Drawing and painting 101

by Andrew Stein

I want to be able to draw and paint better than at my current 10-year-old level.  Alas, I have decided to do something about this during this trip to Italy.  I spend some time in the Marche region near the small hillside town of Camerino learning just that.  There are four students including myself trying to improve our artistic abilities.  Our lessons are taught by Caroline and they are interrupted at mealtimes by her husband, Andrea’s excellent multi-course culinary concoctions.  Lunches are completed with delicious cheese plates and a cup of espresso or two, and dinners are wrapped up with a smattering of Italian digestives.  The whole group quickly learns that if offered food or snack, I will rarely, if ever, say no.  I think that their large dog, Spike, is happy to see me go because he will again be receiving better leftovers.

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Their home is located in the true countryside, complete with the strenuous dirt road to get there and the evening appearances of new bugs and critters.  They have a dog, cats, and a chicken, which is not fulfilling its egg laying duties very regularly.  Their two daughters go to school in the nearby town, and there is a very convenient school bus that comes to pick them up and drop them off each day.

Throughout our time, we experiment with several media including sketching with both water-soluble and permanent pens, capturing landscapes with watercolors, and figuring out some painting techniques using acrylics.  My education includes drawing with proper perspective, creating depth through adding shadows, and figuring out a little color theory.  That said, the biggest lesson I learn is that I need to let go and just draw.  I find that the hardest line is always the first one because I am never sure where to start.  Many times, the best thing to do when drawing or painting is to just start.  We paint things around the home as well as go on field trips into the nearby towns to sketch new things and to enjoy some coffee and gelato.  Wherever we go and whatever we are doing, the conversation in the group never lacks.  We joke, we help each other with our painting, and we more generally just share good stories.

I now have grand plans to continue drawing and painting when I return home.  I collected the names of art supply brands and look forward to experimenting more with these art media.  I hope that I continue, but I also fully realize that dedicating vacation time to it and trying to do it after work or on weekends are different animals, but I optimistically plan to at least do some occasionally back in Boston.

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