The International School of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture in Umbria, Italy offers intensive studio programs for developing painters and sculptors from around the world. Distinguished artists teach and critique, and visiting artists and scholars lecture; students can work full-time in their studios and classes, and take weekly trips to study and draw from the great art of Italy.
Students, residents, and faculty live and work in Montecastello di Vibio, a hill town in Umbria, one of Italy’s most beautiful regions. Our living and working situation in Montecastello is ideal for an artist. It offers breathtaking surroundings, marvelous light, quiet, privacy, wonderful food, and of course, Italy’s rich cultural heritage.
In this supportive yet rigorous studio environment, artists and students can focus and concentrate on their work, uninterrupted by the demands of daily life back home, and make dramatic progress. Those who stay for several consecutive sessions benefit tremendously. For many artists, the International School is more than a summer program—it is their continuing professional education.
Montecastello di Vibio is an enchanting hill town in central Italy, overlooking the lush Tiber River valley. Our location halfway between Rome and Florence provides artists and students the opportunity to see firsthand some of the Western world's greatest art.
A beautifully preserved medieval fortress town, Montecastello looks much like it did 500 years ago. Fortification walls and remnants of towers surround the tiny heart-shaped village of stone houses and passageways. Vast panoramas of breathtaking landscapes can be seen in every direction.
Montecastello is safe and friendly, and a wonderful place to paint. It is not a tourist town, and the people in the community are very supportive of the school. This delightful village has been the home of the International School for more than 20 years, and a complex of historic buildings houses all of the School’s facilities.
The surrounding countryside is patterned with vineyards, olive groves and sunflower fields, and etched with rows of cypresses and umbrella pines. Preserving over 2,000 years of history, the cities and hill towns of Umbria and nearby Tuscany are landmarks of European culture. Many were built over four eras—Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance.
In this environment, you will paint and sculpt under the same light that spawned some of the world’s greatest art. Here is the architecture and landscape that inspired Renaissance artists like Giotto, Raphael, and Piero della Francesca, and later masters like Rubens, Poussin, Ingres, and Corot. One can see why the region still attracts artists from all over the world.
For undergraduate and graduate art students, artists wishing to work independently as residents in a stimulating school environment, and adults who aspire to reach a deeper level in their art.
The School is one of a very few of its kind: a school of modern art with in-depth training in drawing, painting, and sculpture. Enrollment is limited to about twenty-five students per session, with a 5:1 student/teacher ratio. This positive and intimate environment offers students substantial contact, both formal and informal, with their faculty mentors.
Thanks to our dynamic faculty, students come from all over the world. International School artists are of diverse ages and backgrounds. They include undergraduate and graduate art students from top-ranking art schools, artists considering graduate programs, postgraduates, art professors, working artists, and professionals. The International School is an ideal environment in which developing artists can completely devote themselves to working and learning. The time spent working at the school has always been extremely productive and conducive for breakthroughs, for students and faculty alike.
The School emphasizes the importance of drawing as the foundation for the development of one’s individual work. Students may draw from the model or in the landscape in three-hour classes, and paint in the landscape or from the model in four-hour classes, four days a week. We offer clay sculpture classes with the model twice a week. Painters are welcome to join the class. Instructors teach at least twice a week and are accessible for individual consultations and critiques. On non-teaching days, students are strongly encouraged to work independently.
Each student is assigned a private or semi-private studio for independent studio practice, to study, and develop their own personal work. Students have 24-hour access to their studios, in a safe and work-conducive environment. Or they may paint outdoors, in the beautiful Italian light.
In the evenings, visiting artists and faculty give slide lectures on their work, lead open discussions and readings, as well as give preparatory talks for art study trips. Students can participate in the slide talks, and in group and final critiques. Because of the close and communal nature of the school, students and faculty have constant interaction during meals, slide talks, trips, as well as in the open air piazzas in the town, where students, faculty, and townspeople congregate.
Fridays are trip days to Italy’s cities of art, to study and draw from the great art of the past.
Students may use the International School’s extensive art library, and video collection, and have 24-hour access to a telephone, computers, Wi-Fi, and the Internet. Experienced models are available as needed.
A final exhibition in the school’s gallery, which will be attended by local artists and people from the surrounding area, formally concludes the program.
For artists who wish to work independently in a community of artists.
The Residency program provides the ideal combination of seclusion and community in a setting of breathtaking beauty in Italy, in which artists can work intensively and independently for two, three, or more weeks in a supportive, inspiring environment. A distinguished visiting artist or member of the School faculty joins us as Senior Artist in Residence and studio critic, and a model poses for open drawing sessions. Visiting artists critique and lecturers provide preparatory talks for the weekly trips to Italy’s cities of art, which inspire and inform the work in the studio. While there are no classes, the Residency program also enables students to continue to work and progress independently.
During non-working hours, residents have access to the school’s art library, telephone, Wi-Fi, computers with Internet, and video collection. Residents enjoy wonderful meals together in the dining room, and develop a close sense of community. Residents’ rooms are single-occupancy and their studios are open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Independent Residencies may also be taken during the School sessions.
This program is also perfect for faculty on sabbatical, and for students looking to develop a body of work. The final resident’s exhibition, a festive event, is held in the school’s gallery, and is attended by local artists and people from Montecastello and the surrounding area.
CE (Continuing Education) is designed for adults with some background in art who want to create more time in their lives to paint and draw, or to deepen their engagement. This program offers shorter term instructional sessions, and is appropriate for people whose involvement with art was interrupted or limited by career or family demands, but who are eager to begin to study and practice again with our outstanding faculty. Advanced students and professional artists are also welcome in the CE Program.
CE students explore and enrich their interest in art, working and living in the heart of Italy, surrounded by a landscape of unparalleled beauty, close to great masterpieces of art and architecture. The emphasis is on work in the landscape and the studio, with classes in painting, open drawing sessions with a model, and weekly trips to Italy’s cities of art. After-dinner lectures and visiting artists enhance the program. The CE fee includes a single room, studio space, tuition, group trips, and three delicious Umbrian meals a day.
While we have tried to clarify the intentions of the different programs, in practice we see that people move freely between them. If you are willing to work and are open to experiences you will find any and all of our programs worthwhile. We try to make everyone's experience as rich and productive as possible.
W hile I’m seeking conscientious imitation, I do not for one minute lose the emotion that overtook me. Reality is part of art; emotion completes it. If we were really touched, the sincerity of emotion will pass unto others. — Corot