The Day in Barga

Hmmm… I guess I stayed up too laImagete last night because morning sure rolled around awfully fast. But I finally got some real rest since the jet lag from the flight, so I felt (almost) ready to go.

We met in the studio, had a morning pep talk from Chris and packed up our art bags. After a poll, it was determined that I am the only one in the class who has painted with oils before – or ever painted “en plien aire” (meaning outside on location.) Now this is a pretty big deal for someone who has never gotten outfitted and gone outdoors to paint, so I was thinking, “heaven help us” because I knew what we were in for.

So off we headed for Barga. The English ladies, Dot and Renae, are what the others are calling a “comic show” unto themselves. They were cackling and amusing everyone even though they didn’t know it and the 7 of us were crammed in the van with all our supplies, which were numerous. Thankfully, I was given the front seat so Chris and I could roll our eyes at all the shenanigans going on. I told him I felt like I was in that old Michael Keaton movie called the “Dream Team” where a bunch of inmates have a day out of the asylum and all heck breaks loose.

It wasn’t far to Barga and soon we were unloading more supplies than we could carry. All I can say is that Barga is a town built into the side of a mountain. And if you have half a brain, you know you are going to be traversing hills most suited for mountain goats. Alas, this was true…

ImageHere are my classmates walking up one of the narrow streets of the area of Barga we were going to. And yes, cars travel these streets – you just have to get out of the way when one comes by. AND… this was a very FLAT slope. The hills and steps were incredible – I thought my lungs would burst before we got to the top – but the view was spectacular when we got there.

The next thing we did was pick out a spot we thought we could paint from all day, which was easier said than done. I knew I couldn’t stand all day, so the view of the rooftops of Barga was out for me. I also knew I didn’t want to be in earshot of the rest of the group complaining and asking questions because they had never worked with oil paints before, so I hung back to see where they decided to go.

Every single one of them chose the same location – which didn’t appeal to me at all – so it was easy for me to go the other way. I was set up in no time, had my preliminary sketches done and got my canvas ready. I had my underpainting done before anyone else even knew what it was. Now I’m not any smarter than the rest of them – it’s just that I’ve done it before so was able to get a head start.


But I quickly lost my advantage because it was lunchtime by then and we had to walk back down the mountain to a restaurant for lunch. OMG… I did it, but it was exhausting and I was worried about going back up for the afternoon and back down again at the end of the day.

But the best news is that they serve a cheapo version of Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) with lunch and I was able to chill out about it. That and some penne gave me the energy to go on…

Back on top of the mountain we began to paint in earnest. I may have a bit more experience, but it was very challenging. I chose the most simple scene I could but I wasn’t able to complete the painting in the couple hours we had. You can see a hint of it here but it has a long way to go.

All afternoon the tourists came by and many took my picture while painting. Can you believe that? People from God-knows-where will be going home with a photo of an unknown artist painting on the top of a mountain in Italy – and it’s me! I was almost overcome with joy at the thought of it.

Packing up for the day was another ordeal and I tried to get a head start because I knew it would take me a while to get back down to the car. Off I went, down myriads of stairs and slopes, slowly putting one foot in front of the other, and I made it without incident. All the way down I kept thinking I was doing well because the group never caught up to me. BUT…

When I got to the entrance gate, there they all were in the car! They had taken a shortcut back, which no one told me about because it is very steep, and they were waiting for me! Oy vay! Oh well, at least I am now known as a pretty good artist and they don’t really care if I can’t walk so fast.

The ride back to Val di Pozza was eerily quiet. The English ladies were swooning with fatigue and everyone else was in a bit of a daze, including me. I looked at Chris and told him it must be quite an accomplishment to silence the loony van in less than a day’s time and we had a good laugh.

So, it’s back to the room for a shower before supper – we’re all so tired I don’t know if we can make it!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ellyn
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 20:33:21

    I had to laugh out loud when I got to the part about tourists taking your picture! How funny is that? Perhaps some of them imagined you were a local and this is just a normal Thursday afternoon for you…


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