Portrait Sculpture in Clay

Let your creativity shine

Casa Berti, in collaboration with Art Escape Italy, is able to offer you a selection of week long art retreats dedicated to helping you hone your craft.

Our painting workshops focus predominantly on oil painting – portrait, figure and plein air landscape painting. Our instructors are trained in academic painting techniques, and teach either sight-size or comparative measurement methods. In 2017 we have added sculpture workshops to our program – learn to sculpt in the tradition of Rodin with Jason Arkles in March 2017.

Retreat prices include tuition, accommodation, meals, model fees if applicable, and transfers. You can either purchase all the materials that you need for your workshop on arrival, or you can bring your own materials with you. See the materials list for each workshop.

Figurative Sculpture in Clay

March 12 – March 18

This portrait sculpture workshop and retreat is ideal for those looking to try their hand at clay modelling for the first time, as well as for experienced sculptors looking for a solid portraiture technique. Unlike figure modelling, where sculptors may utilise a constructive technique or an anatomical approach, the modelling of a competent portrait MUST arise from a primarily visual technique. Jason teaches portraiture using the sight-size method, an almost purely visual technique.

In the course of this workshop, students will model a portrait in clay from life, and – if desired – prepare the clay for firing into a durable ceramic bust. In addition to instruction and critiques, Jason will work alongside the students on his own portrait study, providing a demonstration of techniques and processes throughout the workshop.

​Being an almost entirely optical/visual approach to art making, the sight-size technique is normally associated with portrait painters. Jason himself learnt sight-size from the painter Charles Cecil, who commissioned Jason with the task of adapting the method for three-dimensional work in 1997. The resulting method is now taught in studios around the world, thanks both to Jason’s teaching and to his book with documents the technique, titledSculpting from Life – A Studio Manual of the Sight-Size Method.

The Instructor

Jason Arkles

Jason Arkles is an American sculptor living and working in Florence, Italy. After training at the Charles H.Cecil studio in Florence, where he was instrumental in adapting sight-size technique for sculpture, and then training in marble carving in Pietrasanta, Jason opened his own teaching studio in 2009 – the Studio Della Statua. Jason’s work focuses upon portraiture, sacred art, and figurative marble. An ardent student of art history, Jason is the host of the popular podcast for figurative sculptors, The Sculptor’s Funeral.

To see more of Jason’s work and learn about Studio Della Statua, visit www.jasonarkles.com

To listen to The Sculptor’s Funeral podcast, subscribe in iTunes, or go to www.thesculptorsfuneral.com


Day 1  | March 12
Pick up from Lucca train station at 4pm
Welcome dinner

Day 2  | March 13
9am-12pm: Modelling from life
2pm-5pm: Modelling from life
Dinner and optional evening activity

Days 3-5  | Mar 14-16
9am-12pm: Modelling from life
2pm-5pm: Modelling from life
Dinner and optional evening activity

Day 6  | March 17
9am-12pm: Final session with the model
2pm-5pm:Finishing touches on the sculpture and hollowing out ready for firing
Farewell dinner

Day 7  | March 18
Departure, transfer to Lucca train station at 10am


Location & accommodation

The location for this workshop is Casa Berti, a 17th Century Tuscan estate 14km from the historical city of Lucca.  Choose between a private room with double bed and private bathroom, or twin share with one bathroom per two guests. See images of Casa Berti and learn more about the locationhere.

What’s included 

Five days of tuition (30 hours with the models), all the materials that you need, 6 nights accommodation, transfers on the first and last day of the course, and meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and wine).

Non-participating travelling partners

You are welcome to bring a partner or friend who is not participating in the workshop. Rates for non-participating partners include accommodation, transfers and all meals. We will gladly assist in planning activities during the days for your partner; such as vineyard tours with wine tasting, guided tours of Lucca, Second World War battle site tours and guided walks in the Garfagnana (a very beautiful, mountainous area of northern Tuscany).


No materials or tools are required from the student, all will be provided. NOTE: each student can take their clay sculpture and bases with them after the workshop if they wish, or they can leave everything with Jason who will transport the sculptures to Florence where he will see that they are fired, and then ship them to the student. The cost for this is extra on top of the workshop fees – to have your sculpture fired and shipped costs 50 euro plus shipping costs, which vary according to the destination. Please email us if you have any questions about transporting your work home.


  • Start: March 12, 2017
  • End: March 18, 2017
  • Skill level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Cost: From €2250 private dbl, From €1800 pp twin share 
  • Includes: tuition, materials, accommodation, meals, transfers

Book this course

For pricing and booking click here


Get in touch for more information.

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