Umbria painting and cooking vacation: Interview with Nancy Couick
Award-winning artist and painting instructor Nancy Couick has been leading unique painting and Italy cooking vacations with us for years. In this interview, she talks about her background in painting, her love for Italy, and why she hopes you join her on her latest adventure in Umbria!
I have been painting for 23 years. I fell in love with watercolors from the beginning. Although I have painted in other media, I always go back to my first love of watercolors. I tend toward realism in my work. Initially I focused on florals, visiting botanical and sculpture gardens, such as Brookgreen Gardens in S.C. for inspiration. After a five week painting tour of Italy in 2000 though, I began my series of works based on Italian life and the amazing vistas offered by the country. My love of the country began then and I have returned annually to see even more of Italy and its people!
Regarding cooking.... honestly I wanted to add cooking to the tours for friends and family who wanted to come, but not to paint. As it turns out, most of our travelers love to both paint and cook and to learn more about it. To tell the truth, I now have a kitchen only because it came with the house! After my kids grew up and moved away, my cooking adventures at home became limited, as I spend much of my time at the studio these days. I do enjoy the cooking classes arranged by The International Kitchen, especially the artistry of the chefs in preparing the dishes.
You've traveled with The International Kitchen before to lead other painting and cooking vacations. Where have you traveled, and how will this trip be different (or similar) to the other programs you've led?
I have traveled with The International Kitchen for some years now after searching for a professional company to handle all the details of my tours. The staff is amazingly skilled at what they do! I have learned to count on them for terrific tours at top notch facilities. We have always received the best care. Karen is an amazing individual, who searches and arranges new and interesting destinations for us!
We have traveled to: the Amalfi Coast (twice), Rome, the Chianti area, Florence, Tuscany (including Sienna, Montepulciano, Pienza, Lucca, Pisa, and others). We have also toured the Cinque Terre, the Italian Riviera, including one of my favorites -- Portofino, then to the Piedmont wine Region including Asti and other nearby towns. Lake Maggiore and Milan in the Northern portion were very interesting and very beautiful!
As in past trips, we stay in two areas over the course of the vacation, in hopes of experiencing a little more of La Dolce Vita... The Sweet Life… of Italy. Including cooking classes, wine tastings, and watercolor sketching, we provide something for everyone to enjoy. This will be our first visit to Umbria as a group, and we will get to visit Orvieto, Assisi, Spoleto, Montefalco, Norcia, and we'll spend the last few days at a country resort and spa! What more could you ask?
What will people be learning and discovering with you, particularly with the painting? Where will painting workshops take place?
We will focus our painting on small color studies, or small paintings on site. We will develop our photography skills as well since the rules of composition are much the same for each medium. The beauty of watercolors is in its portability... a travel palette, a few brushes, and a small journal or watercolor block is all that is needed.
These studies, done to capture the mood and true colors of the scene, along with photographs taken on site have provided reference material for some amazing paintings done later in the studio. I believe that there is so much to see that these small paintings provide a perfect way to capture more of our travel experience. They become wonderful mementos or gifts.
It is my hope that one can learn to love Italy and its people as much as I do and want to return again and again! This country has a very special place in my heart!