to secure your place on the retreat.

After you have completed your registration you will be sent an Invoice to complete your deposit payment. Payment can be made by Banktransfer or PayPal in Euros.

Additional costs may apply where special accommodations are made available to participants.

In this event we will accept until 15 people. The event does not include spouses, partners or friends if they are not taking the workshop.

If we cannot gather the minumum participants of 10, until end December 2023 the event will be cancel and the payments refund to the participants.

Other questions about this retreat please contact: info@sofiainmonsaraz.site  

For more info or questions please consult here our Terms & Conditions.

Book now

We will contact you with the details for payment.

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