Final Days from Taormina, Sicilia!


Red sky in the morning……There was nothing ominous about this sunrise as the weather was perfect for our last two painting days in Sicily. On Monday, we boarded our transport for the short but steep trip to Castelmola, a picturesque village that towers over Taormina.

Castelmola from below

I set up my easel in a shady spot for the morning demonstration. A few new ideas were the focus of my demo. I presented three different types of pencils; Conté, Pitt Pastel and Wolff’s Carbon. They make very strong marks and are suitable for a broad and spirited approach to a watercolour painting.

Monday demo

Watercolour Demonstration by Barry Coombs

What a place to paint! The views of Etna, Taormina and the Greek Theatre were breath-taking.


Taormina from Castelmola

Greek Theatre from above

The charming alleys and tiny piazzas rounded out the wealth of subject matter for our painters.

Monday church

Catherine at Work

Barb and George

Our vans picked us up for the descent to Taormina and we held our ‘en plein air’ critique at the hotel.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique b

Tuesday was another beautiful day and our transport took us below Taormina for a day at the beach. Our main subject was Isola Bella, a small island also known as the ‘Pearl of the Ionian Sea’. Isola Bella was private property until 1990 when the Sicilian government bought it and made it a nature reserve. A strip of beach almost connects Isola Bella to the main shore but some wading was necessary to make it to the island. Still, many of our painters made the crossing and enjoyed the island and it’s vistas.

Tues c

Tues b

Tues a

This was our last full day of sketching and painting. I decided to refrain from doing a demonstration so the painters could get right to work and make the most of the scenery and sunshine. Everyone worked hard and our shady critique spot back at the hotel was very welcome.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique b

All good things come to an end. Wednesday was a free day until 5pm when we met for our Final Critique which was followed by a fabulous Farewell Dinner. There was lots to do on Wednesday. Shopping was at the top of a few lists. Some of us visited the Palazzo Corvaja for an art exhibition that was an homage to Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. The highlight was a screening of Pasolini’s fascinating short film from 1968 called “Che Cosa Sono Le Nuvole?” (What are Clouds?).


De Chirico

The bus picked us up at 8am on Thursday morning for the quick drive to Catania airport. I thought the festivities were over until three of the women in our group (now known as the Three Graces)  got up in the aisle and sang us a hilarious song of their own composition but to the tune of a popular operatic aria.

These painting holidays are a success when everyone contributes in their own way. My thanks go to all of the participants and to those of you who followed, liked and commented on our creative adventures. Special thanks are due to Paola Romano, our indefatigable and ever-cheerful guide/facilitator. Ciao!




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9 Responses to “Final Days from Taormina, Sicilia!”

  1. William Brisland Says:

    Thank you Barry for a wonderful trip, your blogs are always most welcome. I felt as if I was there with you.

  2. Renate Roske-Shelton Says:

    I really enjoyed your trip notes and pictures. Was right there with you. Loved having a glimpse of all the student work results also.
    Thank You! Renate

  3. Joan Wolfe Says:

    As always, a most welcome and wonderful virtual trip, with your beautiful photos, informative instruction and commentary, and inspiring journey with your students, watching the progress of their work. Enjoyed immensely and deeply appreciated. Thank you!

  4. Lois Says:

    So,So, Gorgeous!! The Group,had some lovely Art Work,too.
    May, I ask, for Permission, to use your Trip Photos, to paint or
    draw from, They are so amazing,the Scenery, and Buildings.
    Thanks, for always, sharing.

  5. artmoscow Says:

    So it turns out you missed Etna eruption by a narrow margin…

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