I am an ardent fan of the author Sarah Dunant. Her books, invariably set in Italy, are always intelligent and enjoyable. Her interest in Italian Art History is a real draw and being both a writer and painter I knew that a trip to Italy to paint was always going to be on the cards one day.
Not that I hadn’t spent plenty of time looking at art in this incredibly blessed country. Just consider the names Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli and Titian as starters. However you don’t have to concentrate wholly on the past as there are plenty of art galleries which focus on avant-gardist artists. In fact whichever major city you choose from Milan, Rome, Venice or Florence you will come across galleries which promote emerging Italian artists. Cardi Black Box, for example is a favourite in Milan or Galleria Salvatore & Caroline Ala.Both are places I peruse longingly on a fairly regular basis.
However, if I were truly honest, mixing art appreciation and time travel would be my ideal in terms of an art holiday. But I eventually decided that perhaps if I took some painting lessons I may be able to transport myself by becoming in tune with the landscape and imbibing a little Italian inspiration. Some time spent in Venice or in the Tuscan hills may well sharpen my observations and deliver more than any gallery trip might offer. After all if Italy has such a well-defined sense of style and artistry surely something might rub off on me?
Finding a way to transform myself from art appreciator to artists is a little daunting. Yet I did discover the handy development of art holidays for single travellers; apparently these have been a relatively recent phenomenon. In many ways they are the ideal combination for the enthusiast. Travelling solo doesn’t mean you are necessarily footloose and fancy free in case you are worried. Let’s face it, sometimes a little time spent apart in a relationship can make the reunion so much sweeter. After all, there are always so many new experiences and ideas to share. Spending time away doing something you love is good for mind, body and spirit.
Travelling alone doesn’t have to be of the 'tourist guide' variety everywhere.
You can certainly explore yourself in the right environment and if solo travelling has never been something you have undertaken a themed holiday where like-minded people meet can be a brilliant start. This year is an art holiday to appease my inner Leonardo. Maybe next year a jungle trek through Borneo or wrestling with Anacondas in the Brazilian rainforest. I did say maybe as my proviso!
But for now painting in Italy is all I could manage. But it taught me more about painting in one sense than staring balefully at the Great Masters of Italian art in the Palazzo Ducale or the Ca’Pesaro then feeling completely overawed.
Learning to paint, or developing skills with an empathic and knowledgeable tutor actually gives you something far more. Art appreciation becomes something quite different. Wrestling with the specific considerations of a Tuscan hillside has taught me much. I looked closely at the undulating environment. I noticed the way Italian skies changed as the day progressed and the light changed. Whether I would ever want anyone to see what I had committed to paper is quite another matter.
Yes, I did go to see famous artworks afterwards. But I observed them with the eye of a painter. I was interested to see how paint had been applied, how texture and drawing skills were evident. I was no longer a passive viewer. My art holiday for singles had allowed me to grow and develop in a number of ways. I didn’t have to apologise for my passion once, or put my needs aside to follow someone else’s desire and this was so liberating
Travelling solo is highly recommended and taking an art holiday for singles in Italy is always inspirational and undertaking a painting holiday or an artistic break is something that if you haven’t tried I would say, ‘don’t wait!’ After all Italian passion and culture are legendary.