Watercolor Journal in Lake Garda & Venice with Sharon Pitts

DATES: 10/01/2024 - 10/12/2024
PRICE: $3,150.00

I have been painting in watercolor since 1980. I began painting with acrylic on canvas and when I started to play with watercolor I was transfixed by its luminescence. From then on I focused on watercolor and experimented with its transparency and luminous color combinations. I continue to learn watercolor techniques that come from nature studies and from the fascinating accidents that often occur when working with watercolor. I have learned that working with and accepting these unexpected occurrences with watercolor are what give my work its vitality and originality.

Over the years I have exhibited my work in group and solo shows. My work is in many private and corporate collections.

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Several years ago I began teaching watercolor workshops, which have ranged from Prince Edward Island, Canada to Maryland, Florida, and New Mexico. Recently I have taught three wonderful painting holidays to the south of France.

These trips have been extremely valuable to develop a connection to new places to paint but mostly in terms of allowing students a new way to “see”. These trips have also become a major part of my inner self that I tap into every time I paint, wherever I am.   I know that this becomes a special benefit for every person who experiences the personal growth that comes from taking a painting workshop.

For further information feel free to email Sharon Pitts at paintergirl@comcast.net

Pink Dogwoods by Sharon Pitts

Bring your watercolors to timeless and sensual Venice!

…and if you can, join us for the option to extend the trip first in the romantic city of Verona and stunning Lake Garda

Venice:  Immerse yourself in the centuries old charm of this city of the world by observing and painting the canals, eating and drinking like the local folks and giving yourself plenty of time to explore those intriguing corners and alleyways.

This workshop will encourage each student to capture his/her observations, thoughts, feelings and ideas about the experience of being in this unbelievable place. Venice probably shouldn’t even exist anymore – but it does!  Students will work with a book of watercolor paper to produce a personal journal of their trip. Each person will be encouraged to paint their impressions of Venice from intimate images of the colorful squares to the quiet back canals and hidden gardens.

Map of Venice in Gold by Sharon Pitts

“This is as good as it gets!”  2011 participant

Paintings will range from small sketches to complete works. There will be an emphasis on creative thinking to help students paint their own unique impressions of the area. We will incorporate our thoughts and feelings about our surroundings by making notes along with our paintings in our watercolor journals. We’ll have a studio for classes when we are not painting outdoors. Each person will return with a beautiful, personal painted record of their time in La Serenissima – Venice.

Sharon’s journal from Venice

Venice canal, photo by Linda Mironti

Accommodations: The week will be spent in the a brightly renovated ex-convent on the Zattere just near the Accademia Bridge and museum. When you register you can choose either a single or double room with ensuite bathroom in the complex where our studio is.  Rooms are clean and comfortable, but simply furnished.  OR… You are welcome to find your own accommodations in an AirBnB or nearby hotel for a discount of $800 p/p.  Look on the Accommodations tab above for suggestions.

We’ll enjoy traditional cuisine at local restaurants or prepared by our personal chef. It will be an ideal place to improve your painting skills.

General Activities: Our first activity will be an orientation at 6pm on the first day followed by dinner with the group.  After that, most activities for the week will be organized around the individual workshops but all participants will come together for meals and events like the guided walking tour of selected highlights of Venice. Then, at the end of the week all the artists will stage an exhibit of their work to share their visual impressions of enigmatic Venice.

San Marco Cafe Tables, photo by Harvey Stein

Dinners: During the week we will have 5 dinners together. To experience a good cross-section of typical Venetian cuisine we will sample diverse neighborhood trattorie and Michael and Linda will host our group for two home-cooked meals with ingredients we find at the outdoor market. Two nights of the week you will be on your own to follow your nose to restaurants or concerts or the opera or whatever else might pique your curiosity. There is plenty of time for independent exploration.

Verona/Lake Garda Prelude:  If you can spare the time, please consider joining us first in Verona on October 1st and then stunning Lake Garda for 3 nights – the largest of the Italian lakes nestled in the foothills of the Alps.

Itinerary:  independently fly into the city of Romeo and Juliet, Verona and meet at Grand Hotel des Artes-Hotel Indigo for an orientation and our first dinner together.  Explore this fair town the next day before boarding our private coach to the town of Gargnano on Lake Garda.  There we will spend 3 days sketching and painting from the terrace of our small family-run hotel or in the small towns nearby.  One day we’ll take the ferry across the lake to Malcesine for shopping and lunch.

On the 4th day (October 5th) we will take our coach to Venice where we’ll begin our 1-week painting program.  For those who cannot take advantage of this opportunity, we will all meet at Artigianelli, the ex-convent on the Zattere near the Academia bridge in Venice on Saturday, October 5th.


  • first night at hotel in Verona, October 1
  • 3 nights at Hotel Gardenia al Lago in Lake Garda, October 2, 3 & 4
  • single or double rooms available


  • Breakfast and dinner (with wine) each day
  • Lunches are independent.

Reflections, photo by Denise Riesen


Venice only – $3,150 p/p for 7 nights
Non-painter partners/friends are always welcome for a reduced fee of $2,850
Single room supplement available – $475


  • 7 nights at refurbished convent – double or single (with supplement) room with ensuite bathroom and shower (Note: departure is after breakfast on the final Saturday.  The last class activity will be Friday evening.)
  • Daily buffet breakfast and 5 dinners at local restaurants, including wine
  • Workshop tuition, daily classes
  • Guided art history tour of Venice
  • Selected excursions with class

Optional Garda extension – $1,200 for 4 nights

Single room supplement – $200


  • first night at hotel in Verona, October 1
  • 3 nights in hotel in Lake Garda, October 2, 3 & 4
  • 4 dinners with wine, breakfast daily
  • transportation from Verona to Garda on October 2 and from Garda to Venice on October 5.

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing
  • Workshop materials
  • Local transportation: vaporettos, water taxis

Salute, photo by Lester Lefkowitz

Still Life, watercolor by Sharon Pitts

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 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.


For our week in Venice we will be staying at the renovated monastery of Don Orione Artigianelli directly on the Giudecca Canal.  The complex is built around a series of quiet cloisters where the only sound is of the bells ringing on the hour.

Rooms are single or double, simply furnished, but each with its own private, modern bathroom.

Breakfast is served each morning in the dining room on the main floor.  We will use one of their conference rooms as our studio.

Convent Alternatives:

If you would prefer to find your own accommodations in Venice, that is not a problem.  Just select Program only-no accommodations when registering and the room fee will be deducted from your workshop fee.  There are many options for hotels or AirBnB apartments that you can research.  Here are some of our hotel suggestions with web sites and number of stars.  They are all in the Dorsoduro section on the same side of the Accademia Bridge as the convent.  Contact them directly through their web sites:  [NOTE:  our studios for classes will be located in the convent so you might want to stay nearby.]

Very Near the Convent

On the Zattere

On Side Canals

Near La Salute:

Inexpensive alternative (save money – less expensive than the convent):

  • Casa Accademia, ex-convent beside Hotel American (not to be confused with Pensione Accademia above), 45 euros/single, 55 euros/ double, cheap, convenient: casaccademia.it

To arrive either you can fly directly into Venice or into Milan and then take the train to Venice. Specific arrival instructions will follow, but from the train station you can take the vaporetto and get off at the Zattere.  From the airport you can take the Alilaguna ferry (Blue Line) and get off at the Zattere.  In either case, Artigianelli will be right in front of you.  We’ll send you easy walking directions so you won’t get lost.  Remember that Venice is a walking city, so pack light because you will have to pull your luggage down the alleys and over the bridges – there’s just no getting around that.

Our first activity will be an orientation at 6pm on the first day, followed by dinner with the group.

Departure is after breakfast on the final day.  If you are flying out that day you might try to arrange your flights for 11am or later to avoid getting up at the crack of dawn.

If you have time you might want to explore the Lakes district or enchanting towns like Bergamo or Verona, the site of Romeo and Juliet, before you arrive in Venice. This will give you plenty of time to recover from jet-lag before you settle in at the convent and start your workshop. Besides, Italy is not something that should be experienced in a hurry. Its charms need to seep into your skin while you linger at a café or amble through a piazza.

Travel Agent

If you don’t have your own trusted travel agent, here are two we can recommend:

They are familiar with Il Chiostro programs and can help you with flights, hotel reservations, extensions before or after your trip, transfers, and especially booking the right travel insurance to cover your trip.

Over the last couple of years, how we travel has changed.  For that reason, we now encourage everyone to use a travel professional to help arrange your travels.  One of the most important services they can provide today is to help you choose and enroll in the right travel insurance program. With Covid and the possibility of changes and postponements of itineraries, travel insurance is all but essential.  On your own, it can be overwhelming to select the right plan from the variety available.  Also, if you confront any obstacle while traveling, a travel professional will take the stress off your shoulders and help you to navigate through whatever issues may arise.  Booking through an online site like Expedia or Hotels is convenient and possibly less expensive, but they won’t be much help if you need to alter your plans.  A travel agent, on the other hand, is there to assist you throughout your trip.

If you choose to Go It Alone, we highly recommend taking out travel insurance for the trip in the event of any unforeseen obstacles to your travel.  We recommend Travelex (800) 504-7883 or Travel Guard International (877) 901-7599.

Venice, city, empire, wonder of the world, is one of the most visually stimulating places on Earth. Stripes of canals, Byzantine mosaics glittering in the sun, window cases of blown glass, leather-bound books, plumed masks, woodcut puppets. Each step through the crooked passages is a delight. Spend a week (or two) probing unknown corners. Stay long enough to lounge at a café. Get to know the old woman at the vegetable stall. Return to that tiny mask shop again and again. Photograph it. Artists and writers have been interpreting Venice since it was born in the lagoon centuries ago, from the Grand Canal to the tiny sculptures above the doorframes. Get lost in the sensuality.

Because Venice is such a visual feast that is a collection of its past, our program offers weeklong workshops in painting or photography. Participants coming from the different disciplines will capture and be stimulated by the passion of Venice.  Throughout the week the groups inspire one another to see in new ways and to experiment with their work in a city that has awed writers, painters, colonels and kings.

Bartosek-rialto sunset

Rialto Sunset by Cindy Bartosek