“I don’t think one becomes an artist, I believe if one is an artist, he or she knows it. The challenge is believing that you are an artist and becoming the artist you know you can be.”
Chuck Albanese, FAIA
When travelling and sketching, I am always reminded of a one of the most memorable trips with Charles (Chuck) and Claire Albanese. Chuck and his wife Claire started a University of Arizona program that allowed them to spend summers in Europe, mostly Italy and Greece, with countless students in tow doing sketches and watercolors.
These trips became famous for all the great places to visit and the opportunity to be taught by a great watercolorist. For years, Lindy and I wanted to take the time to join these infamous trips, but we could never find the time.
another trip to Greece, so we signed up. We soon learned
that the trip included a remarkable collection of former
architecture students, friends, colleagues, and even some of Chuck and Claire’s relatives. It was more fun than we
could ever imagine, and it provided us with the time, and most importantly, the mentor to create lots of watercolors in sketchbook diaries. The trip also connected us to some life-time friends who still get together to reminisce about the trip.
Before we left and throughout our travels, Chuck constantly
encouraged us to sketch and paint constantly. He showed us some of the most inspirational settings imaginable and also how to enjoy the ordinary in special ways. He conducted daily classes,
often at a perfect outdoor plaza or coffee bar. Although Chuck’s work could intimidate most students, his carefree approach and relaxed teaching style brought out the best in his
Some Greece memories include:
- Starting the trip while wildfires bore down on Athens.
- Beer, sketching, late night jazz, and Naxos harbor swimming with Guy Mancuso and his wife Kay (Chuck’s sister).
- Roof top parties with views of the Acropolis.
- Hot days and cool swims.
- Carrying Kim Acorn and his luggage after he broke his ankle swimming at Kolymbithres beach – he received excellent healthcare throughout the trip!
- An incredible casa of our own at Hotel Kavalari in Santorini with an upstairs
bedroom loft and views of the Santorini caldera’s blue waters.
- Snorkeling in the Santorini caldera.
- Santorini sketch at a cliffside café with 15 euro “cactus juice! Sketch was not worth that much.
- Chuck and Claire constantly adjusting travel arrangements with poise and patience.
- Drawing boats using Chuck’s “moustache boat” approach.
- Realizing that while each island experience was special, the experience got better with
each island – Mykonos was surprisingly the island most filled with tourists and commercialism, but the most picturesque.
- Experiencing “Paradise Beach” on
- The red and blue balcony street in Mykonos.
- Lost in the narrow streets of Mykonos, but always finding great food.
- Final days in Athens and a final lunch at the Benaki Museum café.
[For more Greece sketches see "Past Travels"]