Last month I spent a fantastic time in Florence, taking part in the professional artist workshop that is offered every summer by the legendary Florence Academy of Art. Established and guided by American born artist and educator Daniel Graves in 1991, the Academy is one of the leading providers of classical art education, and accordingly a source of inspiration and upscaling for advanced artists who specialize in figurative art. 

I was therefore delighted to be able to attend their still life painting workshop for two weeks, which was led by Ms. Maureen Hyde, an alumni of the Florence Academy of Art whose work is regularly exhibited on both sides of the Atlantic and even included in the permanent collection of the New Britain Museum of Modern Art. Maureen encouraged us to re-think our approach to composition and how we select colors for our still life paintings, which has reinvigorated my passion for landscape and still life art. 

Another exciting aspect of attending the workshop was that it was a great opportunity for artists, instructors, and faculty to get together at the Annual FAA Summer Dinner Party at Palazzo Budini Gattai, a stunning 16th century palace. Designed by Ammanati, the architect who studied under Michelangelo, the palace boasts beautiful rooms with fresco wall features and two romantic Italian gardens, famed for the many classical statues and the monumental fountain attributed to Giovanni Bandini that adorn it. 

It also was an amazing opportunity to connect with likeminded artists from all over the world who attended the workshop. With painters representing Chile, France, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Germany and the United States, it was a vibrant and stimulating mix of talent, and I really enjoyed exchanging ideas, sharing painting techniques, and discussing the latest trends in the field with them. Exciting conversations about our preferred painting styles alternated with debates about recent exhibitions and gallery developments, and I found a number of new friends for life whose work I admire! 

Summer Studies at Florence Academy of ArtMy darling Paul joined us for a few days too, and enjoyed the experience immensely. We took a private guided tour of Florence to experience the city’s well-kept secrets in a more intimate and tailored atmosphere, and I was once again struck by its rich history and artistic heritage. We returned home full of wonderful memories, and I can’t wait to start applying my newly acquired skills that I learned at the Academy and from my fellow workshop attendees.