A walk through Guardia Sanframondi

View from my apartment of the valley below Guardia Sanframondi
I spent the month of July on an artist residency in southern Italy, incorporating the local plant life into my colored pencil drawings.  Guardia Sanframondi, the residency location, is a small medieval town in the Campania region.  It is on the hillside, overlooking the valley below.  The rural setting is peaceful; the town is welcoming to foreigners and especially supportive of the arts.  Locals Clare, Carlo and Vittorio were especially kind to me and the other artists-in-residence, showing us around town and introducing us to some wonderful people and places.  Below is the entrance to the studio and around the corner, I followed these stairs to my apartment and garden.  The narrow alley opened up to a beautiful view of the valley, lined with plants both familiar and exotic.  There were usually a handful of cats lounging along the path home.
Most streets in the centro storico (historical center) are accessible only by foot, though I saw quite a few tiny cars squeeze their way down unbelievably narrow paths.  An earthquake in the 80s left a lot of the homes (along with a church) in this section of town structurally damaged.  There is quite a bit of reconstruction going on and plenty of affordable real estate being purchased and fixed by foreigners.  In fact, one of the artists-in-residence purchased a little one room house with a garden while we were there!
This is a view from the bottom of the garden, looking to the residency complex above (the stone and terra-cotta colored walls).  The apartment is the bottom two floors with the stone walls, with access to the tiered garden. The studio and a second apartment for artists is directly above on the third floor, with terra-cotta colored walls.  It was accessible from the street above, Via Filippo Maria Giudi. Homes here are laid out like labyrinths, connecting to one another and stacked into the hillside.  The garden contained three levels, filled with fig and olive trees, grape vines, passionfruit, star jasmine and flowering artichoke plants taller than me.  
 The wild artichokes in the garden were in full bloom and I used them in several of my drawings.
Many mornings, I passed this apartment with the partially painted yellow wall on my walk into town for espresso and a donut (bombolone).   
 The final night in Guardia Sanframondi was beautiful, spent with my friends and fellow artists-in-residence Crystal, Ingrid and Margaret.  We watched the sunset from Crystal's porch in the garden, had an impromptu art installation, sipped champagne and talked about our art and travels.  We experienced a lot together in one short month, and I am grateful for their friendship.  Later that night, our friends from the town joined us for a farewell party with tiramisu and tortes with homemade jam.  Grazie, tutti!  Alla prossima volta!


Artist Residency in Guardia Sanframondi, Italy

It's been one week back on American soil and I am finally adjusted to a regular schedule again. Getting home took two trips by car, one train, one bus, a mile-long walk with all my luggage from the bus stop to the airport followed by three planes...eventually I made it, safe and sound.

My month in Italy as an artist-in-residence at Terra Vivente Studios was inspiring & productive.  I chose this particular residency for the rural setting and garden access, which was a major part of my subject matter.  Guardia Sanframondi is a wonderful, small town in Southern Italy-having never spent an extended period of time in this part of the country, I was intrigued.  The town is experiencing an artistic rebirth, thanks in part to artist Clare Galloway.  Her positive, creative energy is perfectly captured by her motto, #livelikeahappyartist.  In the future, I'd love to return with Steven for a stay at her arthouse.  While on travel I met some truly incredible people from across the globe, from Scotland to England, Australia, Italy (of course) and even a few women from Texas! 

The residency fee paid for studio access and a place to live in the centro storico (historical center) of the town.  The apartment I stayed in was completely renovated, parts of it dating back 5oo years or so.  I shared a studio with French-Canadian artist Ingrid Tremblay, American artist Margaret Craig and Australian poet & filmmaker Crystal Davis.  We worked and traveled well together, sharing experiences and ideas. The studio was a light-filled space with tall glass doors that opened to a small balcony and a view of the valley below.
I had the chance to travel a bit on the weekends, and crammed in as much art history as possible in the few days spent in Venice, Rome, Pompeii and Amalfi.  Over the course of the month, I saw important works of Renaissance art and architecture, went to the Biennale in Venice, spent one of the hottest days of one of the hottest summers getting lost in Pompeii, slept overnight on a boat in Salerno, toured the 15th century Amatruda Paper Mill, drew until my fingers went numb, had my first Italian art exhibition and ate pizza like it was my job.
The internet in my medieval apartment was not working for most of the month, so I have a lot of blogging to catch up on.  I use this platform as a way to document my art, from ideas in my sketchbook to the finished image, along with important events and the things that inspire me.  My hope is that it inspires you, too!
 I'll be writing individual posts about the process for each of my drawings made abroad in July.  
They are colored pencil and graphite on 18 x 24" paper.