Color, Space & Light

Painting the Italian Landscape

June 24th – July 8th, 2019

00CivitaCastellana009.jpgAntrese Wood, View of Civita Castellana, 2017, oil on linen


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Join me this summer at JSS in Civita for two weeks of exploring the color, space and light of the Roman Campagna in the town of Civita Castellana, just north of Rome.

The first week will be heavy on the instruction. In week two, you’ll put into practice what you have learned. The best way to become a better painter is to paint more. You’ll get lots of time for that along with frequent critiques before you head out to paint again.

This course has been designed for students at all levels. It is a hands on painting experience which includes demonstrations, guided exercises, and plenty of time to paint on your own.

 What you will learn-

The emphasis will be on observational painting with oils. 

  • Mixing Colors: Understanding color, how it reacts to surrounding hues and how to mix the right one is a critical painting skill. You’ll learn the right questions to ask yourself so that you can accurately depict the colors of the Italian landscape – including the infinite greens!
  • Light and Atmosphere: As you wander through the cobblestone streets of Civita, and look out over the countryside, you’ll notice a distinctive quality to the light. We’ll talk about how to capture that light and depict the effects of atmospheric perspective on your canvas. 
  • Palette Organization: Spend less time floundering around your palette by setting up your palette efficiently. This is especially important when you’re painting plein air. The light won’t wait for you.
  • Design and Composition: How you arrange an image, the shapes you choose to emphasize, what you decide to include or remove – these are the decisions that strengthen or weaken a painting. These choices are also what make your work uniquely yours. When artists ask how do I find my voice? It starts here.
  • Gain Confidence in Observational Painting: The best way to build your confidence is with dedicated practice. You’ll get plenty of it along with direct feedback in our critiques. I won’t sugar coat the feedback, but at the same time, I know what it’s like to try your best and still not “get it right.” You’ll learn how to deal with it if/when that happens.

Critiques –

During the first week, we will work together in the mornings and then you’ll have the afternoon to paint on your own. At the end of the morning session, we will have formal critiques.

During the second week, you’ll have both mornings and afternoons to paint. You can explore the many landscape and architectural motifs in and around Civita Castellana or use the “classroom” for interiors or still life painting. 

That second week, I will have a set time (late morning) when I am in the “classroom” giving informal critiques. These are first come, first served style – all are welcome to participate or listen in. That way, you have the flexibility to skip a critique if you are out painting and on a roll – AND you have the security knowing you can still get feedback the following day.

A Typical Day:


You’ll start your day with breakfast at the Relais Hotel or a local cafe, maybe even indulge in a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant. Then we’ll meet at 8 AM for a demonstration or a critique. 

Week one will include plenty of instruction – we will be working on strengthening your design, composition, and color skills through demonstration and directed painting exercises. Week two will be mostly painting and critiques.

At noon, we’ll break for lunch, when you can explore the local restaurants (all within walking distance) and get to know the other artists in our group. 

“When in Rome…” Summers in Civita may get hot. After lunch, you’d be wise to follow local tradition and take a siesta. 

AFTERNOON – SOLO TIME: At about 4PM you’ll hit the streets of Civita to find your afternoon painting spot. You’ll practice new skills on your own while you paint Monte Sorrate, or the ancient architecture along the promenade. 

Summer days are long, even after a rejuvenating siesta, you still have 4-5 hours of daylight before dinner with new friends and a glass of sparkling prosecco.

We will meet on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Thursdays are reserved for JSS excursions and weekends are yours to explore. Students are encouraged to work independently or visit nearby towns when class is not in session. Take a quick train ride to see the Caravaggios in Rome, browse the farmer’s market in Civita, or head out to the surrounding countryside.

You are welcome to attend any of the JSS lectures with Israel Hershberg, Yael Scalia, or the guest artists.

On Monday nights there is a JSS in Civita sponsored communal dinner – you are welcome & encouraged to join the other painters from all the groups each Monday. You can count on excellent food and company.

How is this different from typical plein air or artist workshops?

Most artist workshops are pretty short. They’re typically 4 to 5 days which means the instructor has to cram in a LOT of information in a short time frame. That leaves you little time to really practice and get feedback.

During your two week course, you’ll get lots of time to paint in and around Civita Castellana: afternoons and weekends are for independent painting, then get feedback during the late morning critique sessions.

 Is this right for me?

Summers with JSS in Civita are an experience like no other, and this workshop is designed to take FULL advantage of all this experience has to offer. You will have plenty of time to practice your painting independently after a morning of instruction.

What good is it to be at the birthplace of landscape painting if you’re tethered to a classroom? That’s why we have two weeks in Civita, so that you get guided instruction AND plenty of time for your own painting. 

If you’ve come to Civita to grow your skills and get lots of painting done, this course is perfect for you! But if you’re not comfortable practising your skills on your own for the afternoons, or you are looking for 8 hours a day of lectures and demonstration, this might not be the best fit for you.

The emphasis will be on observational painting with oils. You’re welcome to use other medias but if you’re looking for technical instruction on how to paint in watercolor, or other media, you’d be better off finding a course that is specifically for that.

Important information:

Feel free to contact me with questions at

Click here to download materials list

Click here to apply

Tuition & Fees for 2 week Workshop

From Antrese Wood’s Savvy Painter Podcast: