Art, Life, oil painting, Painters, Painting, Plein Air, Study, watercolor

a month in Italy


I’ve just returned from a month of painting as part of the Jerusalem Studio School Summer Program in Civita Castellana, Italy. It was very stimulating to spend so much time with people dedicated to painting, including modern masters, Israel Hershberg, Vincent Desiderio and Yael Scalia. They were very generous with their time and knowledge. Living and working among so many artists is a wonderful experience. I miss the daily immersion in painting and the camaraderie.


The month was packed with opportunities for artistic experiences. Every Thursday was a bus trip to another city with maps and lists of art treasures to visit. Sunday nights the guest artists showed slides and talked about their work. Two critiques a week led by Vince, Israel or Yael and on regular painting days, the instructors would wander the town and visit painters at work. Communal meals were served in the hotel or various other restaurants in the town and you could usually find some of our community at the Club Cafe either having a cappuccino or drinks late into the night.


Apertivos at Israel and Yael's apartment
Apertivos at Israel and Yael’s apartment

Although I went there with the intention of painting in oil, I started out wandering the town with my sketchbook and watercolors and really loved soaking in the experience that way so continued to work largely in watercolor. I did rent a studio for the last two weeks and did some oil painting there and plein air but the watercolors were the bulk of the work I produced.


Fountain in the Main Piazza from the Club Cafe
Fountain in the Main Piazza from the Club Cafe



Monte Sarrote watercolor
Monte Sarrote watercolor




Although I spent a lot of time painting, the largest impact on me, I think, will be from the time spent in conversation with the other painters and instructors. I came home with a lot to think about.

Me in the studio
Me in the studio

8 thoughts on “a month in Italy”

  1. Welcome home Bill, Gosh, the time went fast, eh? Looking forward to getting together with you to hear about your experiences. Jer


  2. Welcome home. Must be a shock to come back, no? Hoping all’s as you left it re:dogs, house, job, etc. and that your studio feels welcoming. xo, KL

    Sent while awkwardly mobile.


  3. It will be fun to watch the blog as the experiences and lessons are illustrated for us to see!
    I really appreciate you sharing them with us.


  4. Lovely paintings, Bill.
    I like the line in your water-colours and i’m also looking at your earlier work here, finding the same integrity, lyrical hand, deft touches. I miss our Civita conversations, and I hope re-entry to the real world has been ok for you. Like you, I came home with much to think about and the deep discussions with other painters seemed the main thing, this time. I’m now painting away in the cold white light of my studio here at the far end of The Great Ocean Road, on the bottom of the world, looking out at the rooftops of Port Fairy as the winter sea crashes a few streets away. It’s quite beautiful – dark Norfolk pines and this big wild always moving sky here – and the soft light of Italy thereby washed away.
    Was the sky really that still, impossible celestial blue, some mornings and evenings? Did that line of trees really run in such linear definition from the shadow of Mt Sorates to that villa on the horizon?
    Guess I’ll just have to make it all up, now. RGXX


  5. Thanks, everyone. I’m almost acclimated to our timezone now. I think it will take a while for me to process my experiences.

    Robyn, it’s very nice to hear from you. I’ve tried to be in touch through email.


  6. Wow! What an experience, your watercolours are terrific, I’ll wait with interest to see the influence Italy brings to your work now that you are back home.


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