Sunday, November 2, 2014

Venice, Italy- Top 10 Fun Things To Do

As you may have guessed, I just returned from a really enjoyable 6 day stay in Venice.  I write this post because I believe Venice has the undeserved reputation of being a place you don't want to stay for more than a a day.  I believe it's because most American tourists may stay near the San Marco Square area...which I hated.  It was so busy and so commercial that I wanted to hurry away every time we happened to be in that neighborhood.  

Instead, we stayed on the far side of the Grand Canal across the Accademia bridge in Dorsoduro.  The area is much more residential.  That's how I like it!  I know I'm a tourist, but I don't want to hang out in a sea of tourists.  I like to experience "real life", and glimpse how the natives live when possible.  If you're like me, and looking for some authentically fun things to do in Venice, then you may want to try some of these ideas... I'm hoping to share these with my group next year!


1.  Take a Vaporetto Tour- get a seat onboard a Vaporetto and see the city from it's best angle.  If you buy a ticket for an extended tour, you can ride for as long as you'd care to and see a lot of the city. Water taxis or vaporetti, (try getting on No. 1 at Piazzale Roma or even No. 2 lines) have sheltered outdoor seating areas in the back and sometimes in the bow. Experienced Venetian guides recommend taking No. 1 at night because it zigzags across the Grand Canal for 45 minutes from Piazzale Roma to San Marco, and allows you to go beneath the Rialto Bridge and peek inside to see the decorated ceilings and chandeliers of the historic palaces that line the canal.

2.  Hop on Board the Traghetto- For 2 Euros you can ride in a gondola across the Grand Canal.  It's fast and its fun.  The one we rode was just down the street from the Guggenheim Art Collection (toward Santa Maria della Salute and away from Accademia Bridge).

3.  Go to a Vivaldi Concert- The group Interpreti Veneziani holds concerts at the Chiesa Di San Vidal (the church of San Vidal- very near the Accademia Bridge and Vaporetto Station and not far from San Marco Square)  They have a really exuberant showy style of playing their string instruments and are accompanied by harpsichord.  Hearing the music in the setting for which it was composed was fabulous!

4.  Have a Bicherin at Gelateria Paolin at Campo S. Stefano.   It's a yummy coffee/chocolate/cream concoction that is unique and worth trying!

5.  Go to the Venice Jazz Club-  Near Campo San Barnaba- Ponte die Pugni.  They are closed Thursday and Sunday and have a nice evening show they put on.  Get tickets in advance since the club is small.  Despite this, we were able to get 20 Euro tickets for the same night and really enjoyed it.  Click this Link to the Venice Jazz Club

6.  Take a Gondola Ride- for 80 Euros you can split the cost among as many people as you'd like to cram into your Gondola.  It's one of those things you may regret NOT doing if you leave without hopping on board.

7.  See Murano and Burano 
Click this link to read & see photos of our trip to Murano and Burano

8.  Experience the Zattere Promenade-  Have dinner/cocktail on the Zatteré.  Take a stroll.  We loved it at sunset...we loved it in the morning.  This is a beautiful promenade and has a great view.  Our favorite meal was on the terrace at Ristorante Terrazza del Casin Dei Nobile.  We had a wonderful Sea Bass with Pomegranates and Roasted Pumpkin Slices.  I also enjoyed the Salmon/Tuna Stack.  

9.  Campo San Barnaba- Ristoteca Oniga is yummy and it's right around the corner from the Jazz Club.  

10.  See the Peggy Guggenheim Collection-  This Museum houses a fabulous collection of great early 20th Century Contemporary Modern Artists.  The museum is in what was once the home of Peggy Guggenheim, and I loved spending the morning there.  I really enjoyed the audio tour.  It took me 2.5 hours to see it all in a leisurely fashion. 

11.  San Marco Square-  Even though it doesn't make my "top 10",  I include it because you have to see it at least once.  It's a great place to people watch.  If you'd like you can feed the pigeons (though technically you're not supposed to do it).  You can also experience the beauty of the square, but know that you'll probably pay over 20-30 Euros for a cocktail at the bars there.  High tide can cause the square to flood, but they put out logs to use as "stepping stones".  Hopefully the restoration will be complete before long and allow you to see it in it's full glory. 

One of my favorite paintings of this beautiful church is below- by Steve Rogers

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Art Classes and Art Groups in Myrtle Beach

Where can you take ART CLASSES in the Myrtle Beach area?

Read on for a list of local Art Organizations and links to their websites...

Some might say that Myrtle Beach is not a town where you find a lot of art going on. I believe that is changing.  Places to study art and dabble in all kinds of artistic realms are cropping up more and more around the Grand Strand... in Myrtle Beach, Little River, Conway, Litchfield, and Georgetown. For a few years I was affiliated with a local gallery which offered classes, but I am currently teaching in my own studio.

My teaching studio is a great place to come and play in the paint.  I currently offer All Media Monday Sessions and Watercolor Wednesdays.  Classes are small and there is lots of individual attention.
My teaching studio
 I have also been teaching for OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) here in Myrtle Beach,  this is an extended learning program administrated by Coastal Carolina University (CCU).  Their contact info is in the list below. My schedule also includes occasional workshops or presentations for local art groups at their sites Waterway Arts Association (WAA), Seacoast Artist Guild (SAG), and Waccamaw Arts and Crafts Guild (WACG) .  If you're interested in forming your own class, or scheduling a workshop with me, click the email link here on my website.  

Travel and art are my favorite things to do!  This year I had the privilege to lead a group on a Tour of Tuscany, Italy.  There we stayed at a fabulously restored Italian Monastery. Touring daily, we would come home to our beautiful home where our personal chef cooked for us and gave us cooking lessons.  I offered art lessons to the group as another of our optional activities.  In the evenings we played guitar and made music. It was the best of times and we plan a repeat in October of 2015...  You should join us!

Classes Currently Being offered:  

Watercolor Wednesdays: 12:30-3:30

This class is about wild and wonderful WATERCOLOR!  I believe watercolor has an unmerited bad reputation among would-be artists.  Watercolor is about technique, and exploring those techniques is a passion of mine.  I love the random and marvelous colors which can be obtained by letting water be the vehicle for applying your paint.  If you're interested in learning some tips and tricks to success, then this may be the perfect class for you.  

All Media Mondays- 1-4PM

This class is open to all media...drawing, painting, glass mosaic.  If you're into it, I probably have the materials and the space to do it.  In this environment, we gather and create in many various ways, but we all bond in the process.  Art principles cross the boundaries of mediums and I offer both suggestions, demonstrations, and critique to each student on an individual basis. 

New for Novemember 2015-   Saturday Sessions  1-4 PM

This November I will be teaching only on Saturdays.  All media will be welcome and class will be similar to All Media Mondays.  Instruction will be available in Watercolor, Acrylic, Oil, Drawing, Abstract, Collage, or Glass Mosaic. 

Contact me if you'd like to study with me in any of these ways. My schedule is always changing and the calendar here on my website can let you know what's current.  

Here are some of my past classes.  I would be willing to teach these topics again or cover these materials in any of my "All Media" style classes:

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - YES YOU CAN LEARN TO DRAW!  This is a drawing class which explores ways of improving  drawing skills as outlined by the 2012 new and definitive REVISED book of the same name. It's a great drawing foundation, which has been time tested and it works!  Teaching some of the drawing fundamentals which are not intuitive. It's a wonderful way for adult artists to "back up" and learn some of the fundamentals they may have skipped over on their way to painting pretty pictures.

Re!ease Your Inner Artist (a class which is bound to take you places you haven't been before exploring techniques of Drawing, Watercolor, Mixed Media, and Acrylic).  This class is student driven and we try to incorporate areas of interest which appeal to regular class members.  We range in subject matter from drawing, to painting, to image transfers, to color theory, and the list goes on...
Student Margaret Burleigh created this masterpiece in class and Sold it!

Exp!ore Water Media:  This class varies and is designed to allow the students to explore Watercolor and Acrylic in a variety of ways.  Learning about new materials and experimenting with crossing boundaries is what we do.  Class ideas and techniques will be taught, instruction will be given, but students may always bring in their own work for assistance to any of my classes.
Martha Sledge created this cool piece in Exp!ore Watermedia Class

Exp!ore Design and Paint an Abstract:  This class is based on a method taught by John Salminen AWS.  We cover design fundamentals and make very interesting and beautiful abstract paintings in Watercolor, Acrylic and collage.  At least 1 award winning painting has emerged from this class and most students are rewarded with paintings they love.

Arty Party Painting Parties:  Paint on Wine Glasses, Mugs or Canvas 
Schedule an Arty Party and choose from a selection of paintings or paint an image of your choosing during a fun 2 hr painting party with me as your teacher.  We provide the supplies, you provide your own refreshments BYOB.  It's a great way to have fun painting and create a memorable event with your group or family.

Exp!ore Glass on Glass Mosaic:  This 4 week class exp!ores a new technique using stained glass in a modern way.  It's much simpler than stained glass, and very light and luminous in it's results.  You can see an example of this technique below.  The class is fun and very playful...and the results are incredible!

If you are interested in connecting with other artists or learning about art organizations in the area, then follow these local links to the many art organizations along the Grand Strand.

SC Watermedia Society
Georgetown Country Watercolor Society
Roundtable Art Group
Waterway Art Association
Waccamaw Arts and Crafts Guild
Seacoast Artist Guild
Create Conway
Artfields Art Competition in Lake City, SC
Colored Pencil Society of SC
OLLI- Osher Lifelong Learning Institute CCU

Rebecca Zdybel
Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor
Art Lessons in all media
Myrtle Beach, SC

Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art!

Feel free to share this blog post on your own blog or website, but I ask that you you include:
Rebecca Zdybel is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Follow her and see her work at

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Burano and Murano- A Colorful Surprise

Yes, places like this really exist!  Visit beautiful Burano!

A Colorful Surprise- Murano and Burano

After wandering around Venice for a few days, we decided to take a day trip out to the adjacent islands of Murano and Burano. 

A canal in Murano
Murano is known for it’s glass manufacturing and famous for its craftsmanship.  It's everywhere on the island.  It was even embedded into the toilet seat at our restaurant- ;-)  

Murano glass vase
A few of the factory galleries and some of the hotels have an arrangement which allows you to get free transportation out to the island.  The deal includes free water-taxi ride and a short demonstration of some glass sculpting once you arrive.  The water taxi ride is nice and gives you cruising time in the smaller canals of Venice on the way out of the city. The only other way to see the smaller canals is to ride in a gondola. 

Murano has wide open canals which can help with photographs
The price you pay for the free ride is the supervised tour of their showroom.  It’s a little bit like the time-share luncheons in our area.  You put up with a bit of hard sell, for the perk of a free ride.  It’s kind of amusing really…they even corral you in the gallery with a velvet rope, so that you essentially have to ask to leave.  

If you’re interested in browsing the gallery, the free ride out is not such a bad deal.  The salesmen are very knowledgeable about the merchandise, but you can pretty much be assured that you will be paying top dollar if you decide to buy something. 

Once you leave the glass showroom, wandering around Murano is actually easy and charming.  We had a very inexpensive luncheon at a sandwich shop and took photos.  The island is quaint.  The canals are wide and the buildings are not too tall, so that makes it easier to photograph.    
Don't you just love an old door? This beautifully decrepit door is in Murano.

Burano was the island we were really excited to see.  It was highly recommended by Lester Lefkowitz, another program leader with his own Il Chiostro program in Venice. He encouraged us not to miss the colors to be found on Burano. Getting there involved hopping on board another Vaporetto boat after our an initial stop in Murano.  

Burano is an explosion of technicolor!
Finding our way to the correct Vaporetto stop sounded easy.  It was not.  There are very few signs to follow on Murano (as usual), which probably helps the merchants on the island keep you there and spending money a bit longer.  Once you find the Vaporetto stop, the diagrams at the stations are not easy to read. Discerning which line to follow is also maddeningly difficult.  I was missing my GPS again, and found that almost every other tourist felt as confused as we did...even the ones using guide books.  We got used to simply asking the ticket officer at the Vaporetto station for directions.  They were the only ones who seemed to know where to go.  We also learned to double check with the boat hands as we got onboard any vessel (just to be sure we were going where we thought we were going). 

Despite our difficulties, we eventually boarded the correct boat for Burano (it leaves about every ½ hr. from Murano).  This little gem was definitely worth the effort!  We heard that going early in the day is best since there are fewer crowds. We didn't make it there early, and we did deal with lots of people.  However, late in the day we were blessed with better lighting and everything came across in technicolor!

Reflections of Burano, Italy
Love these complementary colors next to one another!
Wow!  It’s as if you hit the “Boost” button on your photo-editing program and turned the color up to full volume!  

surreal color is everywhere

These photos are edited, but the buildings are actually this bright.   After our day trip there, I would definitely recommend taking the time to go for your own visit…but unless you want to make a day of it, you may want to study the route first. 
Burano is full of colorful canals like this one
I can't wait to work some of these photos into paintings!  If you're interested in taking art classes with me and learning how to paint what you photograph, think about indulging yourself with art classes.  Watercolor, acrylic, sketching, or mixed media...any and all can be a fun way to record your life and your travels.  

Really?!  Did they just set this up for me?

Whether journaling or doing more serious paintings, the artwork you can create is personal and forever records your connection to places and moments in your life.  In future blogs I will share some of our more art related experiences on the trip. 

Breakfast on the Terrace overlooking the lily pond at San Fedele
If you're interested in traveling to some of these beautiful places in Italy, think about joining me next year for another Cooking and Art Tour of Tuscany.  Whether or not you're an artist, you can enjoy spending time in these visually exciting destinations.  If you're new and want to try painting with us, I'll make it easy for you. 

Just another beautiful morning at Borgo San Fedele...sigh
Whether or not you are a cook, you can enjoy eating and even observing what our personable chef has going on in his kitchen. There's always the option of taking a hike, reading a book, or getting a massage while others are doing the organized activities.  Space will be limited to keep the group friendly, so sign up early and bring your friends along!

San Gimignano- one of my favorite places to visit in Tuscany

Rebecca Zdybel
Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor
Art Lessons in all media
Myrtle Beach, SC

Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art!

Feel free to share any of this blog post on your own blog or website, but I ask that you you include:
Rebecca Zdybel is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Follow her and see her work at

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Losing it in Venice, Italy

A view of Santa Maria della Salute from the Accademia Bridge

I consider myself a savvy traveler.   I carry my bag across my body, zipper toward me, with all my valuables under a few layers of buckles and zippers.  I lock my bags together with a bike lock onboard trains. I have foiled an assault from a group of gypsies trying to pick my pockets. However, this trip I made one thoughtless mistake, which reminds me yet again, that all my careful behavior is for good reason.  In this instance, I hope my experience will teach you what NOT to do. 

View from the Train Staion in Venice, Italy

I stopped into a phone store at the train station (always a place to be on guard).  I went in with my iPhone and was hoping to get a new sim card for an old phone. As it turned out, I needed to purchase a 3rd phone to accomplish my goal.  I made my purchase, and thoughtlessly slipped my iPhone into my coat pocket as I concentrated on the other 2 phones in my possession…can you imagine where this story might be going?  I gathered my luggage and made my way to the Vaporetto water transport.  As I did so, I placed the two European phones into my purse and forgot about the iPhone in my pocket. That's all it took...

When at any train station in Italy, be on guard. Put all your valuables somewhere other than in your pocket or in an open purse.  

San Marco Square in Venice- currently under restoration and still partially flooded after high tide

Somehow, my iPhone was removed from my pocket along the way.  It was done so deftly, that I didn’t even know it was missing until I got to my room.  Of course, I tore my bags apart, numerous times, made calls and even went back to the train station, but still no iPhone.  I had my new phone, so it was not a total disaster.  Making calls was still possible.  

The big surprise: I really missed the GPS data function of my iPhone. 


You see, my iPhone was not the only thing that was lost in Venice.  My traveling companion and I often found ourselves turned around and taking a path which some might call "the scenic route" .  I generally have a great sense of direction, but Venice is a challenge.  

The street names are longer than the streets themselves, the bridges cross the winding streets at odd places, and the maps we had were horrible unless you had a magnifying glass.  Venetians don’t waste a lot of effort on street signs either.  The good news is, that the city is a beautiful place to wander around and get lost.  

If you don’t feel confident navigating intuitively, or if following tiny print on maps doesn't sound like a good plan for you,  then you may want to buy some cellular data or a European sim card and use your smartphone's GPS to help you navigate.  Most non-Americans were following the GPS arrow on their phones to get around. 
All in all I have no regrets about wandering our way around the city.  Many of these shots are proof that it can be beautiful to take the not-so-direct-route in Venice, Italy.   

One of our favorite little restaurants in the Dorsoduro- the area of Venice where we stayed. 
If you'd like to come to Italy with me next year, contact me for information on my upcoming trip to beautiful Borgo San Fedele Tuscany, where we will dabble in cooking, painting/sketching, eating, sipping and touring the scenic hill towns of Chianti.  
Breakfast on the Terrace overlooking the lily pond at San Fedele

A view from the grounds at Borgo San Fedele

San Gimignano- one of my favorite places to visit in Tuscany
Next year's trip is scheduled for the first week of October 2015. We plan to tour, EAT, sip, and have the option to cook and paint our way through the region of Tuscany known as Chianti. Our home base will again be the beautiful and peaceful former monastery known as Borgo San Fedele.  Once you unpack, all you have to do is relax and enjoy.  If you'd rather have a massage while we paint or cook, then that's your option.  If you'd rather lay back one day and opt out of our plans, that's also an option.  That's really my kind of tour!   Contact me if you're interested in being part of what is sure to be another great trip. =)  

Rebecca Zdybel
Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor
Art Lessons in all media
Myrtle Beach, SC

Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art!

Feel free to share any of this blog post on your own blog or website, but I ask that you you include:
Rebecca Zdybel is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Follow her and see her work at

"Like" my facebook page: Rebecca Zdybel- Artist

Join me on Google+ Rebecca Zdybel Google+ Profile
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