Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 2

"Slow down and contemplate things."

--Israel Hershberg, artist

 Here I am in  Fort Sangallo , a museum in Civita Castellana, Italy, the town where I lived for two weeks.

Here I am in Fort Sangallo, a museum in Civita Castellana, Italy, the town where I lived for two weeks.

So, anyone who talks to me for more than 30 seconds knows that I went to Italy to paint this summer.  I'm slowly writing about my experience, because it was just so full.  In Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 1, I wrote about my pre-trip excitement, my hopes and dreams, and a little bit about arriving in Civita Castellana.  I'll continue from there...

It took me several days to get my bearings.  I wrote in my diary:

July 11, 2017: I'm so tired.  What a full two days.  I feel like I have been here so long...It's 5 pm.  I just woke up from a much-needed siesta.  So hot here.  My apartment is lovely.  I'm not sure how to organize my time.  Everyone else is soooooo much better than me, I feel like I'm floundering....

 I often had espresso in the Club Cafe, in the Piazza Matteotti in Civita’s Centro.  This is where we had art critiques on Saturdays.

I often had espresso in the Club Cafe, in the Piazza Matteotti in Civita’s Centro.  This is where we had art critiques on Saturdays.

 Angelo and Giusy own the Club Cafe.  They were so kind to me!   Che bella coppia!

Angelo and Giusy own the Club Cafe.  They were so kind to me!  Che bella coppia!

Diary, July 16th... I'm learning so much!  Honestly, the overwhelm can be intense!  I'm eating a lot of food, drinking wine, walking a lot with my easel on my back, and enjoying life fully!

Diary, July 18th... So here I am, a hot, sunny peaceful evening, sitting in my apartment kitchen in Italy!  I'm re-writing some notes from the critiques with Israel Hershberg [the main teacher in this program].

Notes from Israel's Critique

  • Try to say more about how paint meets paint.
  • Vary the treatment of how I put things down.
  • Get to the essence, the distillation of things.  That's the reason we invest things with time.
  • Painting is a fiction.  It's always been a fiction.  Fiction is Real.
  • Spend time mixing color.
  • Don't  be fussy.  Put down direct, impersonal marks.
  • Slow down and contemplate things. 
 Here is Israel (far left) during a critique, with Marsal in the center, and Christina on the right.

Here is Israel (far left) during a critique, with Marsal in the center, and Christina on the right.

I also learned so much from the other artists in the program, especially Marsal Nazary and Christina Renfer Vogel

Marsal painted beside me a couple of days and generously gave me critiques and guidance.  

Some of Marsal's painting tips:

  • make decisions
  • consider the temperature of the colors
  • try "killing the colors" in the shadow, to neutralize them a bit (with opposite color)
  • try a premier coup, a painting done in one quick session

Christina Renfer Vogel, also gave me a lot of good feedback as well.  Although she was a fellow artist-resident in Italy, back in America, she is an actual art professor in Tennessee.  I loved talking with her about being a painter and a feminist.  Her most helpful advice was to "guard your studio time!"  (I use this advice every day.)  She also gave some suggestions of artist residencies I might pursue in the future and some good books.

Christina's Reading List

  • Living and Sustaining a Creative Life by Sharon Louden (I read it already: wonderful)
  • Artist as Culture Producer by Sharon Louden
  • Art/Work by Heather Bhandari
 Here is  Christina  painting.  Follow her on instagram:  @studio_side_project

Here is Christina painting.  Follow her on instagram: @studio_side_project

I loved spending time with other artists.  That was one of my favorite things about being in Italy.  This was the first time in my life that I have ever lived in a community of artists, and I can't describe how wonderful it was.  Often we cooked and ate together, staying up late and talking about art for hours.  It was heavenly.  Here is a dinner table filled with wonderful artists.  Hopefully I will eventually write about all of them in future posts!

 Amazing artists from left to right:  Theresa Morgan ,  Yael Dryzin ,  Florentina Munteanu ,  Lauren Ratcliffe,  my roommate  Kristen Peyton , and  Laura Vahlberg .  Laura recently wrote a  guest blog post !

Amazing artists from left to right: Theresa Morgan, Yael Dryzin, Florentina Munteanu, Lauren Ratcliffe, my roommate Kristen Peyton, and Laura Vahlberg.  Laura recently wrote a guest blog post!

So, in addition to the teachers and my artist peers, I also made many wonderful Italian friends.  Here are two very special people: Elvira and Antonio!  I met Elvira one evening when I was painting on the sidewalk near downtown, and we started chatting (in Italian!) and we became friends.  They allowed me to visit several times, paint on their rooftop garden (a view of Civita rooftops!) and Elvira cooked me a couple delicious dinners.

 Elvira and Antonio.  My new Italian family!

Elvira and Antonio.  My new Italian family!

 The dinner Elvira made for me!!!! Fantastico!

The dinner Elvira made for me!!!! Fantastico!

 Here I am, painting on the roof of Elvira and Antonio's house.  See more paintings in this post:  "My Paintings and Sketches from Italy."

Here I am, painting on the roof of Elvira and Antonio's house.  See more paintings in this post: "My Paintings and Sketches from Italy."

Well, that's all I have time to write tonight.  I'm feeling very nostalgic about Italy, and wishing so much that I could return.  Sigh...

In my next Italy post, I'll tell you about our Piero della Francesca field trip.

Until then, ci vediamo dopo!

Continue reading the Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 3, Florence

Other Italy Posts:

Roman Moon (poems)

Loveliest of What I Leave Behind  (guest teacher Susan Jane Walp)

Intentional Loitering

I'm Going to Paint in Italy!