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Archive for August, 2009

We are so fortunate to have an exceptionally talented group of teachers leading the  creative workshops on our Adventures in Italy trips. Not surprisingly, a group this talented has found that they can share their inspiration and skills not only through teaching but through writing. Many have blogs and many are also authors of books. I did an informal count and found that those teaching  for us have written nearly two dozen books! This includes my good wife who has written two!

Cover of Tracie's book

Cover of Tracie's book

Tracie Lyn Huskamp has just published her first book. It is an absolute treasure of helpful techniques, inspired artwork, and great photography. She has given us a copy of the book – Nature Inspired: Mixed Media Techniques for Gathering, Sketching, Painting, Journaling, and Assemblage – to give away. In order to win the book, respond to this blog entry with a comment and your e-mail address. We will draw a name randomly to select the winner.

We will take comments until September 15. We will draw and announce the winner on September 16 on this blog.

Tracie is going to be leading a workshop with her mother-in-law Marylin

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Huskamp for us in Orvieto September 12 – 18, 2010. They will be  creating art pages, transferring photos taken in and around Orvieto into hand painted images on canvas. And you don’t even have to know how to draw!

You will see from the table of contents in the book all the fun things you can learn from it. The book has wonderful photography in which you can see the unbelievable talent Tracie possesses. What is so exciting for us is that she and Marylin will be bringing their talent to Orvieto to lead their workshop. Marry their skills with the inspiration that is Italy and our sweet Orvieto and you have an amazing week.

Send us a comment so you have a chance at the book. And join us for their class next September. You will be glad you did!

Detail

Detail

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I was walking this morning in our suburban neighborhood and thought I heard the sound of a dish clanking. It took me instantly to Orvieto. There, on the streets around meal times, you hear dishes clanking all the time. Whether you are passing by a restaurant or off the beaten track where people are in their homes preparing or enjoying a meal, you hear the clanks.

Enjoying Dinner Together

Enjoying Dinner Together

I’d never really thought about it but it is a very comforting sound somehow. I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe it is because we come together as people so often around food. And we come together around food for friendly reasons. Maybe it is because we simply enjoy food and the nourishment it gives us and the clanking means we are meeting a basic need to feed ourselves. Maybe its because it conjures up visions of happy interaction with others.

The thing is, when we are in Italy on our Adventures in Italy trips, we are always on the streets at dinner time, sometimes at lunch time and we hear these sounds. The small streets, the proximity of everything (unlike our spread out suburbia) means that we hear these sounds at least once every day. It is comforting. Yet, I had never realized its comfort until I heard the novelty of it in my neighborhood. Usually what one hears in an American town are lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed whackers, cars – mechanical sounds not human ones.

Yet another reason why we so enjoy our time in Orvieto – sounds of people engaged in the business of life with each other.

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Iffley Lock, Oxford

Iffley Lock, Oxford

We so enjoyed being in Oxford last month. With three successive summers there, we have become big fans. We particularly like the neighborhood we have ended up staying in. It is so real and connected to everyday life. We love the amazing variety of restaurants, where we can get just about every kind of food there is on the planet. Wonderfully,  Kristi has been invited back next year for a fourth visit.

One night, eating Nepalese food, we talked about our love of Oxford and

Dinner in Oxford

Dinner in Oxford

England and our love of Orvieto and Italy. There are many similarities, most of which spring from how we choose to travel. We look for the local place, insights into the way of life in a different culture, rubbing shoulders with natives as much as possible.

Kristi recognized one difference, and it may be partly a function of the two cities’ sizes. We have visited a couple of pubs regularly, and, over the course of our three years, the same restaurant three or more times in Oxford. The same is true in Orvieto,

Thatched roof, Iffley, England

Thatched roof, Iffley, England

same coffee houses, same wine bars, same restaurants over the seven years there. The difference is that Orvieto’s places are all owner operated, while those in Oxford have employees who change from year to year and night to night. Oxford’s places appeal because of atmosphere and quality of offering which goes to the owner’s vision for their place. So there is a continuity and quality drawing us back over and over.

In Orvieto these same owner-inspired qualities are present. We also are able to enjoy the personal relationships we have at our favorite places. We are welcomed back by the owner with a kiss on each cheek and the resumption of long standing friendships. We have even gotten into the habit of meeting some of our proprietor friends for coffee in the morning in Orvieto for the several weeks we are there.

An outcome of our conversation and observation is recognizing once again one of the benefits of travel: It helps us realize things we may know, but haven’t put our finger on or articulated clearly. It’s one reason we travel. It is one reason we do our Adventures in Italy trips – it provides the same revelations to those who travel with us. Kristi and I think it this is one fun part of travel. It makes life just a little more meaningful and enjoyable. Cheers and ciao!

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AlteredPhotoDJ Pettitt is an Oregon artist who does the most beautiful work. She has a diverse art background, but recently she has been working to alter photographs in unbelievable ways. I like to take photographs. I wish I could paint or draw. She manages to take pictures and then make them look like paintings. Really cool!

AlteredPhoto3WebSo I am excited to have her joining us in the spring of 2011 to lead a workshop entitled A Personal Portrait of Italy. And that’s exactly what it will be. You will get out in the streets under DJ’s personal guidance to take pictures. As we talked about the trip she quizzed us about the kinds of places to get pictures. Of course the variety of options is amazing, and just walking around the city provides shots of the countryside, urbanity, people, all manner of things. We are going to visit a cemetery “off the rock” so people can get

The cemetery

The cemetery

pictures of the statuary there. Kristi and I have been there and it is wonderful, but we have never visited with a group. There are great views back to the city perched as it is on its plug of tufa rock. We’ll combine this outing with a visit to Palazzone, our most favorite vineyard. It too has views back to Orvieto, which we can enjoy with one of his fresh Orvieto wines.

But I digress. DJ will work with you to alter your photos creating images like the ones you see here. And then she is going to help you make a hand bound journal which will contain all the images you have collected and altered over the week. She does these images on all kinds of things like vinyl. So this is going to be a fun week and you will end up with a truly fabulous journal recording it.

I don’t know, I may have to take part in this one. I have a lot of pictures I could alter!

AlteredPhoto2

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Travel’s Allure

Quiet Morning in Orvieto

Quiet Morning in Orvieto

I’ve quoted Melody Beattie before and her “Journey to the Heart.” She says something interesting about travel:

“Trips are important. They give us a chance to get away, see someplace new, rest, and refresh our spirits. Trips often synchronize with growth and change in our lives. They celebrate what we’ve been through or what we’re going through. A trip can correlate with a new leg on our journey in spiritual growth. Often, when we feel the urge to travel, it’s connected to a deeper urge, the urge to get somewhere new on our path.”

I’m sure this is true for some of the people who travel with us on our Adventures in Italy trips. They may not know it, which is ok, and for some it does not have this deeper meaning.

Still, for those for which the trip does connect to a deeper urge, our trips

Morning View from our B&B

Morning View from our B&B

reward. Italy is a place where all your senses are engaged. You just can’t avoid it. It is rich in so many ways. Italians bring art to just about everything they do. Art springs from the soul. Orvieto is a wonderful city in which to connect to deeper urges. It is manageable in size. It’s medieval streets are intimate and cozy. It is rich in detail that engages the eye. It has great food and is author of its very own type of wine – Orvieto Classico. It has a long history dating to the Etruscans in 800 BC. The convent B&B where we stay is peaceful, calm, spacious so you can spread out, get views out over the country side, reflect.

So there is much in Italy and Orvieto that connects on a deeper level. You will enjoy all these things whether it springs from something deep or not. It is just a great place to spend a week.

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