Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 1

"...having always that strange brightness of an essential flame that is caught, meshed, contravened.."

--D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love

In case you don't know, earlier this year I received a two-week partial scholarship to do an artist-residency in Civita Castellana, Italy, part of the JSS program.  It was a huge deal for me!  My first time going overseas, my first time living in a community of artists, my first time being away from my husband and children for more than a night...in over a decade!  I was soooooo excited.  My flight was July 9th.  I missed the bus to Newark, so my husband drove me to the airport.  Here is my luggage:

 My easel was in my backpack, clothes and oil paints in my suitcase, and novels in my purse.

My easel was in my backpack, clothes and oil paints in my suitcase, and novels in my purse.

I tried to cool my heels in the Newark airport.  I wrote frantically in my diary:

I'm so excited to be in Italy soon!  I'm nervous about getting on the plane.  I'm anxious about flying.  I'm scared of crossing the ocean.  And then I'll be in Italy!! Wow! I can't believe it.
 So happy I almost floated up into outer space.  Luckily my luggage kept me grounded.

So happy I almost floated up into outer space.  Luckily my luggage kept me grounded.

To pass time in the airport, I made myself some goals... 

 I met all the goals except #3. Because I was at a very fun dinner party and didn't want to leave.  Oh, and #1 didn't happen because there was no thunderstorm, but I did write a lot of  poems ...

I met all the goals except #3. Because I was at a very fun dinner party and didn't want to leave.  Oh, and #1 didn't happen because there was no thunderstorm, but I did write a lot of poems...

I flew over the ocean in the night.  I could see the full moon resting on the wing of the airplane, as we sped through the darkness.  I couldn't sleep at all.  In the morning, I looked down to see Italy!  It looked so beautiful, just like I dreamed it would.

 Italy out the window of the plane!

Italy out the window of the plane!

I met some other artists at the airport in Rome, and there was a bus waiting to shuttle us to our apartment in Civita, a small town one hour north of Rome.  The drive was amazing; rolling hills and vineyards and mountains that looked like they were right out of paintings, and old buildings that looked sort of like castles, and cypress trees and miles of sunflowers.  The bus was filled with artists from different countries, and it was so exciting to get to know each other on that drive.

 The deck of my apartment, the scene of many cups of espresso, conversations about art, and glasses of wine.

The deck of my apartment, the scene of many cups of espresso, conversations about art, and glasses of wine.

We arrived at our apartment.  It was a beautiful big house that had five separate apartments in it, and yet it was laid out in such a way that it felt private and spacious.  The house was owned by a wonderful couple, Patrizia and Fabrizio, who were so warm and welcoming to me during my stay.  

 Fabrizio and Patrizia...and me in the middle!

Fabrizio and Patrizia...and me in the middle!

My room was so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 The view from my bedroom window.  Sigh...

The view from my bedroom window.  Sigh...

I shared a room with the Best Roommate Ever.  Her name is Kristen Peyton, and she is an AMAZING artist and wonderful person.  I plan to write a blog post all about her soon.  But why wait?  Check out her website now!

 My roommate Kristen, sitting by our window.  xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

My roommate Kristen, sitting by our window.  xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

 Here is a painting Kristen did of the Duomo, the lovely church in the center of Civita.  

Here is a painting Kristen did of the Duomo, the lovely church in the center of Civita.  

Kristen taught me a lot about being an artist, mostly by example.  Her work ethic was admirable; together we got up and watched the sunrise with our espressos, before going out for a day of painting.  But, whereas I would come home and flop into my bed, exhausted, after a few hours of painting, Kristen managed to soldier on for several additional painting sessions.  She also put a lot of time into doing drawings with charcoal and pencil, and it was apparent that this practice supported her painting work, and it's something I would like to imitate.  

 one of Kristen's drawings: "Civita Castellana", charcoal on paper, 9.5"x13" 

one of Kristen's drawings: "Civita Castellana", charcoal on paper, 9.5"x13" 

Kristen exposed me to new artists and ways of mixing colors, and she gave me valuable critique and encouragement.  She also inspired me to be a better human being just by being herself: a good person of humor, integrity, and compassion.

Also...we ate a lot of divine pasta together.  Mangiamo!!!

roommates.jpg

I have so much more to tell you about, including more photographs of the town of the Civita, stories about people I met, and food I ate, and trying to paint, and learning about making art, and learning about myself.  Not to mention our field trips to Florence and Urbino and other places, as well as my own solo-trip to Florence at the end.  But I'll try to tell my story slowly, over several blog posts, so that I can just savor the memory of it all beginning again.

  Monte Soratte , the most painted mountain in art history, or so the story goes...  I walked past it every day when I went into town.

Monte Soratte, the most painted mountain in art history, or so the story goes...  I walked past it every day when I went into town.