Please note the revised change of dates from those previously advertised.
With its gorgeous colours, unspoilt landscapes and charming architecture, Sicily is a painter’s dream. Even the most weary artist is inspired to pick up their brush and start creating afresh. Its breath-taking scenery just cries out to be painted. How many of you have watched the Montalbano films and wished that you could explore the locations first-hand and also have a chance to paint them? It is exactly these locations that we go in search of to paint and to draw.
Unlike our other tours, for this week, we will be staying in a single location – the very lovely Agriturismo Aguglia a stone’s throw from Palazzolo Acreide and not far from Noto.
The Agriturismo Aguglia:
The agriturismo is set among lush farmland and painting opportunities abound just by stepping into the garden. Strolling through the cherry orchards, or wandering the remains of a byzantine farmstead it is impossible not to be inspired for the day’s painting. The farm also produces its own, very high quality olive-oil and there are opportunities to purchase this directly from the owner.
The painting will be tutored by experienced teacher David Blackburn, a keen watercolour painter who has exhibited both in the UK and in France. The medium of the instruction will be watercolour, but participants are free to make drawings or work in pastel.
Participants will be expected to provide their own paints, brushes and paper, but we will undertake to provide drawing-boards. It might also be a good idea to bring a travel easel.
The first thing almost all artists comment on when they arrive in Sicily is the “light”. And indeed, among cinematographers, photographers and painters alike, this has been the best unkept secret for generations.
If you are an experienced painter, you will marvel at the opportunity to capture this light in your new creations.
On the other hand, if you have never painted before, this is a superb opportunity to start. And if you are feeling reticent about your results, there is no obligation to show your work at the end of it. Alternatively, if you just need a little encouragement, our tutor will be on hand to help you.
The final programme of the week is likely to be flexible, but we would hope it would go something like the following:
Arrival in Sicily and transfer to the Agriturismo Aguglia.
Welcome to the Agriturismo – settling in, discussion and outline of week. The course tutor has prepared a wide range of A4 Photographs to illustrate range of possibilities for painting, sketching and composition. Some of these could be used for painting purposes.
Introduction to watercolour painting
We begin with an introduction to watercolour painting at the Agriturismo: selecting subject, aspects of composition, choice of colours, basic watercolour techniques. After this short introduction, participants start work immediately on simple composition involving foreground, mid-ground and distance, to include visual interest involving 1. Trees and vegetation, 2. Building(s) or walls, 3. Skies
In the afternoon, participants can finish off their painting. There is also a chance to exploring the grounds of the Agriturismo (a working cherry farm), sketching own choice subject(s), and/or simply relaxing and enjoying the environment.
Sketching the ruins of a castle in Buscemi
In the morning we visit to ruins of a castle for sketching, followed by visit to the charming Baroque town of Buscemi for further sketching and selection of composition for follow up painting. In the mid-afternoon, we return to the agriturismo to compose a painting based on ‘research’ sketching at Buscemi.
In the evening our tutor will give a short 45 mins evening session on painting water and sea (including masking fluid techniques) in preparation for days 4 and 6.
Painting sea views at Marzamemi
In the morning we make an early start to visit Marzamemi to prepare our next painting or simply to sketch, if preferred. There is plenty of interesting subject matter here: bay views and the sea; boats, water reflections and backgrounds; a fine Piazza and fishermen’s cottages including either of the churches. The tutor will give you advice on techniques for tackling the painting of water and reflections.
Lunch will be taken at Marzamemi, after which we make a short visit to Vendicari Nature Reserve where there are opportunities for the sketching of foreground vegetation, lagoons and distant hills. Follow up advice will be available back at base.
Ragusa Ibla and further techniques in composition
Day visit to Ragusa Ibla including picnic lunch. In Ragusa Ibla there are several excellent possibilities for sketching and composition. Some ideas here might be: Rooftops from a great viewpoint to south of Piazza del Duomo towards San Giuseppe; Giardino Ibleo – lovely trees shading redundant churches beyond make for nice composition; several other possibilities or just smaller details. A super place to spend four hours, even if only walking, exploring and relaxing. Follow-up sketching or painting, with advice available back at base.
Ortigia and Siracusa
Full Day visit to Ortigia (Siracusa) for exploring, photographing, sketching and painting, with a terrific range of possibilities:
- Superb Fish Stalls at the market
- Temple of Apollo ruins and palm trees
- West side of Ortigia looking towards Maniace Castle, or looking north towards the Grand Harbour
- East side of Ortigia looking to the modern city
- Rocks, waves and sea
- Tiny St John the Baptist Square
- Baroque balconies and numerous other details
- even Piazza Duomo for the brave!
- Ducks in Fonte Aretusa
Choose one of the above to prepare a composition and paint. The tutor will be available on site for help and advice where required and also afterwards, back at base.
Optional trip to Noto
In the morning, we will organise an option trip to Noto. In the afternoon, we will continue with our Ortigia painting and any other finishing off.
In the early evening there will be an ‘exhibition of paintings and sketches’ with light-hearted evaluation and critique.
Conclusion and departure
For the non-painting partners, we are happy to organise trips to Pantalica and possibly (if particularly requested) Siracusa.
Non-painting partners are welcome – and on the days when the painters are finishing off, we will lay on excursions for any non-painting partners.
The group size will be a maximum of twelve.
About our tutor:
Born in Manchester, David Blackburn is a History graduate who taught in the independent sector for thirty-six years, twenty of them as a headmaster. For many years, as a member of the national executive of the Independent Schools Association (ISA), he chaired the Arts Committee and, amongst other things, organised exhibitions of children’s art. He and his wife, Maggie, are domiciled in Cheshire but, since retirement in 2008, spend almost half the year at their house in South-West France within sight of the high Pyrenees, taking advantage of the many opportunities for mountain walking and painting. David enjoys painting a wide variety of subjects but especially the varied landscapes of the Gers and Hautes Pyrenees, primarily in watercolour, but occasionally using other media such as water-based oils and acrylics. Currently he organises and exhibits in the annual July/August Exposition des Artistes Anglais at the Espace St Michel in Condom in the northern Gers. He also exhibits at other Art Festivals in La Romieu and Sainte Marie de Campan.