Saturday, June 1, 2013

Creating Watercolor Memories in Cinque Terre part 2

In case you are wondering why I stopped posting on the blog not  even half way through our painting trip in Cinque Terre it was due to the “Technology Gods”.  Unbeknownst to me the cord on my computer gave up the ghost as I was typing along on my wee netbook and the next thing you know I got a “Shut Down Now – low battery” warning and that was that.  Home now, I have revived the little netbook using the dc connector to my car and copied all the photos off of it to my desktop computer and ordered a new cord.  So back in business.  Now where was I…

Since we began each day with our beautifully decorated cappuccinos that is as good a place to start as any.  This one was painted by Margaret W in her journal.

Margaret W copy


May 19 and we were off to Riomaggiore.  This cute little town got its name from Rivus Maior that runs through it, tradition has it that it was founded by some Greek refugees in the 7th century.  After having been under the dominion of various feudal lords, in the 13th century it joined the other Cinque Terre villages as part of the Republic of Genoa.

This is how we travel from village to village in the Cinque Terre, on these very convenient trains.  What amazes me is the way they built this railway tunneled through the mountains and carved out of the cliffs.  Much of the time you are riding the rails in the Cinque Terre you are in tunnels.  Here is Berna, Margaret and Don in his Italy hat. 


Priscilla spotted this old worn wooden door on our way up the path to the view from the top and decided to capture it in her journal.

She wrote on the page, “5/19/13 Riomaggiore  Found this ‘who knows how old’ door.  It was another day of sun/rain and then sun again.  Who cared?  Not me!!”

Norma copy

Norma Jean seems to be drawn to signs, yesterday it was the “Fanny Bazar” and here it is this little sign pointing the way to sites further up in the village. 

All of a sudden the heavens opened and it poured down rain.  We grabbed our stuff and ran for the tables under the umbrellas in front of the restaurant where we were planning to have lunch.  Norma and Priscilla after having waited out the rain with elevenzies I think???  Norma taught us about “elevenzies” (hot tea and Amaretto) just the thing on a cold rainy morning and it improves your painting too!

my Riomaggorie painting_0372

Still crowded under the umbrellas I did this little demo painting of a door under one of the ancient stone arches.   There was absolutely no sun on the scene so I created a “Path of Light” using wet in wet washes over the ink drawing before I began to paint the scene.

I know you cannot read my writing in this small photo, so here is what I wrote on this page in my journal:  “Began in breezy sunshine, then poured down rain.  Great lunch at Dau Cila, lots of laughs.  Finished the day in sunshine, lots of really charming watercolor sketches from this class.  You can tell I am not a sailor by the looks of this boat!  Boat is dry docked – sea is that way” (arrow points to the left of the boat).

This photo was taken later in the afternoon after the sun came out and shown on the doorway above, under the stone arch.

Our group enjoying a sumptuous lunch at Dao Cila.  Here’s a photo of my lunch, the best meal of the whole trip I think, but we ate so many wonderful meals it is hard to say which was the best.

Grilled fish (cannot remember if it was swordfish or tuna), celery purée and a wonderful balsamic sauce.  The fish was so fresh Hovey thought it might wink at me.

Margaret W 9950 copy

Margaret W wanted to work on painting rocks today so she chose this view looking out to sea and I love the way she captured these rocks. 

This view shows how these very vertical houses are built on the rocks leading right out to the sea.  Must be exciting during winter storms to live just above the sea like this….

After lunch the sun came out and we had a lovely painting afternoon.  Here Hovey and Linda are painting the paintings below.


Linda’s sunny little painting captures the afternoon beautifully.

Hovey copy

Hovey is an architect which explains his beautiful rendering of the very vertical houses of Riomaggiore.  Linda began adding the color and says she will finish it when they return home.  I hope to see a photo of it attached to an email one of these days.

Berna copy

Berna’s lovely basket of lemons.  Lemons were everywhere in the shops and the restaurants as was the lemon sherbert, lemon gelato, and of course the limoncello.

We met this friendly fisherman who was nice enough to show us the little fish he caught for his cat.  Turns out he lives in the Villages, Florida which is not far from where Margaret W lives!  No wonder he spoke such good English!


Speaking of fishermen, Norma painted this cute little guy in Corneglia but I forgot to include it in that section of the blog.  Her notes say “Corniglia is the little village up in the cliffs.  This lone guy fishing, he was sitting on the rocks.  The waves splashed up on the rocks.  The red hat is for Don from Mendocino, Cal.”  (Don, Marie’s husband, loves to go fishing for salmon in Alaska.)

At the end of each day we take the train back to our home village Vernazza.  After Aperitifs at Pensione Sorriso we walked down the main street to the restaurant Patrick has chosen for us that evening.  We choose from the menu and Patrick and Angela do a great job of explaining all the wonderful choices.  I don’t think I have ever eaten seafood so fresh and prepared in so many different ways as on this trip.


Mons Ruber of the ancient Romans so named because of its reddish color rocky soil, is probably the youngest of the Cinque Terre (Five Lands) as documents can only be found dating it to around 1400 AD.  Monterosso is the largest of the five villages the only one with a modern section, with hotels, discos and cars and the only village with large sandy beaches.  This is where tour groups stay because of the modern hotels, but Patrick and I wanted our guests to experience the real Cinque Terre village life so we chose to stay at Pensione Sorriso in Vernazza.  It is a very small hotel but has enough rooms for a group our size, and Vernazza is a much better example of the culture of the Cinque Terre villages than modern Monetrossa al Mare.

We spent the day painting in the old town part of Monterosso Al Mare.

The village had used these small wheel barrows full of flowers to decorate their streets.  All had a flat tire to keep them in place, very clever.  Priscilla saw this one, and spotting a bench across the  walking street from it, she settled in to paint it. 

I snuck up on her with my camera and she was so into her painting she did not even realize I was taking her photo.  When I called her name she looked up for the next photo.  One of the best things about teaching is seeing a student with so much passion for painting that they just cannot stop.  Priscilla is one of those students and she made this trip so much fun for me, and for everyone else also.

Priscella's wheelbarrow copy

And here is her wonderful wheel barrow of flowers!  Priscilla should make this into cards, they would be popular!

Marie and Don finding a place for her to paint.

Marie_9956 copy

Marie’s really cute painting of Norma or Berna painting.  I think she started with one of them and finished with the other.

This looks like a good place to sit and paint.

Artists always attract visitors, especially children.  Berna makes friends everywhere she goes.

Berna_9943 copy

Here is the painting she was working on in the photo above.


This wonderful sketch is by Hovey, but I do not remember where it was drawn.  I much prefer writing the blog at the time for just this reason.  It is always more fresh and I get things correct more often that way, but the Technology Gods were not with me, so I do it now and try to remember.

Margaret A copy

Margaret and John met friends in Monterosso for lunch and yet she still found time to get this wonderful value sketch completed.  She will add the color when she gets time and I hope she will email me a photo of it.

I think this photo has possibilities for a painting, love the pinks and peaches and those chairs are way fun!


Waiting…Patrick and Hovey in front of the Pensione Sorriso.

Each evening we would gather for Aperitifs at 700pm and then wonder down the main street to the restaurant that Patrick had chosen that night for our dinner.

Dinners were always fun and full of laughs with this group, but the singer at Piva Tratoria added to the fun.  Priscilla knew all the words to all the songs, and several people took videos.  Unfortunately I forgot about my new iPhone and shot a video with my camera and even though I got it to download into this computer I cannot get it to open up.  Must be those Technology Gods again….



Such a cute town and so colorful.

The  main street on a morning that started out cold but then the sun came out and we got lovely sunny views of the town to paint .

Here you park your boat in front of your house, cars are not allowed in this village.

Berna_0222 copy

Patrick knew about the “secret” picnic tables that provide this amazing view for us to paint. It was so complicated I am glad we went here on our last painting day because earlier in the week it might have been too overwhelming for some of the students.

This is Berna’s lovely ink and watercolor sketch, so very cute.  She should make cards or prints of this one.


Linda loved the rock wall behind the picnic tables so she created this painting of it.  Everywhere you look there are rock walls here, some very ancient, built into hillsides to create terraces so the people can carve out some useable flat land.

Marie_9958 copy

Marie painted this one from the picnic tables spot, again so very charming.  Love the bright colors she has in this one and the way the village sits firmly on top of those rocks.  I cannot find photos of Priscilla’s and Margaret W’s paintings they did from this spot? 

I love this view from the train station platform. There is an even better angle showing more of the cliffs that I painted on my trip here in 2008.  The view is from the “Love Trail” just above the train station, but this time the trail was still closed due to damage from the massive flood of October 25, 2011.


The last day was kept as a “free day” so students could do whatever they wanted.  Berna and Margaret W went hiking above the town and took some beautiful photos from their vantage point. 

IMG_0064 copy 

Norma was still busy sketching.  She sat on the sea wall and later I saw a hilarious sketch she did of Margaret and John and Marie and Don all hiking in single file on a trail above the village.  Why did I not take a photo of that sketch I do not know!

Vernazza_0128 copy

Vernaza_0156 copy

I spent the morning taking photographs around Vernazza.  I climbed up to the fort on the top of the hill and took these shots.  The second one was shot through the hole in the tour where they must have shot their arrows or through down the boiling oil on the pirates below so many centuries ago.

Vernazza 2013 9894 copy

iPhone photo of me copy

I shot this one with my new iPhone, first time I tried the taking the shot backwards of myself thing.  I was at the top of the fort when I took the photo.

IMG_0179 copy

We all met for lunch down on the peir, note the lovely view behind us.  John and Margaret A and Berna and Margaret W.

Luca Marie Don_0203 copy

Luca (Angela’s son) with Marie and Don.

Norma's portrait and Hovey _0188 copy

Hovey holding the portrait of him by Norma, too bad it does not show up!

Don_0196 copy

And Don with his portrait by Norma, also does not show up, but it was great!

Vernazza_0200 copy

Priscella and Anglea.

The “Mayors” of Vernazza.  Everyday we would see these same guys in front of the Blue Marlin bar.  One evening I asked them “Which one of you is the Mayor of Vernazza?”  The answer “We all are!”

What I love about small towns all over the world, is they are so friendly you cannot help but make new friends when you visit them.  Berna and her admirer Juliano.

The gang is all here for our last dinner together.  Finally a warm enough night we could eat outside (although we have our jackets on).

Patrick and Angela did a fantastic job everyone loved the trip and we all want to do it again!   I miss this bunch of wonderful people and hope to see you all again perhaps on another painting trip!

My next trip with Patrick and Angela of ToscanaAmericana will be in 2014, probably to the Amalfi Coast of Italy.  Stay tuned and keep an eye on and my website for dates and details.