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Exclusive Photo Encaustic Painting
Experience in France w/
International Artist Elske deGroot

Creative Awakening Retreat 2024

Elevate Your Summer

Unplug from the daily grind and elevate your senses at an exclusive château.

This isn't just another art workshop; it's a transformative journey.

If you're a discerning individual with a passion and basic understanding of encaustic art, this invitation is for you.

May 28 - June 4, 2024

Why Choose This Retreat?

Exclusive & Intimate Experience

  • Limited Class Size: With only 8 spots available, you'll receive individualized attention in an intimate setting.

Tailored to Your Skill Level

  • No Need to Be a Picasso: While a basic understanding of encaustic mediums is essential, you don't need any background in drawing or painting to thrive here.

Art You Can Call Your Own

  • Create & Take: Craft a stunning photo encaustic landscape piece inspired by a photo you take during our scenic explorations. We will follow the steps Elske takes to create her landscapes. This isn't just a memento; it's a piece of art that's wholly your own.

More Than Just a Studio

  • Live the Locale: Experience the rich history and natural beauty of our picturesque surroundings, whether it's the French countryside or the quaint French towns. So much more than an encaustic workshop.

Integrated Learning

  • Holistic Artistic Development: Alongside guided excursions, you'll get ample studio time to integrate sketches and photos into deeply meaningful artwork.

Three women smiling and Holding self made Art


...clinking champagne glasses as the sun dips below the horizon, filling the Grand Hall of the privately-owned Château de Saint-Germain-des-Prés with a golden glow. As you revel in the moment, the aroma of a gourmet dinner crafted by a local French chef wafts in, tantalizing your senses.

All of this after a fulfilling day exploring the French countryside—where history and creativity meld into an intoxicating blend. And that's just Day One.

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By joining us, you'll become part of an exclusive community, making connections that enrich your life and your art for years to come.


The Experience

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Unveiling Beauty

  • During this art retreat for adults you will start your day leisurely, acquainting yourself with our historic château and its sprawling estate.

  • Post-lunch, we will visit the beautiful town of Brantôme and its ancient abbey. Bring your camera—you'll want to capture every vibrant detail.


Studio Time: Unlock Your Potential

  • We will start our encaustic art classes in the studio for a collaborative creative session, using yesterday's inspiration to craft something extraordinary.


Studio Time: Unlock Your Potential

  • Elske leads you through exercises designed to unleash your creativity. You'll then apply these fresh insights to your ongoing project.


The Dordogne Adventure

  • Float lazily down the Dordogne River, taking in France's awe-inspiring architecture.

  • Spend the afternoon at your leisure—be it in the studio or basking in the château’s comforts.


The Finale: Masterpiece

  • Return to the studio where Elske will guide you in adding those finishing touches that transform your work into a masterpiece, including framing.

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


The Grand Unveiling

Begin your day putting the final artistic touches on your creation. Come afternoon, we'll set the stage for an intimate exhibition, offering you the unique pleasure of seeing your work displayed in a French château.

In the evening, our elegant reception serves as your show opening. Stand beside your masterpiece and share your artistic journey with fellow artists—trust us, it's an experience that's as rewarding as it is fun.


Au Revoir, But Not Goodbye

As you embark on your journey home, you'll find yourself rejuvenated and buzzing with creative energy from this international art workshop.

Please Note: While this is our planned itinerary, life has its own plans. We might adapt our schedule due to weather, the group's desires, or serendipitous opportunities that arise.

Your Experience at this Encaustic Retreat

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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.

  • Share lunch with your hosts each day.

  • Suppers at the château, prepared by by a professional caterer who knows and loves French dishes.

  • Wine or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. 

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

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Adults eating outdoors in front of chateau

Your Creative Toolbox Awaits

  • All-Inclusive Supplies: We've thought of everything. Just bring your camera and laptop or a newer smart phone.

  • Guided Mastery: Step-by-step, hands-on coaching ensures you expand your creative vistas.

  • In-Studio Convenience: Need extra supplies? Purchase them right here.

  • Expert Accessibility: Enjoy unrestricted studio time with expert guidance just a question away. This is more than the regular art retreats and workshops offered in 2024.

Local Connections

  • Transportation from and to Thiviers or Angoulême train station.

  • Inspirational  hike of the public walks & château environs.

  • Experience one of 'les Plux Beaux Detours', most beautiful detours, in France when we visit Brantôme and its Benedictine abbey.

  • Relax on the grounds of  the chateau and let your mind recharge.

  • Kayak trip down the Dordogne River. The enchanting scenery on the banks of the river includes picturesque villages like Beynac and Roque-Gageac.

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What to Bring

  • Camera, either your smart phone or digital camera.

  • Laptop or a smartphone with some kind of photo editing software. There are good free programs out there, if you would like some help installing one, contact Elske.

  • 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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Your summer is waiting.

Make it unforgettable with the Creative Awakening Retreat.

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

Meet Your Hosts

Meet Elske


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 château 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 to ensure you have a comfortable stay.

Welcome to Manor & Maker.


Start Your Creative Retreat Today!

Reserve your spot by completing the two steps below - register, then make your deposit payment. Prices are per person. Completing both confirms your agreement to the terms & conditions.


We'll be in touch within 24 hours confirming all is well (don't forget to check your spam or junk folder).  

Please note:  Retreat is not guaranteed until fully subscribed.  Registered participants will be informed as soon as retreat is confirmed or 120 days prior to retreat, whichever is sooner.  Until that time no flights or other travel expenses should be booked.


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


Step1: Register

Select an option

Thanks for registering to our event. See you there!

Step 2: Select Occupancy and Pay Deposit

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 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

  • 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 with encaustic painitng. Is this retreat for me? 

Yes! So long as you've played with encaustic painting before and understand the basic principles of applying the encautic hot and the fusing the layers 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. There are only two rooms available as singles. 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 June are around 24C (75F) with night time lows around 18C (64F). 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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