Plein Air Painting Holiday in Orvieto, Italy with Frances Hairfield

Course Description:

On this painting holiday, we will leave the four walls of the studio behind to immerse ourselves in the environment, sketching and painting "Plein Air" with individually tailored instruction to suit your personal goals as an artist. We will embrace Orvieto's history and culture, and absorb the landscape, with focused observation. This experience will expand your Plein Air vocabulary and celebrate your time in Orvieto. This workshop is for those who have experienced the rigors of painting on location, and are familiar with traveling with artists materials with ease and safety. For the Plein Air painter, our adventure in Orvieto, Italy will be the ultimate destination.

Frances will demonstrate each day the methods of Plein Air painting; including a variety of Orvieto's subject matter including architectural cityscape, sweeping pastoral landscapes, as well as a portrait subject while a model poses. The workshop will be complete with detailed information on all the necessary materials, and techniques based on time honored traditions handed down from Italy's master artists, whose work we will see, and who continue to inspire our personal expression of art.

Class projects:

Art is never so fully experienced as in the rich and welcoming environment of Orvieto. Not only will you be creating work that you will treasure forever, but the inspiring process of Plein Air and site specific studies drawn in your sketchbook and painted in oil on panels will remain a wellspring of creativity beyond the week spent adventuring in Italy.

  • We will draw inspiration from the opulent mosaics and sculpted facade of the Orvieto Cathedral.
  • We will follow the footsteps of Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli inside the cathedral to study the frescoed San Brisio Chapel where Michelangelo found inspiration for his frescoes in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel. 
  • We will wander the mile long town of cobble stone streets, to study and paint the historic architecture, now hearth and home to the proud and gracious descendants of Etruscan and Roman citizens.
  • We will venture off our rock into the countryside for a visit and tasting with the wine makers of Orvieto's Palazonne, and to paint or sketch while we are there... Drinking in the view at its very best!


On Day 1- Location: San Lodovico Abbey and The Duomo

Lesson plan: Acclimation and Materials

On our arrival, we will become acquainted with our hosts and home away from home the former Abbey of San Lodovico, with its courtyard, gardens, and picturesque views from every room. With sketchbook in hand at all times, making notes of the scenes you may like to paint during the week. We will begin our journey focused on materials, with a walk to visit two well sticked artists supply shops. Though you have brought with you what you need, you will find these shops are a valuable asset. In the afternoon we will tour the "Duomo", Orvieto's majestic Cathedral. Luca Signorelli's fresco completed in 1504 in the cathedral's San Brisio Chapel.


Day 2- Location: Palazzo del Gusto  

Lesson plan: The Initial Sketch and Traditional Methods

We will be walking in the footsteps of the Italian masters, embracing their views, food, wine and their methods. We begin with our sketches, then learn to "construct" your view onto the "toned" surface of your panel; training your eye on the view. The longer you look, the more you will see. You will learn to judge value and color simultaneously; keeping the moment of creation and your view alive, with the methods and materials that will stand the test of time.

4:30- meet in the courtyard for another artistic endeavor: Cooking class with Chef Lorenzo Polegri and dinner and The Zeppelin Restaurant.


Day 3- Orvieto Countryside

Lesson Plan: Depth of Field and Overhead perspective

This morning, you will be painting the view of Orvieto in the distance. We will travel out to the countryside and perch on the rolling hills to capture the iconic view of Orvieto. Then enjoy a lovely picnic lunch. In the evening we meet in the courtyard to explore the underground with a tour of an Etruscan cave. 


Day 4- Palazzo de Popollo and Palazonne Vinyard

Lesson Plan: Painting in a busy market place.

The most challenging and fun Plein Air lesson of all in painting in the market! Now that you know the ritual steps of Plein Air, how fast can you paint? I will be close at hand. Choose a view and practice your skills in this vibrant, bustling weekly market. Give your Italian language skills a try while you shop for the ingredients for our lunch in the courtyard. In the afternoon we will head to Palazonne Vinyard for a tour and wine tasting.


Day 5Palazonne Winery

Every journey of discovery has its lessons and rewards. We have learned that light and shadow wait for no one, and that color perception can take a life time to master. We have learned to plan carefully our use of time. If you choose to go our early, allow enough time for you paint to dry. Proper care in handling our materials. What have you learned and enjoyed most about Orvieto, will you sell your paintings or cherish them for the rest of you life? We will gather our sketches and paintings for a farewell show before we pack it all safely home. We will enjoy one last evening out together before traveling home tomorrow.