Siena-first day, September 19. Students arrived tired but happy.

Getting a tour of Siena from Italian site director Silvia Minnuci.
We set up the three light-filled painting studios first thing and then the students began working on their first assignment,” Siena Observed”. A series of six small-scale paintings on gessoed panels based on one idea expressed six different ways.
The painters ready to begin their Tuscan exploration….
First they prepared the panels by sanding and guessing them.
The got started right away on their projects.
Painting in beautiful Tuscan light.
The students did some wonderful paintings with topics that ranged from patterns observed on painted ceramics to architectural details.

Tuscan Travel Journals

Everywhere we go in Siena, students absorb and process what they are seeing and learning through their travel journals. Here we are at the Duomo square.
Drawing the amazing Duomo…
Drawing during one of PG’s (Piergiacomo Petrolli) incredibly illuminating walking tours of medieval Siena.
In the Pinoteca
Drawing the view of Siena from the Fortezza d’Medici. Siena reigned in Tuscany for 400 years, but (sadly) lost the war with Florence in 1559. Hence the d’Medici name…
Views of the city, the countryside and the Duomo
Images inside the Duomo
Capturing scenes of everyday Italian life…..
… and capturing images to remember from travels around Italy and beyond.
Early morning journaling at the Piazza Salinbeni and observing the city of Siena as it comes to life.

Venice and the Biennale….

Venice is always magical (except when it is flooded!) and here we are on our first day at St. Marco Square.
The highlight and focus of this excursion were two day-long visits to the amazing Venice Biennale; one of the most important international exhibitions of contemporary art that takes over the city of Venice every two years. This year’s title is “May You Live In Interesting Times”. That we do and the artwork certainly reflects that.
Here we are in front of George Condo’s grotesquely beautiful painting at the arsenale, one of the two main venues of the Biennale. Everything is on a very large scale!
Viewing artwork at the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, the other main venue for the exhibition.
An inside out airplane at the Polish Pavillion.
Some of the most interesting projects, like the Lithuanian Opera were collateral exhibits, scattered around the city.
… and the Icelandic Pavillion.
…and the Glasstress exhibition on the beautiful island of Murano.
..we arrived there on a private boat.

Inspirato da Senese/Tuscano

Students working on painting assignment #2, inspired by artwork and/or architecture in Siena or Tuscany.
The paintings are rich and varied in inspiration and execution. This one is inspired by illuminated manuscripts viewed at the Piccolomini Library at the Duomo in Siena, but reflects the uncertain realities of global warming and human impact on the planet.
Self-portrait as St Sebastian
During critique explaining inspiration of patterns on stained glass windows and Siena skies.

Biennale di Venezia Collaborazione

Each student chose an artist that inspired them at the Venice Biennale and created artwork that was a collaboration with that artist. Their written artist statement explained the artist’s work and how the student choose to collaborate. The resulting works ranged from paintings to mixed-media and installation.

Listening to a soundtrack of poetry created in conjunction with the painting.
Students critiquing and discussing artwork.

Firenze (Florence)

We took a day trip to Florence to view masterworks at the Pitti Palace and an exhibition of paintings by contemporary German artist Neo Rausch.
there seemed to be some time travel going on…
Lots of inspiration for travel journals at the museum.
The Pitti Palace was the residence of the d’Medici family and the artwork on view was their private collection.
Of course there is always time for gelato.
We found time to visit Zecchi, one of the oldest art supply stores in Florence. No shortage of things to purchase there!
Afterwards, more drawing at he Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. Brunelleschi’s famed orphanage is in the background.

Museo di Academia dei Fisiocritici

This natural history museum in Siena is housed in a 12C monastery, dates back centuries and houses various zoology and geology collections. Travel Journal students spent a morning there observing and drawing.


Three days in Roma and much to see. The eternal city never disappoints.

At the Vatican Museum, students had time to draw in their travel journals.
We started in the afternoon, and ended after dark.
Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi at the Piazza Navonna.
Rome spans many centuries. The Via del Portico d’Ottavia just We outside of the Jewish Ghetto.

We had a wonderful tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum the next day, fortunately it was a warm sunny day.

Journaling time..
In front of the Arch of Titus, 1st century AD.
On our last day we visited the famous Cinecitta where many great Italian films and films about Italy were created. Here we are at a set for the HBO series Rome and got to see the Roman Forum intact.
Laura demoing bookmaking techniques for Travel Journal final projects.

Final Exhibition

The culmination of the term’s work was a group exhibition at the magnificent Palazzo Sergardi.

Fortunately it was a dry and sunny day, perfect for transporting large paintings.

They quickly got to work hanging the paintings.

And were thrilled to be accompanied by master pianist Antonello while they worked.
The reception was great fun and well-attended by friends of the community, both American and Italian. Staff and other students in the GEO program were duly impressed. The artists also shared their travel journals and final projects from that class, which included some lovely handmade books.
The journal entires were varied and executed in a range of media, including; micro pens, colored pencil, gouache, watercolor and collage.
Students had a chance to celebrate and chat with new friends and old.
Everyone was proud and happy!