Experience the Cinque Terre through Oils and Watercolor

DATES: 06/11/2022 - 06/18/2022
LOCATION: Cinque Terre
PRICE: $3,295.00
(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.

Read Susan’s blog post Cocoons – Artists Chrysalis in Oil Painters of America blog.

Howard Friedland – Born in Bronx, New York. Howard has lived in Miami, Florida, Albuquerque and Taos, New Mexico, Bozeman, Montana and now resides and works in Bella Vista, Arkansas with his wife, artist Susan Blackwood. 

He studied fine art and commercial art at New York’s High School of Music and Art and attended 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. From there, he became an Art Director at major advertising agencies on Madison Avenue in New York.

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

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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.


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 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 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 imagination and participate in the painting”.

Recent Awards and Honors:

Invited to join several prominent Chinese American and American painters to paint and exhibit in China as a cultural art representative from America
Master Status OPAM Honored by Oil Painters of America  
Awards Judge at Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition
Panelist on Group Discussion at American Impressionist Society Show
Second Place and Artists Choice Awards, American Impressionist Society National Show, Howard Mandville Gallery, Kirkland WA.
Demonstrator/Lecturer, Plein Air Convention – Tucson, AZ.
Honorable Mention, Oil Painters of America National Show Paint -out
Honorable Mention, Oil Painters of America National Show Paint-out
Finalist  – Plein Air Salon –  Dec./Jan. On-line Juried Show
Best of Show Award Signature Division, Oil Painters of America Fall On-line Showcase 
Demonstrator/Lecturer, Plein Air Convention, Main Stage, Monterey CA.  
Finalist, Raymar 6th Annual Fine Art Competition     
Finalist, Raymar 7th Annual Fine Art Competition – April
Best of Show Plein Air Sunset and Animal Painting Awards – Oil Painters of America Salon, Crooked Tree Art Center
William J. Schultz Founder’s Award of Excellence, American Impressionist Society 
Finalist, Raymar 6th Annual Fine Art Competition  – November, September, August, July, June and April
Finalist, Raymar 5th Annual Fine Art Competition
Best of Show Landscape, Icons of the West Show
Judges’ Honorable Mention, Salon International –  Greenhouse Gallery
2010, 2009
Jurors Top 50 Award, Salon International – Greenhouse Gallery 
Best of Show Gold Medal National Award of Excellence, Oil Painters of America National Show 
2007, 2005
Best of Show for Signature Member, Oil Painters of America, Central Regional Show – Southwind Gallery, Topeka, KS.

Additional Honors

Howard has also been awarded the Best Landscape medal at the “Icons of the West” show at the Dana Gallery in Missoula Montana. He and his wife and their studio in Bozeman Montana have been featured in numerous art magazine articles including the June/July 2015 issue of Plein Air Magazine, Art of the West Magazine and American Artist Studio Edition. Howard has painted, taught and exhibited extensively in numerous states in the U.S. as well as Mexico, France, Italy, England, Spain,  Portugal, Croatia and China. Friedland’s work is featured in many private and corporate collections around the world including museums in China. Howard was invited to join renowned Chinese American artist Zhiwei Tu and several prominent American and Chinese master painters to paint and exhibit large plein air paintings created in China in 2011 and 2014.
In 2019 Howard was invited again to paint in China. This time with a different group of Chinese American and American artists to paint and exhibit in China. The group consisted of 10 plein air painters including Jason Situ, Mian Situ, Calvin Liang, Scott Burdick, Ken Cadwallader, Lin Zheng, Alfred Tse, & Jay Hiangyuan.
He has a teaching DVD, “Painting the Landscape Loosely but Accurately” released this year from Bella Muse Productions. A list of awards and accolades can be provided by email: hfriedland@q.com


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

Susan’s sessions: 

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

Responding Emotionally with Paint
– Watercolor and Oils – 

Morning Delivery 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.  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. Whether you are new to drawing and painting or a seasoned experienced artist, I will also teach you to sketch your way through the Cinque Terre 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 the Light of the Cinque Terre”
– Painting in oils –


Reds and Whites, by Howard Friedland

In this workshop we will explore the landscape, villages and light of this region 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.  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 Cinque Terre 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.


Sulla Spiaggia, oil by Howard Friedland

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 outdoor painting equipment and materials to travel with will be sent to you before you travel. I’m looking forward to painting magical landscape with you – then let’s have a glass of Chianti to celebrate!

Click here for a video from Susan and Howard about this workshop.

View from our hotel towards Monterosso

Additional Activities: Our daily painting will be combined with other adventures such as:

  • train pass to visit other towns (Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Manarola and Corniglia)
  • boat trip to sketch or photograph from the sea
  • free shuttle service from the hotel to the main town
  • pick up in Florence on the first day

The Cinque Terre – is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. “The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. For more about the Cinque Terre, the Lonely Planet gives a nice description with photos:  http://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/cinque-terre

The Food
 – We will have 5 dinners organized together at local restaurants and trattorie.  We’ll sample the pastas, seafood and specialties of the area.  Wine is included in all meals.  Lunches and 2 dinners will be independent for you to explore the local cuisine on your own.

Given its location on the Mediterranean, seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Anchovies of Monterosso are a local specialty designated with a Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union. The mountainsides of the Cinque Terre are heavily terraced and are used to cultivate grapes and olives. This area, and the region of Liguria, as a whole, is known for pesto — a sauce made from basil leaves, garlic, salt, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese. Focaccia is a particularly common locally baked bread product. Farinata is also a typical snack found in bakeries and pizzerias — essentially it is a savoury and crunchy pancake made from a base of chick-pea flour.

To participate in any of our Il Chiostro programs, we require every participant be FULLY VACCINATED against Covid-19.  There are no exceptions for any reason.  We realize that nothing is 100% certain to prevent the virus, but our goal is to reduce the risks for the group as much as possible.  We cannot be responsible for, nor do we have the resources to take care of anyone contracting Covid in a foreign country.

Price: $3,295 p/p based on double occupancy; (non-painters $2,995)
Optional Supplement: $475 for single room (limited availability) or $250 p/p for a suite with jacuzzi (only 1 available)


  • Shared double room in Hotel La Cabana in Monterosso (singles/suite available for a supplement)
  • Daily traditional breakfast
  • 5 dinners with wine
  • Train passes for exploring other towns
  • One boat trip

Pick up from Florence train station on arrival day (on the departure day we do not return the group to Florence, as many people will want to go off in other directions.  There is a convenient train station in the center of Monterosso that connects with every major line in Italy.)

In the village, photo by Susan Blackwood

Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch
  • Art supplies
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing

To Register:  just click on the Sign Up Now button.  A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop.  [Our deposits are typically non-refundable, but given the unpredictable Covid situation, should travel become restricted we will either reimburse your deposit or give you an equal credit for a future workshop with Il Chiostro.]  Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can follow the instructions to send in your registration and payment by mail.

Once we receive your deposit we will send you a formal Registration Confirmation with further information about the program.  You will receive 2-3 other correspondences by email prior to the workshop with information about Italy, a supplies list and an electronic invoice for the balance.  Final Balance is due by April 15th.  Any time prior to your arrival, if you have questions about anything regarding the trip or the program, you can contact us by email or phone and we’ll be happy to assist you.

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

Cabana-5 TerreOur small hotel La Cabana sits on a small hill that divides the historic center of Monterosso from the new part, Fegina.  It is a typical Ligurian farmhouse that has belonged to one family for generations. The vines and the olive trees that they have cultivated form the backdrop to the rooms that have been recently refurbished with the utmost respect for the environment and the traditions of the Cinque Terre, but without forgetting modern comforts.

Cabana roomThe 9 rooms are furnished with antiques, parquet floors, curtains, and finishes intended to frame the unparalleled panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea. It is an oasis of relaxation completely surrounded by greenery and silence with wonderful vistas and gardens to paint.  Our group will take over the entire hotel for the week.

To get down to Monterosso you can take advantage of their free shuttle service or, if you are up for it,  walking down is not difficult and takes less than ten minutes. It’s a nice walk down that offers beautiful panoramic views. On the descent, you will pass the ancient 11th century castle (today houses the cemetery of the village) and wind through olive trees until you reach the historical center of town. Coming back up, the shuttle might be a good idea!

For more information, visit their web site:  http://www.lacabanacinqueterre.com/en/index.php


Breakfast room




Entrance to La Cabana


Garden overlooking the town


The terrace


View from the terrace


La Cabana shuttle

The Cinque Terre are in the section of Italy known as Liguria on the western coast.  The main city of Liguria is Genova.  These 5 towns were traditional fishing villages, cut off from the mainland by a steep range of mountains.  For centuries they were only accessible by the sea.

For our program, we will meet the group in Florence on the first day.  From there a private bus will take the group to our hotel in Monterosso-al-Mare.

To visit the town from our hotel there is a regular shuttle bus.  The towns are small with narrow roads, so the shuttle will leave us off in the newer section, then we will walk through a short tunnel to the historic center of town where most of the shops and restaurants are located.

To go between towns (Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia or Rio Maggiore) there are local trains connecting all of them.


5 Terre fishing boat, photo by Andy Holtzman

The Cinque Terre – is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. “The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside.

For more about the Cinque Terre, the Lonely Planet gives a nice description with photos: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/cinque-terre

The Food:  Given its location on the Mediterranean, seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Anchovies of Monterosso are a local specialty designated with a Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union. The mountainsides of the Cinque Terre are heavily terraced and are used to cultivate grapes and olives. This area, and the region of Liguria, as a whole, is known for pesto — a sauce made from basil leaves, garlic, salt, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese. Focaccia is a particularly common locally baked bread product. Farinata is also a typical snack found in bakeries and pizzerias — essentially it is a savoury and crunchy pancake made from a base of chick-pea flour. Epic porcini mushrooms are presented in a wooden box for you to chose for grilling with olive oil and garlic.

AHoltzman-photo 2  AHoltzman-Seaside Restaurant