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July 14 - July 21

Oil Painting Techniques of the Renaissance: Northern and Central Schools - ICA 2024 Renaissance Series

Oil Painting Techniques of the Renaissance: Northern and Central Schools - ICA 2024 Renaissance Series

Workshop Dates:
July 14 - July 21
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About the Workshop

Oil painting developed in Northern Europe early in the 15th c. and Italian painters of the next generation quickly adopted the medium to their own unique vocabulary. Antonello di Messina is generally credited with the introduction of oil painting to Italy and more specifically, to Venice. Artists such as Giovanni Bellini, as well as Leonardo further expanded the expressive potential of the medium. The processes that these artists developed consequently influenced the whole history of Western Art. 

This workshop will follow their methods. Working from reproductions participants will use materials of the time, prepared by hand in a traditional way. Beginning on a wooden panel, prepared with rabbit skin glue and chalk gesso, participants will transfer their perforated drawings with charcoal and a pounce, then develop a wash drawing with genuine sepia ink, followed by an imprimatura – a colored “veil” - that establishes a tonality and a very useful neutral color. From here, oil paint ground in class will be used to develop the underpainting. Afterwards, rich glazes of transparent colors made primarily from pigments produced in in our Pigments and Paint Workshop.


Throughout the workshop, participants will be housed in the remarkably well-preserved Umbrian hill town of Monte Castello di Vibio.  Your workshop  package is all-inclusive, providing welcome and departure services and airport transfer from the Rome Fiumicino,Leonardo Da Vinci Airport (FCO). Aboard our comfortable private bus, single occupancy accommodations with shared bath (a wide range of upgrades with private bath are available), 3 meals per day Monday-Thursday, Prosecco brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday (no meals are served on Friday, our excursion day. Your workshop includes an excursion to Perugia. Of course, throughout your stay, 24/7 access to facilities and 24/7 bi-lingual support are provided. 

Price of the workshop includes all materials needed to produce the painting described above, except brushes, which will be available for sale at ICA in Italy. While it is unlikely that the painting will be completed in the timeframe allowed by the workshop, our goal is to give participants a sufficient understanding of the Northern Renaissance process in order to complete the painting at home. As part of the course fee, participants will be issued a unique case for the painting that allows the painting itself to be folded into a carry-on luggage-sized parcel even if not fully dry.

About the Instructor

ICA Staff

At ICA, we are fortunate to have a staff of individuals who are not only delightful people, but also remarkable artists and scholars, chefs, performers, and craftspeople in their own practice. All of these individuals, in addition to their contribution to ICA, have years of experience in their disciplines under their belts - in fact, collectively totaled, a couple of centuries of experience in all!

Levity aside, this talent, skill, and training often goes unrecognized and, after years of requests, we have decided to offer a series of workshop intensives taught by ISA staff in context of their area of disciplinary specialization. In the visual arts and art history – particularly considering our location - it should come as no surprise the common area of staff expertise is in Italian Renaissance Studies. Thus, accompanied by a wide-range of visiting lecturers, these workshops will focus on the following areas of studio practice:

Anatomy for the Artist
Cast Drawing and Modelling
Perspective and Optics
Paint and Pigments

These courses (also available for college-credit) are ideal for those who are limited in time or budget and are looking for a brief sojourn in Italy, accompanied by intensive instruction. For Italians and expats who happen to reside in our neighborhood these courses are ideal in that they provide the highest quality instruction, locally, and at a competitive cost. (For our neighbors, please note that a special, day-participant price, that includes instruction, lunch, and one excursion.)

All supplies are included.

On the other hand, for those having a little more time in Italy, as well as a more expansive budget, we suggest taking more than one of these interrelated courses

Included Amenities

Click on the links below for detailed information about our included amenities.
View Amenities Page »
  • Airport transfer from and to the Leonardo da Vinci Rome/Fiumicino Airport (FCO) aboard our private bus (on scheduled dates only). Bus departs the airport promptly at 12PM.
  • Airport welcome service and assistance with baggage
  • 24/7 bi-lingual support with manager on site at all times
  • All ground transport aboard private buses or our ICA van, unless otherwise specified. Licensed and insured professional driver and ICA guide accompany all excursions. Orientation at each destination is provided as is departure coordination (guide service is available upon request — unless specified — for an additional fee)
  • Complimentary bottle of local wine provided in rooms on arrival day and complimentary locally made soap
  • Village orientation and complimentary drinks provided on arrival day
  • Private access to our 5-storey tower at our Palazzo Persiane (on sign-up basis) for spectacular morning and evening views
  • Access to our art materials shop (during posted hours)
  • Thorough orientation lecture and maps provided the evening before departure
  • Return transport to the Rome/Fiumicino Airport (departs 5:30AM) with rest stop
  • Departure service/airport assistance at airport
  • Unless otherwise specified, single occupancy accommodation is provided in rooms with a view of the Tiber Valley that includes sink and vanity. Rooms are with shared bath on each level (3 rooms per bath) in our 14th century convent building, The Asilo. Apartments, rooms with private bath and AC, double rooms, group or villa accommodations are available for couples, business associates/ friends, or groups for an additional fee
  • Linens and towels provided
  • Weekly housekeeping service with change of towels and linens
  • Free washing machine access
  • Good Wi-Fi connection and access to our library and film collection
  • 3 chef-catered, gourmet meals per day (buffet breakfast, 3-course lunch, 4-course dinner) — with wine at lunch and dinner (table wine provided at lunch and dinner. An excellent wine list is offered at additional cost), while in Monte Castello
  • Group dining service is as follows, with breakfast and lunch served in our dining room, etc, with dinner (weather permitting) served on our private terrace overlooking the Tiber Valley
  • Lunch and dinner are plated as follows: pasta course, main course, vegetable, fruit/salad, dessert
  • When requested at registration, vegetarian, vegan, and special dietary options are provided
  • After dinner drinks on our terrace overlooking the Tiber valley
  • Dining service is as follows: Breakfast: 8:00 AM; Lunch: 1:00PM; Dinner: 8:00 PM. No meals are served on Fridays (excursion day) unless otherwise specified
  • On Saturday and Sunday, a full buffet brunch with fresh pastry and Prosecco is served at 11:00 AM
  • On Saturday, homemade, wood-fired pizza is served at 7:00 PM (except on departure days, when a special farewell dinner is served)
  • Sunday dinner with antipasti is served at 7:00 PM
  • Farewell dinner on the evening prior to departure
  • 24/7 access to our primary building and library is provided, including access to workspaces, studios, and ceramics facility
  • Special access to certain cultural and art collections is available upon request
  • FOR VISUAL ARTISTS: private, or semi-private secure and monitored studio space is provided (24/7 access)
  • FOR WRITERS: private workspace is provided (24/7 access)
  • FOR GROUPS: Group workspace is provided (24/7 access)
  • FOR CERAMIC ARTISTS: 24/7 access to our ceramics facility
  • Free access to lectures and events at the Teatro Concordia
  • An end of the session exhibition with reception that includes hors d'oeuvres and Prosecco in our gallery. Posters are prepared to promote the event with copies provided to all participants
  • 1 excursion per week is included (unless otherwise specified in the itinerary) aboard our private bus. Additional trips can of course be scheduled and given our central location. (Day trips are possible to as far north as Siena or Florence and as far south as Rome.)
  • Advanced reservations and ticket purchases for groups and individuals
  • Concierge services provided upon request at an hourly rate
  • Restaurant reservations (provided under Concierge services)
  • Car rental
  • Critique series with visiting visual artists
  • Artist materials workshops
  • Drawing and painting sessions from the figure
  • Cooking classes
  • Cheesemaking workshop
  • Pizza-making workshop
  • Kids cooking classes
  • Wine appreciation and Sommelier Courses
  • Wine and olive oil tastings
  • Vineyard tours
  • Truffle hunting
  • Ballroom dance classes
  • Weekend excursions to flea markets and natural sites
  • Shopping excursions to cashmere and leather outlets, to Deruta famous for fine painted traditional ceramics, and antique stores
  • Overnight excursions to the sea and day-trips to Rome beaches
  • Hot air balloon tours
  • Hot springs excursions
  • Lake Trasimeno tours
  • Umbria abandoned castle and fortress tour
  • Sustainable farming tour 
  • Babysitting services
  • Soccer, archery, and horseback riding camps for kids
  • Motorized mountain bike rentals
  • Electric car rental 
  • Golf-cart tours of Rome and Florence
  • Hiking/naturalist guides to national/regional parks - mountain hiking available
  • Fishing/Hunting Excursions

Payment Options

  • Payment in full (€500 non-refundable deposit is included. No refunds will be issued within 60 days prior to the start of the workshop. See refund policy for more details).
  • Non-refundable €500 deposit (Balance due must be paid a minimum of 30 days prior to workshop).
  • Balance payment (after €500 deposit).
  • Airfare Reimbursement of €250 (Will be distributed by check from a U.S. Bank once the minimum enrollment has been met.)

Required Forms

All ICA participants; whether coming independently, with a group or through a college / university, must provide the following completed forms and information to at least 2 weeks prior to attending their program. 
Emergency Contact & Medical Information »Liability Waiver »
Proof of Insurance / Travel Insurance
Itinerary and Passport
For detailed information and to download the required forms, please visit our Guides and Forms page.


Day 1, Sunday July 14th

  • Arrive Rome/Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO)
  • 12:00 PM: BusDeparts FCO
  • Arrival at Monte Castello di Vibio
  • 2:30 PM: Lunch/Orientation/Rest/ Tour of village/
  • 8:00 PM: Dinner
    9:00 PM – 10:00 PM Lecture: History of oil painting and the Influence of Flemish School Painters of the Italian Renaissance

Day 2: Monday July 15th

  • 8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast
  • 9:30 – 1:00 Morning Session:
    • Lecture:
      • Construction of Surfaces Used in Renaissance Paintings
      • Optical properties of pigments
      • Light transmission in paintings and use of isolating varnish
      • Indirect processes and the function of the underpainting
    • Workshop:
      • Prepare panel (demonstration only, participants will use commercial chalk panels as a surface)
      • Canvas preparation (demonstration)
      • Charcoal making demonstration
      • Transfer cartoon to ready-made panel, using the perforation and pounce method
      • Carbon Black Ink-making demonstration
      • Prepare ink and fix drawing
  • 1:00 – 2:00 Lunch
  • 2:00 – 6:30 Afternoon Session:
    • Workshop:
      • Develop drawing with ink-wash
      • Prepare shellac imprimatura (yellow ochre)
      • Isolate panel and ink drawing with shellac imprimatura
  • 6:30 – 8:00 Free time or independent work
  • 8:00 – 9:00 Dinner
  • 9:00 – 10:00:
    • Lecture:
      • Physics of light
      • Color of Light
      • Light and matter
      • Light and the eye
      • Color perception

Day 3: Tuesday July 16th

  • 8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast
  • 9:30 – 1:00 Morning Session:
    • Lecture:
      • Physics of light
      • Light and pigments
      • The colored ground
    • Workshop:
      • White lead production (demonstration)
      • Oil paint-making demonstration: Red ochre
      • Heighten wash drawing with white lead and dryer (Liquin)
  • 1:00 – 2:00 Lunch
  • 2:00 – 7:00 Afternoon Session:
    • Workshop:
      • Continue with underpainting
  • 8:00 – 9:00 Dinner
  • 9:00 – 10:00
    • Lecture:
      • Glaze mediums and glazing techniques

Day 4: Wednesday July 17th

  • 8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast
  • 9:30 – 1:00 Morning Session:
    • Perugia Trip:
      • National Gallery of Umbria: Tour of museum and on-site lecture on processes of Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Perugino and others in collection
  • 1:00 – 2:00 Lunch at ICA
  • 2:00 – 6:30 Afternoon Session:
    • Workshop:
      • Return to MC, and continue with underpainting
  • 6:30 – 8:00 Free time
  • 8:00 – 9:00 Dinner
  • 9:00 – 10:00
    • Lecture:
      • Oil Painting Processes of Leonardo

Day 5: Thursday July 18th

  • 8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast
  • 9:30 – 1:00 Morning Session:
    • Workshop:
      • Isolate underpainting with varnish
      • Demonstration: Making glaze mediums
      • Begin application of glazes
  • 1:00 – 2:00 Lunch
  • 2:00 – 7:00 Afternoon Session:
    • Workshop:
      • Working with glazes
  • 7:00 – 8:00 Free time or independent work
  • 8:00 – 9:00 Dinner
  • 9:00 – 10:00

Day 6: Friday July 19th

  • 8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast
  • 9:30 – 1:00 Morning Session:
    • Workshop:
      • Continue with Painting
  • 1:00 – 2:00 Lunch
  • 2:00 – 7:00 Afternoon Session:
    • Workshop:
      • Continue with Painting
  • 7:00 – 8:00 Free time or independent work
  • 8:00 – 9:00 Dinner
  • 9:00 – 10:00

Day 7: Saturday July 20th

  • Morning: Free
  • 11:00 AM Brunch
  • Afternoon: Set up for exhibition
  • 6:30 – 8:00: Exhibition
  • 8:00 Farewell Dinner

Day 8: Sunday July 21th

  • Rome/Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO); Bus Departs Monte Castello at 5:30 AM
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