Archive for August, 2016



Artist Martin Stephenson

Martin Stephenson

Telephone 00359-887-227-161

Thank-you for your enquiry, about a painting holiday with me in beautiful Sozopol, Bulgaria.

Please find below all the information for your holiday, if you require anything further please e-mail or or telephone us on the number above.


My painting holidays run from mid June until mid October every year.


795 Euros per person for 7 nights bed and breakfast in a double/twin room in a 3 star family run hotel overlooking the sea, including 6 painting workshops. Not including flights or transfers.

Discounts for non-painting partners and guests willing to share a room.


Full Payment : via paypal 30 days prior to your holiday, or balance in cash on arrival.

Deposit : 150 euro secures your holiday.


Flights to Bourgas Airport from most regional UK Airports. The flight time is about 3 hours 15 minutes.


Transfer time from Bourgas to Sozopol is just  45 minutes, using our English speaking locally based taxi service.

Transfer Costs : 35 euro per taxi each way.


Whilst Bulgaria is in Europe, like the UK it has yet to adopt the Euro, though Euro or Sterling can be changed at thel banks in the Town into the local currency, Bulgarian Lev. There are also many cash machines around the Town.


Your accommodation is normally in a family run 3 star hotel overlooking the sea and St.Ivan Island in Old Sozopol, which is just a few minutes walk from the our Studio.

To see your hotel please click on the link

Alternative accommodation is also available, from self catering apartments, family run guest houses, right up to 5 star luxury hotels. If you would like a quote for other types of accommodation please let us know in advance of your booking.


Sarah & Martin

On arrival at your hotel, you will be met personally by your tutor Martin and the holiday manager Sarah, for welcome drinks. Sarah will also be collecting you on the first morning to show you the way to the Studio. Just a five-minute walk through the cobbled streets, if you are staying at Hotel Diamanti.



Your tutor Martin will demonstrate regularly during your holiday, and be on hand for critique as your course progresses.


Your six painting classes will be 4 hours long and start every day at 10am until 2pm with a break for refreshments half way through. All professional quality materials are provided, but feel free to bring your favourite materials if you prefer. The beginners watercolour course is studio based, as the weather in Bulgaria is typically Mediterranean so can get hot in the middle of the day. For those that have painted watercolours before you will know how important it is to be able to control the drying time, and the studio is air-conditioned, so is  perfect for beginners.

The materials you will be provided with are

300gm English Bockingford Rough Paper


Tintoretto Artist Quality tubes of watercolour paint. These will be for sale if you want to buy them during your holiday.


Artists quality brushes

The studio is well equipped, and stocked with alternative materials like , pastels, charcoal, goache, gesso etc etc. But if you want to request any other materials to work with please let me know beforehand. You will also have lightweight easels to use. In addition for those that want to paint plein air or back at the hotel, a kit can be provided for a small refundable deposit.

At the studio you will be provided with chairs, tables and easels for those that like to stand to paint.


A splash of Colour in Sozopol

The subject matter we will be painting will include Land and Seascapes, Still Life, Florals and of course the Old Wooden Houses in Sozopol. You will be experimenting with more advanced techniques as your holiday progresses.



Sozopol is an established holiday resort, and as such all tastes and budgets are catered for. Your Holiday Manager Sarah or I can point you in the right direction when you eat out. With it’s Greek roots, Sozopol has many fine Greek Restaurants, specialising in freshly caught fish from right opposite the Studio. Whatever your budget, value for money is always the case. And don’t forget those tomatoes in the local ‘Shopska’ salad. No doubt there will be one word of Bulgarian you will learn during your holiday and that will be when accompanying the local Rakia and that will be ‘Nazdrave’ which means cheers. Remember to look the person in the eye though when you do it, a local custom.


Kalithea Panorama

Sozopol is a former Greek Fishing port called Apollonia, and has a rich and ancient History, recorded in the many Museums and archeological sites. It also boasts a tradition for the Arts. Visitors coming at the end of August/Beginning of September will be thrilled by the Annual Apollonia Arts Festival, with concerts and Art Exhibitions. Sozopol has been a mecca for artists for many years, something reflected in it’s many art galleries.


Your afternoons and evenings are free and you will find plenty to do without even leaving the Old Town. Evenings are usually spent wandering the cobbled streets, among the Restaurants, Bars and Gift Shops. Maybe a late night movie at the open air cinema or an ice cream.

During the season you can also take the hydrofoil to ancient Nessebar another ancient port Town across Burgas Bay.

There are even natural healing mud baths over in Burgas, and they are completely free of charge. Float in the salt water, cover yourself in mud, roll in the sand, bake until cooked then plunge into the turquoise sea to wash it off. You will feel invigorated afterwards. If guests want to do this excursion Sarah and I will take you for a nominal extra fee. Whilst in Burgas you can even visit an art shop to stock up on those essential items.

The Natural Mud Baths in Burgas

So as you can see for painters and none painters alike Sozopol will be a feast for all your senses.

But it’s not all ‘Ye Olde Worlde’ here with many chic music bars, jazz clubs and two very modern yacht marinas, both with great night life, for those wanting to dance the night away.


The Boat Sozopol

During your holiday you can also indulge in yoga classes or massage therapies with Sarah, who has practiced her therapies for more for than 20 years around the World. Therapies available include Thai, Sports/Deep Tissue, Swedish, Indian Head Massage and Reflexology. Sarah’s Yoga and massages work around the painting classes, so it’s possible to do them too. Both Yoga and Massages are subject to extra charges. Check out Sarah’s stuff here.




On the final afternoon we will have a mini exhibition and critique at the Art Studio followed by an hours sunset cruise around the bay of Sozopol.


During your holiday you will have been given a link to download my e-book ‘Watercolours for Beginners’ to serve as a reminder of all you have learned. But it doesn’t end there I am always available even on skype if you get stuck or need some help and advice.

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design

My teaching style is simple, informative and fun. My step by step techniques are geared to you learning in a progressive manner at a speed to suit you. My clients from all over the World come back time and time again for help with their watercolour journey.

They started with one simple step, their first lesson with me. I hope your own ‘journey’ will start in Sozopol with me in the near future. Even experienced painters have said ‘no one ever told me that’……

If you want to read about their experiences with me please read my blog by clicking on this link

The rooms  with sea views at Diamanti Hotel book up fast so it’s first come, first served. As Mr. Pontin used to say for his holidays ‘Book Early’..

Copy of Sarah

Sarah is the person in charge of bookings and logistics and you can book with her directly, or if you have any questions you can email her at or telephone her on the number at the top.

For general enquiries, if you would prefer, please use the contact form below.

We look forward to meeting you in Sozopol.

Martin and Sarah



Here is a brand new youtube video about your very first lesson with me on your painting holiday in Bulgaria.

Happy Painting

Martin aka Stevo


Our air conditioned studio overlooking the fishing harbour

Here are some examples of what you will learn on your art holiday in Bulgaria.
In short if you are a complete beginner you have come to the right person, and the right place.
I can relate very well to many perceived issues some people have when they first start out on their watercolour painting journey. Here are some quotes from my past students, which you may be able to relate to. I know I could when I first started.


Fiddling in the extreme

Q. I find myself fiddling with very fine drawing instruments but don’t find it enjoyable.

A. I did exactly the same thing, as it seems much easier to control. At the outset you will be encouraged to ‘think big’ using large brushes, and dishes of paint.

Q. I can’t even draw

A. Depending on the subject matter you choose to paint, there is very little drawing during your holiday, and sometimes none at all.

Q. Isn’t watercolour the hardest medium of all ?

A. It has been described as being like a wild horse. But there are very few ‘rules’, master these and you will be up and running usually after the very first lesson.

Q. I have tried watercolors before and everything turned out muddy, not fresh like watercolours I have seen.

A. This is the most common problem for beginners to watercolour, and ‘avoiding mud’ has a whole section in my free e-book ‘Watercolours for Beginners’ given free with every booking.


Painting with just one colour

Q. My paintings always look flat.

A. Another very common problem, and one so easy to correct. It’s so important that the very first lesson of your painting holiday is covered here. Painting with just one colour, and how to mix different tones is the first building block.


Q. When I look at that big blank piece of paper I just freeze especially when considering painting the sky.

A. For most beginners to watercolour skies can be daunting, but by the first few lessons you will be painting skies with confidence, even stormy ones.

Close up of The Old Windmill & The Islands

Q. There seems so many ‘rules and dogma’ attached to watercolour like you can’t use white paint why is that.

A. It seems to be true, but strangely only in recent years, the great watercolour masters used everything at their disposal to achieve a particular result. Just look at Turner’s or Monet’s paintings and you will see what I mean. During your holiday you will be taught how to paint ‘pure’ watercolours, but towards the end of your holiday you will also be encouraged to experiment with goache, ink and gesso. We will even be using some more ‘unusual’ techniques using normal household items like salt and cling film.

Q. When I have tried watercolours before I always end up with ugly stains on my painting.

A. Most beginners have this problem, and avoiding ‘backruns’ or ‘cauliflowers’, and even how to control them is covered in lesson 2 of your holiday.


Some artists even use them in their work to great effect

During your painting holiday, even if you have never painted before you will end up with all the knowledge you’ll need to make you into a confident painter, whatever subject matter you chose when you go home. But my help doesn’t end when your holiday does. You will have my e-book to guide you on your way, and serve as a reminder of your experience with me.

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design

My painting workshops are limited in size to ensure everyone gets the personal attention they deserve. My style of teaching is simple, step by step at a pace to suit you. I also like to have fun so you should find the whole experience one to remember. My students from all over the World tend to come back year after year, whether it’s in Bulgaria, Greece and even throughout Asia.

If you want to read about what my students say about my lessons and my e-book please have a look at my other blog by clicking this link


Sketching at the harbour

Q. What is the best time of year to come to Bulgaria ?

A. My holidays run during June, July, August and also October. A lot depends on whether you like the hot weather, Bulgaria has a typical Mediterranean climate and some of the best beaches in Europe. There will be lots to do here in Sozopol after your morning painting session, which is normally from 10am until about 1.30 with a break for refreshments.

Q. What about my accommodation during my holiday.

A. We normally use a 3* family run hotel which includes breakfast. The rooms have fantastic views overlooking the Sea and the Islands of St.John and St.Peter. There is also a restaurant at the Hotel, a great place to watch the sun go down listening to a classical guitarist. Sozopol, with it’s Greek roots has many fine Restaurants, especially in the Old Town. The Diamanti Hotel is located just a few minutes walk through the old cobbled street to our Studio.

To have a look at the hotel, please click on this link

The last thing to mention, is value for money. Unlike more ‘fashionable’ painting holiday destinations, everything here is about half the price of the UK. That means that a nice meal with wine will be about 25 lev (around 10 pounds sterling).

If you would like to find out more about Sozopol, just try a Google search.

If you would like an e-brochure with more details of your painting holiday, please fill in the form below.

I look forward to seeing you in Sozopol to start your personal art journey.

Martin Stephenson aka Stevo

A Corner of Sozopol

‘A Corner of Sozopol’ by Martin Stephenson

At first glance Bulgaria may seem a strange choice for a painting Holiday. In fact before I moved here eight years ago I have to admit that I had to look at an atlas to find out where it was.
Bulgaria, and Sozopol in particular has been one of the best kept secrets until recent years. Until then it was the playground for wealthy Russian tourists.
Sozopol has a very ancient History, populated by Greeks and called Apollonia. The ancient fishing port still has a Greek flavour, many of it’s residents keeping those traditions. Something you can taste in the many and varied local Restaurants.

Baba's New Broom

‘Baba’s New Broom’ by Martin Stephenson

Because this EU Country is relatively poor, you will find everything here half the price of many more ‘fashionable’ painting destinations. A typical meal with wine will only cost around 25 lev per person (around ten pounds). High quality restaurants abound with International menus, including the local fresh fish. These include Bulgarian, Greek and Armenian restaurants.


Martin sketching the boats in the harbour opposite the studio

What most tourists, coming here for the first time, are struck by is the beautiful Black Sea (turquoise blue in Summer), which has miles of unspoilt beaches, nature reserves and is surrounded by the Strandhza Mountains. Situated just 45 minutes from Burgas International Airport serviced from most UK and European airports.

Your accommodation will be in a local family run 3*hotel with stunning views over the Islands of St. John and St.Peter. The hotel is located just a few minutes walk from our studio.

For artists (and non painting partners) this means that you are surrounded by interesting and breathtaking scenery. When you couple this with the Old Town, with it’s wooden houses and cobbled streets, you can see why artists from all over the World have always been drawn here. Something reflected in the many art galleries in the Town.


One of the many Art Galleries in the Old Town


One of the highlights of the year is the Apollonia arts festival, a ten day annual event in late August/ early September.

Overlooking the Old fishing harbour is our own fully equipped air conditioned studio, where your daily painting demonstrations and lessons will be held, and a meeting point for additional field trips and plein air painting sessions.

Sozopol Apartment

Our air conditioned studio on the Ground Floor

Your hostess during your holiday, Sarah is also an internationally renowned Yoga teacher and Massage Therapist, and will always be on hand offering her services to artists and their partners.

Art & Yoga Holidays in Bulgaria

Your hostess Sarah

Our host Martin has all the materials you will need for your holiday, or you can bring your own favourites with you. He is also an author of the e-book ‘Watercolours for Beginners’ which is free with every booking. Martin also known as Stevo (his nickname at school) is an accomplished watercolour painter and inspirational teacher, he will be on hand as Studio Manager during your holiday offering his own style of encouragement and some Northern humour, ensuring your stay will be both memorable, informative and fun. Martin has taught in many exotic locations including Thailand, Bali, Malaysia and most recently in Greece. He specialises in teaching complete Beginners.

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design


We look forward to welcoming friends old and new to beautiful Sozopol, Bulgaria to sum up this beautiful paradise lovely people, great food, fantastic weather and inspirational land and seascapes, and great value for money.

If you would like to check availability, and receive a price list and e-brochure, please either fill in the form below, or e-mail us.

There are other blogs about my watercolour holidays on my blog,including this one

Happy Painting


Here is the link to enable you to read my e-b00k  ‘Watercolours for Beginners’. Simply click on this link:-

Read it now absolutely free
Happy Painting !

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design