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From Dream to Reality

The European Trip of a Lifetime

By Kate Orr

Where is one place you dream of going? Do you think about the scenery, the culture, the architecture, or the art? Maybe you answer emphatically, 'all of the above!' For years, I have dreamed of visiting Europe, especially Italy, for all of these reasons. Three years ago, my older sister Alix and I decided to go. Three years later, it was absolutely worth the wait.

We started our adventure in London. It was everything you think it is: misty, lush, beautiful, both historic and contemporary at once, and with outspoken devotion to Her Majesty the Queen.

Kate and Jamie Coreth in his London studio

During our stay in London, we painted in Belgravia, explored Kensington, rode a red bus, and explored galleries like the National Gallery, the Tate, and Fine Art Commissions. We met with Jamie Coreth at his London Studio, where he warmly greeted us and answered our many questions. He is a lovely person, and so much of his work ethic and spirit is evident through his work.

Next was Rome! It was incredible how many epic historic monuments and churches were clustered together. We saw statues from 150 B.C. and toured the Capitoline Museums where I saw my favorite Caravaggio; we beheld Michelangelo's Campidoglio Square, walked through the Arch of Constantine, and were left speechless by the enormous Colosseum. St. Peter's Basilica was too majestic for words.

We took a train to Florence, stopping by Pisa on the way. The legendary tower was astounding to behold. Of course, we had to take some stereotypical tourist pictures while we were there.

Florence was lovely. More rurally located than Rome, the city is surrounded by Tuscan mountains, blue against the coppery tones of the tiled roofs. The Uffizi Gallery boasts masterpieces by artists like Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raffaello, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio. 'Primavera,' 'Birth of Venus,' and 'Portrait of Martin Luther,' are only a handful of the universally recognized paintings at the museum.

Of course, you can't go to Florence without seeing Michelangelo's David in Galleria d'Academia. The fifteen-foot statue depicting David in the moments before his fight will leave you at a loss for words. Marble skillfully cut to have the appearance of flesh, bone, and sinew, expression runs through this impressive sculpture from his curly locks to his lifelike toes.

Venice is like nothing I have ever seen before. It feels stacked, with buildings nearly toppling against each other over narrow alleyways. We saw and painted all we could, enjoying all the variety the city offered.

Our final destination was Bergamo, near the Alps. Cobblestone streets and Renaissance architecture threaded historic charm into a contemporary-feeling city.

Kate standing next to Sorolla's "Mending the Sail"

Besides painting in Bergamo, we took three day trips: two to Milan and one to Verona. In Milan, we explored the Duomo and the Royal Palace Museum, which to my delight was displaying a huge Sorolla Exhibition. Seeing such a comprehensive collection of Sorolla's work was one of the greatest highlights of Milan.

The following day we took a train to Verona, home to Shakespeare's famous Romeo and Juliet. Nestled into a corner of the crowded courtyard, I painted Juliet's balcony, which is in fact a sarcophagus cut in half! In that courtyard alone I met people from all over the world: Brazil, Mexico, Germany, and Austria.

To have really gone abroad to Europe, to have seen and experienced all that we did, is still surreal to me. We met so many kind and friendly people in each city.

On November 4th, I will have a solo show with Vining Gallery in Indianapolis including my paintings and sketches from Europe, and resulting studio pieces. The purpose of this exhibition will be to immerse you in these places and experiences that I am so thankful to have enjoyed. If you don't live in Indiana, all of these pieces will go up on on November 5th.

If you are planning a trip to Europe, I can't recommend it enough! Definitely take at least three days in each city, find your 'must-sees' ahead of time, and enjoy exploring! (Also, sunscreen, layers, and international cellular data are non-negotiables. Trust me!)

If you have been or are planning a European trip, I'd love to hear your plans or experiences.


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