Watercolor Journaling in Verona and Lake Garda – SOLD OUT

DATES: 09/20/2023 - 09/27/2023
LOCATION: Lake Garda
PRICE: $3,250.00

Kathy Rennell Forbes is an accomplished international artist and instructor. She has taught plein air workshops in Cuba, Italy, France, Spain and the USA. Her artwork is in private and corporate collections around the world, including the French Olympic Committee in Paris. In 2019, Forbes taught watercolor workshops in Vence, France; Cinque Terre, Italy and Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Kathy is a Signature Member and past President of the Georgia Watercolor Society and has won numerous awards.  She was one of thirty master artists invited to the prestigious Olmsted Plein Air Invitational in Atlanta and Georgia Color’s Inaugural event. Her recent awards include 1st Place at the Plein Air Paint Out (PAPO) in Eatonton, GA, 1st Place at the Lake Country Fine Art Show, and Best Watercolor at Stone Mountain PAPO.

Forbes earned her BFA in Art and Art Education at the University of Georgia in Athens. Kathy currently creates, instructs, and exhibits her paintings at Studio Z in Atlanta’s Westside Arts District, at Binders Art Supply & Frames in Atlanta, GA and the Art House in Acworth, GA.

Kathy on location

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Artist Statement

Although I create many of my paintings in the studio or at live demos, my favorite place to paint is outdoors. There I become one with nature, lost in the scenery and the painting. It also keeps my work fresh and provides new challenges, whether it is a new location in a different country or dealing with the changing elements of nature. I oftentimes work in a small watercolor journal making notes in the margins and then create larger studio pieces from them, especially when traveling overseas.

You can follow Kathy on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/KathyRennellForbesArtist

We’re sorry, but this workshop is full.  If you want to be on the waiting list, email us at michael@ilchiostro.com

Sketch and Paint in the gardens and villages along the shores of Lake Garda

Immerse yourself in a week of inspiring landscapes and painting in this new workshop offered by instructor Kathy Rennell Forbes and Il Chiostro. Our focus for the week will be creating values sketches and painting watercolors of the gorgeous Lake Garda landscape. You will learn how to simplify the scene, create your best compositions and how to select pleasing color harmonies en plein air. This workshop is open to artists of all levels and mediums, all demonstrations will be in watercolor. Kathy works with a limited palette and watercolor supplies to make international travel easier. She paints in acrylic, oil and watercolor. Now is the time to paint the beauty of Italy with her and Il Chiostro.

Value study and Shoppers Behind the Duomo, watercolor by Kathy Rennell Forbes

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. Kathy will demonstrate and teach various ways to see, draw, simplify a scene, and creatively collect information to fill up your sketchbooks.

Lake Garda, towards Malcesine

Student Testimonials

The Italy trip totally exceeded my expectations! Never having gone to Europe, I didn’t know what to expect really. But now I fear I’m completely spoiled by our trip to Italy as it was the most amazing, stress free, wonderful time of my life! The people, food, art and painting were perfect. Kathy did a fantastic job of leading us in painting each day through the towns and landscapes.  Thank you so much for this fantastic experience!  – Katie K.

The watercolor workshop in Italy was a wonderful experience, it was so peaceful and serene.  The towns that we visited and painted were beyond my expectations.  Our guides were extremely helpful at the various painting locations or venues.  – Jackie C.

Cinque Terre Italy landscape, watercolor by Kathy Rennell Forbes

The fair city of Verona

We begin our week by meeting on Wednesday, September 20th, 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 exploring 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.

A typical day will include early breakfast at our hotel from 8:00- 8:30 so that we can start out painting by 9:00 am. Kathy 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. We will continue to paint a few hours during the afternoon or visit local sites or gardens.

Group dinners 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.

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: the train station (for those traveling on) or the airport.

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: $3,250, ($2,950 for non-painting partners) Sold out

All rooms are private, single rooms with ensuite bathrooms

Shared double room discount: $250 p/p

Breakfast in the garden at the hotel

What is Included:

  • Dinner and hotel stay in Verona upon arrival
  • Single, private room in lakeside hotel (double room discount available, see above)
  • Daily traditional breakfast and dinner, including wine
  • Daily workshop classes and critiques with Kathy
  • 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

Manarola, watercolor from Kathy’s last trip with Il Chiostro to the Cinque Terre

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 1st.  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.  Otherwise you can fly into Venice, Brescia, Florence, Bologna or Milan’s Malpensa airport. From there you can connect by train to Verona, our first meeting place.

On the final day of the program a coach will take participants to the nearby train station of Desenzano for your connections to an airport to catch your flight home, or to continue your travel.  We will take participants to the station to accommodate their connections.  If you are flying out of Milan on that day, please try to make your 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