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European Art Classroom: Excursions to Italy and the French Countryside

European Art Classroom

Each trimester, two faculty directors (Dave and Jen Fleming) embark on an eight week mission to create an artist colony in the south of France alongside eight students. They paint, read, cook, learn, travel, and immerse themselves in the study and creation of art and communal living. The group’s recent excursions took them to Florence, Italy and around the countryside of France. Read more from Bretton ‘25 and Isla ‘25. 

Proctor Academy European Art Classroom

Bretton ‘25

Florence was amazing! There were so many highlights, for one getting to go to the Uffizi was amazing. I was not the biggest art person coming on this off campus program, but learning about art work such as “La Primavera” painted by Botticelli and then getting to see it in person was amazing. After the Uffizi we all spent some time at the Duomo in Florence which is the dome part of the cathedral there. The Duomo is a beautiful piece of architecture that most of us sketched in our carney. When we weren’t in Florence we were in Bologna, Italy. Bologna had an amazing museum in it with a lot of religious pieces, some even by the very well known painter Raphael. Coming back from Italy everyone was super exhausted so we spent the weekend resting and catching up on work. Everybody is excited to get back to our normal schedule, my favorite part being literature class in a cafe in town. Going off campus was definitely something I had never even dreamed of, but I am so happy I did. It has been full of experiences and opportunities I never would have had otherwise and I am so thankful for that! 

Proctor Academy European Art Classroom
Proctor Academy European Art Classroom

Isla ‘25 

On Tuesday after visiting the medieval town of Ansouis, in the Luberon, to paint and have a picnic. We drove back home but stopped at a small memorial for World War II. Free French Resistance fighters lived for almost two years in this isolated spot in an 11th century chapel.  They were eventually discovered and surrounded by an overwhelming force of German soldiers. The French eventually ran out of ammunition and all prisoners were summarily executed. 

Proctor Academy European Art Classroom

We stopped for about 30 minutes to draw and feel the presence of those who had passed. As we sat and sketched we noticed how silent it was there. There were no birds, wind, or people,  just us and this important piece of history. After drawing we walked up to the memorial where Dave taught us the meaning behind the Free French Cross of Lorraine and talked about the people who had names on the plaques, one of whom was a citizen of Vauavenargues, our little town. 

Proctor Academy European Art Classroom

Our next excursion on Friday took us to Les Baux, a small town in the mountains where houses were built into the rocks and a castle that sat on top overlooking miles and miles of olive groves and vineyards. The town was built before the medieval age and was deteriorating over time but was still beautiful and grand. Near this ancient town was a massive rock quarry that had been turned into an immersive art exposition. We were able to see Vermeer and Van Gogh’s art in a whole new way as everything was projected on the weird walls with music. We were all amazed and overall it was an insane day. 

Proctor Academy European Art Classroom
Proctor Academy European Art Classroom

Check out more photos from European Art Classroom Here!

  • European Art Classroom
  • Off-Campus Program