A Unique Interdisciplinary Hands-On Professional Development Workshop in a charming Tuscan hill town   

Lucca, Italy  

September 13 - 25, 2019    

Spending some time in a new or foreign setting rejuvenates the senses and promotes an enhanced or heightened understanding of our work in the arts. Join us in the fabled walled Tuscan city of Lucca for an intensive workshop experience that uses the arts to explore how the idea of the character of place can advance an aesthetic narrative. 

Who is this for?  

Working artists with experience in any or all of the three areas of: theatre, two-dimensional art (drawing and / or painting) and three-dimensional art (jewelry and / or found object sculpture). 

The Learning Experience  

This intensive workshop experience uses the arts to explore how the idea of the character of place can advance an aesthetic narrative. The workshop consists of daily master classes connected to three workshop threads:    

  • Theatre:  Acting / Scriptwriting The Character of Place - Theatre Through a Different Lens  
  • Three-Dimensional Art:  The Place as Jewelry and Sculpture  
  • Two-Dimensional Art: Composition : Space, Color and Light    

The master class takes place in the late morning (10:00 - 11:30 a.m.), with the workshop threads in each of the three specific areas taking place in the early morning (7:30 - 9:30 a.m.), afternoon (1:00 - 3:00 p.m.) and / or evening (times to be determined).

Why Lucca?  

Tuscany is a natural destination for artists of all disciplines given its location, its rich cultural history, and its stunning environment. Even within this unique locale, Lucca possesses its own distinctive character. One of the last surviving completely walled cities in Italy, it is, as some have called it, a “secret gem.”  

Lucca has been selected as the locale for the workshop precisely because of its distinctiveness. An important part of our experience will be discovering how the character of a place can be incorporated in an artistic work.  

Descriptions of the Workshop Threads :  

Theatre : Acting / Scriptwriting 

Dr. Paul Edwards  

The Character of Place - Theatre Through a Different Lens  

The workshop is intended for working actors who are familiar with different major approaches to acting and performance. Playwrights, designers and people from all walks of theatre life are also welcome.   

Scene work, monologues, scriptwriting and improvisation is used to explore theatre practice in the context of character. All of our work is centered on the sense of place and how a narrative unfolds within a given environment.   

Two-Dimensional Art: Composition  

Dr. Don Seastrum 

The Character of Place – Space, Color & Light 

The workshop is intended for artists with experience in water-based media, colored pencils, pastels, and / or graphite. It addresses how compositional elements and principles are manipulated beyond technique, using images developed from the local environment.  

Participants produce studies that employ place as an integral aspect of the composition, rather than as a simple backdrop, as much a “character” as any other image or shape in the composition.   

Upon completion of this workshop participants will have a collection of studies that they will be able to take back to their personal studios and use as a source for more in-depth and completed compositions.  

Three-Dimensional Art 

Jennifer Wells  

The Place as Jewelry and Sculpture  

The workshop offers participants the opportunity to create works from items collected and gathered while interacting with our surroundings. A scrap of tin is only that, until you pick it up and offer it a moment when it can have a new life as a character from a memory of your experiences.   

This course is meant to explore how we view the items that we often pass by. Working with very minimal tools and additional materials we create pieces of wearable and non-wearable sculpture that focus on found objects. Each piece carries with it the story of the object, where it was found, and what the creator had done that day and why they were in that location. Simultaneously we allow the found objects to become characters and enter into roles of intimate personal importance, as keepers of memory.   


All participants will receive a professional development certificate upon completion of the  workshop .

Workshop Facilitators  

While all three of the workshop presenters have extensive experience teaching in their fields and in a variety of learning experiences, and while we are each working artists in our respective fields, we will serve as facilitators more than classroom teachers.  


Paul Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Communication Art at Western Colorado University has been involved in theatre for the greater portion of his life. A theatre generalist, he has taught dozens of courses in all aspects of theatre, communication arts, performance studies and several interdisciplinary courses as well. He has directed, acted in, and written in excess of 100 plays, and conducted numerous workshops in a variety of settings. Paul also has served as a faculty member in several team-taught, interdisciplinary study abroad programs in both England and Italy.  

He was recognized by the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association as an Outstanding Educator in Higher Education, and is a four-time recipient of the Alumni Award for Academic Excellence at Western Colorado University.  

Paul holds a PhD in Theatre from The University of Colorado, an MA in Theatre from the University at Albany, and a BA in Fine Arts from St. Michael’s College in Vermont.  He has studied performance and acting with Augusto Boal, Constance Valis Hill, Lee Potts and Joanne Rathgeb, among others.  


Don Eugene Seastrum  is a painter with five decades of professional and teaching experience in the visual arts in both the United States and Italy. Don’s work is represented in a number of museums and collections throughout the United States and Europe.   

In the past Don has taught Pictorial Composition: Form and Content in the Development of Narrative Painting (Western Colorado University: Florence, Italy); Advanced Pictorial  

Compositional Studies: Florence and Tuscany ( Western Colorado University, Florence, Italy); andFrame and Lens in The Visual and Communication Arts: Florence and Tuscany, Italy (Western Colorado University: Florence, Italy). 

Don is Emeritus Professor of Art, holds a Ph.D. in Fine Art from the Union Institute, a Masters degree from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Western State College (now Western Colorado University).  A more complete description of Dr. Seastrum’s background and personal work can be found at www.seastrum.com  

Jennifer Wells is a studio artist living and working between the U.S and Italy. She has completed several artist-in- residencies at: Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (Gatlinburg, TN); Pocosin Arts (Columbia, NC) and the Jentel Foundation (near Banner, WY).  

She has taught numerous workshops nationally and internationally and has taught at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, in Italy with East Carolina University’s Italy Intensives program and at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado. Jennifer’s work is in the collection of the Enamel Arts Foundation and the Racine Museum. Currently she is living and working in Italy where the textures of everyday life leave an impression on her work.  

Workshop Fee  

  The cost of the workshop is $5000 which also covers associated activity fees, lodging (double occupancy in self-catering apartments); and the Welcome and Farewell dinners.  

 The workshop fee does not include airfare; transit to and from Lucca within Italy, meals (with the exception of the Welcome and Farewell dinners), and personal expenditures.  


 Please check with your insurance provider to see if you have medical coverage while abroad.  

Additional Notes 

  • To insure a highly individualized experience the workshop is capped at a maximum of 15 participants.  
  • There will be daily opportunities to create your own adventures in the areas around Lucca.  
  • There also will be a day off, during which you can, if you wish, make a day trip to Pisa, Florence, Rome or Cinque Terre.  
  • The Character of Place  is not a credit-bearing workshop. Arrangements for the earning of CEUs or academic credit are the responsibility of the participant, and must be made with an accredited institution.  

It is hard to put into words, but all I can say is Absolutely Life Changing! Not only  

did I learn a lot about art and history but also I learned a lot about myself and grew  

as a person. Don and Paul set up a framework that allowed me to see a new and  

foreign place in different perspectives that definitely allowed for much more  

exploration into another side of Italy that a normal tourist in a foreign country  

would see. There is a reason I have taken three of their classes! I have made life long  

friends while on these trips and will be returning as soon as I can manage !   

Elise Picard (Italy 2014/ 2016/ 2018) 

The course I took with Dr. Seastrum and Dr. Edwards, “Aesthetics: Frame and Lens,” encompassed our entire experience in Florence and other areas of northern Italy. We focused on the perspectives of our perceptions, which allowed for an extraordinarily cognitive experience while absorbing the rich, intensive art culture and history of Italy. The opportunity to take this class was life-changing for me; the lenses that I acquired while I was experiencing the course and a foreign country provided the true essence and meaning for such an incredibly compositional experience within my life. I expected my focus to be on art and the history that I knew I would be surrounded by in the streets of Florence, but I soon learned that my focus was less on the art and more on the people and the culture, the people who lived in all of the dirty yellow buildings with giant wooden doors and washed out green shutters. I learned to walk down unknown paths, eat unknown foods, go unknown places, and make temporary friends with unknown people who I may never see again but who will always be a part of who I am. I learned to walk through unknown doors by myself, and this has provided me with a confidence and a courage and a desire to take off into the unknown and experience it for all that it is worth with any and all of the characters along the way.” 

Cassandra Grigware ( Italy 2016)     

The experience I had in Italy was unlike any other. I learned so much about the world outside my front door. I was indeed skeptical and nervous at first; I will say taking the leap to get out of my small town was the best decision I’ve ever made. I made so many friendly acquaintances with the locals, seen wondrous monuments, and beautiful breathtaking landscapes. But I wasn’t alone on this trip; I had my peers and professors to enjoy this journey. I had the opportunity of a lifetime to explore my horizons and now I want to venture further into the world. Thanks to Don Seastrum and Paul Edwards for opening the door.  

Daphne Fiedler (Italy 2016) 

Studying in Italy with Dr. Seastrum and Dr. Edwards was an amazing time. Don and Paul are funny, laid back and yet organized as well as having insider knowledge. Both know the Italian culture well and make a seamless transition between the classroom and historical sites.  

Carley Clegg (Italy 2016) 

For more information on The Character of Place contact Don Seastrum at 970-596-4230 or seastrumstudio@gmail.com