Day One of our artist retreat began with an early morning walk around Vrboska to orient everyone. I wanted to cover the practicalities of staying here as well as giving the opportunity to take photographs as the sun comes up. It is the absolute best time to be out and about with a camera, everything so calm and fresh, and the warm light gradually filling in the old stone buildings. The week before, my morning walks had been just about perfect, with clear blue skies and lovely yellow-pink hues.
So it was at 6:30am on the Monday morning that everyone showed up for our walk. It has to be said that there was some muttering about the early hour, but it seemed nobody wanted to miss the outing. Of course, having the bells of Sv Lovran pealing 6 am so close to their accommodation may have had something to do with getting them out of bed! Sadly, on this morning the clouds also showed up, and we had no direct sunlight as we made our way across the piaca and I led them by devious means down towards the waterfront. The cloud cover made for a different effect than my previous walks. No warm light and cool shadows on the stone, but a soft pale greyness.
We found fishermen sorting the previous night’s catch on the Bako. The orange overalls and woollen hats made a striking contrast. What a painting that would make!
Registering the position of the cash automat, Post Office and supermarkets in passing, we stopped in at one of the bakeries to buy fresh pastries for breakfast.
Then it was over the bridge and out towards the coastal path, taking plenty of photos and marking out favourite views for later painting.
Our waterfront base in Vrboska for the week was to be Konoba Lem, who kindly allocated a table for our artists right at the front, On this our first morning, we ordered coffee and ate our pastries there.
To complete the morning walk, we returned via the upper harbour and across the pretty arched bridges.
I chose the narrowest alley to take them home as I figured that they ought to get used to the idea of streets having steps, and not necessarily being wide enough to fit two people side by side!
For the rest of the morning, we sketched and painted in various places around Vrboska, then headed up to the fortress church of Sv Marija for a look around. It’s open in the mornings and evenings, and although there’s not so much to see inside, the view from the roof is beautiful.
When Sv Marija closed, we were led across to Sv Lovran for a private viewing. There’s much more to see inside, as the important artworks from both churches are now there for safe-keeping. It’s all much more ornate, with large paintings by Paolo Veronese, and Celestin Medović.
We saw the cross that is carried in the Za Križen procession, part of the traditional Easter festivities on the island. Apparently Pero, our guide, is to be Vrboska’s cross-bearer next year, having put his name down some years ago. It’s a great honour, and must be hard carrying the heavy cross from village to village overnight.
In the vestry, the saint’s reliquaries glitter, and on the wall are paintings donated by grateful fishermen who survived fierce storms to return safely home. The ship as depicted is an interesting hybrid between a steamship and a sailing vessel, which would date it to over 100 years ago.
This is the parish church for the village now, and there’s clearly a thriving congregation with a long tradition here.
Back to painting for the afternoon and an evening get together for review.