Focus on still life

Five days in Italy’s Lombardy district deepening our painting practice, while enjoying local culture.

Week 1 - June 10-14, 2019 (arrive June 9, depart June 15)

Week 2 - June 17-21, 2019 (arrive June 16, depart June 22)

Week 3 - June 24-28, 2019 (arrive June 23, depart June 29)

Hefferlin,  Talisman , oil on wood, 2017

Hefferlin, Talisman, oil on wood, 2017


An intimate group of painters led by Melissa Hefferlin exlpore the narrative and visual opportunities through still life composition in oils. No more than three participants in addition to Hefferlin will select objects, ascertain the emotional purpose of a composition, and then work on the oil painting techniques necessary for success. Because of the small group, we can be flexible regarding location and timing of our course hours, which will be no less than 4 hours per day. Outside of these hours, Hefferlin will paint still life, and participants are welcome to either paint alongside, pursue additional compositions, or have free time. Hefferlin will be available for portfolio reviews and consultations about the creative journey. Participants are welcome to bring objects or fabrics towards their paintings, but Villa Vitalba has said that we may also mine their objects d’art.

The only provided materials are brush cleaner, damar varnish and turpentine, because they are illegal to transport via air. All other art materials, including easel, paints, brushes and surfaces are the responsibility of participants.

The gardens as seen from the villa.

The gardens as seen from the villa.

One of the double rooms.

One of the double rooms.


Incuded in the fee are:
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.
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

Because this small-group study is offered simultaneously to three masterclasses taught by Daud Akhriev, we hope to cross-polinate with their artistic journey, and we also share several activities with them.

On Sunday evening there will be a welcome reception.
On Monday evening Akhriev will give a demonstration.
On Wednesday evening there is a private Italian cooking class and shared meal.
On Friday evening there is a farewell reception.

Hefferlin,  Righteous , Oil on Linen, 2018

Hefferlin, Righteous, Oil on Linen, 2018

Villa Vitalba, outside Bergamo

Villa Vitalba, outside Bergamo


Villa Vitalba has been in the owner’s family for centuries, a refuge from city life. The estate includes a former Augustinian monastery, which was purchased by the family from the brotherhood in the 1400’s. The cloister, church and vineyards of the monastery now serve as a restaurant and wine press. The church is open to worshipers. The family resides on the first and second floors, and guests reside in accommodations on the third floor, whose windows are visible in the photo above. Availabe to the guests are three upstairs bathrooms and one downstairs, an upstairs kitchen, a sitting room, and a laundry and laundry-drying room. Common areas such as the loggia, the billiards room, the music room and, of course, restrooms are available to us as respectfully shared space.

There are lovely gardens with the villa, with several nice places to relax or paint under a shade tree. The vineyards are lovely for walking.

The town offers a bakery, a coffee shop, several Romanesque churches, and a Saturday market within walking distance. There are buses to the city of Bergamo.


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.”
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 ten students. Three 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.

$1900 5-day Course with Private Room
$1500 5-day Course with Double, Shared Room
$ 550 5-day Course as an add-on to a Masterclass with Akhriev, where room and board are already paid

*For multiple courses (with Daud Akhriev and/or Melissa Hefferlin) email me for a %10 discount code at

*To pay by check, or make a payment plan, contact me by email