|Benvenuti or Welcome to Arte Umbria—an artistic retreat amid scenic splendor in the Umbrian countryside of Italy. Photo: WikiMedia.org.|
Have you ever dreamed of immersing yourself in the arts in Italy? Imagine setting up your easel, grabbing your note book or camera, or perhaps a lump of clay; and with the early morning light and the Umbrian countryside as your backdrop, your creative passions ignite. Sounds like an inspiring way to spend a holiday in Italy, doesn't it?
|Aerial view of Arte Umbria in the hills of Umbria, Italy. Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
Let me introduce you to an art institute where those dreams become reality. Owned and operated by one of my friends, Arte Umbria is located in the heart of the Umbrian countryside imbued with the golden colors of Italy. Nestled within 220 acres, the Tenuta di Poggiolame or Poggiolame Estate provides an idyllic setting for intimate art workshops within their Italian villa. But what makes Arte Umbria so unique is that not only do you study here, the entire estate becomes your creative retreat—from the accommodations and meals to tuition and all of the art supplies you'll need to explore your artistic endeavors. And regardless of your skill set, there are programs designed for everyone. Plus for those accompanying you on your travels who do not wish to partake in the art courses can take off for the day on one of the many excursions to neighboring towns, wineries, olive groves and even truffle hunting. So while they play, you create!
|Enjoying an aperitif alfresco at Arte Umbria. Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
From general courses designed for those just starting out in their craft to Master classes for intermediates and above, Arte Umbria's curriculum offers a full spectrum of classes most of which are seven days in length and hosted from spring through fall—from painting with real life drawing, to sculpture and ceramics, to creative writing and even stone carving by a master mason! Personally, I would love to try my hand at that…especially in Italy—a walk in the footsteps of Michelangelo perhaps? There are also trips to the idyllic Umbrian countryside to sketch and photograph too. Inspired yet?
|How could not be inspired with vistas like this in your backyard! Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
But of all the courses at Arte Umbria this year, there is one during the summer that warrants an honorable mention due to its particular nature and study—painting in egg tempera, a age-old and classic painting technique with roots dating back 2,000 years. Antony Williams, a master renowned for his paintings of Queen Elizabeth II and possibly one of the most famous artists in U.K. at this time, will facilitate this weeklong course. Antony will instruct students to create life, portrait and landscape studies on paper, as opposed to the customary gesso panels and if egg tempera is not your preferred medium, you can work in oils as well.
|This really needs no caption other than the fact that it was painted in tempera by Antony Williams. Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
|Antony achieves stunning surface detail in this portrait. Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
Art critic Martin Gayford had this to say about Williams' egg tempera technique:
"When Williams paints human faces and bodies in tempera—whether his own, or that of another sitter—he makes the viewer intensely aware of surface detail. One sees, more insistently perhaps than one does in life, the little marks of wear and tear, the furrows and wrinkles…Williams’ still lifes and portraits—like much art—underline the passing of time and mortality. This was the reason no doubt why his fine portrait of the Queen caused controversy. Inevitably, his method, his close vision, revealed that these were the face and hands of an ageing woman. That is not how everybody chooses to think of the monarch. But as a work of art, and an exercise in sober, careful truth-telling—like the best of his work—it was very impressive."
|Another exquisite portrait by Antony Williams. Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
|Portrait of the master himself—Antony Williams. Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
The Estate: Tenuta di Poggiolame or the Poggiolame Estate in Umbria, Italy
|Cozy gathering places welcome traveling artists to the warm hospitality of Arte Umbria. Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
Amid the rolling hills of olive groves, wooded forests and fields of sunflowers dancing in the breeze, the splendor of Umbria evokes your creative spirit at the Tenuta di Poggiolame! Truly capturing the charm of a rustic countryside farmhouse, the Teunta di Poggiolame is located only 90 minutes from Florence or Rome and features 10 bedrooms, plenty of cozy gathering places inside and out, a dining room where authentic Umbrian fare is the order of the day, and of course the various artistic workshops.
|One of ten rustic bedrooms at the Tenuta di Poggiolame. Photo: Courtesy of Arte Umbria. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
If you want to find out more about Arte Umbria and how to sign up for your creative escape to Italy, visit ArteUmbria.com for details about the curriculum, the estate, schedule of courses and visiting artists.