Painting and drawing courses in France (our 37th and last season)

Why come to our painting school?

Our painting and drawing courses-workshops offer students a unique combination of innovative ideas and practical suggestions unavailable elsewhere. For over thirty years, these have proved their worth for students of all levels, whether their work is figurative or abstract and whatever their personal aims or problems. They are likely to be of special value to: art teachers, who will find plenty of new, useful information available; advanced artists currently experiencing a creative block; and, complete beginners needing a solid foundation upon which to build their creative potential. However, the enthusiasm expressed in the quotations from students at the bottom of this page and on the Comments page shows how they have been game-changing for people from all groups.

A very different and vastly more interesting type of artistic education than I have met before.”Yolanda Hart

Long years of experience

For over 30 years both new and returning students have benefited from the Course Director’s long years of experience as a caring and supportive teacher. His informed eye and attentive ear gives them confidence and encourages their individuality.

I really valued the way you looked with me at what I was trying to paint. You gave me the confidence to tackle things I wouldn’t have dared try out.”Cathy Walker

Stimulating ideas and teaching

The small groups and the splendid setting give the ideal context for helping students to develop their personal creativity in the style and medium of their choice.

A magical place, good company, intensely stimulating ideas and teaching. I came to Montmiral to have my eyes stretched and I do not think I have ever looked so hard.”Unity Couzens

Unique specialist knowledge

Before setting up the Painting School of Montmiral in S.W. France, the Course Director, Francis Pratt, had been working in Scotland at the University of Stirling, first as the Cottrell Memorial Fellow and, later, as a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology. In their different ways these two posts provided rich opportunities for furthering Francis’s lifelong quest to find out as much as possible about on how artists use their eyes when painting and drawing. One outcome was that he was able to integrate lessons from traditional artistic practices with game-changing ideas from science.  The combination has enabled him to offer a wide range of new and practical approaches to subjects of fundamental importance in painting and drawing. In particular, students who come to the Painting School of Montmiral will have access to unique specialist knowledge on: (a) all aspects of colour in painting, including its use in the depiction of light and space; and (b) on drawing and painting from observation. One feature of Francis’s teaching is that he makes use of the accuracy aspiration, not as an end in itself, but as a tool for looking in new ways. Over thirty years now this emphasis has shown its power to foster personal expression and creativity in students of all levels and a wide range of artistic interests.

“This course, with its application and explanation of the latest researches in both colour and line psychology, completely redefines and resolves the anomalies of what we see. The reference to proven research and the patient explanations of its implications with respect to how the brain receives and interprets information provides a fundamentally sound approach commonly lacking in other courses and literature.” Iain McCowan


Painting school beyond sunflower field
Medieval hilltop town of Castelnau de Montmiral, S. W. France – The main studio windows of the Painting School are just visible.


More on the course structure

Slideshow showing the range and variety of student work

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Selected student comments with links to professional websites

Teenagers at school: 

  • “I feel I have learnt more in two weeks than in two years at my secondary school. Your talks on colour, eyes and other things left me wondering how I could draw or paint without this newly acquired knowledge” –  Georgie Grant, England
  • “I attended your painting school two summers ago. I am now 18 years old and still recall vividly the fond memories I have of those days. Of course the art tuition was unsurpassed and helped me to develop no end, but far beyond that the whole experience for me was extremely beneficial and enjoyable. I am very keen to visit you again. I learned so much last time, and not just about art. It was such a fulfilling experience I would be foolish not to want to repeat it.” – Andrew Edwards, England
  • “I am very happy to have some photos of our wonderful exhibition! Your program was the most I have ever learned in two weeks. I am now in Nova Scotia studying french, and am required to turn in a paper, so I have been translating my notes from your lectures! I have had the opportunity to share some of what I learned from you with other students here who also enjoy art. It was a very formative experience for me and I hope as well for the other « bits of youth », as well as the whole class. Your golden words have stuck with me, and when given the opportunity I try and direct those interested to your website and its resources. I sent an art portfolio to the studio arts college I will attend, and they allowed me to enter a painting course despite my lack of prerequisites.” – Dennet Brown, Arizona, USA,  Between school and university.

Adult beginners:

  • You knew when to praise and when to criticise without destroying a shaky confidence.” – Pat Naysmith? England
  • “You have proved I have powers to see and to draw that I could scarcely have imagined. You went to prodigious efforts to find, encourage and bring forth such talent as was there”  – Karl Bottigheimer, USA
  • “I came away with something that truly enriches my life and with skills I did not know I could exhibit and trust.”  Cathy Lugar, USA
  • “You made the whole experience very moving and meaningful. Your quiet presence made it possible to look and learn in an unpressurised way.” – Carrie Gall, Scotland

Experienced amateurs:

  • A very different and vastly more interesting type of artistic education than I have met before.” – Yolande Hart, England
  • “Unique and one of a kind. This Painting School of Montmiral is like no other and I learned far more than I was expecting to.” – Kate Horsburgh, Oman
  • “For the first time I know I have the capability to do some of the things I have always wanted to do. If anyone is looking for a radical reappraisal or rebirth of their thinking about art, Montmiral is the place where it could happen” – Jane Brook, England
  • “Francis is the most remarkable teacher of painting I believe you will find.”  – Paul Zuckerman, England

Art school graduates:

  • “I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from an American university, and have read extensively – color theory and artists’ biographies – in the twelve years since graduating, leaving me doubtful whether I would learn anything very significant. You were able to present a wealth of well-founded ideas and understandings of the process of making art that provided the proper tools for fruitful research, as opposed to the blind groping of my former process.” – Clay Parten, USA
  • “You knew how to inspire and deepen my creative inquiry.” – Kat M Davis, USA
  • “As well as discovering exciting new information on drawing, colour, light and space, I lost at least some of the blocks between myself and my creativity and now feel I have reached a clear and exciting new starting point” – Frances Mullarky

Art teachers:

  • “I saw considerable progress both in my drawing and my understanding of colour. Your teaching was excellent.” – Mark Aldridge, England
  • “Montmiral is an idyllic place… I found the freedom that your colour theory gave me allowed me much more confidence in my painting.” – Sarah Thomas, England
  • “Your help on the use of colour and the process of drawing has been useful both in my personal work and in my teaching.”– Sharon Trotter, Englan
  • “I had a wonderful time and hope to see you next year, when I shall start straight in with drawing” – Carol Logan, England

Professional  artists:

  • Your teaching clearly demonstrates that it is possible to fuse passion and the intellect, art and science.” Ken Marunowski, USA
  • “Yesterday I pulled out an old file of mine which contained some old chapters of your book. I re-read them all and was thinking of how much I have learnt from you and what a privilege and an honour it was to get that depth of learning so early in my career.”Cathy Layzell, South Africa
  • “Combining his extensive knowledge of art history and science with practical instruction in colour mixing and drawing, Francis manages to help students of all levels fulfil their potential, and unlike many courses he focuses on the students own originality, rather than imposing one or other ‘style’ of painting. It is teaching at its best and in my experience quite unique.”Linda Jamieson, England
  • “Your message is a mind opener. You inspire philosophy and promote looking with AWE. My two visits were life/mind changing and I appreciate the experiences deeply.  I already have a BFA in painting and Printmaking, and have worked professionally in the Feature Animation Industry in California, USA, but this experience enabled me to learn new and valuable techniques.” Judith Tolley, USA
  • “There isn’t a day that goes by when something you have said doesn’t pop into my head. It has taken me a long time to understand and integrate the change in my thinking inspired by your teaching… After the first visit, I spent a whole year drawing and painting and trying to practice everything you taught us like a mantra. You made me really think about what I was doing. I stopped teaching and painted every day… Forcing me to focus on my drawing in such a disciplined way promoted self confidence and a greater trust in my ability and perhaps made me a tad less defensive! I came away from Montmiral feeling for the first time some kind of self validation. You were the catalyst for that change.”Ruth Geldard, England
  • “After many years of neglect, Francis reignited my passion for painting and taught me to do it properly. He is a marvelous teacher and I owe him a great debt of gratitude.”Penelope Madden, England
  • “When I first attended your school in 1989, I was a professional marine artist. I found you to be the most knowledgeable art teacher I have met. Thirty years later, I use techniques you taught every time I paint or draw.” – Gordon Frickers, England
  • “30 years of high quality teaching based on a rare and deep understanding of art AND science. Plus a lovely place to visit.Mark Gibbs, England

Extended versions of these comments and many other comments on the “Comments Page”