Painting & Studio Practice in Umbria, Italy

July 8 – 29, 2018

Umbria Badge

For centuries, artists have been inspired by the rare light and color of the Umbrian countryside as well as its regional culture, rich in great art and complex history. From the Early Renaissance to the 21st century, this unique environment has served as backdrop and catalyst for artistic investigation and experimentation. We invite you to come find out why!

In this intensive 3-week studio class you will live and make art in a small and remarkably well-preserved (non-touristy) medieval village that is safe, friendly and very conducive to work. The Umbrian hill-top town yields unique insights into Italian culture, while its central location provides easy access to monuments and urban centers. Monte Castello is extremely picturesque and is surrounded by incredible panoramas on all sides giving SAIC students  an opportunity to live and work in a beautiful location and and to immerse themselves in its culture and art on a daily basis.

Participants are provided with large studios with 24-hour access in a converted 16th century convent where they are free and encouraged to pursue the work of their choosing. Dan Gustin and Katherine Desjardins from SAIC’s Painting & Drawing Department together with resident faculty teach through individual and group critiques; students also meet with select visiting artists, art historians, lecturers and a supporting local community of artists. All contribute to an intensive and challenging program that will expand your work in exciting and unexpected ways.

Included in the itinerary are two day trips visiting museums in Rome and Florence.

The program fee includes accommodation in shared rooms with studio spaces and all meals at the International Centre for the Arts in Monte Castello di Vibio. Also included is round trip bus transfer from Rome's Fiumicino (FCO) airport for those students who arrive in the morning of the program’s start date and who depart in the afternoon of end date.  

Credits: 3 or 6 credits STUDIO (3000-level)

Instructors: Dan Gustin, Painting & Drawing Katherine Desjardins, Painting & Drawing

Program fee: Approx. $4,400 (Includes all meals and accommodation at the Centre, transport on field trips, and studio space. Does not include airfare or optional field trip museum admissions).

PLUS Tuition cost per credit: Undergraduate—$1,552 per credit hour Graduate—$1,625 per credit hour.


Budget at least $1,400 for airfare if flying from the United States. (Note this is only an estimated figure. Actual fare will depend on many variables including airline, number of stopovers, exchange rate fluctuations, ports of departure and return, and date of ticket purchase).

Online registration begins: March 14, 2018

Deposit due at registration: $525

Information sessions: Monday, February 5, 12:10 p.m. Columbus Drive Bldg., room CO 319

Tuesday, February 20, 12:10 p.m. Columbus Drive Bldg., room CO 326

Scholarship Opportunities: Students who intend to register for this study trip are eligible to apply for  SAIC Travel & J. Field/R. Field Family Travel Scholarships to assist with expenses. Application deadline February 14, 2018.


From previous summer’s course evaluations:

  • I was incredibly motivated to make, talk about, and see paintings. The atmosphere, teachers, conversations, and other students contributed to the experience as a whole.
  • The whole trip itself was very laidback and positive, but with the expectations that we have a good body of work by the end. The course was rigorous, but not intimidatingly so. Students are expected to learn and absorb and make, and the final critique reflects it.
  • The teachers and visiting artists talked in depth about ideas, artists, paintings, history etc., as well as to each student on an individual level. Students were also encouraged to talk to each other about our work, and did so.
  • I feel I've learned more from Dan Gustin about painting and drawing than any other teacher I've ever had combined. I connected with his approach to teaching, and feel that I think about my work differently in a constructive way.
  • It was so nice to have Dan as our instructor during the trip. He helped us open another pathway towards the painting world that I might never experience if I wasn't on this trip. Even though I am not a painting student back at the school, I sure will consider take another course with Dan!
  • You don't have to paint, in fact, you can get a lot out of the program making sculpture or film. Go for the studio space and the setting
  • This is an amazing class. If you are self motivated and interested in painting in the landscape it is an excellent experience. The village has beautiful vistas and friendly residents. The class is unaffordable, but if you are a landscape painter, it is a must to take this class and it will change your life. Hard to say if it is worth the loans, but probably. Make sure you bring ALL your own supplies because materials (although available in a store) are costly, and many are not available. Mail is not a good option in Italy so plan to cary everything there w/you and back in your luggage. Being self directed is critical in this class. Make sure your take your own initiative to get what you need from the experience and professors. Professors are accessible and flexible as well as generous and dedicated with their feedback.
  • Whatever your routine was in Chicago, try to abandon it and put on new one in Monte Castello. Do things you would never do in Chicago. Avoid do things you would do in Chicago. Talk to people. Get to know your peers. Do things together.
  • Any Student should take this class. I am a painter, but I was very impressed by the quality of the work that non-painters made which included Photography and Film.
  • Try to bring as many supplies with you as possible.