by Joan Keesey

Common Poppy, photo by John Keesey, © 2013

Common Poppy, photo by John Keesey, © 2013

Consider the “campi fiori,”
Arrayed in their natural glory.
Their existence is brief
Unless an artistic thief
Memorializes their story.

John Keesey, June 2013

Preci, Umbria, photo by John Keesey, © 2013

Preci, Umbria, photo by John Keesey, © 2013

 

John and I just returned from Umbria, Italy, where I took Elaine Searle’s Botanical Art Class. We stayed for eight days at a resort, Il Collaccio, in the mountains near the walled hill town of Preci and adjacent to the Monti Sibillini National Park. The views of the mountains and valleys were beautiful; the fields were filled with wildflowers: red poppies, small wild orchids, fringed hyacinths, buttercups, and many flowers that I had never seen before.

The Studio, photo J. Keesey, © 2013

The Studio, photo J. Keesey, © 2013

We were a group of 13 including Elaine: four Americans including Deborah Friedman and myself from BAGSC, six women from Britain, three ladies from Finland, Japan, and Trinidad respectively. We stayed in a lovely stone building in which the studio was also located.  Il Collaccio provided all of our meals. They were very good, especially the lunches which were interesting, varied and served outside if the weather permitted.

Lunch at Il Collaccio, photo by J. Keesey, © 2013

Lunch at Il Collaccio, photo by J. Keesey, © 2013

There was no assigned subject. We could paint wildflowers, vegetables from the local market, or roses growing on the wall of our building. I chose to paint the poppies and a small orchid called the Bee Orchid.

Elaine gave a demonstration every morning on one of the selected subjects. We worked from 9:30 am until 1:00 pm when lunch was served. After lunch Elaine was available in the studio if we wished to continue painting, or we could take the afternoon off for a hike in the hills or a visit to one of the many Umbrian hill towns.

On one of the days we had a group outing to Spello, another beautiful walled town, and Fabriano where we were given a tour of the Fabriano Museum. Fabriano not only makes high quality art paper, they also make the paper for the Euro. We were shown how paper was originally made by hand in the 16th century and their extensive collection of watermarks. At the end of the tour we all made a piece of paper.

Making Paper at the Fabriano Museum, photo by J. Keesey, © 2013

Making Paper at the Fabriano Museum, photo by J. Keesey, © 2013

It was a great trip—an opportunity to see a really beautiful part of Italy, to meet new and interesting people, and to concentrate on drawing and painting without the many distractions and obligations of daily life.

Bee Orchid, Ophrys apifera, watercolor by Joan Keesey, © 2013, all rights reserved.

Bee Orchid, Ophrys apifera, watercolor by Joan Keesey, © 2013, all rights reserved.

Common Poppy, Papaver rhoras, watercolor by Joan Keesey, © 2013, all rights reserved.

Common Poppy, Papaver rhoras, watercolor by Joan Keesey, © 2013, all rights reserved.

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