Behind the scenes of a Reedart Painting Holiday in Italy

Having stayed at the Villa Capanne in 2014 and fallen in love with the refined rusticity of their accommodation, Alan, Susan and their guests were certainly in for a treat in 2015 when they returned to Umbria for a second Reedart Italian Painting Holiday, this time in the newly-renovated Chiesa Del Carmine: a stunning, no-expense-spared ancient church and adjoining farmhouse nestled deep in the heart of a picturesque valley. Far enough from civilisation to sit and enjoy the silence of the unspoilt Italian countryside, but close enough to the spectacular Robert Trent Jones Championship golf course at the Antognolla Golf Estate and nearby hilltop towns, Chiesa Del Carmine was the perfect spot for Reedart Holidays to settle into.

Chiesa Del Carmine
Chiesa Del Carmine

Borgo San Jacopo 2

There were trips aplenty on this Reedart Italian Painting Holiday too – stopping off to sketch at Todi, enjoying lunch alfresco in Gubbio and browsing the market at Umbertide and buying cheese, ham and souvenirs to take home. As always, there was a good mix of guests who were here to paint – from beginners and hobby painters – to the more advanced and those who were simply here to eat, drink and explore some of Italy’s hidden gems thanks to Alan and Susan’s unrivalled knowledge of the area.

 

 

A painting of Leon playing the piano for guests at Chiesa Del Carmine
A painting of Leon playing the piano for guests at Chiesa Del Carmine

The group had the added bonus of fellow guest Leon’s piano playing skills this year, who often took himself over to the baby grand piano in the lounge in the evening. It was a magical moment which made the holiday even more memorable for those who had come along to paint, and those who had not.

This particular trip was a memorable one for two guests in particular – with Arthur’s special birthday approaching, his wife Diana commissioned Alan to paint a portrait of her husband. It was to be a surprise so she asked Alan if he could work from photographs. He could, but if possible it would be better try and do a sketch of him and take his own photographs. So Alan devised a cunning plan. On the last evening of the holiday, he began to sketch various guests after dinner as they were all relaxing in the living room of Chiesa Del Carmine. Eventually it was Arthur’s turn and he willingly obliged to sit without suspecting that Alan’s humble charcoal sketch would develop into a 20″ x 16″ portrait in oils!

Arthur's birthday Portrait by Alan Reed
Arthur’s birthday Portrait by Alan Reed

Arthur was delighted with the result….

I am the ever so proud and thrilled owner of the most marvellous portrait of me. Unusually for me, I was struck dumb, and did not know what to say. Now a little recovered, I can tell you directly how thrilled I am. I think it captures the very essence of me. Just perfect. Thank you so much for taking so much effort to capture the very being of me. I am thrilled. We both enjoyed both our original Easter visit to your home, and our wonderful week with you in the summer, and hence we are both equally looking forward to next year. You cannot imagine how happy you have made my celebration week, for my larger birthday number than I really like to think about”

A sketchbook watercolour of Gubbio by Alan Reed
A sketchbook watercolour of Gubbio by Alan Reed

For those who would be painting, the owner of Chiesa Del Carmine light-heartedly offered €250 to the best painting of the villa and left it up to Alan to judge the worthy winner at the end of the trip. Thanks to Alan’s expert guidance and tuition over the past seven days, the guests’ painting skills had undeniably come on leaps and bounds and so the eventual winner proved to be a difficult choice for Alan. The winner was John Chapman, whose painting of Chiesa Del Carmine hangs proudly in the venue today.

Seven fun, inspiring, adventure-filled days exploring Italy, roaming from sea to city to countryside and sampling some of the finest food and drink left the guests of Reedart Italian Painting Holidays heading home feeling fantastic. Many were struck by how incredible value for money the holiday was – food, drink, travel and accommodation was all included in one price for the entire week. They had journeyed to some unforgettable places, enjoyed some magical moments and really bonded with their hosts – so much so that when Alan and Susan mentioned they were heading to Florence for a couple of nights before flying home all of their guests who flew out with them from Newcastle asked if they could come too!

Susan scoured the internet for suitable accommodation, found apartments for everyone in a convenient spot near Ponte Vecchio as well as places for them all to eat and drink together. It was a perfectly unexpected ending to a perfect trip. Due to their popularity, Reedart Italian Painting Holidays became a fully-fledged arm of their 31 year old family business.

A sketchbook watercolour of Florence by Alan
A sketchbook watercolour of Florence by Alan

The couple returned to the area in October 2015 to look for new places they could take their guests – not least because some of them would soon be joining them for the third year running! A truly organic business venture that is driven by a love and passion for Italy and a long-lasting relationship with Chrissie and David who own Casa San Gabriel and run the estate, it’s little surprise the first of two holidays in 2016 sold out almost immediately…

Would you like to join us?

21st – 28th MAY 2016 – Fully Booked.
4th – 11th JUNE 2016 – Fully Booked

June & October 2017 – Fully Booked

June 2018 Fully Booked

2019 Please contact us directly to register your interest.

 

 

 

Come and join us

“Come and do another painting holiday! It’ll be fantastic”

Sitting on the patio of Chrissie and David’s beautiful Umbrian villa looking out over the pool to the valley beyond, it wasn’t hard to imagine how perfect this place was for people craving a sun-drenched escape. There was plenty to keep people occupied too for when the sun goes down or hunger strikes. Unspoilt countryside brought a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables to cook supper, while the nearby towns of Spello, Perugia and Assisi promised an authentic Italian experience.

Guest sketching at Villa Capanne
A guest sketching on the lawn of Villa Capanne

British expats Chrissie and David had been running the estate for well over ten years and had restored the apartments and villa here to exceptionally high standards.  The little ‘houses’ are close but incredibly private, each with its own terrace. Their restoration is sympathetic and unpretentious – the off-white décor and soft furnishings enhancing undulating beams and stone walls. Producing their own wine, olive oil and seasonal herbs and vegetables on-site, Chrissie and David’s two children would take great pleasure in showing the guests how to feed a fluffy alpaca.

Alan and Susan decided to do it! They booked the Villa Capanne, which sleeps 12 for a week and put the feelers out in their local community. It had been five years since their last visit to Umbria, but having visited on so many occasions over the years Alan and Susan knew Umbria and the surrounding hilltop towns like the back of their hand. Alan would devise a painting schedule of must-see places like Cortona, Perugia, Assisi, Spello and Umbertide, stopping points and range of scenes to ensure the painters on the holiday would have every opportunity available to them. Non-painters were more than welcome too, there was the pool, nearby golf course, gardens, library of books and board games on offer in the main house to keep them occupied. The estate’s cooks would prepare all of the guests’ food, the bedrooms were suitable for families, couples and single travellers – all that was left to do was get on a plane and enjoy it.

 

Crit of Guests paintings 2014
Alan’s crit of the guest’s paintings after an unforgettable week away on their Reedart Italian Painting Holiday

The trip sold out, with 12 guests joining them from the North East and as far as Cheshire. It was the beginning of a brand new arm of Alan Reed Art, an exciting new business venture working alongside Alan’s art and exhibitions that had grown organically from the couple’s love of Italy and adventures they’d taken over the past decade. During the trip, David mentioned the crumbling old ruins of the Chiesa Del Carmine which Alan had sketched in the past. Did they remember it had undergone a no-expense-spared restoration by the estate owners, and did they want to see it now?

 

The newly restored Chiesa Del Carmine
The newly restored Chiesa Del Carmine

The old church was breath-taking. Sunlight bathed the old stone walls, there was an elegance about the place now, where weeds had once penetrated its old crumbling walls there were now state-of-the-art furnishings, private landscaped gardens and beautifully refurbished original features. Chrissie and David’s two girls found a tune on the grand piano, before Leon, one of the guests sat and played a beautiful piece. It was a magical moment for all, and one that cemented the future of Reedart Painting Holidays.

 

 

Whether you’re a keen painter, just at the beginning of your journey or a non-painter craving some peace and quiet, culture and adventure, you are welcome to join us on our next trip to Umbria