This summer I was thrilled to embark on the first Artistic Artifacts creative retreat, headquartered in Ischia di Castro, Italy, an amazing medieval city approximately one hour northwest of Rome. The artistic goal was create custom art journals — one of my page spreads is shown above and I include additional images here.
Everyone on the tour had accommodations in apartments in the village, and gathered each morning for a variety of mixed media lessons to create original and layered journal pages.
All the necessary supplies were shipped ahead to Italy and were waiting for everyone to play! Above, our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints used with wooden printing blocks and on gel printing plates.
I taught my students my favorite journal format, as shown in a previous blog post. My cover is shown here — I cut a piece longer than my page spreads intentionally, so the extra (seen right) can wrap around to the front to form a closing flap. My journal is tied shut with sari silk ribbon.
One key difference from journal I’ve featured in in the past was the substitution of Kraft-Tex Kraft Paper Fabric for the cover. I had previously used and loved Roc-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth, but unfortunately it has been discontinued by the manufacturer. The Kraft-Tex took paint and ink beautifully and was easy to sew (to bind the page signatures), and has a wonderful, leather-like feel — it’s ideal for a journal cover!
Click through this gallery to see my journal pages (shown randomly). I wanted mostly Madonnas, as there were many in Italy — and beautiful! St. Francis slipped in there too (we can always use a Saint on our side).
After our morning studio sessions, we spent our afternoons and evening with guided tours, sightseeing and of course delicious authentic Italian cuisine. One visit was to the town of Fabriano, where papermaking was demonstrated for us in a private tour: fascinating! We all gathered ephemera from these excursions to include in our journals.
A favorite afternoon excursion was to The Tarot Garden envisioned by Niki de Saint Phalle (she was assisted by a large team of master craftsmen) and located in Tuscany. You can see images of some of her beautiful outdoor sculptural art featured in my journal pages. Here are a few photographs I took in the garden. (In the photo captioned Wheel of Fortune, my husband Dave Gula is seated with me in front of The High Priestess; the Wheel of Fortune is to the right.) What a beautiful, inspirational day!
Traveling is really inspiring to your art and soul. I’m looking forward to my next block printing tour in India — there’s room for you to join me too!
The 2022 Italian Creative Retreat will take place in September and will focus on stitching. One of my best friends, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, will be joining me for this exciting trip! Email Italian Cultural Tours to indicate your interest in traveling with us! Additional details are available on our website.