Wine, Women, and Watercolors - Painting in Italy - Part 1

Wine, Women, and Watercolors – Painting in Italy – Part 1

Ciao Bella! If you follow my friend la Principessa Carolyne Roehm , you may know that we and a gaggle of gals have spent the last week in Porto Ercole watercoloring… Between the eating, drinking, and cackling, we did manage a watercolor or two, and it was molto fun-o… Who says I can’t speak Italian.

Ciao Bella! If you follow my friend la Principessa Carolyne Roehm , you may know that we and a gaggle of gals have spent the last week in Porto Ercole watercoloring with Mita Corsini Bland, herself a watercolorist molto di talento. Between the eating, drinking, and cackling, we did manage a watercolor or two, and it was molto fun-o.

Who says I can’t speak Italian.

View of Porto Ercole, Italy
View of Porto Ercole, Italy, from my room at the Don Pedro Hotel. Not fancy but fine for us. Up the road is Il Pelicano, very fancy.

I will skip the New York part about forgetting my suitcase and having to double clear back to 61st and 5th from 57th and 1st during rush hour on the way to JFK. It was like if you were in Atlanta and said woops I left my pocketbook in St. Louis and having to go back to get it.  Principessa was a very good sport about this. I believe I would have strangled me.

One look at this beautiful place, and the dolce vita it promises, and all is forgotten.

Porto Ercole
Porto Ercole

The drive from the Rome airport is a bit under two hours. We were hosted for drinks by Mita’s sister Daisy, who has a charming townhouse in the old part of Porto Ercole, on the Piazza Santa Barbara.

Daisy's house in Porto Ercole
Daisy's house in Porto Ercole

Nearby was this charmingly festooned facade. You can buy these terra cotta decorations in the local market. I didn’t but I wanted to.

Terra Cotta decoration on a house in Porto Ercole
Terra Cotta decoration on a house in Porto Ercole

Mita’s is a recently renovated farmhouse on her family’s property, and it is perfect. Her husband, New York antiques dealer Gerald Bland, and their children, cousins, and friends spend many happy days here in summer. We were soooo lucky for her to share it with us for six days.

Mita Corsini Bland - Farmhouse in Porto Ercole
Mita's restored farmhouse on her family's property in Porto Ercole. Above the bricked-in window is the Corsini family coat of arms. In the doorway, a fellow painter gathers her supplies.

If you did not see the house in this May/June issue of Veranda, do see it. To die.

Mita and Gerald Bland Farmhouse in Tuscany
Mita and Gerald Bland Farmhouse in Tuscany
Mita and Gerald Bland Farmhouse in Tuscany
Mita and Gerald Bland Farmhouse in Tuscany

Heather Clawson did an excellent post on the Blands and the house in her much admired Habitually Chic here. (Btw yours truly had a piece in the same Veranda issue, on a Thomas Pheasant project, posted in Quintessence here.)

Lunches were relished beneath a wisteria-covered pergola.

Mita and Gerald Bland Farmhouse in Tuscany - Pergola
Lunch under the pergola, and it's artichoke season. Yum.

The wisteria must be as old as the Buddha. Look at the size of its branches.

Mita and Gerald Bland Farmhouse in Tuscany - Pergola
Mita and Gerald Bland Farmhouse in Tuscany - Pergola

Oh, right, the painting. Well the weather was a challenge on occasion, at first moving us indoors for an exercise in value–that is, working out the lights and darks. We sketched, then painted. Our teacher was the unflappable and extremely talented Patricia (“Tish”) Seligman, from London.

Tish Seligman leads watercolor workshop in Tuscany
Tish Seligman leads watercolor workshop in Tuscany. From left, barely there, is Judy Bernadete, Linda Dabney, Louisa Blodgett, Tish Seligman, Mita Bland, Adrienne Vittadini, and seated is Sarah H----Jones(?)

My sketch:

Ostrich eggs in a basket by Frances Schultz
Ostrich eggs in a basket by Frances Schultz

Carolyne’s painting:

Ostrich eggs in a basket by Carolyne Roehm
Ostrich eggs in a basket by Carolyne Roehm. (Photographed outside in dappled light, hence the "bubbles." Scusi...)

 

Ostrich eggs by Mita Bland
Ostrich eggs by Mita Corsini Bland

It is so interesting to see how different people portray the same subject. That’s half the fun of a workshop. May I add that although several of us were adept at drawing or painting in other mediums, none of us except Mita was an experienced watercolorist. But wow, look at what they came up with:

Weazy Blodgett's dovecote
Weazy Blodgett's dovecote
Dovecote by Carolyne Roehm
Dovecote by Carolyne Roehm
Adrienne Vittadini's dovecote
Adrienne Vittadini's dovecote
Tuscan dovecote by Frances Schultz
Dovecote by Frances Schultz

See what I mean.

Stand by for Part 2… After that Principessa and I are meeting our beloved bon-bons in Paris and are off on another bike trip… Magnifico.

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