Alright, I am aware of the fact that my “Italy Adventure” was a little bit skipped over in my blog. But, here is the thing… the Internet was a little rocky and my Iphoto wasn’t working. Also, I didn’t want to spend my time there sitting on my computer talking about life, I wanted to live it!!
There was an amazing view from outside the library (I painted it in the photo below) how could I walk past that every day to coop myself up inside? I went to Italy to paint and to be free. So, that’s what I was going to do.
Most mornings, I woke up early and went for a run through the paths behind Capitignano. I loved it. I was so busy exploring and clearing my head that I wouldn’t get tired and could literally run for hours. On mornings that I didn’t run, I would walk downstairs, make myself some toast, sit outside with my hot tea, and just absorb everything that was around me.
I had an art history class that met for either an hour and a half in the morning or after lunch. Class was sometimes a little overwhelming for me, because I have never studied art history before – so jumping into a grad level course was a little rough. I did my final project on “Money and Beauty” and compared the surprising connections between economics and art in Florence’s Renaissance history. I ended up really enjoying the course!
However, the main reason I went to Italy this summer was to study painting!! I had an amazing professor, Nora, who studied art at both Harvard and Yale. Our class was focused on landscape painting – where we focused on painting on site.
I didn’t realize how difficult that would actually be… We had to deal with the heat, the wind, and the bugs! Sometimes it would get so hot that it was hard to concentrate on anything else. Sometimes big bugs would fly right into the paintings and get stuck in the paint. And sometimes the wind would knock the easel over and the paint right out of your hands.
The most prominent issue I had was working with the shadows. Depending on the time of day, there was about a two hour time frame (sometimes even less) that you could work on that painting. Any longer, the shadows would move and the colours would change. Sometimes I had a difficult time mixing colours… so that when I finally got them, I wouldn’t have enough time to put them on the canvas! Other times, I would be “in the zone” and not want to stop… but after the shadows change, I didn’t really have a choice. I struggled with this basically the entire time, but started to get a hang of the timing in the last couple of weeks.
On top of all those little things… we had to learn how to paint! I’ve never used oil paints before, so this was something new! We learned how to do plein-air painting like David Hockney (who is absolutely adorable), and also practiced under paintings and blocking in colour. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing my experience was and how much I learned. And, I finally had the opportunity to mess with different styles to see what I liked!
(It’s hard to photograph them accurately, so they look a little different in person.)