Autumn Arts Festival – Watercolor & Oil Painting

DATES: 10/17/2017 - 10/26/2017
PRICE: $3350.00
(Susan Blackwood)

(Howard Friedland)
Susan Blackwood
Howard Friedland

Born in Chicago, Susan Blackwood comes from at least six generations of artists. Her family history has been dated back to Rembrandt`s parents. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University and extended her watercolor studies with Irving Shapiro at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Susan has studied with nationally known artists: Morgan Weistling, Matt Smith and Carolyn Anderson.

Howard Friedland was born in Bronx, New York. He has lived in Miami, Florida, Albuquerque and Taos, New Mexico and now resides in Bozeman, Montana with his wife, artist Susan Blackwood. He studied fine art and commercial art at New York`s High School of Music and Art. He went to college at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science in the department of Art and Architecture in New York`s Greenwich Village. He was an Art Director at major advertising agencies on Madison Avenue in New York. Howard has studied painting with Ned Jacob, Michael J. Lynch, Mark Daley, Laura Robb, William Schultz, Robert Kuester, Charles Reed, Carolyn Anderson, Mitch Billis, Scott Christensen and Matt Smith.

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More about Susan…

Blackwood started painting watercolors professionally in 1972. After 32 years as an award winning watercolorist, in 2003 Susan added oil painting to her list of mediums. Since then, her oils have also been heartily received by patrons, galleries and museum shows, winning many awards. In 2010 she received the Best of Show at the American Women Artists National Juried Show in Dallas, Texas. In 2012, for her achievements in oil paintings, Blackwood was awarded Signature Membership in Oil Painters of America.

Selected Awards and Honors: 

  • Best of Show American Women Artists National Juried Exhibition
  • Awarded Signature Membership in Oil Painters of America
  • Best of Show WomanArt West
  • Best of Show Tucson Art, Tucson, Arizona
  • Best of Show Vail Art, Colorado
  • Best of Show Boulder Art, Boulder, Colorado
  • Best of Show, Castle Rock Art,
  • Artist of the Year, Fort Collins, Colorado

In 2010 Somerset Fine Art selected Blackwood to be a featured artist and began publishing and marketing nationally and internationally, giclees of her oil paintings of children.

For almost 40 years, Blackwood has taught and painted watercolors and oils in colleges and workshops around the country, overseas in Pakistan, the Bahamas, Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. “I love to paint and I love to teach! It is a thrill for me to help artists find their own voice in any medium”.

Blackwood and her husband, artist Howard Friedland, have both been featured in the Master Painters of the World section of the International Artist Magazine and frequently featured in many of the National Art Magazines.

Currently her paintings are in 7 galleries across the U.S., in addition to both museum and corporate collections.

Artist’s Statement:  In the midst of a clambering third world market place in 1975, unable to speak the language…I became aware of the importance of the common bonds that universally unite us all. The necessity to communicate these visions, feelings and emotions became paramount. Art became my language.
I have chosen as my subject matter the simple, beautiful touching moments that are common both in nature and in the life of every person. These are the moments that often pass without notice and are the very ones that lend continuity to our lives and contribute to its richness and depth. These moments are the language I use when I paint.

As in any meaningful conversation, the structure of the message must be clear. Thus, my color, brush strokes, textures and composition are carefully chosen, like essential words, to convey to the viewer the message that I wish to impart. My studies of classical art techniques began when I was a child and will always continue as I strive for better clarity and higher achievement.
As words are carefully chosen for a poem, I, too, limit my brush strokes and detail to relay just enough to give the viewer my thoughts and involve their imagination. I purposely leave areas of my paintings in mystery for the viewer to become engaged in the story. I strive for each painting to be a poem rather than a novel. Some of my loose paintings are like haiku poems that are simple impressionistic vignettes. While some of my paintings are like sonnets, more spelled out in detail. Through the medium that I have chosen, I strive continually to develop a rich and colorful dialog in a language that will reach any heart.


More about Howard…

Howard has painted and taught extensively in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Arizona, New Jersey, Kansas, Florida, Mexico, France, Italy, England, Spain, Portugal and China.

Recent Awards and Honors:

  • Best of Show – 2008 Oil Painters of America National Exhibition
  • Best of Show – Signature Member 2007 Oil Painters of America Exhibition
  • William J. Schultz Award – 2012 American Impressionist Society Exhibition
  • Best Landscape – 2011 Icons of the West Exhibition
  • 6-time Finalist Winner – 6th Annual RayMar Fine Art Competition 2012
  • Signature Membership – Oil Painters of America 2003 to present

Board of Directors Oil Painters of America
Friedland’s work is shown in museums and fine art galleries in: New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Montana, and Washington state, as well as national and international exhibitions. He and his wife have been featured in numerous art magazine articles. Friedland`s work is found in many private, museum and corporate collections around the world including museums in China.

HFriedland-Painting in VeniceArtist`s Statement:  “The challenge for me is always to see the world with fresh eyes and respond spontaneously to the beauty before me. It`s possible to lose the impact of my initial vision out of doors due to the continually changing light. For this reason I strive to capture as quickly and accurately as possible the visual sensations that I have of the subject. I study the color relationships and try to note them as best as I can. Back at my studio I use these “on the spot” studies for larger paintings. I also take some photos for additional information, however I`m careful not to copy the photograph (too much information could dilute my first impression). Therefore, I also have to rely on my memory to recall the mood that I wanted to express.

“Some painters prefer to render a picture tightly to a literal level of finish. However I prefer to paint only enough detail for the viewer to get a clear vision of what the subject is and suggest the rest. When the painting is viewed close up you can see the many varied and colorful brush strokes. As you step further away the brush strokes disappear and your eye pulls the whole painting together. That is what the magic of painting is about for me. This allows the viewer to use his or her own imagination and participate in the painting.”

Paintings in slide show by Susan and Howard

Il Chiostro celebrates the harvest time of the year in Tuscany with The Autumn Arts Festival. We offer 4 separate workshops that all overlap throughout this week-long celebration of the arts, the harvest, the wine and this wonderful region of Italy.  The workshops are:

  • Oil Painting with Howard Friedland and
  • Watercolor Painting with Susan Blackwood
  • Tuscany Through Your Camera Lens with J Michael Sullivan
  • Painting in Pastels with Liz Haywood-Sullivan

In addition to your workshop we offer Italian Opera Appreciation lectures with Prof. Patricia Pease each evening before dinner.  This is open to all participants.

Program Description: Susan and Howard will offer 2 concurrent painting programs throughout the program:

Susan’s sessions: 

The Heart and Soul of Your Paintings or “Make ‘em Cry” 

Responding Emotionally with Paint
– Watercolor and Oils – 


Taking a Break by Susan Blackwood

My passion is to put my feelings into my paintings using strong values, color harmonies, clear compositions and by expressing a feeling of light in paint. I want to pass these concepts and techniques on to you, by teaching you to identify your emotional response to any subject and then how to express it with your medium. Imagine capturing your feelings of awe when experiencing the mystique of the classic Tuscan autumn light. You will learn to interpret each subject according to how you personally respond internally. Through plein air painting, we will explore a variety of techniques and approaches to starting a painting. Design, composition and color harmonies will be taught in order to strengthen your paintings and take them to the next level. I will be teaching watercolors and oils. Each medium have their own special plein air requirements and techniques. Since the daylight ends early in October, plan to paint some night scenes with me. The chapel and stone buildings at Dievole will be perfect for capturing light spilling out of the windows under the stars. Whether you are new to drawing and painting or a seasoned experienced artist, I will also teach you to sketch your way through Tuscany with exercises designed to strengthen your drawing skills and fill your sketchbooks with memories of Italy. All levels and painting mediums are welcome, though I will be painting in watercolors and in oils. Once you have reserved your spot, a complete list of suggestions of traveling equipment and supplies will be sent to you.

Howard’s sessions:

“What to do Between Glasses of Wine”
or “Grab your gear and lets capture Tuscan Light”
– Painting in oils –


Reds and Whites, by Howard Friedland

In this workshop we will explore the Tuscan landscape, villages and light to find wonderful motifs for our canvases. The hardest part will be choosing from the myriad opportunities of subjects available to us. There will certainly be “eye candy” in every direction just begging to be painted. The October light is fleeting; those wonderful clouds or shadows are gone in minutes. What to do! As anyone who has attempted to paint out of doors “on site” will tell you, Mother Nature does not give up her secrets easily. One needs a plan and a methodology in order to tackle this daunting task. Not to worry! Whether you are an experienced painter or are opening up your first tube of oil paint, I will work with you at whatever level of experience you have. You will learn the “tried and true” techniques that have been used by the best landscape painters in history. Discovering the unique Tuscan color palette will be high on our agenda. I’ll teach you how to create a sense of place and time that will move the viewer. We will achieve this goal by focusing on the beauty of line, tone and color. My personal approach tends to be more on the loose Impressionistic style of painting. No matter if you love to paint “Realism” or prefer to be more of an “Impressionist” or even an “Expressionist” there is a lot of information that will be offered to take you to the next level of proficiency. If you prefer to paint on your own without my input that’s OK too! Practical hints about the best lightweight out door painting equipment and materials to travel with will be sent to you before you travel. I’m looking forward to painting magical Tuscany with you – then let’s have a glass of Chianti to celebrate!

Click here for a video from Susan and Howard’s previous workshop at Dievole.


Serenity, by Susan Blackwood

Price: $3,350 p/p; optional supplements include:

  • limited number of suites available for a $450 p/p supplement (minimum 2 persons)
  • single supplement $600 (limited number available).  No more single rooms available


  • Room (double or suite) with full bathroom-9 nights
  • 2 meals per day (dinner with wine and full Tuscan breakfast)
  • Workshop tuition and fees (except where noted)
  • General activities (except where noted)
  • Transfers between Siena train or bus station and Dievole

Departure is on morning of October 26th.


Picnic in Panzano, by Howard Friedland

General Activities Open to All Participants (in addition to workshop):
Most activities take place in and around the 900 year old Dievole estate & vineyard.

  • Winery tour and tasting, featuring Dievole’s Chianti Classico
  • Italian Opera Appreciation classes every evening before dinner
  • Excursion to Siena
  • Dinner in the old cantina
  • Various topical excursions with your class
  • Special evening events and surprise entertainment, TBA
  • Pig Roast celebrating the harvest and the arts

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Museum admissions
  • Art supplies, laptops or other equipment for workshops.

Contact us for more information: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

Dievole Chianti Classico Winery, Tuscany

Dievole RoomParticipants in the Autumn Arts Festival will stay in Dievole’s 16th century inn and guest houses floating in the magnificent Tuscan hills. Rooms are doubles or suites with modern bathrooms and heating.

A limited number of single rooms and suites are available for a supplement:

  • Single Supplement – $550
  • Suite Supplement for 2 persons – $250 per person


Dievole is classified as agritourism so it will seem more like a family inn rather than an impersonal chain hotel. Dievole is located in the town of Vagliagli, about 12km northeast of Siena and 40km south of Florence. If you wish to explore the area independently during your stay we recommend renting a car. The link below will give you a glimpse of the winery:

Click here to visit Dievole’s web site…

Visit them on Facebook:


Die vole vineyards, photo by Jim Palmer

Dievole wine bottles-GRios

Dievole wine bottles, photo by Gilbert Rios

Gianni pouring-2014

Gianni pouring for a tasting, photo by Andy Holtzman


Dinner in the old wine cellar, photo by J Michael Sullivan


Dino ready to carve at the harvest pig roast


Early morning at Dievole, photo by Gabriella Pascoe


Orientation in the vintners’ room, photo by J Michael Sullivan

We will pick you up in Siena anytime between 1 and 5pm on the first day of the program. The recommended arrival airports are Florence or Rome from where you can take a bus or train to Siena. Florence is closer, but there are no direct flights from the US. You would have to change in another European city. Rome provides more flight options.

The bus/train from Rome to Siena is about 3 hours.

We can also arrange for a car to pick you up from Florence or Rome. You pay the driver directly. Just let us know a few days in advance so we can make the arrangemenst for you.

If you are departing from Rome on the last day, remember it is 3 hours by car or bus from Siena so try to book an afternoon flight.

If you have time, you might consider lingering in Italy for a few days extra on either end of the festival. Allow the Italian rhythms to seduce you. A few days in Rome or Florence upon arrival is a wonderful way to get over jet-lag. For other travel help check our Travel to Italy web page.

  • Full service travel agent if you prefer someone to do it all for you: arrange plane tickets, hotel accommodations and car rental, etc. (not just 1 night in a pensione, please) we recommend Patti Booth at Pisa Brothers Travel, (212) 2658420.
  • For this trip and whenever you travel, we strongly recommend personal travel insurance. It protects you against penalties should you need to cancel your trip at the last minute. If you don’t have a policy, contact Travelex (800) 5047883 or [Note: Travelex requires that you take out a policy within 21 days of registering for a travel program.]

Specific Travel information to get to Dievole:

By Train: There are regularly scheduled trains from all major towns and cities in Italy. Head towards Siena. From Rome there are several trains daily from the main station (Termini). You don`t need a reservation. Although you purchase a through ticket, it is necessary to change trains at Chiusi. The ride takes about 3.5 hours (approximately 240 km.) and the cost is around $20.
NOTE: in Italy it is the law to stamp your train ticket in the little yellow meter near each train platform. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines, even if you plead ignorance.
By Bus: There are also buses from almost anywhere in Italy to Siena. These are modern and comfortable coaches.

From Florence: buses leave the SITA terminal (next door to the train station) nearly every hour. If you take Siena Rapida, the ride is direct on the highway and should take 1 hour.

From Rome: the ride takes 3 hours (non-stop). If you plan to arrive at the Rome airport and plan to come directly to Siena, this is the quickest method. From the airport, take the train on the left-hand track to the Tiburtina station (NOT Termini). From there, go outside into the parking lot.
If you are already in Rome you can take the Metro to the Tiburtina station. Take the B (blue) line towards Rebibbia. Follow signs to Pzle. Stazione Tiburtina.
With the long side of the station at your back, cross under the overpass into the parking lot. Buy your ticket from the building marked Biglietteria C (17.50 Euros, approx. $20); the bus usually leaves from Gate 8. These buses leave every day at regular intervals. To get current fares and schedules for the SENA bus you can check their web site:

Once in Siena, get off at the Siena train station (Ferrovia). Don’t get off in the center of Siena.

Tuscany in autumn is a sensual feast. Russet and golden hills. Crisp air. Trees weighted with olives. Woods rich with mushrooms and chestnuts. The scent of grapes hangs over the valleys like mist. The harvest is the soul of the Tuscans. In autumn the hilltowns revert to the locals. Their art is to prepare the bounty: prosciutto, nuts, olive oil and especially Chianti. Traditional festivals celebrate every phase from the vendemmia (harvesting of grapes for wine) to the wild boar. Music, folklore, dancing in the piazza.And there, in the heart of Tuscany, is Siena. The legendary medieval town packed with history and art. In autumn, her museums and churches relax, uncrowded. The streets echo her architecture, art and heroes.

IC pix 07-425

Surrounding Vineyards, photo by Linda Mironti