BU Today


Capturing Tuscany

Learning to paint, with help from the world’s most beautiful landscape



Villas. Vineyards. Sun and art. Life is rich in central Italy, and this summer 10 students were able to take advantage of its richness by spending six weeks learning there as part of the new BU Tuscany Landscape Painting Program.

Inaugurated as an eight-credit course through BU’s Division of International Programs, the purpose of the new program is to study and to paint the landscape of the scenic Mugello Valley, which is in the northern part of Tuscany. The students also lived well: they stayed at Capitignano, a beautifully refurbished farm compound built on the ridge of one of the Apennine foothills, where the rooms are filled with antiques, the meals are served on a breezy outdoor terrace, and the wine comes from neighboring vineyards. For entertainment, there is a swimming pool, a tennis court, Ping-Pong, badminton, and basketball.
The students did, however, earn their credits. The course consists of two required classes each week and there is a serious expectation that students will paint extensively on their own time, with their professors available for questions and discussion. Hour-long art history classes are held four days a week, with one full-day trip and one half-day trip a week, usually to Florence, to look at paintings that have been discussed in class. Students are encouraged to remain at the beautiful Capitignano compound to work on painting assignments during most of their nonclass free time and to travel on their own during a long weekend built into the program after the third week.

The painting class was taught by painter Damon Lehrer, an adjunct professor of painting at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Mark Aeschliman, an art historian and professor at the TASIS school in Switzerland, led the art history classes and the many trips.

“The students all said at the end of the program that it had been an unforgettable and beautiful experience,” Lehrer says. “Their painting skills improved enormously, as did their direct firsthand knowledge and experience of Italian art history.”

The 10 students who attended this year were Taryn Alessandro (CFA’07), Jessica Antico (CAS’08), Alexandra Blatteis (CAS’07), Samantha Blatteis (Georgetown University), Stacy Chamberlain (COM’07), Sara Fabie (Colorado College), Celia Gold (CAS’06), Steven Hook (CFA’08), Elise L’Heurault (CFA’07), and Hope Stockman (Brown University).  

The program is a joint creation of International Programs and the College of Fine Arts. Students from BU or elsewhere with at least one year of painting training (or equivalent) are eligible to apply. Applications for the recurring program are due in March for the upcoming summer. Information sessions are held during the academic year through International Programs in conjunction with CFA; interested students should check the International Programs Web site or contact the office for the session dates.

 “This is a unique opportunity for students interested in painting and in Italy, in a place of unrivaled natural and man-made beauty,” says Lehrer.