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  • Writer's pictureOrange Chamber of Commerc

Intensive Weekend Art Retreat with John and Lena Murray in Orange County, Virginia May 13-15th

Let’s take advantage of the most spectacular season when all is in bloom.

Dates: May 13-15th.

Who We Are

John and Lena Murray are both professional and well - known artists. We have a solid classical training and have been painting and sculpting all our lives. We have vast experience in teaching and have our own highly effective in-depth system. We do not work from photographs (with rare exceptions) and we do not advise you either especially during the learning process. Therefore, we will teach you to work exclusively from nature. It is not always easy, but it is extremely useful and very exciting. Our websites and

A year ago, we had a retrospective at Woodberry Forest, a private boarding school where John teaches. If you follow the link below and scroll down the page it’s all there.

For more than 22 years, we have had our own art school Bridgeview School of Fine Arts in New York, many of whose students have become famous artists, designers, filmmakers, etc.

10 years ago we started taking our New York students to France for summer classes. But when Covid came we had to look for other options and that’s how we ended up in Orange County, VA.

Why Orange County, Virginia.

We left Washington in November of 2020. As artists, we have been searching for a perfect landscape setting within a 2-hour radius of DC, a place where we could settle and replace our summer program in France with a program in America. By chance we stumbled upon the small town of Orange, 80 miles from Washington DC and 30 miles from Charlottesville. This is the center of winemaking on the East Coast, in the foothills of the Shenandoah National Park, with beautiful rivers, horse farms and historic estates. Many consider this area the cradle of America, since 4 of the 6 first presidents lived and worked here. Montpelier, the home of James Madison where our Constitution was designed is right here in Orange.

Drawing and Painting program for 2-3 days under our guidance. May 13-15. Adults and kids ages 8 and up.

Estimated arrival on Thursday evening to start the program on Friday morning. Those who cannot come Thursday, may arrive later. End of program on Sun afternoon and departure. You should all have a car, as we meet according to a schedule at various painting locations.

This is an APPROXIMATE schedule, subject to change depending on the weather. Also, in case of rain, it is possible to paint still life or even landscape inside in a beautiful rustic barn with magnificent views or on a porch of one of the historic mansions.

Friday morning - drawing/painting session at the historic Mayhurst estate.

Friday afternoon – Grelen Gardens session

Saturday morning - session in the Shenandoah Mountains - one of the observation decks on Skyline Drive

Saturday afternoon - session at the estate of James Madison Montpelier (drawing the estate, Dupont gardens with blooming roses)

Sunday morning session at the historic Barboursville plantation and winery with picturesque ruins of an 18th century mansion

Sunday afternoon - session at the horse farm (sketches of horses) Oakland Heights Farm.

Activities for family members and friends who do not want to paint

As you can see, all of the painting venues can be easily explored by those who choose not to paint.

  1. At the James Madison Estate you can book a tour, including one of the house.

  2. You can walk and taste wines at the Barboursville winery and add others if you like.

  3. Grelen gardens have hiking trails, a large nursery and one of the best outdoor cafes with magnificent views around.

  4. Horse farm - horseback riding

  5. There is fishing in local rivers

  6. Some may want to tour Tomas Jefferson's Monticello estate, 30 minutes from us.

  7. Friday night - bluegrass concert at Stony Point Market. We live in the center of bluegrass in America, so I highly recommend it!

  8. One evening we can get together at our house. We will show you our work and our mural.


If you decide to come, you need to book as soon as possible. Aside from many things this area is one of the most favored in the country for weddings. We will send special (some of them our personal “secret” leads) only to those of you who decide to participate. There are Airbnb, hotels, bed and breakfasts for every budget and taste. But you can also do your own search for places in Orange or Gordonsville.


Many hotels or Bed & Breakfasts include breakfast. Mayhurst is famous for its breakfast, for example. As for dinner and lunch, we will give you recommendations closer to the point, there are a lot of good places, restaurants, cafes. As a rule, everything here is delicious and fresh, most places offer farm to table food, since we are surrounded by farms.

Our prices

Our price is only from those who will study with us, $150 per day of classes. Everything else you pay yourself, but we can help you negotiate a discount on a hotel with those whom we know, however, without a guarantee. We will also give you a list of materials that you will need to buy and bring in advance. It all depends on your experience and what you already have. For children, it is best to work with pastels on paper. Adults can work with acrylics (if beginners), and if experienced - with oils or watercolors.

I hope that everything is clear and understandable, write if you have questions. If you are interested and have questions please let us know! And feel free to let your friends know.

John and Lena Murray



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