Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nature Journaling in Tuscany-a great time

2011 Journaling workshop
From left to right: Katherine Lundgren, Alex Dougherty (back),
 Carol Jean Rogalski, Cynthia Camazine, Sharon Shapiro,
Gretchen Halpert (instructor), Scott Rawlins, Brent Bauer, Nancy Gerald
Notice the impressive cacti in the background and, of course, our handmade journals.

We had a fabulous time in Tuscany. Eight students plus teacher met in Firenze for a chartered van ride to Spannocchia, our destination in Siena province for the next nine days. Immediately, this group clicked. We chatted our way during the hour plus drive to Spannocchia, over wine on the terrace overlooking golden hillsides, through the bountiful dinner meal and on through the week, punctuated with plenty of laughter and serious drawing.

Day 1 we set up in the limonaria for a full day of  bookmaking.
Carol fits her journal cover paper over grayboard
From then on, we set out to fill our books with paintings, drawings, observations and words.

Here are some photos from the week.

©Brent Bauer draws some architectural
details in graphite and pastel.

©Scott Rawlins produces a beautifully delicate and accurate
watercolor of the Spannocchia tower on right, then makes a
breakthrough with an elegant quick sketch on the left.
Scott sketches the tower and our
home for the week.
Cooking class included a tour in
the organic vegetable gardens and
resulted in a feast for all.

Building and geranium sketches © Cynthia Camazine in watercolor. Geraniums are 
strategically planted around the compound, brilliant in the summer sun against cerulean skies. Note the reference value scale on the right page of 
 the building sketch. This reference helps you develop a deeper range of values.

Scott, Gretchen and Alex at
 Santa Lucia, an abandoned
monastery on the property

                                       Sketch books of Brent Bauer, Cynthia Camazine and Gretchen Halpert


Walking the old road in
Fonterutoli to the home
of botanical artist Margaret Saul
Botanical artist Margaret Saul graciously shares
her techniques.
Drawing on the lawn at Spannocchia

Margaret's drawing board displaying
her work, sketches and finished
paintings. See also the GNSI newsletter!

View from bedroom window.
Heritage Cinta Senese pigs
An exhibit opening of our week's
work was shared with the Spannocchia
community. H'or d'oeuvres, wine and art.
Nancy and friend

Capparis Spinosa-capers! The plant was blooming and I have
wanted to paint it. This is the first step in a botanical painting-
studying the structure, taking copius notes and photographs.

Inside the ancient monastary of Santa
Lucia. Stairs warped from ten centuries
of wear. Ten centuries.
©Gretchen Halpert 2011

A couple unedited reviews from the class:

What a nice variety of exercises. I enjoyed every one. The bookmaking, journaling, poetry, pencil and water color were superb and all levels of experience benefitted. The field trips to the various towns and Margaret's home fit well into the program. Gretchen kept things flowing and interesting the entire times. What talent!!!!!

All of the exercises were worthwhile -- some were review, but much appreciated, and others (especially the writing exercises) were new and interesting. We sometimes forget that a journal is not just a sketchbook, but a "journey" in both images and words. I can't think of anything I would change or omit -- though the trip to Margaret's was very valuable and something I understand has not been included in the past. I liked the freedom we had to explore after class or just stay near the villa and draw (or sleep or read). I highly recommend the garden tour -- this helped put the goals of the Spannocchia Foundation into perspective. 

I plan to offer this workshop again during the summer of 2013. 
Contact Gretchen Halpert at for more information.

The description for this 2011 workshop is in the August 2010 post.

We held to the description, adding some late afternoon writing sessions,
 a field trip to Fonterutoli to visit Ms. Saul, and to 
Castellina-in-Chianti for famed gelato and sightseeing. Field trips may vary, 
but the city of Siena is always on the schedule. See the location of Siena on the 
map link at the bottom of this page.

Thanks to all the participants for their enthusiasm, good nature and artwork!