Artists show works crafted in Italy

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Surrounded by sunshine, ancient architecture and olive groves, artist/instructor Susan Elliott and 11 former students and colleagues were in Italy last year for a two-week workshop at La Romita, an art school situated in a 16th-century monastery in the Umbria region that once housed the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor.

Because all were professionals, they had no instructor, but worked on their own projects in watercolor, oil, pastel and acrylic.

The group is exhibiting resulting paintings in the Stanton Gallery at Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center through June 18, with a public reception planned from 5-8 p.m. May 10.

La Romita offers about 10 two-week workshops in various art disciplines and at various levels of skill each year, Elliott said.

A visit to the La Romita website, laromita.org, shows a traditional stone house with red tile roof, surrounded by shrubs and trees. The owners write that it was a monastery until the early 19th century and has been in private ownership since the grandparents of the present owners, Enza and Paola Quargnali, bought it for a summer home and farm for olive and olive oil production.

Artists were transported to surrounding hill towns to paint, including Orvieto, Assisi, Todi, Perugia and Spoleto, as well as ancient sites — and enjoyed “three scrumptious meals a day, prepared in northern Italian style,” said Elliott.

Participating artists were from the Denver area, with one exception, and most were from the south metro area. Many were Elliott’s students at Arapahoe Community College, and she was joined by art department colleague Marsha Wooley, of Parker. Others were Bob Barr, Denise Eiseman, Cilla Englert, Sherri Hofland, Barbara Kloehn, Arlene Kunz and John Sandifer of Seattle. (Two others who traveled with the group will not be exhibiting.)

Elliott said she retired from ACC last year after many years of teaching drawing and other courses. She taught a course this year for the OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, sponsored by DU) program on Van Gogh and is currently teaching one on Georgia O’Keeffe, in conjunction with Denver Art Museum exhibits.