For details of forthcoming courses please contact me
WATERCOLOUR COURSE, TUSCANY, APRIL 2006,
Situated some 30 miles north of Pisa in the southern foothills of the Apuan Hills between Camaiore and Lucca, Peralta is an idyllic hillside hamlet, a short drive inland from the western coast of Tuscany. There are no cars or through traffic in the village, and it is reached by a twisting mountain road from Camaiore through Pieve di Camaiore to Agliano, where there is a rough terrain car park area. From the car park a narrow path follows the old mule track round the hillside into the hamlet of Peralta.
Here you will find a collection of old stone houses, originally constructed in the 14th century, which have been carefully restored by the late Fiore de Henriquez. Fiore was an internationally reknowned portrait sculptor who’s dream it was for Peralta to become a haven for artists. This is your chance to become part of that dream.
Fiore spent much of her time in her studio in London but lived in Peralta when her work was being cast at the local foundries in the nearby town of Pietrasanta. Plaster casts and bronzes of her work are placed at strategic points throughout Peralta and are a testament to the passion and energy of a very special person.
Peralta is now managed by Dinah Voisin, who knew Fiore for many years. Dinah organises and plans the accommodation for the courses, with the able administrative assistance of Kate. Not forgetting the brilliant Tuscan cooking of Laura, and help from travelling students who do everything from taking the luggage up from the car park to picking the olives and taking them to the press.
It is an artist’s paradise.
The course is based in two houses, Casa Nuova and Casa Luigi. Casa Luigi has two double rooms with separate bathrooms and two twin rooms with shared shower. There is also a shared kitchen, dining area and sitting area and an outside terrace and pergola. There are other appartments if we need more accomodation.
The rooms are simply furnished in rustic style completely in keeping with the buildings but are all fitted with modern plumbing. The rooms are decorated with original art work much by Fiore herself.
Catering is run by the incredible Laura Bianchini whose family have lived locally all their lives and have also carried out much of the building work at Peralta. Laura’s Tuscan cooking is renowned and we all dreamed about her yellow peppers in oil, the fennel with herbs and the bright red tomatoes in basil. You will often find her wandering about the gardens picking a pinch of this or that to add to her soups and dishes and there are rumours that Laura’s cook book is in the making. In a word there is that warm Italian extended family way of embracing humanity about Peralta.
A light breakfast is served in the dining room and 2 course lunches and 3 course dinners are normally outside under the wisteria covered pergola. Wine at meals is all included. On days out panini lunches are provided unless a meal out is planned.
Casa Nuova is a large living space with just one bedroom where the art tutor lives. The downstairs space consists of kitchen, dining and sitting areas including an outside terrace which provide a separate area for course members to be together, separate from other guests.
The course is designed for those with some experience of watercolour painting and we will be taking advantage of the weather to work ‘al fresco’. i.e. painting outside in the landscape. Peralta has many pretty corners and angles for painting from nature with the opportunity of combining architectural shapes, light and shadow and natural forms of trees and plants in your work.
Classes commence each day at 10am. And we will work until lunch at 1pm. After lunch we normally take a coffee in Casa Nuova and talk about our mornings work before resuming our painting outside between 3pm and 7pm. Dinner is then served at 8pm.
Everyone is provided with a set of art notes and we will follow these as an outline to include:
It should be stressed that this is not an academic course but is highly practically based and you are expected to work in a focused way with guidance from the tutor in situ at your selected painting locations.
You do not have to have a wide experience of painting in watercolour and the course will cover some of the practical aspects of dealing with materials which will be demonstrated throughout the week. The course is designed to free those who may be ‘blocked’ in their work and for those who feel they need time to work exclusively at their painting for the luxury of a week undisturbed by the complexities, interruptions and noise of modern life.
During the week we may take a short walk across the hill tracks (for lunch) to the neighbouring village of Tortigliano, an outing on the local bus from Camaiore to Lucca and possibly a trip to the local town of Pietrasanta to sketch.
Cost - 2006 costs
Peralta is a rustic village location with many stone steps and paths interconnecting the living spaces, terraces and the swimming pool area. Care needs to be taken on uneven steps and sensible non slip soled shoes are recommended. Trainer type shoes, light walking boots or more serious walking boots are necessary according to the degree of mountain walking for those wishing to walk the hill walks.
Partners are welcome in particular if they like walking which is abundant in the surrounding hills, or if they just want some peace and quiet to read. There is a swimming pool and no television and just the sound of the gentle breeze running through the olive trees up the valley.
Peralta is a country (rustic) location and relatively informal. The weather can sometimes be uncertain in the hills, depending on the time of year, so it may be wise to bring a shower proof jacket and a jumper for evenings.
Tempted! I hope so and look forward to seeing you there!
You can view more details about Peralta on www.peraltatuscany.com and if you are interested please get in touch with me on 01787 277 207.