Travel is a chance to vacate one’s current life temporarily in exchange for some new routine.  We align ourselves with the loveliness and simplicity of living with less and the freedom that brings.  Travel to a beautiful place with the intent to paint adds a whole new level of awareness to the experience.  When we paint, draw, or create in some way while on a trip, we opt for a deeper experience I call “insight-seeing”.  La Romita affords us the opportunity to focus on the life-affirming ideals of creativity, friendship, good food, health, adventure, joy, and more.  We are given the gift of time in a land of timeless beauty.  We are given time to dream.  

Because La Romita was once a monastery, it is natural that my daily routine at La Romita takes on a spiritual quality.  We all bring our own sensibilities, perceptions, and interpretations to all we do.   When I am on location with my class in some wondrous Italian hilltown, my new routine of walking, sketching, thinking, and dreaming is punctuated with a 10am cappuccino.  If returning to La Romita by lunch time, it is rejuvenating to spend the afternoon in the chapel studio painting or resting in the coolness of your room.  A late afternoon demo or critique prepares us for the next day.  If we spend a full day on location, the adventure is broadened and our return for the evening meal is a delight as well.

The fun of taking a painting vacation is that you can be as disciplined in your approach as you wish.  Some folks discover an immense energy surrounding their work and find themselves working in the studio or on location with quite a fervor.  At La Romita, early quiet mornings are a beautiful time to work before breakfast.  After breakfast we are off and running.  Most evenings after dinner, there is a gathering of some type for information about the next day or just a time for sharing stories.

Teaching is sharing.  It is a connection.  I continually discover new things through other artists/students and that “energy exchange” inspires me to keep my own search, my own journey as an artist meaningful.


Carol Cooper’s first trip to La Romita was in 1999, as a participant in instructor Dorothy Peterson’s workshop. She returned to La Romita School as a workshop leader in 2004, again in 2008, and leads LRSA’s 2014’s “Multimedia Experience”  workshop July 8- July 22. She lives in northwest Arkansas, twenty minutes from the beautiful Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (, and teaches at the Northwest Arkansas Community College. You can see more of her artwork at her faculty page, here.

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