Tuscany, See the Light…and Paint It!

DATES: 06/01/2019 - 06/08/2019
LOCATION: Tuscany, San Fedele
PRICE: $2,895.00

Paul Ladnier, Professor Emeritus, University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida,
has taught painting and drawing for nearly forty years and received commendations and
awards for the quality of his teaching and his dedication to his students. Upon his
retirement, UNF honored him with an Eponymous Scholarship, which provides
educational funds for exceptional painting majors. He received his MFA degree from
Syracuse University and his BFA degree from Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota,

The recipient of many awards, Paul has exhibited in solo exhibitions and numerous
group shows. He has been an invited artist to many plein air competitions and events, including
the prestigious annual Publisher’s Invitational, “Paint the Adirondacks,” and 2016’s
Publishers Invitational, “Cuba”.  He has taught two summers in Italy as part of UNF’s study
abroad programs, is a member of the Society of Illustrators since 1984, and in 2017 was elected to the prestigious Salmagundi Club.

Paul has painted throughout the United States, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. He continues to travel, paint, exhibit his works, teach privately at his CoRK studio, and conduct painting workshops.

I have a lifelong passion for painting and process, which plays a major role in my work
as it reinforces the world I paint. I believe that paint should reveal, not conceal, the
meaning of a work. Process should accentuate and contribute to the message and relay
the passion and soul of the artist.

My inspirations come from years of studying the works of Sargent, Sorolla, Mancini,
Fechin, The Barbizon painters and The Impressionists. Landscape and figure painting
are my passions. Deliberate drawing, brushstrokes and marks, heavy impasto,
scratches, splatters, drips and multiple layers are all part of this process. In addition to
the viewer examining my work from a distance, I want them to look closely…to explore
between the layers of paint, perhaps to even touch! This may sometimes reveal other
aspects like original marks, multiple revisions, compositional changes, and unexpected
color and drawing. My paintings are personal interpretations of the subject, developed
with emphasis on drawing, color, balance, harmony and arrangement of everything
necessary to convey beauty in a painting.

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Representations: Aviles Gallery, St. Augustine, Florida; Anazao Galleries, CoRK Studios and Gallery, and Southlight Gallery, Jacksonville, Florida.

Affiliations: Member, Salmagundi Club, New York; FCPAP (First Coast Plein Air Painters); Society of Illustrators; Member, American Impressionist Society; Member, Adirondack Plein Air Painters.

His years of university level teaching experience enabled Paul to hone great skills as a
presenter and demonstrator. He teaches a direct approach to problem resolution. He
demystifies the complex by offering simplified explanations. His demonstrations are
exciting, humorous, highly informative and fast moving. I have found him to be the most
effective art educator in my art study experience. – Jim Gold, Artist

Come, celebrate and paint the beauty of Tuscany while staying in a remarkable,
restored Italian monastery located in the beautiful hills and wine country of Italy.

This class is about Alla Prima painting outdoors, capturing the essence of light and atmosphere in limited time. It focuses on the painting of a landscape in which the light and conditions constantly change. It is about learning to see, making meaningful marks, understanding and interpreting light, nature, and conditions that can influence the mood and feeling in your painting.

Suwannee Evening by Paul Ladnier

Students will learn methods to complete a painting in one session with little or no later studio refinement.  Paul will demonstrate and discuss the mixing of dynamic colors using a basic palette that captures color in nature, the impact of grays, composition, and design; perspective and atmosphere, as well as a variety of painting techniques.  Emphasis will be placed on energetic, logical, exciting beginnings.

Beached Boats by Paul Ladnier

Resolution of the painting is encouraged as time permits, but not necessary.  This class will also increase the individual’s awareness of the materials and the creative process in painting while developing their personal goals, and establishing aesthetic sensibility.  Discussions on getting started, setting up the palette, mixing color, observing nature, and the importance of establishing good painting habits that emphasize a fresh, spontaneous look.

Daily critiques are on going, but an end-of-the-class exhibit of the paintings will be the highlight of the week.

As a student of Ladnier’s, painting was an action not an object. And it was through a
dedication to the act of painting that we would know ourselves. Unhindered by medium or subject, painting was something that came from deep within and was guided by an observant eye. The furor of a saturated, gestural underpainting was restrained by neutral, refined final layers. To summarize what was learned from Ladnier is not possible, as I am still learning from him. Learning from his wisdom as I echo his words to my own students. Learning from his practice as I mimic his gestures in my own studio. – Tonya Lee, Artist & Educator

Class Procedures
Depending on outdoor conditions, we will either meet in the studio or travel to a predetermined location in the surrounding countryside and neighboring villages to paint ancient architecture and timeless beauty. Paul will give demonstrations and explain procedures and approaches. The basic step-by-step process is as follows:

  1. Preparation. Getting yourself and your materials ready
  2. Selecting and visually editing your subject
  3. Establishing a concept and design strategy with thumbnail studies or small compositional studies
  4. Establishing a center of interest and determining what you want to emphasize
    (sometime this is painted first)
  5. Laying out a basic palette
  6. Consider direct and indirect approaches
  7. Value: establishing the range of values you are going to use (Usually about 4 or 5).
  8. Begin painting!
  9. Refine, refine, refine!
  10. Final marks

Piene Haute, oil by Paul Ladnier

Plein Air Painting Class Materials
Paint: Colors apply to traditional oils, water soluble oils, pastels and acrylics

To make traveling easier, small tubes of paint and small panels should be considered. This is a very basic palette. Add to it, as you like:
Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Red, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black and Titanium White

Optional colors: Sap Green, Viridian, Naples Yellow, Cadmium Orange
Solvent: Gamsol or odorless mineral spirits. (brushes can be cleaned with linseed oil)
Mediums: linseed oil, Galkyd, Liquin: Both help flow and speed drying
Brushes: hog hair brushes, 1”-3” utility brushes
Filberts #4, #6, #8, #10- Filberts, Long Hair Filberts, and flats. Round’s in size #1 flats,
#4, #6, #8, #10. I like long hair Filberts for early drawing and “laying” paint over paint. A
few cheap sacrificial brushes.
Plein Air Easels: French Easel, Pochade box with sturdy tripod or small portable easel.
Gorilla Box, Easy L, etc.
Panels or stretched canvas, at least seven, (7) for seven days of painting 8X10, 9X12, 11X14, etc.
I like Raymar and Centurian panels, panel carriers, such as Panel Pak
Palettes: Wood, plastic, covered, glass, etc

Old San Juan by Paul Ladnier

Other Considerations:
• Absorbent paper towels, tissue, or soft absorbent rags
• Small paint cups or tins for clean solvent or medium with covers are good for transporting
• Palette knife for cleaning palette, mixing color and painting
• Container with seal-able lid for rinsing brushes.
• Thin disposable rubber gloves or hand barrier cream.
• Gloves or hand cleaners like Fast Orange or Goop work great for getting paint off
• Optional umbrella, chair, stool
• SUNSCREEN! Bug spray
• Wide brimmed hat
• Small backpack/book bag to free up hands. You need to carry everything in one trip (plus a wet painting).
• Layered clothing for change of weather. No bright colors or pure white that can reflect back into painting.

All levels are welcomed. The demonstrations are in oil, however, artists who work in acrylics and pastels are also welcomed, as Paul is fluent in all mediums.

Additional Activities: Your week of immersion in watercolor will be interspersed with other fun activities and visits to towns and villages to experience local markets, museums and shops. Our daily painting will be combined with other adventures such as:

  • Day trip to Medieval Siena to sketch, take photos, explore and shop
  • Excursions to nearby hilltowns like Radda, Castellina, Monteriggioni, etc.
  • Visit to Chianti winery for a tour and tasting
  • Variety of plein air locations to paint landscapes, villages, and the Tuscan light

Tuscan Landscape, photo by Lester Lefkowitz

After excursions or painting on location, we’ll return each evening to relax in our 1,000 year old monastery to enjoy the surroundings, have a glass of wine and an informal critique of the day’s work. Then we will move to the dining room (the authentic refectory where the monks used to assemble) to enjoy our local chef’s authentic, home-made Tuscan meal, recapping the day’s adventure with good company.


$2,895 p/p based on double occupancy; (non-painters $2,595)
Optional supplements:

  • $550 for single room-limited availability
  • $250 p/p for Jr. Suite

Tuscan window, photo by Chris Corradino


  • Shared double room with ensuite bathroom in restored monastery (single rooms available for a supplement, see above)
  • Daily traditional breakfast and dinner, including wine
  • Daily painting classes and critiques
  • Excursion to Siena
  • ½ day painting excursions to nearby plein air settings and hilltowns (Castellina, Radda, Volpaia…)
  • Pick up from Florence train station at 3:30pm on first Saturday
  • Transfer to bus/train station in Siena (not Florence) on final day

Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch (lite lunch will be available for purchase at San Fedele on days we are not out on excursion)
  • Art supplies
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing
  • Gratuities

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 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.

Borgo San Fedele

— San Fedele is a restored 12th century monastery floating in the Chianti hills —

©Lester Lefkowitz 7003-001Il Chiostro at San Fedele is the combined skills of Linda and Michael of Il Chiostro joining together with Nicolo and Renata of San Fedele to produce a unique and inspiring environment rooted in the traditional Tuscan values of beauty, great food, an appreciation for nature and the value of community.  The monastery, dating back to the 12th century, was meticulously restored using traditional building methods and all original materials. Today, the monastery remains true to its original spirit, rich architectural detail. The 16 rooms and suites where participants are housed have lovely modern bathrooms, screened windows, air conditioning, period furniture, wi-fi internet service, satellite television and minibar, all designed to perfectly compliment the medieval surroundings.

The original soaring chapel is now used as a large art studio or workshop space. The monks’ refectory, where a lost 16th century fresco was uncovered during renovation, is now the dining room connected to a state-of-the-art kitchen and the old stone cantinas where they stored their wine have been transformed into studio and classroom space.

For information about the history of this monastery, Click here to go to San Fedele’s web site…


Rather than  hotel, San Fedele is classified as a historic residence in Italy.  That means that it is an intimate setting, preserved along strict historical guidelines to preserve the spirit of the setting.  The owners are on site to oversee this unique combination of historic landmark and modern day comfort.

Accommodations are spacious shared double rooms or junior suites. Each room, because it was converted from the original structure of the monastery without altering the building, is unique in shape. Furnishings and decor were selected to coordinate with the historic, subdued feeling of the monastery, but in a comfortable, modern style. All rooms have two beds that can be separated into twins or combined into one large matrimonial. There is a sitting area, refrigerator, DSL wi-fi, television, air-conditioning, heating, modern private bathroom with shower and hair dryers.

lester-lefkowitz-room3 lester-lefkowitz-room2

There are a limited number of single rooms available at a supplement of $550.

2 Jr. Suites for a minimum of 2 people are available for a supplement of $250 per person.

Night shot piazza©Lester Lefkowitz 7003-010© Lester Lefkowitz 7184-022Archway from rose garden and breakfast buffet in the refectory (photos by Lester Lefkowitz)

Terrace-MJossThe back of San Fedele is surrounded by a large al fresco dining terrace with the original terra cotta tile designs reproduced down to the smallest details. The terrace overlooks the same organic vegetable and flower garden tended by the monks for centuries. Beyond are the rolling Chianti vineyards that make this part of Tuscany so breathtaking.

Other common spaces include a large classroom carved into the rock of the ancient wine cellar, an expansive private piazza, a 16 x 7 meter swimming pool and sprawling landscaped grounds on a rolling hillside.

To San Fedele-LMFlorence will be our meeting point on the first day of the workshop. A van will pick up the group at the train station at about 3:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.

We recommend that you fly into either Florence, Pisa or Rome (Milan is a bit too far away). Florence is closer but it doesn`t have an intercontinental airport, so there are no direct flights from the US. You would have to change planes in a larger European city. From the Florence airport you must take a shuttle bus (Volainbus) into the center (20 minutes).

There are more scheduled flights from the US to Rome, many of them direct. From Rome, you will need to take a train to Florence (about 2 1/2 hours).
Important! In making your return flight arrangements, if you are flying home on Saturday after the workshop, try not to book a flight too early. From our location allow 1 ½ hours to get to the Florence airport or 3 ½ hours to get to the Rome airport.

For suggestions about getting to Rome or Florence, accommodations or other logistics, please consult ourTraveling to Italy link. Renting a car from all the major rental agencies is possible if you prefer to be more independent during the week.

Fall vineyards

Fall vineyards


Borgo San Fedele sits conveniently on a country road connecting the charming medieval walled town of Radda and the village of Vagliagli. Other nearby hilltowns include Castellina-in-Chianti, Monteriggioni and Volpaia. It is about 45 minutes from San Gimignano and Volterra. Many of these towns have roots in the earlier Etruscan civilization that permeated this area prior to the Romans.

San Fedele is located about 12 km northeast of Siena and 45 km south of Florence.

The Food

For us at Il Chiostro, helping our guests to experience the traditional food in one of the earth`s richest, most sensual areas is our pleasure. The Chianti region of Tuscany is Italy’s famous wine and olive oil producing region. Here we want to expose you to the wonders of simple Italian cooking known in the area as cucina povera. Our chef is a Tuscan native who uses recipes from her mother and grandmother to bring the tradition of not only Tuscany, but specifically the Chianti region, to the table each evening.  We use seasonal, organic products, locally produced by small farms and family shops. Our chef searches for the best of Tuscany to serve you. Tuscan cuisine is a simple art that has been refined over the centuries to surprise our palates while the red chianti wine comforts our souls. Come explore what food can really be all about.

© Lester Lefkowitz 7184-057Candle Light Dinner2-CharlesAnderson
About Your Il Chiostro Hosts
Linda and Michael, and their program managers will host your program in Tuscany. They have been organizing workshops in Italy since 1995 and each person brings a special talent to the program. You can read more about them by following the About Il Chiostro link. At the Tuscan Renaissance Center, the owners of San Fedele, Nicolo and Renata, live on site. They will be available throughout the program to talk about the history of the monastery, the renovation and this area of Tuscany they call home.

In addition to your workshop
Optional activities offered with this program will focus on the cultural, gastronomic, historical and artistic heritage of Tuscany. This area has been an inspiration to countless people for centuries. What Tuscany offers its visitors is truly astounding:

Bell tower-smallArt – San Fedele is located conveniently between the cities of Medieval Siena and Renaissance Florence packed with some of the most famous masterpieces in the world.

Wine -You are in the heart of the Chianti region, synonomous with the most famous wine that Italy produces. But the innovative Tuscan vintners are also producing Super Tuscans, red varietals that are quickly ascending the ranks of world-class wine.

History – this area was settled by the Etruscans centuries before the Romans were a civilized society. Their necropoli dot the fields throughout the area. Nearby towns like Radda, Vagliagli and Castellina date from the early Middle Ages. Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. San Fedele witnessed most of this from its panoramic perch atop the hillside.

Foodcucina povera is the typical Tuscan cuisine that has become popular around the world. The recipes are simple, emphasizing local and seasonal products: porcini mushrooms, salumi, legumes, vegetables, pasta, bread and game meats. Visiting an outdoor food market, you will understand the wisdom of this very healthy cuisine.

Crafts – perhaps the harmony of the landscape has been the inspiration for many local craftsmen. Exquisite hand-painted ceramics are the prime example, closely followed by mosaics, leather, woodworking, and textiles.