For me, still life is very personal, like a secret love letter, and a small group is the perfect way to explore the genre’s depths.
The Color of Time, oil on linen 2016

The Color of Time, oil on linen 2016


The Still Life MasterCLASS

Focus on still life for five days in an intimate group of no more than 3 participants per week. Melissa Hefferlin will lead the group through selection of objects, forming the composition and of course, painting the image. As our group is small, we can formulate the structure of our class to suite ourselves. But components of the course will include a creative orientation, treasure hunt for objects on the estate to combine with any which were brought from home, and then art direction to set the still life stage. Paintings will begin with thumbnail composition studies, then drawing with paint on the canvas, and finally painting, striving for accuracy of observation and mark making with intention.

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The Location

Villa Vitalba is a historic family estate outside Bergamo, Italy in the Lombardy hills. It flanks a small town which offers a nice bakery, a couple of coffee shops, a Saturday market and some banks. The host family shares with us access to their vineyards, the 11th century chapel and the former cloisters which are part of the estate. Downtown Bergamo is about a half an hour by car, and offers a small but excellent art museum, as well as fine dining and shopping. Within an hour by car one can visit Lake Como, Milan, and many other interesting places.

The details

Participants may choose one (or multiple) of the following dates:
June 10-14 (arriving the 9th, departing the 15th)
June 17-21 (arriving the 16th, departing the 22nd)
June 24-28 (arriving the 23rd, departing the 29th)

-Breakfast served from 8:00 - 9:00
-From 1:15 until 2:30 the estate’s restaurant will serve lunch.
Our small group will work on two paintings a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Hefferlin will teach and paint in rotation.
-Several times during the course the participants will gather together to talk about progress and see one another’s work.
-Participants are welcome to ask advice about works from outside class.
-At 7:30 every evening dinner will be served in the restaurant.

Simultaneously at Villa Vitalba will be courses taught by Daud Akhriev, Hefferlin’s husband. Hopefully we will have creative dialog with that group and enjoy mutual inspiration.

Instruction M-F as described above
Boarding in the villa, private or shared room (different pricing, please select)
All meals at the restaurant on the estate (at scheduled times), in a former monastery of the 11th Century. Wine included at lunch and dinner.
One evening demo by Akhriev
One Italian cooking class in the villa
A welcome reception
A farewell reception
Transfers on the day of arrival and departure from the airports of either Milano Linate (NOT MILAN MALPENSA) or Bergamo
Damar varnish, turpentine and brush cleaner

The minimum age for participants is 18 yrs.
The rooms of the 17th C villa are on the third floor. Basic physical fitness to climb stairs with your luggage is obligatory.
Participants need to bring all art materials not listed as “provided.” For example, easels are not provided.
Meals are provided, but require a short walk of about two blocks through the vineyards.
Room Selection will be granted based on the order of enrollment.
The bathrooms are shared, four bathrooms total for seven rooms. Three bathrooms are on the sleeping level.
Two washing machines are provided. Clothes are hung to air-dry in a designated room.
Airport transfers are provided ONLY from the airports of Bergamo or Milan Linate. Arrival at other airports require participants to organize their own transportation to the villa.
The villa has a dog.

Still Life Masterclass as a Stand Alone Course with Private Room $1900 per unit
Still Life Masterclass as a Stand Alone Course with Double, Shared Room $1500 per unit
Still Life Masterclass as an add-on to a Masterclass with Daud Akhriev $550 per unit