Ever since we moved here 10 years they have been building a road through the mountains to Umbria. It seems to have inched forward but then suddenly was finished. Since July we have been nipping over to Foligno with the gay abandon. A trip which did take over an hour of agonising twists and turns is now just 20 minutes of mostly tunnel. It’s not as pretty but very, very quick. This is particularly handy as often, if it is raining in Umbria it is sunny in Marche and vice versa. To celebrate our new connectivity we went with the journaling course to Spello in October. What is special about Spello? It is made of a beautiful and unique pink stone which is particularly luminous in the setting sun (also apparently at dawn, but lets not go there). It is characterised by charming little lanes and and for culture it boasts some breathtaking frescos by Pinturicchio of the life of the young Jesus. A perfect conclusion to a day of sketching around town. Falling into conversation with a shop owner from Spello it appears that the flow works both ways, they like to hop in the car and nip over to eat fish on the Marche side. Everybody wins. In this age of division it is like two countries discovering one another.
To be honest I have often considered pastels a rather insipid sort of a medium, now, thanks to Jean who came on our July painting holiday, I have changed my mind.
She introduced me to very rough paper, hers came from Sennelier and costs £5 a sheet, mine comes from the local hardware shop and costs 50p per sheet of wet-and-dry sandpaper, (much smaller).
The rough texture really grabs the pigment – giving it the intensity of oil paint, but with none of the kerfuffle and much, much faster.
So here is what I have taken to doing. Every day I have been going out at dusk, just when the mountains are turning hazy blue and do 2 fifteen minute sketches. The time limit means that you have to work fast, really loosening up your work. It also means it is much easier to capture rapidly changing light. Plus it makes you a lot braver with colour sometimes leading to disaster and sometimes to happy accidents – but hey, it’s only 50p a sheet, and 10 minutes of time.
Below are a few of my sketches.
Here is the photobook for our Journaling Course. Despite the weather, which was really not going according to plan, everyone made great journals. See buttons below for their work
Apologies for the standard of the photos – If I had known that I was going to do that, I would have taken better pictures
The weather was a bit hit and miss, but hey ho, plenty of fun to be had in the studio. And Bjorn to play ‘Stormy weather’ or ‘Oh what a wonderful morning’ – to order.
I can’t believe how much I have enjoyed your painting course. But it’s more than that, it’s a house party which lasts for 12 days…. As for Andrea’s cooking, it was second to none. Carefully thought out menus and perfectly cooked. …We have both enjoyed the mealtimes as a group and have many happy memories of the fun we had together. ….Carole and Steve, UK, 2016
Wow! 12 days has certainly flown by and I’ve enjoyed it all. After more than 25 years I have once again found my ‘art mojo’!! It feels great! … My painting technique has developed in such a short time and you have given me confidence to continue back in the UK. Thank you!… Andrea’s meals are second to none and for the first time I feel like I am eating genuine Italian food. The added bonus it that we can all get together as a group and have a laugh at the end of a hard day of painting. …Sandra, UK, 2016
This has been a unique, very successful experience for both of us. I, Marianne, had one goal: to learn as much a possible. That goal has been achieved thank to Caroline’s teaching abilities. She has really given all of herself and taught me things I always wanted to do. I couldn’t have had a better teacher! I have been floating in the air for two whole weeks. Andrea’s wonderful cooking and caretaking and the relaxing atmosphere created by the whole group has made it into a marvellous stay! … Altogether it has been great fun and far more than we expected! Thank you all. Marianne and Bjorn, Norway, 2016Thank you so much for a wonderful, memorable holiday! … I’ve learnt a lot …, have seen new places, eaten lots of beautiful food and enjoyed plenty of wine. Definition of a good holiday fulfilled. It has been great meeting all of you and the other members of the group – such a happy, friendly set of people. They and you have made the stay a real success! You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place – a painting everywhere you look. Thanks, Rosemary, Yorkshire UK, 2016
These last ten days were the dog’s b******. Great fun and geat tuition and great food. Thank you. Damit Janet, UK, “2016
Here is a copy of the photobook made for our first course of the year, Drawing for Beginners, great people and great fun
We have had a fantastic time at your home. You are wonderful hosts. Caroline, you are a wonderful ‘art’ teacher and you taught me in a relaxed state of mind and introduced me to the world of drawing and enjoying it. I have learnt more in this week than in many years of hoping to be able to draw. Best, productive week in many, many years. Thank you. Andrea you are a wonderful chef, you made us the best Italian food we have ever had. Thank you for letting Vasanta join you in the kitchen and , of course, allowing her to cook.Thank you for everything. Srinath and Vasanta, UK
Well this holiday just has to rate as one of the best weeks we have spent in a long while! We have been in the company of fine friends and the most warm and inviting host family. Caroline has steered us towards our artistic goals with patience and good humour. Andrea’s meals were so appetising and expertly prepared and cooked with the ‘love’ of a true Italian. Wonderful! We have both learnt so much with the best Art tuition, the best food and fun and laughter every day. Is it wine time yet?. A truly wonderful time in a stunning setting with you all and our lovely fellow students – We really loved it! Thank you so much. Jan & Anthea, North Yorkshire, UK
I was hesitant to take a holiday alone, especially so far from home and in a part of Italy with which I was unfamiliar. From Caroline’s patient email responses, to Andrea’s ‘Goodfellas’ imitation – from Maisie’s yummy Bogtotters Chocolate cake and Letta’s heartwarming giggle (and photo of Yussien) you all made me feel so welcome. We were fortunate to have such a lively and lovely group of guests. Caroline, I promise to stop seeing the world as lines. I wish you all a wonderful summer and hope you aren’t too challenged in having such a humorous gang as us in your coming sessions. Thank you Andrea, for the most amazing meals and Caroline – Thank you for a most valuable and rewarding week of art instruction and good laughs (PS you are all welcome to visit my home ANYTIME!!). Tricia, NY, USA 2016