A Slow Start
I started out this morning sleeping late, that is until the resident doves woke me up with their incessant hoo-hoo-ing. I decided to make my way out into the garden behind my apartment and work on watercolor sketches for your Italy Packets. As I was working, Luigi snuck down the stairs and took this photo of me in deep concentration. I love my Sakura field watercolor box for these situations, balancing it on my knee and painting on small sheets of Fabriano paper. Heaven.
Not long after I started working, a flock of sheep made their way out into the field. They have heavy bells around their necks that clink and clank in a way that makes me think of The Sound of Music, when they walk.
Pinch me, I can’t believe I’m here.
After a late breakfast, Pamela and I headed down to the villa in order for me to settle in to Room #27 and enjoy a lunch of homemade pasta with crushed tomatoes and mint. As Pamela and I dined, we went through the list of students and where they are coming to Italy from. We were getting excited!
Italy Retreat Day One
Today is officially the first day of the Paper Paintings Retreat with Off The Beaten Strada in Italy. The students arrived from Rome early this afternoon in style with our private drivers Valter and Emanuele. Everyone was in excellent spirits, although tired.
We did have two lost guests, one broken shoe, and a major thunderstorm, but Team Strada is still smiling! Here we are at the Villa’s cappuccino bar (above).
As with every class, I have repeat students (on this trip, Susan (L)) and lots of new students (Sandy above). It’s wonderful to see familiar faces and to meet new people. Irma (in the white shirt) and her husband Andrea (cheering in the background) are the proprietors of the beautiful Agritourismo Il Columbaio that is our home base. We are like old friends now, teasing and joking and learning new sayings in English and Italian together.
We found our lost students! Marie and Joel Lyon from Canada. Their flight arrived late and they ended up making their way to the villa on their own. When they stepped out of their taxi, Marie looked at me and said “Oh Elizabeth! how nice to meet you finally, I’ve been following your art and adventures online for a LONG time.” How flattering is that? I mean really, I was humbled. I told Marie that I loved her deep purple hair, and was that a tattoo I spied on her forearm? “Oh you do?” she asked “It’s not nearly as vibrant purple as I had wanted it to be.” “And yes, that cat tattoo I got just two years ago, it’s facing inward and on my arm because I did it for ME to look at.”
Did I mention that Marie is 87 and her husband Joel 86? Priceless.
After I gave my Paper Paintings presentation and answered lots of wonderful questions about collage from the group, we all went upstairs for dinner. Because of the rain, we took a back stairwell through the chef’s kitchen. “Watch your head and mind the potatoes!” What a fun start to the evening.
A Dining Experience
Dinner at the Villa is always a way for folks to get to know one an other a little better. We enjoyed meat (from Irma and Andrea’s farm) with truffle sauce, grilled local veggies, wine, water, and dessert. Sylvia served everyone with a smile and as always, our compliments to the chef.
We finished eating around 9:30pm, dinner is an experience and never rushed here. Luigi was telling Bobby (across from him in the front right) about how you have the table for the evening at a restaurant in Italy. I can tell you this is true, first hand. Last trip we went out to dinner after the group departed and we were there until 1:00am!
Take your time, no rush.
For those of you who purchased the Italy Packet, I’m working away on those watercolors, here’s a sneak peak from this morning in the garden. Tomorrow is a busy day but I’ll be at it again during my break in the afternoon. Stick around and you just might see yours in progress!
Tomorrow morning we are off to explore the city of Orvieto, where we will meet Lamberto, a master paper artisan who will talk to the group about the historical significance and origin of paper.
Right up my alley!
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