How long have you been an artist?
My whole life. I was always painting and drawing as a child. But when I got older, and my real estate business really took off, I got so busy that I stopped. I really dove back into it when my father died six years ago. It was very therapeutic and healing. I began painting day and night. I’m still painting all the time, and have a little studio that I work out of.
Can you tell us a little about the painting class you took?
It was a week-long class offered by Azenart Painting Holidays that took place on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. I participated in September 2019, just before the pandemic.
What made you decide to sign up for this particular class?
I’d spent a year living in Italy when I was younger, and I wanted to get back to Europe to take an art class. I looked into quite a few different companies, but I was drawn to Marie, the owner of this one. I really liked her energy. I felt her local knowledge meant we would venture to places that weren’t as touristy. Plus, I knew it was a very active course, with a lot of walking. I’m pretty athletic, so this was important to me. And of course, it was taking place along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Where did you stay?
We stayed in a lovely villa outside of Sorrento. I opted for a private room with its own bath.
What were the other people in your class like?
There were seven of us from around the world. Britain, Italy, Canada, the U.S. All different ages, and we got along beautifully.
Was there anyone in your class with no painting experience? If so, did they enjoy the class?
No, everyone had some sort of experience. But we all had our different mediums. I wanted to explore watercolor because I usually do acrylics. Most people did watercolor with some acrylic and pastel work. But really, the class was geared for any level, including no experience. I sincerely feel anyone would thoroughly enjoy it.
What things surprised you about the experience?
There were lots of surprises. I’d been to the Amalfi Coast before, so I knew it was beautiful. But I’d never been there to draw and paint. Your perspective is very different when you’re, say, sitting in the middle of Pompeii sketching instead of just looking around.
Did you take the course by yourself?
Yes, and it’s a fantastic way to travel solo but still have plenty of company and an ample amount of alone time. Each day, we would go to a different stunning location to paint, and then could go off on our own if we chose to.
Did anything fall short of your expectations?
No. It exceeded my expectations in every way.
No discussion of Italy is complete without talking about food. What was the dining like?
Wonderful. We had a light breakfast each morning at the villa, with breads, cheeses and fruits. And of course, espresso! We would go to different places to sketch or paint each day, and that would entail a lovely lunch out in that area. When dinner rolled around, we found ourselves eating over and over at a small trattoria near our villa, because we got to know the owners, and the food was amazing. Al Solito Posto in Ticciano. It was a small little place in a tiny little village, and the food was fresh and wonderful, and they treated us so well, that we just kept going back.
How did the course affect your artwork when you came home?
It inspired me to do a whole series called “The Colors of Italy.” That led to a gallery owner reaching out to me to do my own show.
Would you take this course again?
Absolutely. In fact, I signed up right away for a class in 2020, but then the pandemic hit. I’m going again this year, with the same company, but to Venice this time. I’m very excited.
Any advice you would give someone considering taking this or another painting course abroad?
To see her adventures in Venice, be sure to follow Gina C. on Instagram.
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