Paint, draw and learn in beautiful places Art: The Maryland Institute offers summer programs that combine instruction and travel.

April 06, 1997|By Eileen Canning | Eileen Canning,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Picture this: beautiful cliffs overlooking the Caribbean, remote villages locked in time and ancient volcanoes sleeping against a warm amber sky.

This is what some students enrolled in the Maryland Institute, College of Art summer program see daily while earning academic credit. This summer, MICA is offering travel programs to Italy, Greece, Canada and Mexico. Students will place their easels in front of some of the most amazing scenery in the world and return with painted memories.

The programs are taught by faculty members from the institute and other schools. Although the programs were designed for serious art students looking for uninterrupted concentration in painting or drawing, the courses can be taken for graduate or undergraduate credit, or no credit at all. Some painting experience is required, but participants have ranged from beginners to professionals.

According to Gage Blair, the special-programs coordinator at MICA, the programs, which have been in existence for almost 10 years, are small, averaging 10 to 20 students of all ages.

"They are intimate, intense, adventurous programs," Blair said, "There are benefits to the places they go as well as to the students, because student paintings are often sold at art shows."

Manuel Theodore, a director of the program in Greece, said that an 87-year-old woman enrolled in it twice in three years. "She was full of energy and adventure, but she took it easy. She sat and drew for the most part, while we climbed to places like Delphi. Another student in the Greek program fell in love with a native and was married."

Theodore runs the program in Greece with partner Libby Nead. This will be its eighth summer. The course's main site this year will be the isolated village of Olymbos, which overlooks the Aegean. "It is a village out of time," Theodore said.

Theodore found the village in 1994, when he was asked to restore and conserve the icons of the Church of the Mother of God in Olymbos, which is on the island of Karpathos.

The program in Greece also involves painting on the islands of Hydra and Aigina, where students will have the opportunity to tour the Temple of Apollo and the monastery of Ossias Loukas, Delphi, and the amphitheater of Epidauros, as well as the city of Athens.

In Sorrento

Another European program specializing in painting and drawing is in Sorrento, Italy. Instructors will be Dan Dudrow, a veteran MICA teacher, and Ellen Burchenal, an area artist and art speaker.

This program will allow aspiring artists to work independently with instructors amid the beauty of Italy and the Mediterranean. "Sorrento, located on the Gulf of Naples, with its cliffs and winding roads, appears very dramatic and volcanic," Burchenal said.

Students in the Italy program stay by the sea in the Hotel Cocumella. The four-week trip includes a trip to Sorrento, Pompeii, Naples, Massa Lubrense and Paestum.

'Aspects of Mexico'

If Europe is a bit too far for your pocketbook, "Aspects of Mexico" is a less expensive summer program offered by MICA. It offers students the opportunity to study landscape painting while living in San Miguel, Mexico. Nicknamed "Mexico's colonial jewel," it is a traditional village three hours from Mexico City.

Director Betsey Heuisler teaches students to interpret Mexican landscapes such as historic cobblestone streets, traditional markets and the countryside with oil and pastels. The students work in studios at the Instituto Allende, an international school of art housed in the former 18th-century palace of the Courts of Canal.

The program also offers three credits in art history concentrating on "The Concept of the Sacred in Mexican Thinking," which examines aspects of Mexican culture such as festivals, beliefs in magical powers and religious practices.

The San Miguel program encourages students to take other classes, including jewelry-making, ceramics or sculpture, at the Instituto Allende.

Heuisler spent years working abroad and was an Affiliated Fulbright Scholar with the Afghan-American Educational Commission in Kabul. She has exhibited her work at the American Center Gallery in Kabul and in Rabat, Morocco.

Stay cool

If a cooler climate sounds more appealing, you may want to check out MICA's summer program in New Brunswick, Canada. This course focuses on drawing as well as painting, and is taught by MICA faculty member Sharon Yates.

The Canada program is based in the seaport town of St. Andrews in New Brunswick. Because the town is on the tip of a peninsula on Passmaquoddy Bay, off the Bay of Fundy, the weather is full of contrasts.

The strong tides of the ocean bring gray fogs or colorful sunsets. The area is made up of fishing wharves, rocky beaches, dense woods and countryside, ideal for just about any artist.

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