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Creative Awakening Retreat
with Elske

Bring out your inner creative and create something beautiful even if you don't consider yourself an "artist".

Free yourself from the constraints of everyday life and embark on an enchanting journey learning how to turn your photos into unique art.

September 19 - 26, 2024

Your Invitation

If you are someone who loves photography and art (even if you don't have experience) and are interested in taking your photos to another level...

If you are someone who wants time to relax,  reflect and meet other creatives just like you...

Then join us on this wonderful retreat to rural France where you will stay in a private château and create a unique art piece that you are proud to hang on your walls.

Cette retraite est uniquement disponible en anglais.

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...looking out the French doors to your very own balcony from your chateau bedroom. You've just had the best sleep you've had in awhile and you don't have to rush off to do anything today that isn't purely for yourself.

Your are looking forward to fresh croissants and a cappuccino or tea when you head downstairs to eat in the dining room (just like they do in Downton Abbey!), and hear the beginnings of the day's meals being prepared by professional Chefs.

Today you are going to explore the surroundings of the private Château de Saint-Germain-des-Prés while being guided on how to take your best smartphone pictures ever. You are so looking forward to being out of your "normal".

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Tomorrow you will learn how to fuse your photography with other mediums such as paper, paint, ink and encaustic to create one-of-a-kind art pieces.

 As you hear the birds singing, and you take a deep breath of the fresh summer air, you can feel the  joy and creativity starting to flow...

​You're becoming part of the Manor & Maker community,  creating relationships that could last a lifetime.


Your Itinerary (ish)

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In the morning take your time, familiarize yourself with the private Château de Saint-Germain-des-Prés and extensive grounds.

We will explore the château grounds, town and cemetery together. We will start taking photos and gathering inspiration for your artwork and discuss what makes a good image on the walk.


Market Day

We will head to the vibrant market of Thiviers because it's market day! Make sure to take your phone or camera.

Lunch on your own in Thiviers.

Introduction to photo mixed media in the afternoon. All the details you need to know to create your own work.


Studio Time!

Work together and with Elske, getting your wood art surfaces ready as well as editing and printing your images to use later.

After lunch time on your own in studio (Elske will be in the studio to answer questions, give guidance etc.) or head out to take more photos.  Or relax with a book or have a nap ;).


Transfer/Embedding Day

What do you mean embedding?! Ahh, all will be revealed in studio this morning.

Anyone want to visit a castle this afternoon with a picnic?


Finishing Touches

We will discuss how to make your artwork really shine with the finishing touches.

The rest of the day will be studio time for you to continue on your masterpiece. 


Show time!

In the morning we will work on finishing your art pieces and then in the afternoon we will hang the artwork for the mini show opening in the evening!

In the evening we will host a reception and each artist will give a short talk about their work.

Show openings are always so much fun!



Au revoir!

We will be so sad to see you go but you will begin your journey home, refreshed, relaxed and with your creativity revived.

Please note: We might adjust this itinerary due to the usual reasons - weather, group direction, or unplanned opportunities!

Elske's Retreat Testimonials


Such a beautiful experience learning about encaustic art and being guided by Elske to explore the medium— she is so knowledgeable, thoughtful, and patient! She encouraged us to be creative and try different techniques— I will definitely be attending her workshops again. She is truly talented, and I loved this experience!

~Michelle Cavell

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Thank you so much Elske. I loved learning about Encaustic Painting. You were a fabulous, patient teacher and I so appreciated all the help you gave me. 

~Kim O'Bree


Fantastic nurturing and clear tuition.....I was totally resistant to the walk and raft float (in my head) but it helped me to unwind and question why I needed to take life so seriously this week!! Truly entered into retreat and am still reaping the benefit!



I found myself at an encaustic artist retreat in the dordogne region of France the week following my daughters wedding.  It was a perfect marriage of art, food, wine, friendship and relaxation.   Elske did a fabulous job of teaching us a new skill in a château in the French countryside. I was able to create this piece as a keepsake from the wedding.

~Sharon Luther

Your Experience

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Live the Chateau Life

  • Enjoy the château common rooms and 15 ha of grounds during your 7-night stay.

  • Bedrooms are generously sized, with a small seating area.

  • Mix of en-suite and shared facilities - max 2 bedrooms share w.c. or shower.

  • Rooms are first-come, first-served by reservation date.

  • Double-occupancy with two single beds, or single-occupancy for a supplement.

  • Stay with a small group of like-minded people - limit of 8 guests.

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Authentic French Cuisine

  • Champagne reception on evening of arrival!

  • Continental breakfast with pastries fresh from the boulangerie just steps away.

  • Meals prepared by two Chefs trained at Le Cordon Bleu, who know and love French cuisine.

  • Plus, your Chefs are open to sharing their expertise - take home some delectable tips & tricks!

  • Locally produced wines from small vineyards, selected for our cave by a wine expert. 

  • Non-alcoholic beverages of your choice. 

  • Tea & coffee all day, plus snacks and aperitif too!

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Be Creative

  • Supplies will be waiting for you to start creating - all you need is your camera and laptop.

  • You'll be guided step-by-step through the process of fusing photography and encaustic together.

  • Expand your creative horizons by combining two art mediums to encourage innovative thinking.

  • Additional supplies available for purchase on-site.

  • Free studio time and use of all encaustic equipment with expert guidance to answer any questions.

  • Relax, find new inspiration, and have fun!

Local Connections

  • Transportation from and to Thiviers or Angoulême train station.

  • Inspirational hike of the public walks & château environs.

  • Authentic local farmers’ market experience, highlighting local foods and vendors.

  • Admittance to Château de Hautefort

Vibrant market with fountain

What to Bring

  • Camera, either your smart phone or digital camera.

  • Laptop or smartphone with some kind of photo editing software. The one that comes with your phone (if it's 4 years old or newer) works well.

  • Comfortable clothes to create in.

  • Good walking shoes.

  • If you like, something nice to wear for a formal supper.

  • And your creative self!

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Leave the week feeling refreshed, relaxed and with a new mindset of openness.

Meet Your Hosts

Meet Elske

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Elske deGroot | Luxeca Studios

Hello, I'm Elske

I currently straddle the artistic hubs of Elora, Canada and St.Augustine, Florida, I'm passionate about orchestrating transformative creative retreats.

My foray into the world of creativity began in the bustling streets of Toronto, Ontario. Immersed as a commercial photographer and educator, I was drawn into the magical world of darkroom techniques and photographic printing. This tangible, hands-on connection with art opened up new vistas for me. Soon, I was delving deep into encaustics, layering evocative photographs with the organic warmth of beeswax and the textured richness of found-object collages.

This journey has taught me one invaluable lesson: Creativity is boundless. It's my mission to infuse the world with beauty, crafting connections that enrich the soul.

Join me on this journey, and I assure you: I'll tap into my reservoir of experience to kindle your inner muse, helping you weave stories and draw joy from connections that might seem distant at first glance.

For me, success is measured in the moments when I can inspire you, uplift your spirit, and ignite your passion.

Like to know more about me? Then hop over to my WEBSITE

Meet Sara & Stephen

We are Sara & Stephen Cole, Canadians who dreamt of moving to France. We're excited to share our dream, our home, the Château de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. 

The tower of the chateau is from the 16th century, and features a broad spiral stone staircase. Built by a noble family nearly 500 years ago, the 'blazon' or crest of the family still shows on the tower.  

We created “Manor and Maker” to reflect the two sides of our adventure. One, to live as chateau owners with all the ups and downs and two, to pursue our passions as makers, creating art in all its forms. We invite others to come together, united by their passions, to share in this adventure.

We will be available on-site all week to ensure you have a comfortable stay.

Welcome to Manor & Maker.


Start Your Creative Retreat Today!

Reserve your spot by completing the deposit below. Prices are per person. Please read the terms & conditions.


Double Occupancy €2900 (Regular Price €3500) save€600
Single Occupancy €3800 (Regular Price €4300)

Special Gift!

Something special you can use during your stay & take home after will be waiting for you!

What's Not Included

  • Transportation from your hometown to the pickup point, including airfare, train connections, or car rental

  • Baggage, accident, cancellation, nor travel insurance ('cancel for any reason' strongly recommended to protect your investment)

  • Passport and visa expenses

  • Personal expenses, such as laundry, telephone calls

  • Meals not served at the château

  • Alcoholic beverages not served at meals at the château

  • Any extra tours or excursions off the property, should you choose to roam

  • Shipping artwork home (or other location)

  • and any other items not specifically noted as included

Questions & Answers


What is Encaustic?

Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). It is an ancient technique.

It is a very stable medium, made from heated beeswax and dammar resin. There are surviving encaustic works from the 1st and 3rd centuries which were found in Egypt. The color on these has remained noticeably fresh due to the protection of the beeswax.

The artist (that's you!) heats & mixes natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). You can add color using powered pigments or oil paints.

The artist melts the encaustic medium and applies it with a brush or any other tool that suits the texture the artist wishes to create. Each layer then needs to be heated to fuse it to the previous layer, slowly building up the art piece.

It's an ideal medium to embed photography in the artwork, further adding interest through color, style, and texture. 

Other Frequently Asked Questions




I don't have a lot of experience creating art. Is this retreat for me? 

Yes! If you can take a photo on your camera phone and love learning new skills, this retreat is for you! Elske will guide you through all the other parts of the process. Join in and create something beautiful!



Where are you located & how do I get there?

We are in the town of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Dordogne, postal code 24160 (there are a couple of more places of that name in France!). Here's our guide on how to get to us. We offer pickups from Gare d'Angoulême. (may be scheduled with other guests' arrivals) or Thiviers Gare.  



Do I need to speak French?

No, your hosts can help you with all local needs. It's always nice to be able to say 'hello' (Bonjour!) and 'thank you' (Merci!) though, isn't it?​



Can I bring a partner?

Yes! If your partner is creating art too, then you each register separately as double occupancy. If your partner is not creating art, then book once as single occupancy (your partner stays for the single occupancy fee). In both cases, add your partner's name in the registration notes field so that we book you in the same bedroom.



Do I have to share a room?

If you don't wish to share a room, you can pay the single supplement to have a room of your own. If you book a shared room we will do our best to pair you with a similar roommate. What a great opportunity to build a new friendship!



May I arrive earlier or stay later than the retreat dates?

Much as we love having guests, we aren't open as a B&B, so accommodation is only available on the retreat dates. There is lots to explore in our area, if you wish to make your own plans to extend your holiday.



Can you accommodate my food sensitivity?

France is famous for its fine cuisine, fresh produce markets, delicious pastries and cheeses! Enjoy chef-prepared suppers all week; the taste of France is part of your immersive experience. Join your hosts for breakfasts & lunches and choose what appeals from the shared table dishes. Due to hospitality laws, we cannot offer restaurant style selections or service. We will have vegetarian options but unfortunately, severely restrictive diets and other food sensitivities can not be accommodated.



What if I get sick and can't come? (Cancellation Policy)

We strongly recommend 'cancel for any reason' travel insurance. We do not offer last-minute refunds for any reason, due to advance planning costs. Check out the terms & conditions for other timing. Travel insurance protects your investment, and helps alleviate disappointment if your plans have to change.



What will the weather be like?

Day time temperatures in September are around 23C (73F) with night time lows around 14C (57F). You can expect mostly sunny days, with average monthly precipitation less than 10mm (0.4 in). Of course, these are averages, so temperatures could be warmer or cooler, rainier or sunnier during your stay. ​

Still Have Questions?

Drop us a line. We'll do our best to get back to you in 48 hours.

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