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Plein Air Painting in Oils with Mary Pettis
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Plein Air Painting in Oils with Mary Pettis

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Key Information:
Class Size: 5 - 15 people
Destination: Italy  
Category: Art and craft workshop
Specialty: Drawing, Painting  
Season: September - October
Courses Per Year: 5+
Course Level: All levels
Min Price: 2095 US Dollar (USD) per person
Max Price: 2295 US Dollar (USD) per person

The participants support and encourage one another as they paint from hilltops to down in the midst of the grapevines to the tiny towns nearby to the medieval city of Siena. Plenty of group critiques in the studio and sharing of visions and techniques.

It is our great fortune that the authentic festival celebrating the upcoming grape harvest - the Festa dell` Uva - will take place in the nearby village of Vagliagli during our workshop. For more details, please read the description below...

For the week, our home will be the restored monastery of San Fedele. Situated in the hills of enchanting Tuscany near Radda and Vagliagli, San Fedele offers the charm of vineyard views, olive groves, and picturesque hilltop villages, all set in the modernized comfort of a historic monastery. Painting sessions will be conducted en plein air (outdoors), but we will also have access to our own studio throughout the week.

Faculty Information:
Minnesota (USA) artist Mary Pettis is a classically trained painter whose lifetime in art is reflected in hundreds of originals, thousands of reproductions and etchings in collections in nearly every state and in several countries. Born in 1953, Mary grew up on a farm with seven siblings. At fifteen, she discovered that painting seemed a natural means by which she could express her love of a way of life that is deeply connected to the land.

While receiving BFA degrees in Art and in Humanities from the College of St. Benedict, Mary studied with Hungarian artist Bela Petheo at nearby St. John’s University. Later, she excelled in advanced courses in Modern Composition and in Abstract Art at Mankato State University, and did extensive research abroad in museums from Amsterdam to Rome. Mary’s love for the traditional style emerged in 1975 when she was accepted to a three-year full-time apprenticeship in Classical Realism at Atelier Lack in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During that period she also studied copperplate etching with C. Daniel Graves, (founder and director of the Florence Academy of the Arts – Florence, Italy). Working daily from the figure and from antique plaster casts gave her a solid foundation and disciplined approach to art that would never leave her.

Mary is the recipient of numerous national and regional awards and was recently selected by Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine to be part of the National Invitational Exhibition: “Artists for the New Century” in Bennington, Vermont. She is considered to be among the top Plein Air painters in the country and has been juried into national painting events and exhibitions from New York to Maui. In 2003, Mary was awarded the Artists` Choice Award as well as the Best in Show with the National Academy of Professional Plein Air Painters in New York City. She has since received other awards including the regional Oil Painters of America OPA Award of Excellence in Chicago, the Gardin Sawyer Memorial Award in New York City (American Artists Professional League Grand National Exhibition), and the $5000 Best of Show at the Plein Air Invitational at Wilmington, North Carolina. Also, she has been awarded the Plein Air Painters of America Marlin Linville Award in Scottsdale, Arizona., and the Irvine Museum Award of Excellence at the Maui Invitation Exhibition two years in a row, in 2006 and 2007. Through the years, Mary has been recognized as an eloquent and respected teacher and mentor, teaching workshops in Tuscany, Maui, Venice and France, as well as in her own backyard in Minnesota. She recently returned from art expeditions in China and Russia.
Her work is in many major collections, including government offices in state capitals and in Washington D.C., the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Minnesota, and the Private Quarters of the Royal Residence in Stockholm, Sweden. Her most recent honor was an invitation to exhibit at the Palais de Nations at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in October, 2009.

Other Activities:
Activities: besides painting, there will be many opportunities to discover what makes Tuscany so special. All local transportation for excursions and to/from plein air sites will be provided. Optional activities include:
Our exploration of Tuscany for the week will include some of these highlights:

* Visits to local hilltowns like Radda, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, etc.
* Optional morning hikes through the Chianti hills and fields surrounding the complex
* an excursion to the medieval city of Siena
* wine tour and tasting at a nearby Chianti winery
* short excursions to other hilltowns in the area like Radda, Castellina or Monteriggioni
Also this week:
The Festa Del Uva
This term refers to the "Feast of the Grape", quite a sacred time in the Chianti region of Tuscany. In the little village of Vagliagli near our monastery of San Fedele, they stage their biggest celebration of the year over the last weekend of September. Every year at this time the locals organize a huge fair to honor the harvest which is about to take place. They decorate the piazza with wine barrels and Chianti casks, torches and flags line the road into town and they set up long tables in the soccer field for large community dinners. Just like in a fairy tale, there are booths for games, contests, wine tasting and sampling local food. There are concerts each evening and a parade featuring each area winery with wagons towed by oxen. It is the one time of year when everyone in the town comes together to celebrate the all important grape harvest.

Part of the festivities is a painting and photography exhibit with work by local and visiting artists. On Sunday morning is a "quick draw" painting contest. People from all over the region paint together and then submit their work to be judged for prizes. All of our participants will be eligible to enter the exhibit and this contest to paint with the Tuscans.

On Saturday evening we will join the people of Vagliagli for a huge Tuscan dinner right in the center of town. This is the opportunity to taste all the products the locals make in their own homes, like salami, chestnut cakes and the extra special, Vin Santo - a dessert wine also used for dunking crescent shaped cantucci. There will be music and dancing and all the Chianti you can drink!

Facility Information:
The Tuscan Renaissance Center is the combined skills of Linda and Michael of Il Chiostro joining together with Nicolo and Renata of San Fedele to produce a unique and inspiring environment rooted in the traditional Tuscan values of beauty, great food, an appreciation for nature and the value of community. The monastery, dating back to the 12th century, was meticulously restored using traditional building methods and all original materials. Today, the monastery remains true to its original spirit, rich architectural detail. The 17 rooms and suites where participants are housed have lovely modern bathrooms, screened windows, air conditioning, period furniture, wi-fi internet service, satellite television and minibar, all designed to perfectly compliment the medieval surroundings.

The original soaring chapel is now used as a large art studio or workshop space. The monks` refectory, where a lost 16th century fresco was uncovered during renovation, is now the dining room connected to a state-of-the-art kitchen and the old stone cantinas where they stored their wine have been transformed into studio and classroom space.
The Tuscan Renaissance Center is a unique meeting of a historic landmark and exquisite modern day comfort. Accommodations are spacious shared double rooms or junior suites. Each room, because it was converted from the original structure of the monastery without altering the building, is unique in shape. Furnishings and decor were selected to coordinate with the historic, subdued feeling of the monastery, but in a comfortable, modern style. All rooms have two beds that can be separated into twins or combined into one large matrimonial. There is a sitting area, refrigerator, DSL wi-fi, television, air-conditioning, heating, modern private bathroom with shower, heated towel racks and hair dryers. There are a limited number of single rooms available at a supplement.
The back of San Fedele is surrounded by a large al fresco dining terrace with the original terra cotta tile designs reproduced down to the smallest details. The terrace overlooks the same organic vegetable and flower garden tended by the monks for centuries. Beyond are the rolling Chianti vineyards that make this part of Tuscany so breathtaking.

Other common spaces include 2 large classrooms carved into the rock of the ancient wine cellar, a large private piazza, a new 16 x 7 meter swimming pool and sprawling landscaped grounds on a rolling hillside.

Price Includes:

* Single or double room with en suite bathroom and shower
* Daily continental breakfast and 5 dinners at local restaurants, including wine
* Workshop tuition
* Guided tour of Venice
* Selected excursions with class

Price Excludes:

* Airfare
* Lunch
* Independent meals and sight-seeing
* Workshop materials.

Notes: If you are traveling alone, we can match you with a roommate.
Departure is on Saturday morning.

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