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Thursday, December 14, 2023

The things you do for art. ART/4 sensorial day 3

 At  Smerillo late December 

Smerillo is a little town close to Amandola where we once lived. In altitude it is nearly 900 metres and it is renowned for its chestnut festivals and  for its spectacular views across the entire spectrum of Le Marche.

So, what are we doing wedged inside this crack in the mountain side you might wonder?

Well, it was supposed to be one of our art sensorial days (we being our little art group ART/4;nature)

Every three weeks or so we venture out into forests, mountains, rivers etc and simply absorb nature, its air, its trees and bushes, ite light and its sounds. And this was one of those days.

Not quite so though

Because it was cold, not 9C as it was when I left home but barely 3C with a strenghtening easterly wind.

And the whole town was closed; not a bar open and another human being in sight except  a pixie like gentleman who assured us that indeed Wednesday wasn't the day to visit; everything closed, except a huge restaurant which was to open at 12,30. We booked lunch for later and went exploring.

Now I must explain that Smerillo has a distinctly ex Hippy feel about it; that  'Where have all the Hippies gone' sort of feeling, with those lingering and faded colours still discernable here and there on closed bars and pubs (just one) too, with elfic names. You know what I mean.

                                  This is not an Elf but me with a new best tabby cat friend

The Elf like lovely young girl at the empty restaurant told us that the equally famous ring around Smerillo walk had been closed off, because it was dangerous after recent storms, but she winked and said go for it anyway there's nobody around to stop you

We did, and got a third of the way around and began to think it was an elfik trick.

Because you know, Elves can invisibilise themeslves (and others) at whim,

Bur we continued bravely on, slipping and sliding as we approached the also equally famous gola ahead (see above)

The thing about Smerillo, is that it's unusual

All the little hilltop towns hereabouts are also similarly so, each in their own particular way.

And our lives, as artists; are equally unusual and would we have it any other way? So it follows, doesn't it that we hate so called normality and avoid it in every way and every day possible. 

We yearn for a world  where the confines of conformity and the cultural herding and indoctrination of 

mankind abates and is unravelled.

So, you see, our monthly art trips, into mountains and forests, serve as a sort of deconditioning, to put us back into that state of being where art and creativity become its natural outcome.

To quote Robert Henri 'The objective isn't just to make art, it is to arrive in that state where art becomes inevitable'

I'll  leave you with a forest painting from our previous art adventure

Buon Anno,


Should you wish to can contact me, to get information about my art workshops in Italy, or about my work, you'll find me via my new website,

Thursday, November 2, 2023

ART, the senses, the forest

Our little  group of art friends is made up of enthusiasts who work with various forms of expression and who find their main inspiration from deep contact with nature.

                                    Judy Offord

                                  Judy Offord

On Wednesday last, we met at the Abbey of Fiastra,  and we trekked to the forest on a gorgeous day of dappled light which splashed through the trees, pushed along by a hesitant wind

Duncan Campbell
'Those who know, do not speak. Those who speak, do not know

It's a Chinese saying that comes in handy when silence and listening are essential and in the forest everyone seeks out a place which has caught their attention and then,simply, we absorb our surroundings; this by firstly doing a breathing exercise for a while and then to begin to sketch and make memory marks, whilst at the same time naturally breathing in the aromatherapy of phytoncides (essences) from the trees and vegetation.(You know we absorb these immmediately into our bloodstreams, into our bodies and into our brains). Then, don't ask me how, but somehow those ever persistent thoughts diminish and we are afforded the experience of pure presence. 

And then our art just happens as if by magic

Art; the desire to create, which comes naturally; not forced from the mind, but simply flowing into the mind


                                    Michael Eldridge



Thursday, September 28, 2023

La Cascada da Forcella, arte e natura (IT)


Cascada da Forcella l'ho scoperta solo di recente quando Claudia ed io stavamo cercando un luogo dove trascorrere una giornata sensoriale in questa parte montuosa delle Marche. Una giornata sensoriale? Sì, uno in cui osiamo semplicemente aprire i nostri cinque sensi al mondo, in particolare alla Natura.

Tutto inizia prima della colazione nel nostro centro di Cittadella; Tail Ci, Ci Kung, la bolla magica e i rondoni che ci bombardano con la loro curiosità. Vedi, più tardi nella foresta, in un posto come La Cascada dove ci siamo solo noi, pesci e farfalle, ci sistemiamo tra le rocce e le radici degli alberi

Chi sa non parla, chi parla non sa! Queste istruzioni al gruppo hanno ricevuto sguardi perplessi, ma ho spiegato che era solo un gioco a cui stavamo giocando (e dopo tutto, non era forse Einsein a dire: "L'unico modo che impariamo è attraverso il gioco!"). sedevamo distanti gli uni dagli altri e respiravamo profondamente per dieci minuti per assorbire le essenze degli alberi nei nostri corpi, quindi disegnavamo in silenzio per un'ora o due, aprendo i nostri sensi in completo assorbimento.

Siamo tornati a Cittadella a metà pomeriggio per rivedere i nostri schizzi e selezionarne uno o due da trasformare in dipinti. Sono sicuro che tutti voi avete avuto l'esperienza di entrare in quello stato di creatività in cui create oltre voi stessi e quando vi risvegliate alla cosiddetta realtà, vi meravigliate di ciò che è stato prodotto.

Alla fine del giorno successivo abbiamo realizzato un enorme dipinto da regalare a Silvio, il proprietario di Cittadella.

Lo facciamo ad ogni visita e ora ha una bella collezione

È stato divertente

                    "L'unico modo in cui impariamo veramente è attraverso il gioc

                     Albert Einstein

 Michael Eldridge

Monday, September 25, 2023

La Cascada da Forcella; an art and nature workshop

La Cascada da Forcella I discovered only recently when Claudia and I were looking for a venue to hold a sensorial day in this mountainous part of Le Marche. A sensorial Day? Yes, one where we dare to simply open our five senses to the world, specifically to Nature.

This all begins before breakfast at our centre in Cittadella; Tail Ci, Ci Kung, the magic bubble and counting swifts as they bombard us in their curiousity.  Then, you see, in the forest later, in a spot like La Cascada where there is just us, fish and butterflies, we settle ourselves amongst the rocks and tree roots, and we are already prepared, physically and psychologically

Those who know, do not speak, those who speak, do not know! These instructions to the group received puzzled looks, but I explained that it was just a game we were playing (and after all, wasn't it Einstein who said, 'The only way we ever learn is through play!') So we all sat far apart from each other, and breathed deeply for ten minutes to take in the essences of the trees into our bodies, and then sketched in silence for an hour or two, opening our senses in complete absorption.

We were back at  Cittadella by mid afternoon to go through our sketches and to select one or two to transform into paintings. I'm sure you've all had this experience of entering that state of creativity where you create beyond yourselves and when waking back up to so called reality, you are in wonder at what has been produced on your watch .


  At the end of the following day we created a huge painting as a give to Silvio, the owner of Cittadella.

This we do every visit and he has now quite a collection

                       It was fun                                                                                         

                   ' The only way we ever truly learn, is through play'

                   Albert Einstein

                   Michael Eldridge


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Childrens Art and Ferragosto


It's upon us once again. Its' an ancient Roman Bank Holiday, sort of, which translates as Augusto's day off, or more aptly 'Italy's collective August coma' when nothing can be done, arranged or even dreamt of. So best to forget plumbers, electricians, builders, lawyers, notaries, town hall staff etc. You get the picture. A holiday! Park your brain in the fridge.

My plan is quite the opposite. With art friends, we take to the streets around the coast, to art fairs; done eight already and there are two more to come.

Here's one I enjoyed, it was at Penna San Giovani, a little town, one of the many hilltop towns south of the regional capital Macerata. We were just two of us, myself and my art friend Claudia, otherwise known as Delfina.

It was the best so far. A spectacular show by the group called Compagni dei Folli (fire and ghosts on stilts) after which the two of us held an art workshop for kids. They were amazing. No explanations needed. No parents hanging around them (they were all in the bars) And there was a queue of them (the children that is). We worked with monoprints, and what they especially liked was the moment the paper was lifted off the glass. Oohs and Aahs as the image revealed itself and they carried the paintings gently off to dry.

They were so many and were like bees around a pot of jam and we simply couldnt turn any of them away and carried on until 1a.m.when their parents were exhausted from waitng and they peeled the children away one by one.

Playing with children is a learning experience for adult artists. We mustn't talk down to them and in fact they are our little gurus, floating, as they do, immediately into the absorption of each living second and having no clever preconceived ideas in their heads. They even helped us to clean up and then marched away holding their still wet masterpieces flat and adoringly in their hands.

So you see, this is what came even clearer to us; that when you run art workshops for adults, the task is to guide them into this state of child like innocence, however long it takes. And once there, all the rest flows.

After all, didn't Einstein once try to tell us that  ...................     

       'Play is the only way we ever truly learn' 

p.s. My new website is...

contact; email

Sunday, July 9, 2023

In the Forest of Altino (contd)



The forest

Walking slowly, the silence of the woods welcomes me with the scent of musk where I sink my hands and inhale the smell. I am moss.
My steps get slower and slower, I distinguish the green of each leaf, the brown of the bark, the grey of the tufo rocks.
I long to taste the purple colour of a flower, its taste so delicate and sweet. I am flower.
In the woods everything is harmony, the birds singing, the rustling of the trees and an immortal mountain stream caresses my hands and puts my thoughts to sleep.
I am water.
The sound of my footsteps disturbs me.
I breathe deeply and recover presence.
I am forest

Maria Rosa

This is a poem written by one of the workshop participants, Maria Rosa, on our weekend workshop 'in the forest'

And here is the original in Italian

Ed ecco l'originale in italiano

La foresta
Camminando lentamente il silenzio del bosco mi accoglie con il profumo del muschio dove affondo le mani e ne aspiro l'odore. Sono muschio.
Il passo si fa' sempre più lento, distinguo il verde di ogni foglia, i marroni delle cortecce, i grigi delle rocce di tufo.
Ho desiderio di assaggiare il colore viola di un fiore, il suo sapore è delicato e dolce. Sono fiore.
Nel bosco tutto è armonia, il canto degli uccelli, il fruscio degli alberi e un ruscello che gorgoglia immortale mi accarezza le mani e addormenta i pensieri.
Sono acqua.
Il rumore dei miei passi mi disturba.
Respiro profondamente e in presenza.
Sono bosco

Altino is an ancient forest which lies below the extinct volcano Monte Vettore which rises to 2,600 metres above us.

Altino è un'antica foresta che giace sotto il vulcano spento Monte Vettore che si erge a 2.600 metri sopra di noi.

Some five kilometers along a densely wooded and sometimes presciptous winding path, we come across our secret glade and sit along the trunk of a mighty fallen Oak tree which still bares the marks of our charcoal scribblings a weekend earlier.

Circa cinque chilometri lungo un sentiero tortuoso densamente boscoso e talvolta scosceso, incontriamo la nostra radura segreta e ci sediamo accanto al tronco di una possente quercia caduta che mostra ancora i segni dei nostri scarabocchi a carboncino un fine settimana prima.

The large painting above was inspired by our experiences in the forest. It was our gift to our host at Cittaella, Silvio Antognozzi

My next workshop at Cittadella will be September 7 to 11

For info, please contact Michael at

Il grande dipinto sopra è stato ispirato dalle nostre esperienze nella foresta. È stato il nostro regalo al nostro ospite a Cittaella, Silvio Antognozzi

Il mio prossimo workshop a Cittadella sarà dal 7 all'11 settembre

Per informazioni, si prega di contattare Michael a

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

In The Forest

 At Altino

This was just one of our daily trips; out and about in the hills below Monte Vettore. We were sketching and absorbing the mighty power of  Nature in these parts, steeped as it is in levels of human history and geological transformation through millions of years of turbulance and volcanic eruptions. Another venue was Lu Vurghe which is a thermal spring nestled below the old Roman road La Salaria, the ancient salt route from the salt flats at San Benedetto to Rome. This place, too, was the rest- over for Legions to bathe and heal or rest themselves after returning or going to battle in the Empire, securing its borders or enlarging it in Europe and Asia.

It is late May, and the water rushing by us in the river Tronto was pure snow melt and freezing cold, almost impossibly so (I lasted in it just 20 seconds). But those of our number much braver than I, stayed in much longer to my astonishment. In the summer, the water is a perfect temperature and the thermal stream which feeds into it really quite hot. So we'll go back then.

Our forest adventure was, I would say, even more profound; if that's the right word,.Altino is an ancient forest and contains every species of tree, bush, herb you could ever dream to encounter in a woodland. It is a place where trees are left to continue their hosting of other life forms, wherever they fall or are blown over or struck by lightning.We inhaled the fragrance of the forest, breathing in the natural aromatherapy of phytoncides; tasting the freshness of the air as we took deep breaths; placed our hands on the trunk of a the huge oak tree . Dipped our fingers or toes in a stream. Lay on the ground, drinking in the flavour of the forest and releasing our senses of joy and calm. We sat and ate our picnic perched on the huge trunk of the fallen oak. At its base it was black, it had been struck by lightning and it was pure charcoal, and I used to it to draw with on this second day of sketching where we made memory marks in our sketchbooks to work on back at Cittadella our mountain retreat, and trasform these into paintings.

And we? we were a mixture of Italian and English speaking artists who despite the occasional odd language blip, managed to communicate through our art and our laughter and light heartedness.

Our next workshop is at the end of June (29th to July 3). We welcome creatives of all and every variety, painters, sculptors, poets, writers, actors, dancers. To work together, to share the ups and downs of creativity in these stressful times and endeavour lighten the dark in every way we possibly can.

More info from Michael; +39 3283535358

Nel bosco di Altino

Questo era solo uno dei nostri viaggi quotidiani; in giro tra le colline sotto il Monte Vettore. Stavamo disegnando e assorbendo il potente potere della natura da queste parti, immerso com'è nei livelli della storia umana e della trasformazione geologica attraverso milioni di anni di turbolenze ed eruzioni vulcaniche. Un altro luogo è stato Lu Vurghe, una sorgente termale incastonata sotto l'antica strada romana La Salaria, l'antica via del sale dalle saline di San Benedetto a Roma. Anche questo luogo era il luogo di riposo per le legioni per lavarsi e curarsi o riposarsi dopo essere tornate o essere andate a combattere nell'Impero, assicurandone i confini o allargandolo in Europa e in Asia.

È la fine di maggio, e l'acqua che ci scorreva accanto nel fiume Tronto era pura neve sciolta e gelida, quasi impossibile (sono durato solo 20 secondi) ma quelli del nostro numero molto più coraggiosi di me, sono rimasti molto più a lungo per il mio stupore. In estate l'acqua ha una temperatura perfetta e la corrente termale che la alimenta è davvero piuttosto calda. Allora torneremo indietro

La nostra avventura nella foresta è stata, direi, ancora più profonda; se questa è la parola giusta, Altino è una foresta millenaria e racchiude ogni specie di albero, arbusto, erba che si possa sognare di incontrare in un bosco. È un luogo in cui gli alberi vengono lasciati per continuare a ospitare altre forme di vita, ovunque cadano o vengano spazzati via o colpiti da un fulmine. Abbiamo inalato la fragranza del bosco, respirando l'aromaterapia naturale dei phytoncides; assaporando la freschezza dell'aria mentre facevamo respiri profondi; abbiamo messo le mani sul tronco di un'enorme quercia. Immergi le dita delle mani o dei piedi in un ruscello. Sdraiati a terra, bevendo il sapore della foresta e liberando il nostro senso di gioia e calma. Ci siamo seduti e abbiamo mangiato il nostro picnic appollaiati sull'enorme tronco di una possente quercia, e alla sua base era nero, era carbone puro, e l'ho usato per disegnare in questo secondo giorno di schizzi dove abbiamo lasciato segni di memoria nei nostri quaderni lavorare a Cittadella, il nostro rifugio di montagna, e trasformarli in quadri.

E noi? eravamo un misto di artisti di lingua italiana e inglese che, nonostante lo strano problema linguistico, riuscivano a comunicare attraverso la nostra arte, le nostre risate e la nostra spensieratezza.

Il nostro prossimo seminario è alla fine di giugno (dal 29 al 3 luglio). Diamo il benvenuto a creativi di ogni varietà, pittori, scultori, poeti, scrittori, attori, ballerini. Lavorare insieme, condividere gli alti e bassi della creatività in questi tempi stressanti e alleggerire il buio nel miglior modo possibile

Piu info da Caudia whatsapp 351 5042828