Exclusive “Painting for the Brain” Workshop

This is a one week painting workshop where you will have the opportunity to (re)discover the joy of painting with the guidance of Pieter Adriaans, a painter, musician, scientist, philosopher and author. He has published several books including a new book ‘Schilderen voor het brein’ (Painting for the Brain) which details the underlying theory that will be explored in this workshop. The book was originally published in Dutch. In 2023, the book will be printed and released in English. During this special workshop, Pieter will guide you through a series of theoretical and practical hands-on sessions at his Atelier de Kaasfabriek on the idyllic island of São Jorge, Azores.

“After you take this workshop,
you will never look at a painting the way you did before”

Pieter Adriaans

For short introduction by Pieter Adriaans about the workshop…. CLICK HERE

Painting for the Brain… is the result of a lifelong quest into the questions of what painting is and why it means so much to us. As a researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence Pieter has been lecturing on this subject for almost 40 years. He has written more than 100 papers and books, given seminars on advanced information theory as well as masterclasses on philosophy for artists. After his retirement from the University of Amsterdam in 2021, he decided to share this material and make it available to a wider audience.

Our brain is a semantic machine that constantly looks for new meanings in images. It is the task of the painter to explore this semantic visual space. In this sense, painting is still at its infancy.

The two basic rules of cognitive realism are:

1) A painting is a program for the visual machine in our brain.
2) Our visual system compresses and expands information, therefore the painter can leave information out
(which ties back to the book’s motto: “Painting is the art of omission” Jacobus J. Koeman (1889–1978))

Concept: Ever since the training in realistic drawing and painting was abandoned in art schools about 40 years ago a tradition of reflection on realistic painting and its techniques, that had its roots in the Renaissance, has almost come to a standstill. Over the years Pieter has spent a large part of his time trying to understand the relation between representation and reality. As a painter he has done hundreds of experiments investigating the way our brains process visual information. He has discovered many things, some ancient but forgotten, others completely new and based on recent insights in mathematics, neuroscience, biology or computer science.

A simple ceramic floor tile, or is it? Our brain is eager to see meaningful images, even if they do not exist, as when we look to the clouds, at rock formations or even at this ceramic floor tile.

During the ages artists have used these techniques to stimulate their creativity. These romantic images emerged when I was staring at a floor tile in our room during long winter evenings. Using information theory one can understand how and why this works for our brain and how you can use it to develop your own creativity.

From the book, “An image is more interesting when it is made up of the right combination of bland and complex elements. This type of insight can then be used for studying the laws by which the composition of a work of art – a painting, piece of music or any other – is considered as ‘good’. We continue to discover new things every day that are relevant in the art of painting. The marriage between art and science is very much alive again and… in love as never before.”

This is an example of four different concepts of how to paint a portrait. In the course you will learn why the classical renaissance approach (upper-left) can be modified to create different concepts of how to paint, for example, in the pointillist style (upper-right) and in the fauvist style (lower-right).

The confrontation with the Azorean landscape and culture has had a major impact on the work of painter-philosopher Pieter Adriaans. In 2015, Pieter and his wife Rini opened a cultural center in the old cheese factory in Santo Antonio, São Jorge Island. The stunning landscape paintings he has made since 2002 form the heart of the collection and are on permanent display. Apart from that “Atelier De Kaasfabriek” organizes exhibitions, concerts, courses and other activities. Pieter’s paintings are in collections all over the world.

More about Pieter Adriaans, his paintings and Atelier de Kaasfabriek:

Media & Techniques: Students work in principle with acrylic paint on paper, board, or canvas. Dependent on individual taste, experience and ambitions, watercolor, pencil, charcoal, pastel and other media may be used. The materials will be provided during the course. Because of the climate, humidity and environmental issues, oil paints are not used in the atelier.  All students receive handouts with the course material. 

Activities: Daily demonstrations, presentations and drawing exercises are structured to exhaust the limitations of the media and the theory. Participants develop personal visual vocabulary through individual studio time, group discussions and one-on-one feedback. The workshop will be provided mostly in English but Pieter is also fluent in French, Portuguese, Dutch and German.

Who can attend: In principle everybody is welcome, varying from the unexperienced beginner to the seasoned amateur or professional artist. Specific drawing or painting skills are not required but we do hope you have an avid interest to learn new skills and understand why they work.

For more information, watch the Q&A LIVE Stream… CLICK HERE

Early Booking Price: 2 650 € per person for a private room in a shared 2-bedroom apartment (2 950 € for a private apartment) until February 28, 2023.

After February 28, 2023: 2 950 € per person for a private room in a shared 2-bedroom apartment (3 250 € for a private apartment).

What’s included? Just about everything, specifically: paint and supplies, accommodations at Cantinho das Buganvilias Resort Hotel on São Jorge Island; 3 meals per day, programmed excursions and receptions, transportation between the selected accommodation and the Atelier as well as to the airport transfers. Additional upgrade options for accommodations are available below.

Exclusions: airfare and related travel & medical insurance. Given the numerous on-line flight reservation systems, numerous connection options and individual preferences we feel that each traveler is best suited to review and select their preferred options, airline and itinerary.

Next Workshop Dates:

Spring 2023: April 29 – May 6, 2023

Fall 2023 & Spring 2024: Dates to be Announced Shortly

  • Saturday – check-in and take some time to rest and then attend a Welcome Reception and Dinner (for those that arrive early, enjoy some leisure time to rest or explore the island)
  • Sunday – full day guided excursion to see the sights of São Jorge Island to experience nature in its purest form
  • Monday to Friday – daily workshop sessions at the Atelier de Kaasfabriek
  • Saturday – breakfast and check-out (or extend your stay to enjoy São Jorge Island or discover the two other islands of the Triangle of the Azores)

This workshop will be limited to a small number of participants so secure your spot now!

Future workshop: October – November 2023

If you are unable to attend this workshop but would like to add your name to the priority waiting list for the next workshop or to receive information about other upcoming workshops or retreats… Get on the list for next time

Refund policy: Due to logistical and service provider commitments we are not able to provide a full refund once your reservation has been confirmed and paid. However, if a cancellation is made after February 15, 2023, we will provide a 50% refund. We strongly encourage you to consider using an independent travel & medical insurance provider to ensure that costs & any inconveniences resulting from unexpected trip or flight cancellations and delays are minimized.

NOTE: Tremors have been registered in the western part of São Jorge Island since mid-March 2022, which have since weakened again. The Azores are of volcanic origin (like Hawaii, Canary Islands and other archipelagos) and tremors are not uncommon. The intensity in March prompted local civil defense to issue a safety alert (which is still in place). However, the interim travel warning for the island of São Jorge was lifted by the Federal Foreign Office on 04.05.22 because the tremors have stabilized at a very low level. Life on São Jorge is back to normal. We continue to monitor the situation very closely and are in regular contact with our local partners. Should the situation change, we will inform all travel guests and in the interest of everyone’s safety, make adjustments to the itinerary, if deemed necessary.


Cantinho Das Buganvilias Resort Hotel (included in price)

Villas Casteletes (500 Euro for a private T0 Villa or 575 Euros for a T1 Villa)

Viscondessa Family’s Collection of Pieter’s Paintings

MAKE YOUR TRIP EXTRA SPECIAL – Participants have an opportunity to enjoy additional unique experiences that can be added on, before or after, the workshop, including:

  • Canyoning: Feel your adrenaline rush as you rappel down spectacular
  • Kayak or Scuba dive along the coast of São Jorge Island
  • Snorkel into hidden grottos and caves in crystal blue waters
  • Climb Pico Mountain (Portugal’s tallest point) with a guide (full-day activity plus day-trop to Pico Island)
  • Experience breathtaking hikes through lush, green vegetation, beautiful volcanic craters and spectacular cliffs
  • Countless sites to simply relax and revitalize
  • Take a short ferry ride to the nearby islands of Pico and Faial islands to:
    • Walk through a UNESCO World Heritage site, Pico Island’s Vineyard Culture, and then savor its wines
    • Visit the volcanic ash covered village of Capelinhos on Faial Island (1957-58 eruption)
    • and much more

You can also select from one of our Self-Guided Packages or we can personalize your extra days and make your trip complete.

More Info