Our group was made up of five students and one teacher, Eva Bovenzi. John, Eva’s husband came too. We met 40 miles outside of Venice, in Vittorio Veneto, Treviso. We stayed at Palazzo Galletti. Built in the 14th century, the little palazzo was on a quiet cobblestone street in Serravalle, the ancient part of town. We worked for 8 days in Alma Ortolan’s downstairs studio. Besides restoring frescoes, she gives her own workshops in fresco technique. After breakfast, our group would meet for an image presentation. Then, we went off in different directions to sketch. After lunch we worked in the studio, which was followed by a critique and dinner. My small suitcase on rollers, was filled with art supplies. I packed two 12” x 16” boards which were used as support for presized canvas that wrapped around the board and was tacked with artist’s tape. I took sketchpads, drawing materials, tubes of acrylic paint, brushes, a palette, rags, water container and a backpack to carry my art supplies when I went out sketching. Completed rolled paintings fit diagonally into my suitcase when it was time to pack and go home.
Taking watersoluble crayons and sketchpads, Arina and I walked through the quiet old town to sit in Chiesa di S. Giovanni Battista. Choosing the statue of Madonna del Carmine I sketched for more than an hour while listening to my friend happily humming as she sketched sunlight touching a column.
The next morning, I walked up behind the houses into the trees. While I was sitting on the ground sketching, one of the locals walked into my view. Stooping down he filled his straw basket with raw walnuts. His black and white dog kept running up to me bringing me a stick to throw. Thinking of Cezanne and loving the background color coming from behind the tree I walked back to the studio.
After a few well-intentioned strokes my new painting took on a mind of it’s own.