A Perfect Storm

Lake Como, Italy

Friday 19th April

A week of art making, sightseeing and eating had just ended and all art material and cooking utensils had been packed away. I thanked signora Graziella for the hospitality and the use of the parish hall and got into the car as the first raindrops hit the pavement. I reached the village of Menaggio just in time because from that moment on and all throughout the night, thunders shook the earth and lightings illuminated the lake staging a dramatic display. A perfect storm was the fitting finale for a great week.

A string of sunny and warm days had allowed for a smooth running of the course. The group of participants had been outdoors sketching and photographing, walking along the lake’s shores, trekking up the side of the mountains visiting sanctuaries (Madonna della Pace in Nobiallo and Madonna del Soccorso, a UNESCO site in Ossuccio) and crossing the lake to visit villages (Varenna) and villas (Villa del Balbianello).

“Explore, express and expand” I urged the group on the first day. “Observe Nature in all her manifestations, the architecture and the light. Take in sounds, particularly the spoken language as it changes from the formality of Italian to the immediacy of the dialect. Note the difference in expressions and gestures of feelings and emotions. Smell the air on the lake, the pungent perfume of the freshly mowed herbs and of the food being cooked in the kitchen below the hall, its aroma drifting in through the open windows. Transform your observations through your own individual language and express them on paper choosing whatever medium feels right to you.”

By the end of the week they all did it, in their own unique and perfect way, sometimes effortlessly, sometimes struggling with their expectations or new techniques, all the while sustained by a regular supply of strongly expressed espresso coffee.

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