Fearless Watercolor – Painting in Verona and Lake Garda

DATES: 09/25/2024 - 10/03/2024
LOCATION: Lake Garda
PRICE: $2,950.00

Jan has taught FEARLESS WATERCOLORS at the Art League of Long Island and The Artists Studio at Chelsea Mansion. Since March 2020, however, she has taught exclusively on line and now reaches students from all of the US and internationally. Every year Jan does a 4-day workshop at the Landgrove Inn in Vermont and Artists’ Trip to Europe.  Starting Fall 2021 she will be resuming in-person classes at the Firefly Artists second floor in Northport, NY where she also exhibits and sells her paintings.

As a watercolorist, Jan longs to embrace all the wonderful things this medium has to offer, blossoms, drips, unexpected things that happen – lost edges, movement of pigment. Her comment:

I want to keep them all to remember that it is very much like life itself. Most artists feel that this medium is difficult to control and the most challenging to paint with. But I feel the total opposite of this. I long for all of the uniqueness and beauty watercolors have to offer and to leave room for the viewer to fill in what may be missing or nearly suggested.

As a teacher Jan loves to share this passion of watercolor techniques, theories and joy with all of her students, hoping that they find enjoyment in interpreting their world with paint, splatters, drips and color by embracing the unexpected and unplanned.

Jan has exhibited at the Heckscher Museum, the William Reis Gallery, the Huntington Arts Council, the Long Island Museum, the Art League of Long Island, The Art Guild and is a permanent artist at The Firelyfly Gallery in Northport, NY.

Jan graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and has been a graphic artist designing marketing materials for businesses for 45 years. Recently retired from that, she looks forward to focusing entirely on painting and teaching.

Pantheon Splashes

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Artists Statement:

Every painting I choose to paint focuses on the question … what drew me to this subject? As I move through this question, I look through a filter that asks what’s next and then go where the answers lead me. The subject may be a place I visited during my travels, I will be called to a particular photo, or a painting I started en plein aire. It may be a photograph someone shows me of a person, a child, a couple that captured a moment, an expression, a posture. But when I see it, there is a moment where something grabs me and causes me to pause. I am overcome by a stirring and a knowing that I must paint it.

I don’t choose my subjects as much as they seem to choose me. My intention is always to create an unexpected depiction of the subject, a colorful interpretation, not a literal translation. I enjoy using this unusual color palette to bring you into the painting and though, you may have been seen that place before, I wish for you to feel you are seeing it through a different lens for the very first time.

Eat your way through the cuisine, paint what is all around you, experience excursions, and enjoy free time to explore it all!

A Bridge in Rome, watercolor by Jan Guarino

From the romance of Romeo & Juliet’s fabled Verona to the lakes district of northeastern Italy, join Jan as she instructs and paints within this varied landscape – medieval towns, a Roman colosseum, bustling piazzas, lakefronts, harbors, sailboat marinas!  We will guide attendees through fabulous excursions to local sites to paint (see suggestions below), eat, spritz and visit villages to shop, all with plenty of time to paint each morning and during every excursion.

You may paint in a travel journal, on sheets or blocks – bring all your easy watercolor supplies and be prepared to create with the guidance of accomplished painter Jan Guarino!

What a great way to record lasting memories! Each day you will visit a new location in this glorious lakes region of northern Italy.  Everyone knows Lake Como because of George Clooney, but Lake Garda is the real hidden treasure coming down from the foothills of the Alps and plunging into the Veneto area.  It is surrounded by dramatic layers of mountains, colorful towns and olive and lemon groves.  We’ll choose different perspectives, from hilltops to waterfront marinas every day for a few hours of sketching and painting.

Lake Garda, towards Malcesine

Student Testimonial

“Painting and traveling with artist, Jan Guarino, is fabulous! Her exuberance is apparent in her art and her personality! I have attended 4 trips with Jan; to a villa on the Amalfi Coast; hotels in Sante Fe, New Mexico and Dubrovnik, Croatia; a river boat cruise in the South of France. All interesting, well planned and luxurious! I’m certain Tuscany will be the same!!!” — Mindy A.

The fair city of Verona

We begin our week by meeting in the famed, romantic city of Verona, home to the tale of Romeo and Juliet. We will meet the group at an orientation, then enjoy a welcome dinner together.  We’ll spend our first evening in a classic hotel in the center of Verona.  The next day, after more time to explore museums and perhaps some shopping along the main artery (paved in pink marble!) and an independent lunch, we’ll board our private coach for the tranquil scenery of Lake Garda. In the charming village of Villa di Gargnano we’ll check into our home for the next 6 nights – Hotel Gardenia al Lago.

Early Evening Stroll, watercolor by Jan Guarino

A typical day will include breakfast at our hotel then painting in one of the nearby villages or from the garden of the hotel or at the home of the owners perched high above the lake. Jan will guide you with demos and then you will select your painting spot. Lunch will be on your own at local cafes in one of the villages where we paint.

Group dinners back at the hotel with local wine will finish off our adventurous days nicely.

Non-painter friends and family members are welcome to join us.  They can accompany us on all excursions and enjoy exploring the lake area while we are painting.  It’s easy to get around with the local buses, ferries or walking.

On the final evening, we will have an exhibition of our week’s creations.  On the final day after breakfast we will transfer back to Verona.

Come with us and capture your personal impression of this stunning corner of Italy.

View of the lake and the foothills of the Alps

Waterfront in Gargnano

General  Activities: in addition to the activities of the workshop, we will also see and explore this area of Lake Garda with various excursions selected from:

  • A breath-taking ferry across the lake to the town of Malcesine
  • Painting in various locations along the lake in towns, gardens and hilltops
  • Full day excursion to the lovely Renaissance town of Mantua
  • Overnight in the romantic city of Verona
  • Optional museum visits and site seeing in Verona, like visiting the fabled setting of Juliet’s house

We’ll return each evening to relax in the comfort of our lakeside hotel, enjoy a delicious dinner with wine, and share about the day.  

Price: $2,950, ($2,650 for non-painting partners)
Single room supplement:  $475
All rooms with ensuite bathrooms.  (Click the Accommodations tab above for more about our hotels.)

Amalfi Light, watercolor by Jan Guarino

What is Included:

  • Dinner and hotel stay in Verona upon arrival
  • Shared double room in lakeside hotel (single rooms available for supplement)
  • Daily traditional breakfast and dinner, including wine
  • Daily workshop classes and critiques with Jan
  • All local transportation
  • Fully escorted excursions
  • ½ day excursion to nearby lake town Malcesine
  • Full day excursion to Mantua
  • Initial meeting and orientation in Verona
  • Transfer by coach to Lake Garda
  • Return transfer to Verona on final day

Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch
  • Daily spritz (if you don’t know what this is, you need to come)
  • Gratuities
  • 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.  Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can 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 August 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.


We will spend the first night of our week together in Verona at the four star Grand Hotel des Arts.  For anyone wishing to arrive early and spend your extra nights at this hotel, please contact them directly through their web site.

We’ll have our first dinner together in Verona, and the next day after an independent lunch, transfer to the lake (75 min) where we’ll spend the next 6 days at the small, family-owned Hotel Gardenia al Lago, right on the shores of Lake Garda.


Hotel Gardenia al Lago

This hotel was built on what was once a lemon and olive garden on the shores of the lake.  Because this is an original villa refurbished into a hotel, each room is different with some of the decor dating from the original 1925 family home.  Rooms are either doubles or singles (with a supplement).

Dinner will be served each evening, weather permitting, in the garden adjacent to the villa.

The charming village of Villa, with it’s small harbor and cafes, is just a few steps away.  The larger town of Gargnano is a short 10 minute walk where you will find shops, restaurants, another harbor and fantastic artisanal gelato!


The town of Gargnano, photo by Linda Mironti

The group will meet and spend the first night in a small hotel in the center of Verona.  We’ll have our first dinner together that night.  Then after lunch the next day we will travel by private coach to Lake Garda (about 1 hour).


Verona, the romantic city

Unless you will be traveling around before the workshop, we recommend you fly to Verona’s Villafranca airport.  There are no direct flights from the US, but you can change in the European city associated with your airline.  Then it is a quick taxi ride to the hotel.  Other options include flying into Venice, Brescia, Florence, Bologna or Milan’s Malpensa airport and traveling around on your own prior to our first meeting in Verona.

On the final day of the program a coach will take participants back to Verona to catch your flight home – or to continue your travel.  If you are flying out that day, please try to book a flight for noon or later.

This area is not as well known as Tuscany or Venice, yet it is a spectacular part of Italy.

The Province of Lombardy: Both Milan and Lake Garda are located in the section of Italy called Lombardy bordering Switzerland to the north and the Veneto to the east. It is the most populous province of Italy. Historically Lombardy was passed among Germanic tribes, the Spanish, French and Austrians, before finally becoming part of the nation of Italy in 1861. Hence, like most regions of Italy, the distinctive character apparent today in its artwork, food, wine and architecture is a fusion of bits and pieces of these past inhabitants. Geologically speaking, many of the Alpine rivers in the north have spread out to form the famous Lakes District. These lakes nestling among the gentle slopes of Pre-Alpine hills have won for this strip of Lombardy the name of “The Garden of Italy”.

Lake Garda: 

Those who are sensitive to all that is sublime. are invited to look at the map of Lake Garda. The shores of this lake with its beautiful forests and calm waters constitute perhaps the most beautiful landscape in the world.           Stendhal

Also called Lake Benaco, Garda is the biggest of the Pre-Alpine lakes and the largest in all of Italy. It was shaped by glaciers during the last Ice Age. The climate is temperate and mild supporting the unusual Mediterranean vegetation (vineyards, olive groves and citrus orchards) which has more in common with the southern regions of Italy. Given these features, the lakeside areas have since ancient times seen flourishing civilizations, from the Bronze Age to the first settlements of the Gauls until the area finally became one of the strongholds of the Romans. It takes its name from the powerful castle of Torri del Benaco that served to “guard” the entire lake area in times of pestilence and invasion. Today it is invaded mostly by German and Austrian tourists and is a popular weekend getaway for white-collar Milanese. The most famous section is the so-called Brescia Riviera, between Salò and Gargnano. This is an area of parks, gardens, large country houses, trees and well-known health resorts.


It was like another world: the world of the eagle, a world of wild abstraction, the resplendent sunlight was devouring all: it was a platform suspended in the light. Just below in a muddle of tiles, the roofs of the village, beyond which, lower down, the intense blue water of the lake; still further, before my eyes, facing me, the clear luminous snow of the mountains on the other side of the lake.

D.H. Lawrence, 1912, Twighlight in Italy
(of which the first 7 chapters are about our town of Gargnano)

Gargnano is a small town midway up the western flank of Lake Garda. It is a perfectly formed port with a bevy of yachts and sailboats bobbing behind a promenade of orange trees and lakeside cafes.


The village of Gargnano, by Linda Mironti